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 Definitive Collection Continues!! Season Four contains the complete Garlic Jr., Trunks and Android sagas on 6 discs. Having returned victorious from their battle with Frieza, the Z-fighters can at last breathe a collective sigh of relief… But they won’t have long to rest. A new host of villains has appeared, ready to wreak havoc on the Earth—and Goku, the Z-Fighters’ greatest hero is still missing! In the face of these new dangers, a mysterious youth with Super Saiyan powers has come bearing a bleak prediction for the future: in just three years’ time, an evil greater than any the Z-Fighters have ever faced will emerge to cast a shadow of destruction and despair over the Earth. And if the young Saiyan’s prediction is correct, the Z-Fighters will have to train like they have never trained before in order to have any hope against these seemingly unstoppable foes—the Androids!
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.
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.
The menu on all 6 discs is exactly the same (bar the extras on Disc 6) – this time we get our newest hero, Trunks in his futuristic adult form, a hand on his sword about to draw and looking menacing, as per all the previous releases the shot is set 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.
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 two releases.
With the Frieza saga wrapping up, DBZ goes into a different twist because with the initial two arcs, plot points were given (Goku being a Saiyan, Piccolo turning to the side of good and discovering his home planet, the introduction of Vegeta) and with Frieza apparently dead, it was interesting to see what DBZ would do here. In turn, this set has the beginning of something good, but unfortunately had to get through a lot of problems before it did.
The problem I speak of is mostly in the first part of the release, a.k.a. the Garlic Jr saga. Now to its credit, for people who didn’t watch Dragonball (like myself) the first episode manages to do a good recap in the form of Mr Popo on who Garlic Jr was and his backstory, to try and make him a creditable villain as a way to pass the time before Goku returns. Sadly, that’s basically what it is, a filler arc to pass the time. They also introduce Maron, a pointless character simply there to be Krillin’s girlfriend…but leaves at the end of the arc (only to return in one of the new arcs to be just as pointless) more as a way perhaps to set up a hint for something to happen with Krillin in the new arc. The way the threat comes about is ridiculous (even doing a Spice Girls parody group as the mook villains with the Spice Boys) of the Dark Mist to corrupt people with negative emotions…yet Piccolo is eventually shown to not have been effected despite his quite obvious antagonism before he met Gohan. So it does feel very out of place – it doesn’t help that the way the mist turns the good guys into jerks makes them seem very silly…yet I still really don’t like Chichi. Her way of not caring about her husband in this arc combined with her over indulgence of making Gohan study really puts her in a high contender for least favourite character, easily above a number of the villains, including Frieza. (She does get a few moments of redemption, but again, the tutor ep was pointless bar the end) The first 11 episodes have this saga with a couple of true filler episodes (like if Krillin wants to get married to Maron) before we get surprised with the return of Frieza, and his father King Cold.
Frieza’s rotting body was found in space, apparently still alive. They recovered him and the parts of his body that were destroyed they have replaced with mechanical parts, making him seem stronger than ever. The DBZ gang including a returning Vegeta goes to where they can see and sense his presence as his space ship descends, his plan to blow it up just before Goku comes back. However, a young warrior with a sword appears out of nowhere to take out some of Frieza’s goons before confronting both him and his father. To the shock of the others, especially Vegeta, the boy appears to be a Super Saiyan, despite only Goku, Vegeta and Gohan having Saiyan blood in them. To their even greater surprise, he defeats Frieza and King Cold with ease, and then seems to be able to know exactly when and where Goku is going to arrive…
When Goku does arrive, the young man and him have a good talk. His name is Trunks, and he has come from the future using technology from his mother…who turns out to be Bulma. But again, to this time Goku’s surprise, his father is Vegeta! This twist is a surprising one as no-one (myself included) when they first saw this would have expected those two to get together especially with the established relationship she has with Yamacha. He also says that his future, there are androids that are planning to take over the Earth, who will kill all the Z fighters, whilst Goku dies on a mysterious heart virus. Seeing Goku’s true intentions, he gives him some medicine not invented in the current time, and Goku (and Piccolo who could hear them) and the others begin their training for 3 years, in various ways. (Weirdly, considering this show can extend 5 minutes to 4 or so episodes, we barely get any info on the 3 years – especially how Bulma and Vegeta end up together…yet we get a filler episode of Piccolo and Goku learning how to drive…yes, I didn’t make that up…)
We get to the final arc of the set, after the training we see the introduction of the androids 19 and 20, who have the ability to absorb energy when thrown in projectile form, or just by grabbing them and draining it directly. Yamacha is almost immediately killed but is saved by the rest of the fighters as Goku fights 19 – but during the fight he begins to succumb to the virus. The group is saved by the return of Vegeta, who has finally become a Super Saiyan. He defeats 19, whilst Android 20 is actually a cyborg version of Dr. Gero, another old enemy from the original DB (which again does get some exposition from Bulma for those unfamiliar to him). But when Trunks returns, he is shocked to see the androids in question are not the ones he’s familiar with. With Gero in trouble with running from Vegeta and fighting Piccolo, he goes to his secret base and activates Androids 17 and 18, a brother/sister pair of young adults who seem much more human in appearance.
And much more deadly. They betray their master quickly, activate another android (16) that isn’t as humanoid in emotion as the other two and has one command: Kill Goku. The female android 18 actually defeats Vegeta in convincing fashion and the others fall (with one interest exception, Krillin isn’t attacked as the androids actually don’t finish them off due to their mission, and in reference to the above with Maron, 18 actually kisses Krillin on the cheek which does seem to plague his mind). At the moment, there isn’t much to categorize the androids as they are the ones Trunks was afraid of, yet the fact they haven’t killed the others and 18’s slight compassion suggest perhaps some character development…
The cliffhanger is the androids approaching Goku’s place, whilst Bulma finds out a time machine has arrived nearby which suggests another twist in the tale. What that twist is will be interesting because for the moment, this is the weakest of the box sets though that is mainly due to the uninteresting and pointless Garlic Jr saga, a lot of unnecessary filler, and the initial android battles to be quite dull and pointless, with questions that Goku thought as the virus didn’t affect him on when Trunks said it would he’d be fine, and because of that, a lot of the characters really don’t get much interest in. The few things that did interest are Trunks, as you want to know what the future holds if the Z fighters fail (there are glimpses here and there) and also how did Vegeta and Bulma get together – it seems very odd they do and the filler episodes could have easily shown some glimpses but instead…we get Chichi berating Goku and forcing him and Piccolo to take a driver’s test. Yeah.
The other good thing is that the androids may not appear to be as what Trunks said. Of course, this could be a façade and their duty is still after Goku. But sparing the lives of the fighters, Android 18’s compassion, and 16’s love of wildlife, they seem more cultured than expected. This depends on what happens when they face Goku and if they are the true villains, as the cliffhanger suggests otherwise, but this saga at least is starting to come into shape. Sadly, with most of the cast downplayed bar Trunks (Gohan is prominent in the Garlic Jr saga but still seems an afterthought for most of it, Maron seems pointless, and even Vegeta barring some flashbacks of him becoming Super Saiyan is very downplayed), it needs to build up considering how well the Frieza saga ended. In fact, the fact Frieza returned felt a bit cheap as well (the last scene we have of him shows him practically incinerated yet still is alive somehow in space) but fortunately it did bring about Trunks so at least it has purpose bar filler waiting for Goku to return.
After the strongest arc of the series, we get so far the weakest. It takes a while for the viewer to get interested because the initial arc is weak and uninterested, and the return of Frieza albeit briefly feels a major cop out. Fortunately, it brings us the character of Trunks and his backstory, and we get some signs of life with the Android trio of 16, 17 and 18. It looks like there will be more to this so whilst mostly weak, it’s not without art and it will get you ready for hopefully a lot more action once Goku recovers. All in all, OK at best, but still worth owning if you want to prepare for the next saga…
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: November 5th, 2012
Running Time: 800 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.