Does DBZ and DBZ Kai have the same voice actors?

Dragon Ball Z is the iconic anime series that originally aired from 1989 to 1996 in Japan and became an international phenomenon. It follows the adventures of Goku and his allies as they defend Earth against powerful villains. The series contains 291 episodes in total.

In 2009, Toei Animation released Dragon Ball Z Kai, a revised version of the original anime series. Dragon Ball Z Kai aimed to remove filler content and streamline the story for a faster-paced experience. While it covers the same major plot points, DBZ Kai features remastered HD footage, re-recorded voice work, updated music and effects, and a total episode count of 167.

Both anime series adapt content from the Dragon Ball manga by Akira Toriyama. They share the same core story, characters, and major events. However, DBZ Kai trims the fat and focuses only on the essential narrative beats from the manga.

Original Japanese Cast

Dragon Ball Z premiered in Japan in 1989, with the original Japanese voice cast as follows:

Goku was voiced by Masako Nozawa, who voiced Goku and his various forms throughout the entire Dragon Ball anime series. Nozawa gave Goku an innocent, childlike quality in the Japanese version.

Vegeta was voiced by Ryo Horikawa, bringing out the character’s proud, arrogant personality. Horikawa voiced Vegeta and his evolutions from his first appearance onwards.

Gohan was voiced by Masako Nozawa as a child and Mayumi Tanaka as a teen/adult. Nozawa maintained consistency as the voice of young Gohan and Goten.

Other notable original Japanese cast members include Toshio Furukawa as Piccolo, Ryouma Baba as Krillin, and Takeshi Kusao as Trunks.

English Dub Cast for DBZ

The English dub for the original DBZ series featured many notable voice actors that became iconic to fans. Here are some of the main cast members:

Sean Schemmel as Goku – Schemmel voiced Goku and became synonymous with the character for a whole generation of English speaking fans. His energetic and passionate voice defined Goku for the Funimation dub.

Christopher Sabat as Vegeta – Sabat voiced one of the most popular characters, the Saiyan prince Vegeta. He provided a gravelly, arrogant tone that perfectly suited Vegeta’s personality.

Stephanie Nadolny as Kid Gohan – Nadolny voiced young Gohan and captured his innocence and hidden power. She voiced Gohan up until the Cell saga.

Other notable cast members included Chris Rager as Mr. Satan, Sonny Strait as Krillin, and Chuck Huber as Android 17. This talented cast captured the magic of DBZ for English audiences and many grew up with their voices defining the characters.

English Dub Cast for DBZ Kai

The Funimation English dub of DBZ Kai featured many of the same voice actors from the original DBZ dub, but also recast some key roles. For the main protagonists:

  • Goku was voiced by Sean Schemmel, reprising his role from the Funimation DBZ dub.
  • Vegeta was voiced by Christopher Sabat, also reprising his role from the Funimation DBZ dub.
  • Gohan was voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard, taking over the role from Stephanie Nadolny who voiced kid Gohan in the original Funimation DBZ dub.

Clinkenbeard gave Gohan a deeper voice as he got older, matching how the character aged and matured through the Kai series. She received praise from fans for her performance as teen Gohan.

Key Casting Differences

One of the biggest differences between the cast of DBZ and DBZ Kai is the voice actors for main characters Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta. In the original DBZ English dub produced by Funimation, Goku was voiced by Ian Corlett for the first 60 episodes before being replaced by Peter Kelamis for the Namek saga. However, in Kai, Adult Goku is voiced consistently by Sean Schemmel throughout the entire series [1].

There was also a casting change for Gohan. In DBZ, Gohan was voiced by Stephanie Nadolny as a child and teen, but Adult Gohan was voiced by Kyle Hebert. In Kai, Colleen Clinkenbeard voices Gohan consistently across all ages [2].

Finally, Vegeta was originally voiced by Brian Drummond in the DBZ dub, but Christopher Sabat took over the role for Kai and all subsequent projects. Sabat initially tried to imitate Drummond’s take before developing his own interpretation [3].

Why Casting Changed

There are a few key reasons why some of the voice actors changed between the original DBZ dub and the DBZ Kai dub:

The DBZ dub by Funimation utilized voice actors contracted by Saban Entertainment in the late 1990s, many of whom were part of the Ocean Group based in Canada. When Funimation took over production themselves in-house with their own voice cast, they recast many roles with their own talent pool based in Texas.

For the DBZ Kai dub in 2010, Funimation wanted to use their current in-house cast as much as possible, so roles were changed again. They brought back their Texas actors where able, otherwise recast roles to align with their talent pool at that time.

Some specific casting changes included Goku, where Sean Schemmel took over from Peter Kelamis in DBZ, and continued as Goku in DBZ Kai. Chris Sabat also took over the role of Vegeta from Brian Drummond. Other roles like Bulma remained consistent with Tiffany Vollmer across both dubs.

While disruptive for fans used to the original voices, the casting changes allowed Funimation to unify productions under their own voice actors over time.[1]



Fan Reaction

Many fans had strong opinions about the voice actor changes between the original DBZ dub and DBZ Kai. When Funimation took over the dub from the Ocean Group after the Frieza saga, Goku’s voice notably changed from Ian Corlett to Peter Kelamis, which was jarring for some viewers. According to this Reddit discussion, many fans felt Kelamis’ take on Goku made him sound more childish compared to Corlett’s deeper portrayal.

The casting shifts for DBZ Kai also received mixed reactions from fans. For example, Christopher Sabat adjusted his approach for Vegeta to be less shrill and more gruff compared to Brian Drummond’s take in the DBZ dub, per this forum post. While some appreciated the change, others missed the sheer intensity of Drummond’s Vegeta. Overall, voice casts are deeply ingrained for many viewers, so any changes tend to draw strong fan opinions.

Expert Analysis

The recasting between Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Kai has sparked much discussion and debate among fans ( While some believe consistency is paramount, others argue that acting quality should take priority. According to veteran voice director Chris Cason, “Consistency only matters when the voice actors don’t suck. I’m glad Funimation took the opportunity with Kai to recast some roles that needed upgrading” (

Indeed, many fans welcomed the refreshed performances in Kai, feeling they better captured the spirit of the original Japanese cast. However, the loss of certain iconic voices undoubtedly impacted nostalgic fans who grew up with Z. Ultimately, Cason stresses that “casting should be about finding the right match for the character above all else” ( While consistency has value, quality storytelling requires putting character first.

Overall, the recasting highlights the artistry and nuance involved in directing voice talent for anime. There are no easy answers, only tradeoffs. But focusing on embodying the characters, as the Japanese cast does, helps guide the dubbing process ( The debate over Dragon Ball Z vs Kai reveals the complexity of translating performances across languages and cultures.

Other Production Differences

Beyond just the voice cast, there were several other significant production differences between the original DBZ and DBZ Kai:

The animation for DBZ Kai featured updated digital techniques, leading to brighter colors and much cleaner lines compared to the original DBZ. Some fans argue DBZ’s grittier, grainier visual style better fits the series’ intense action [1]. However, Kai’s animation allowed for faster, more fluid battle scenes.

DBZ Kai also featured a completely re-recorded musical score by original series composer Shunsuke Kikuchi. The new score aimed to better match the on-screen action. Additionally, the openings and endings were re-done by popular artists like Good Morning America, Leo Ieiri, and Super Terror [2].

Finally, Kai had an accelerated pace by cutting filler content and episodes down to better follow the manga. DBZ’s original run contained many filler scenes added to stretch episodes. Kai streamlined the story by sticking closer to the original manga’s plot.


In summary, while Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z Kai feature mostly the same voice cast, there are some key differences. The original Japanese voice actors are the same for both series, providing continuity for the original performances. In the Funimation English dubs, many of the principal actors like Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Chris Sabat (Vegeta) reprise their roles in Kai. However, Kai recast some secondary characters like Ginyu, Jeice and Burter with new voice actors. Overall, reactions from fans were mixed on the casting changes, with some preferring the original DBZ voices but others feeling the new actors were better matches. Though the voice casts are mostly the same between the two versions, the recasting of select roles does stand out as one of the more noticeable differences fans notice when comparing DBZ to its Kai remake.

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