The Top 5 Most Debated Names in Dragon Ball

Lucas DeRuyter
TV Dragon Ball
TV Dragon Ball Anime

Thanks to its popularity peaking at the same time as internet access became common in the average household, Dragon Ball has one of the oldest online fandoms. As a result, different iterations of the franchise have been localized countless times, resulting in inconsistent translations and spelling that still exist today. These differences, though seemingly minor, have caused endless debates about which version is correct. But when it comes to Dragon Ball, there’s never an easy answer. Here are the five most debated names in the franchise.

Frieza vs. Freeza

You could go with which one looks cooler, but that’s his brother.

The galactic tyrant’s name makes us wonder if he could keep our ice cream cold on a hot summer day. His name is an obvious play on the word “freezer,” but how should we spell it? The literal translation of his name from Japanese is “Freeza,” but when Funimation dubbed the anime, they decided to throw a silent “I” in there.

The sheer amount of merchandise labeled “Frieza” keeps this debate alive. It’s the most popular spelling in the Dragon Ball games, and the English dub continues to use it. Adding to the confusion, Viz uses “Freeze” in their manga translation. Fans and localizers may never agree on the spelling, but there’s one thing we can all agree on. “Frieza” sounds more like “fries” than the name of an icebox.

Kikoho vs. Tri-Beam

This is where things start to get ridiculous.

The Kikoho (or Tri-Beam) is one of Tien Shinhan‘s (or Tenshinhan, this guy is full of controversy) signature attacks. The debate started when the translation team made up the name “Tri-Beam” for the attack when it first appeared in Dragon Ball. Sure, the original name, Kikoho is a bit generic, but it’s a lot more accurate. It literally translates to “ki blast cannon,” which makes a lot more sense than Tri-Beam.

It’s especially confusing because Tien’s hands roughly formed the shape of a square when he first used the attack. This debunks the idea that the name originates from the triangle shape his hands form much later in the series against Cell. Many Tri-Beam defenders argue that the name stems from Tien being a triclops, but we’ve seen other non-three-eyed characters us the attack.

Not to mention that Tien learned the attack from Master Shen, who is definitely not a triclops. Tien’s signature move may be cool, but when it came time to give it a name in the West, he got the short end of the stick.

Special Beam Cannon vs. Makankosappo

This change is a bit more understandable, but still a shame.

One of Piccolo’s many signature attacks — and the one he developed specifically to kill Goku — is usually called the Special Beam Cannon. In Japanese, it’s called “Makankosappo.” Admittedly, Makankosappo is a bit of a mouthful. But couldn’t they have used the literal translation of the attack, ‘Demonic Piercing Light Murder Gun,’ instead? They missed the opportunity to create the most badass name in all of Dragon Ball.

Even though the translation is the greatest thing we’ve ever heard, we can understand why the name changed. After all, parents probably don’t want their children watching a kid’s show that casually uses the word “murder.” Then again, it was used to murder two people on the show, so maybe not.

Hell vs. HFIL

I’ll see you in HFIL!

The realms of damnation in Dragon Ball are pretty weird and confusing. Each planet gets their own specific hell. However, all the hells are separate from the Demon Realm where demons like Dabura live. But, for some reason, ogres can appear in both the Demon Realm and hell. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, depending on the dub or game, hell is sometimes called “HFIL” (Home For Infinite Losers).

The producers went to great (and impressive) lengths to omit any reference to hell in the anime. They even went so far as to edit the word “HELL” to make it look like “HFIL.” But when you consider that Goku literally dies in the fifth episode of Dragon Ball Z, you can’t help but feel their efforts were wasted.

Zeno vs. Every Name Imaginable

Perhaps humanity is not capable of understanding his true name.

Grand Zeno, currently the most powerful character in the Dragon Ball canon, rules over the twelve universes. He can erase anyone and anything at any time. Despite his place at the top of the hierarchy, there is no definitive localization of his ambiguous Japanese name. Excluding nicknames, and depending on the medium and translation, Zeno has been called all of the following: King of All, Zen-Oh, Zeno, Omni-King, Lord of Everything, The Almighty Zen’Oh, and Grand Zeno.

None of these interpretations are inappropriate or misleading. It’s just bizarre that the name of a major character from a series as monumental as Dragon Ball is so contentious. The term “Omni-King,” one of the more popular translations, originated from fans debating over an appropriate name for our favorite little sociopath. Even with the Dragon Ball Super series ending this month, this debate is sure to continue for as long as the franchise puts out new content.

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Lucas DeRuyter
University of Wisconsin Madison graduate with a deep interest in media, writing, and storytelling.