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Dragonball Z Season 3 UK Anime DVD Review

9 min read

The finale of the Frieza saga delivers some epic moments, some unintentional comedy, and an interesting cliffhanger which may just have ended perhaps the best of the sagas and ready to drag you into the future episodes.

What They Say:
The Horrifying power of Frieza! The battle to decide the fate of the universe begins! On the distant Planet Namek, the seven magic Dragon Balls have been brought together and the dragon Porunga summoned. Now, Goku and the Z-fighters are all that stand between the evil Frieza and his wish for immortality! Having survived their encounters with Frieza’s dreaded minions, Goku and his friends are now left to contend with the ruthless tyrant himself. Despite their recent victories, however, the Z-fighters are ill prepared to face the terrifying reality of Frieza’s power. To defeat this seemingly invincible foe and restore peace to the universe, there is but one hope – a Super Saiyan must emerge! Contains episodes 75-107.

The Review:
Audio:
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. There are options to watch the 5.1 English, the original release English and the original release Japanese (the latter two in 2.0) which has been a pleasure to listen to throughout these remastered releases. Overall, excellent quality.

Video:
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, and no issues regarding delays or effects during pauses or menus either. It’s as good as a release that any DBZ fan, old or new, will definitely appreciate.

Menu:
The menu on all 6 discs is exactly the same (bar the extras on Disc 6) – this time we get our favourite villain Frieza with his trademark smirk forming an energy ball about to destroy his latest victim, in a horizontal bar across the screen whilst below it we have the selections 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.

Extras:
The only extra that is sadly available is the clean opening and ending tracks, which is pretty much the same extras as it was on the previous disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dragonball Z, for those who don’t know, is a massive guilty pleasure of mine. I’m not a huge fan of the shounen jump style shows which speak more action than words, usually due to the characters and my lack of interest in what they do. However, there are a few exceptions – more recently One Piece, and back in the day, DBZ. Maybe it was the first of the bunch being the reason. Maybe it was so over the top it was unintentionally hilarious. Maybe because the characters were either likeable or surprisingly complex. Or maybe because the villain was so utterly despicable yet near invincible you were hoping for the chance the hero can lay the smack down. And none more so this is apparent in DBZ than when Frieza turns up.

With the Ginyu Force defeated and Goku healing up, Krillin and Gohan decide to find Dende and get the password and try to sneakily revive the dragon whilst Vegeta is asleep as they don’t fully trust him. Dende gets to them first, as Frieza realizes that Nail was stalling him so that Dende could tell them the password. Enraged, he heads over to try and find them first but the dragon is brought back. He is able to grant 3 wishes so thanks to some smarts from Piccolo, they bring him back to life and to return to Namek, because this smartly also brings back Kame back on Earth, which in turn, will also resurrect the Earth’s Dragonballs. After using 2 wishes to do that however, Vegeta wakes up and realizes the dragon has been brought up, and rushes to catch the three in the act. He forces them to get his wish for immortality, but just before the wish is made, Guru sadly dies. This in turn makes the Dragon Balls obsolete…and even worse, Frieza finds them. And is not amused.

This leads to fighting. A lot of fighting. A lot of people could say this does drag out, and to be fair, I do agree to an extent. There is a section where we learn that Dende can actually heal people – yet this wasn’t done until Gohan and Krillin both get mortally hurt by Frieza. This was obviously done to make sure Goku wasn’t involved at the start. Also Piccolo isn’t transported immediately to their location – again, this was so he could meet up with Nail and perform a fusion technique so that Piccolo would have a chance against Frieza. However, on the other side it allows for the Z-Fighters to each get their moments to shine, and we finally get to see Frieza’s reputation truly is deserved.

Frieza is on one hand, a rather stereotypical villain. He’s evil for the sake of it, but has the power and intelligence to back it up – and worse, he’s actually holding back for most of the fight. We learn he is also the cause of Vegeta’s home planet being destroyed along with the death of his father, and were practically Frieza’s servant in terms of raiding rogue planets so Frieza could sell off or blow up. We begin to see the cracks of Vegeta as we learn there is a bit more to him – he’s still a jerk but we understand a bit more. This is especially telling a bit later…

The three fend off Frieza at first but Frieza reveals his secret – he can transform into stronger forms of himself. His second transformation almost kills Krillin immediately (and finally get to see this scene as it was so violent the aftermath was never shown on TV when I watched it back in the late 90s), and despite some good efforts from Gohan he’s also unable to hold him off. Suddenly Piccolo returns and is surprisingly a match to the shock of Vegeta. This lets him get an idea – he believes that he is a Super Saiyan and thinks he just needs a little push. He lets Krillin (revived by Dende) nearly kill him so Dende can revive him which as we know, Saiyans gets stronger every time they recover from near fatal injury. Dende is obviously not as helpful considering Vegeta helped kill some of his people but eventually after some convincing he does.

This is mainly because Frieza transforms again, now being more than a match for Piccolo, but a stronger Gohan (again, recovered thanks to Dende and is thus stronger) manages to at least cause Frieza concern. Because of this, he decides to transform to his ultimate form – and in his first move, kills Dende to make sure they can’t heal. This moment stunned me because to kill a child so easily put Frieza immediately as a villain who doesn’t care who he has to deal with, he just deals with it, and has the power to back it up. Piccolo, Krillin and Gohan combined are no match for Frieza, which is the point that Vegeta believes he has become a Super Saiyan to finally be the one to defeat Frieza, who was always afraid of the Saiyans because of the legend that a Super Saiyan would be the one to defeat Frieza.

Sadly, it wasn’t Vegeta.

This leads to the discussion of Vegeta’s past when he is dying, as Goku has finally healed and heads off to fight Frieza himself. Most of the second half of the release is basically Goku vs. Frieza – which brings out plenty of predictability, action and unintentional comedy. It starts off even, then Frieza reveals he’s not at full power so does 50% of his power, clobbers Goku for a bit, Goku uses his ultimate attack, they think Frieza is dead…and he isn’t. He recovers, nearly kills Picollo, DOES kill Krillin, and the death of his best friend causes Goku to enrage, which is the catalyst to become a Super Saiyan. In this form, Goku is now far stronger than Frieza which forces him to use his full power…just as he nearly blows the planet up. And of course, the joke that the planet has about 5 minutes left to live…and yet 8 more 20+ minute episodes later it’s still there as they finish the fight.

There are other moments throughout though, some comic, some unneeded, and some actually relevant to the plot. The bits with poor Bulma as she suffers (and even taken over briefly by Captain Ginyu) just show that she still exists, the Ginyu Force being invited by Kai to fight with Yamacha, Tien and Chaotzu was unexpected but in the end pointless – however the way every rights itself is both intelligent and a bit of a cop out. King Kai’s idea of bringing all the Namekians back to life killed by Frieza was interesting, but the fact he said that Guru would also come back to life as he was killed by Frieza via a broken heart is either very smart or just a deus ex machina to make sure Frieza got his comeuppance. They screw over Frieza, but Goku wants to stay to fight him despite the planet about to blow up. It is intense however, and despite the whole 5 minutes joke, it is a great battle and with no repeated animation we get some really good fight scenes, and to the end we still don’t know what happened to Goku…as we prepare for the next saga.

Dragonball Z Part 3 is the most action packed of the sagas, but also one of the most well thought. We get some moments with Vegeta and his past, as by the end of the saga despite him still being very antagonist (he beats up Gohan a bit and shows no remorse for the Namekians he killed) he does stay on Earth for a bit thanks to Bulma, even suggests the idea how to get Goku back to Earth. Piccolo also has mellowed out as a surrogate dad to Gohan, even calling Goku his friend. The subtle character development shown at the end of Season 1 has come full circle, and Frieza was a villain that everyone feared, yet had the charisma, fear and intelligence to be a well spoken tyrant, conceited but had every right to be. Of course, he had a mental breakdown once Goku was better than he was, shown even he had his fragilities, which is why he was a good villain. Of course it’s very silly, the whole 5 minute thing was just ridiculous, and as it’s mostly pure action, it’s not very story-driven. However, the true heartfelt moments (Krillin’s death, Vegeta’s past, Guru’s return and the way Kai’s plan unfolds) combined with the silly but fun moments, with a ton of over the top action makes this a real fun nostalgia trip.

Overall:
Dragonball Z continues to be the guilty pleasure of nostalgia I love, and the 3rd set is probably my favourite. It’s nothing intelligent, it’s just a lot of fun combined with some genuine moments. Frieza is a frightening villain, Vegeta gets moments that showcase he may be slowly turning good, everyone gets a moment in the shine and whilst a lot of the silly moments can overshadow it, Goku turning Super Saiyan is one of those infamous moments of anime where you simply have your mouth in shock. DBZ fans it’s already recommended to, but this maybe the one arc I’d recommend for anyone, action, shounen, nostalgia or just looking for a series to start with. Recommended.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: October 1st, 2012
MSRP: £25
Running Time: 825 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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