Celebrating Dragon Ball Z’s 30th anniversary in Mexico
After 30 years, Son Goku is still saving humanity from aliens, androids, and paranormal beings to protect his home planet and win martial arts tournaments - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Celebrating Dragon Ball Z’s 30th anniversary in Mexico

26/04/2019
15:36
Newsroom
Mexico City
Araceli García & Elizabeth Escobar
-A +A
On April 26, 1989, the followup of the legendary warrior’s life reached television in Japan

After 30 years, Son Goku is still saving humanity from aliens, androids, and paranormal beings to protect his home planet and win martial arts tournaments.

Created by Akira Toriyama, the famous Saiyan Goku is the protagonist of Dragon Ball, one of the most successful animes (and mangas) in history. Thirty years have passed since its sequel, Dragon Ball Z, was first aired in Japan.

On April 26, 1989, the followup of the legendary warrior’s life, who was now an adult, reached television and lasted seven years.

However, Dragonball Z’s success in Latin America was partly due to its unique Mexican dubbing in the 1990s, directed by Gloria Rocha and featuring the talented voices of Mario Castañeda (Goku) and René García (Vegeta), who are acclaimed by Dragonball fans in the country.

“The Dragonball Z fanbase in Mexico became a religion thanks to some of the series’ most iconic moments, conceived by Toriyama,” said Castañeda.

“We have a very good Spanish version that really captures those dramatic moments with great depth. Our acting technique is fully immersive; you don’t act like you’re shouting, you have to shout for real,” he explained.

In this sense, Mario Castañeda finds the key plot of the anime very easy to define: It is a constant struggle between good and evil.

“Goku is just a very good guy. He is the simplest, most stereotypical, and most iconic character in the Dragon Ball franchise. But amidst all the violence—which is characteristic of shonen anime and manga as a cultural means of expression—, the characters experience emotions such as honor, friendship, and hard work. The show teaches children not to let down their guard, never give up, defend the downtrodden, and sacrifice your life for something worth of sacrifice: Family, children, friends, and Earth itself,” said the Mexican actor in an interview.

“These are universal values and they are both very important and simple,” he explained.

And since every great hero needs a villain, Dragon Ball Z was no exception. The 291-chapter series can be divided into the great threats its protagonists had to face.

First of all was Vegeta, the Saiyan invader who instantly becomes Goku’s greatest rival and eventually his best friend.

His voice actor in Mexico, René García, made history in Latin America when he chose to use “Insecto” (Insect) as an insult.

“No one said 'insecto' in real life, and at the beginning they asked me why I didn’t openly insult him since Vegeta was a very arrogant character. I could not use bad words because the anime was meant for kids, so I tried to think of a word that conveyed humiliation, and I said to myself: Well, why not call them insects? If I had thought of registering it, I’d be rich by now,” García told.

An inspiring opening theme

El cielo resplandece a mi alrededor...” (The sky shines all around me) was the opening line of the Spanish theme song, which was sung by Ricardo Silva in Mexico. In an interview, the singer commented that he thought the theme song reflected the story’s key values.

“Everything is possible, never stop dreaming, nothing is impossible if you are confident in your strength,” he said.

The song called “Cha-la head cha-la” (which doesn’t mean anything, neither in Spanish nor Japanese), has become imprinted in Mexico’s popular culture, along with other anime opening themes.
 

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