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Chapter 7


Death plays an important role in the series. American comic books such as Marvel Comics "X-men," characters have died and been "resurrected," re-born or discovered to actually not been killed at all. A story is created afterword to explain why the character is not actually dead (Lee, 1986).

The Dragonball series has a pre-set method of returning characters from the dead. In the first episode, it is established that the eternal dragon can grant its summoner a wish. This includes bringing characters back from the dead (Toryama-a, 1984).

Since the dragonballs can only be used once a year, this can create a lag between when a character dies and when the character is brought back to life (Toryama-a, 1984). So where does the character go between his or her death and when he or she is wished back? This depends on the translation of the series.

The Japanese version says the characters go to the afterlife. The English version says the characters go to "another dimension (Toryama-m, 1989)."

Several episodes take place in the afterlife, or other dimension. For example, after the initial battle with Vegita when Tien, Yamcha, Chao-tzo and Piccolo are killed, the characters travel a road called "Snake Way," a road separating heaven and hell, to a small planet owned by a character named King Kaioh (Toryama-m, 1989).

King Kaioh is the master of the kaio-ken form of martial arts. The characters, knowing they would be eventually wished back to life, decide train with King Kaioh (Toryama-m, 1989).

When a character in the series is dead, the death is represented with a halo floating above the character's head (Toryama-m, 1989). This does create an amusing scene in the series.

Late in the Dragonball Z series, Goku, having died several episodes earlier, is granted a "one-day pass" to the world of the living to participate in a martial arts tournament. When Goku is introduced to Videl, she asks Gohan how he can be so nice to his father since he left Gohan and his mother and brother for, what she believes, is another woman. Gohan explains that Goku is actually dead. He also explains that his proof of Goku's death is the halo (Toryama-r, 1993).

In the English version, it is not referred to as a halo. Gohan's comment is "See that circle over his head (Toryama-s, 2001)." While Funimation will not comment on the religious aspects of the halo, several fan-based sites believe it is an attempt at political correctness so as not to offend any religion.

Another change in the two versions is Hell. In the series, two episodes take place in Hell. Hell, in the series, is run by pastel colored ogres in tank-top shirts with the word Hell printed on them, in the Japanese version. In the English version, the shirts are touched up to read HFIL. It is explained that HFIL is an acronym for the "Home For Infinite Losers (fig. 3, Toryama-t, 1989)."

While HFIL may actually be synonymous with what Hell is supposed to be, Funimation claims there is an FCC regulation against using Hell in what they claim is a children's series (Psaros-a, 2002).

Author Chris Psaros has an interesting point about the changing of the word Hell: "It's okay for characters to die, and it's okay for Bugs Bunny to meet the Devil, but it's not okay to say bad people go to Hell when they die (2002)."