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<I>Dragon Ball</I> Ends, <I>Case Closed</I> Begins

24 Apr, 2004 By: Edwin De La Cruz

It's the end of an era for Funimation, the Fort Worth, Texas, anime publisher responsible for bringing the “Dragon Ball” series to the United States. May 11, Dragon Ball GT — Generations (Vol. 15) will mark the final release in the best-selling “Dragon Ball GT” saga.

“This is the ‘must-have' volume that concludes the legendary ‘Dragon Ball' series,” said Gen Fukunaga, president of Funimation Productions Ltd. “The Dragon Ball franchise [encompassing “Dragon Ball,” “Dragon Ball Z” and “Dragon Ball GT”] is one of the most successful franchises in the history of anime and arguably one of the most successful animated TV series ever,” he said.

The series has consistently topped the anime VideoScan charts since its debut, and last year “Dragon Ball GT” pushed its popularity to the limits when two DVD volumes — Preparation and Ramification — ranked Nos. 17 and 18 vs. all DVDs released during the week of July 20. Collectively, the franchise has sold more than 15 million units on home video, according to the company.

It's no doubt that any “Dragon Ball” video that is released has its dedicated following behind it, but with no further volumes, how will Funimation fill the void once the breadwinner is gone?

For starters, the company is prepping a July 13 release for Dragon Ball GT — The Lost Episodes, a compilation of never-before-seen episodes that were excised to keep the momentum of “Dragon Ball Z,” the previous series.

Second, the company will debut “Case Closed,” its latest anime franchise beginning June 7 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line-up.The series, commonly known as “Detective Conan” in Japan, has been a big hit in its native country, where it still airs and ranks as the No. 1 anime week after week. It has surpassed 350 episodes. “Dragon Ball Z,” in comparison, ended with 252. The series will undergo a name change in the United States to avoid confusion with Conan the Barbarian.

“The series includes a blend of the very popular ‘who-done-it' type of mystery with quick-paced plot twists and intelligent humor,” Fukunaga said. He also believes that it has elements that can draw in an exceptionally broad audience.

“The widely appealing plot has been left uncut, but the character names and humor are being tweaked to appeal to the American audiences,” Fukunaga said.

Due to its late-night schedule on the Adult Swim, which begins at 11 p.m. on Saturday nights, it may be that that an older audience may embrace the property first — very much like “Cowboy Bebop.”

“The nature of a crime/murder-mystery show like ‘Case Closed' makes it a gripping series that is a perfect fit for the Adult Swim audience,” Fukunaga said. “Airing on the Adult Swim also allows the episodes to be broadcast uncut,” he said.

“Case Closed” is expected to hit stores Aug. 24.

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