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|Updated||September 16, 2013|
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Dragon Ball Z Kai (known in Japan as Dragon Ball Kai) is a revised version of the anime series Dragon Ball Z, produced in commemoration of the original's 20th anniversary. It was broadcast in Japan on Fuji Television from April 5, 2009 to March 27, 2011. It features remastered high definition picture, sound, and special effects as well as a re-recorded voice track by most of the original cast. As most of the series' sketches and animation cels had been discarded since the final episode of Dragon Ball Z in 1996, new frames were produced by digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors; thus reducing visible damage to the original animation. Some frames were selectively cropped, while other frames feature new portions added to scenes that were hand drawn to conform to the designated picture ratio. Much of the material from the Dragon Ball Z anime that was not featured in the Dragon Ball manga has been left out in Kai; significantly reducing the total episode count. Thus, Kai is more of a streamlined re-telling of the series focusing more on the material that was in the manga and taking out the extra content of the original anime that was used to pad out the series. The initial broadcast in Japan concluded before airing the final story arc of the original anime series and source manga and was replaced by Toriko with no information at the time as to whether or not the final arc would ever see production. However, on November 6th, 2012 Mayumi Tanaka, voice of Krillin in the series posted news on her blog confirming that Kai will be continuing as voice work was already under way for the early stages of the Majin Buu story arc. Her post goes on to specify that the series revivial is for the overseas market, and as of the time of her post there are no plans to air the new episodes in Japan.
The series uses three pieces of theme music. The opening theme, titled “Dragon Soul,” is performed by Takayoshi Tanimoto, who also performed the first ending theme, titled “Yeah! Break! Care! Break!”. Both pieces are part of a unit called Dragon Soul with guitarist and composer Takafumi Iwasaki. The second ending theme, used from episode 55 onwards, is titled “Kokoro no Hane” (心の羽根 “Wings of the Heart”?) performed by Team Dragon from AKB48, an all-female group composed of members from AKB48. The background music for the series was composed by Kenji Yamamoto, whose music was used for most of the series; however, Yamamoto's music was later replaced with music cues originally composed for Dragon Ball Z by Shunsuke Kikuchi, after Yamamoto was accused of infringement. Although the story footage is taken from existing material, the opening and closing sequences were made from scratch using updated animation methods. The first Blu-ray and DVD compilation was released in Japan on September 18, 2009, with individual volumes releasing monthly as well as Blu-ray box sets.
In 2010, Funimation licensed Kai for an English-language release in the U.S. Funimation's dub of Kai features most of the voice actors from their in-house dub of Dragon Ball Z (though also several re-casts), as well as a more faithful adaptation of the Japanese dialogue than their previous dub. The series aired on Nicktoons, in addition to The CW's Toonzai programming block (later renamed Vortexx). Furthermore, Funimation has also released bilingual uncut Blu-ray and DVD volume and season box sets of the series in North America. In the U.K., the kids TV channel Kix! aired the opening edited episodes in December 2012, followed by a full series run commencing in January 2013.