What They Say:
DRAGON BALL Z is the sequel to Japanese animation DRAGON BALL which starts where the last series left off. It was inspired by the Chinese novel JOURNEY TO THE WEST. Follow the adventures of Goku as a grown man who now has a wife and child. He and his friends are living a quiet life until Goku learns he is really a Saiyan and comes from another planet. Includes every episode in series 2.
With this being the first ever time DBZ has been released in the UK, the remastering of it has been nothing short of superb, this includes the audio. In English we have a 5.1 Dolby Surround sound whilst in Japanese we have a standard 2.0 stereo which still sounds excellent, which should please dub and sub fans. One thing I forgot the mention on my previous review (which is in effect for this review) is that there are options to watch the 5.1 English, the original release English and the original release Japanese (the latter two in 2.0) – this is interesting when you get to the extras and you hear the original Japanese opening Head Cha-La in the clean opening but watching the dub as I tend to do in the first review always confuses me as the opening is different…weird but eventually realized. Overall, excellent quality.
As before, as this is a remastered track, and a really new feeling considering this is the UK’s debut for DBZ, this is a great release as the animation has been remastered magnificently, giving it a real crisp feel, no errors or animation glitches or transition issues throughout (though did notice a couple of times on the last disc that there was some issues as part of the animation seemed to freeze). It’s as good as a release that any DBZ fan, old or new, will definitely appreciate.
The menu on all 6 discs is exactly the same (bar the extras on Disc 6) – a shot of Goku in the middle on an orange background a la Goku’s gi with a black bar about a third from the bottom of the screen with play all, episodes and audio selection, with extras on the final disc. Each is easily selectable but with very little interplay as its very standard, plus there is no scene select option with the episodes.
The only extra that is sadly available is the clean opening and ending tracks, which is nice especially as I went to the extras after watching the English 5.1 Release so was surprised to hear Head Cha-La (still no Rock The Dragon though, sorry old-school fans) but aside from that, very disappointed considering how long the UK has waited for the release and currently no major extras in either release.
The first season of Dragonball Z was a nice bit of nostalgic fun combined with the fact it still held quite well today, helped of course by the remastering of the series and that it was the first time the UK actually had got hold of a DVD Release – comedy, tragedy and a lot of action from Season 1 but it brought onto a new saga, and many people’s favourite.
We continue from the end of Season 1, as with Kami dead the Earth’s Dragonballs have now been rendered obsolete, so Bulma, Krillin and Gohan travel to the Planet Namek where the Dragonballs originated to see if they have some they can use to wish back their friends back, whilst Goku recovers after his fight with Vegeta back on Earth. The first few episodes sadly are very fillerish when it turns out that their trip to ‘Namek’ was really a waste of time, with one major plot exception, that Vegeta has returned to his base and healed up, and is also heading out to Namek, apparently his ‘boss’, a space creature named Frieza, is also there – and Vegeta assumes correctly he is also after the Dragonballs, searching for immortality. You can tell there is some friction there, which is probably why people like this arc here, as Vegeta, despite being genuinely quite a nasty piece of work, was well liked and people could see there would be some unique team ups in this arc.
Indeed, Frieza is on Namek, and has already acquired several Dragon Balls – and it’s also obvious to Gohan and Krillin that his power level exceeds everyone they know including Goku and Vegeta. With Goku healed up and shortly on his way to Namek, we get some interesting information regarding Saiyan power levels and also a little back-story on Vegeta’s planet and how/why it was destroyed, again, eluding to Vegeta possibly teaming up with the heroes in some form, yet he never loses his snarky and selfish attitude, as his goal is still on the Dragonballs. Vegeta is played pretty well in this arc throughout, because he does that those moments where he will need the heroes, but he can easily ditch them or kill them if he wants to, and he’s still set as a villain so you don’t forget as he kills a family of Nameks just as easily as he kills a couple of Frieza’s henchmen.
The story does follow a formulaic line though, basically we get an obstacle in the path of usually Vegeta, he defeats them, or is defeated, gets healed up, gets stronger and beats the obstacle. He steals the Dragonballs from Frieza, including one that Krillin gets but fortunately Gohan with the aid of a new friend, a child they saved from one of Frieza’s village exterminations Dende, gets one Dragon Ball, as well as unlocking of some new powers along with Krillin at the hands of the Namekian Elder Guru. However, things turn for the strange when after Frieza’s two main henchmen die, he requests his elite fighting force the Ginyu Force to retrieve the Dragon Balls.
The Ginyu Force are…interesting to say the least. Very flamboyant, over the top humanoid aliens, who act like they are in a super sentai show. However, there are very strong and Vegeta is forced to team up with Gohan and Krillin to try and stop them. However, it doesn’t seem to go very well until Goku does show up. He had prior been shown training up to 100x gravity in his ship which accounted for a very high power raise, making him far stronger than even Vegeta, which brings to something Vegeta mentions called a Super Saiyan…wondering if Goku is the one…yet at the same time he wouldn’t harm a fly unless he had to whereas Super Saiyan’s are cold murderous killers, with Vegeta thinking that he is the true one…
Goku does indeed deal with most of the Ginyu force, including an interesting battle with Captain Ginyu which sets up for the second half of the Frieza Saga, as issues come to play that Guru could be dying soon, which would mean Namek’s Dragonballs would be useless, and the fact that you need a password to unlock them so Frieza goes to try and get the password from Guru, but his bodyguard Nail tries to hold him off as best as he can so Dende can give the others the password. It’s here where you get a glimpse of how strong Frieza is, and you know he’s going to be gunning for our heroes (and Vegeta) shortly…
A lot does happen in the arc, though you get the feeling it does drag on at times, which is a common complaint/joke about DBZ in general. We do get interspaced with things like Tien, Yamacha, Chaotzu and Piccolo on King Kai’s planet also now learning training from him (and some humorous issues like trying to make King Kai laugh – hard for the serious Piccolo and Tien), and some sneers as Vegeta goes up against old friends (and promptly kills them now), but the problem with this half is that there is a lot of anticipation, which in fairness is done well. King Kai reportedly warns Goku not to face Frieza, whilst Goku is just wanting to see how strong he is, the panic in Kai’s voice suggests that Frieza is NOT to be trifled with, which just makes everyone want to see what he’s truly capable of – his fight with Nail is so one-sided, yet Nail is considering quite a high power Namekian and Frieza basically literally fights him with one arm behind his back…
There is a very good mixture of action and comedy though, Vegeta being the main one responsible for this. You don’t get to see much from the Earthlings outside the initial arc (Bulma is practically written out of it) but the reluctant team up with Vegeta does suggest more involvement, especially near the end when they have to join to fight Captain Ginyu. Indeed, the Ginyu Force bring some high quality entertainment for their sheer flamboyant nature and sentai rip off style, heck, when you can make Frieza sweatdrop you know you’re strange. But it is really a way to bring Vegeta into the play with our heroes and see some developing back-story for him – he’s still a villain, and people shouldn’t forget that. He wants the Dragonballs, he’s ready to attack Gohan and Krillin once they get them, and despite some tinges of mercy, he’s still the same guy that nearly killed them on Earth. The end of this release does suggest that he is willing to stand by them for his own needs though, so it will be interesting to see how the second half comes. However, the fact there is a bigger villain in Frieza suggests if Vegeta is not as evil as he is, if he is indeed the lesser of two evils. Frieza himself is a standard antagonist, he’s powerful enough to do what he wants, so he does it. Vegeta is more interesting in that regard, but we’ll see how it cooks up as the inevitable battle between them and Frieza commences.
Dragonball Z continues to be not just a treat for nostalgia’s sake, but it is genuinely fun and holds up surprisingly well – in fact I enjoy it a lot more than a lot of current day similar shows. There is some stretching out with some of the battles, and in some cases you wish there was more (the Ginyu Force were gone way too soon) but it does build anticipation by giving enough of the main villain that you know there is going to be something to look forward to, especially with how it’s developed the former main villain Vegeta. A guilty pleasure or enjoying the nostalgia? I call it a bit of both and definitely new fans can latch onto it as well.
5.1 English, 2.0 Japanese Languages
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: August 27th, 2012
Running Time: 875 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.