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Dragon Ball GT: Season 1 UK Anime DVD Review

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Dragon Ball GTThis ‘sequel’ of Dragonball Z for the last few episodes incorporates the cheesy enjoyment I got out of the series. Everything before that however…

What They Say :
All 34 episodes from the first series of the Japanese anime continuing the adventures of Goku (voice of Masako Nozawa) and his search for the elusive dragon balls. The episodes are: ‘A Devastating Wish’, ‘Pan Blasts Off’, ‘Terror On Imecka’, ‘The Most Wanted List’, ‘Goku Vs. Ledgic’, ‘Like Pulling Teeth’, ‘Trunks, the Bride’, ‘Whisker Power’, ‘Lord Luud’, ‘Dance and Attack’, ‘Lord Luud’s Curse’, ‘The Last Oracle of Luud’, ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’, ‘The Battle Within’, ‘Beginning of the End’, ‘Giru’s Checkered Past’, ‘Pan’s Gambit’, ‘Unexpected Power’, ‘A General Uprising’, ‘The Source of Rilldo’s Power’, ‘A Secret Revealed’, ‘The Baby Secret’, ‘Hidden Danger’, ‘Discovering the Truth’, ‘Baby’s Arrival’, ‘Saiyan Hunting’, ‘The Attack On Vegeta’, ‘A Worldwide Problem’, ‘The Fall of the Saiyans’, ‘The Game After Life’, ‘Collapse from Within’, ‘The Return of Uub’, ‘The Tail’s Tale’ and ‘Back in the Game’.

As per the DBZ releases, the audio tracks have a 5.1 Surround Sound, US Broadcast Version Stereo and the original Japanese Mono, making it the first release in the UK for GT with a Japanese release. The English track is good as most 5.1 releases are, which is always recommended for a remastered track as well – no probs with the sound being in sync with the subtitles, plus you have 3 options which are all definitely listenable. Video quality is excellent (no issues compared to some of the DBZ releases where there was slowdown on a couple of the episodes) as this new remastered set ends well visually and sound wise, especially as had it on widescreen format so the aspect ratio isn’t affected by how you watch it.

The menus are mostly identical in each of the 6 discs, with a horizontal image of Super Saiyan 4 Goku on an orange background with the menu selections on a black bar at the bottoms, with discs 1-5 having the choice of Play All (with opening and endings on each episode), Marathon Feature (op and end only on the first and last episode respectively), Episode List and Set Up, with Disc 6 also having an Extras feature. Very basic, but easy to navigate both from the menu and from the show itself.

No extras for this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I remember watching a few episodes of Dragonball GT which came I believe in the UK on Cartoon Network in the early 2000s when DBZ finished. However, I remember very little about it, because DBZ had a silly little charm which whilst predictable was still entertaining to watch, and rewatching the series on the re-mastered DVDs didn’t change that view, as whilst no where a brilliant anime, is at least very shut your brain off and watch enjoyable. The fact I couldn’t remember much about GT though was not a good sign…and rewatching most of this series I remember why.

It does initially continue with DBZ, as time has passed and we see Goku finishing his training of Uub, when an old face from the original Dragonball series General Pilaf sneaks into Dende’s chamber and collects a new set of deus ex machinas…also known as the Black Star Dragonballs, where Goku catches him after he summons the dragon. In his anger, he accidentally wishes Goku to return to being a child which is granted. And Goku being Goku, first thinks it’s great and just wait for him to age again…unfortunately if the balls aren’t recovered within a year, the planet the wish was made on will explode. So this leads to him, along with an older Trunks (closer resembling his future self) and Goku’s granddaughter Pan (Gohan and Videl’s daughter) as she sneaks onto one of Bulma’s spaceships to search for the Dragonballs.

A lot of the episodes therefore become the trio locating the Dragonballs. It leads to Goku realizing that his smaller body cannot handle a lot of the techniques as well as he did as an adult like his instant transmission or going Super Saiyan. A lot of the episodes are simply travelling planet to planet searching for them, with hazards of various sorts ranging from physical to financial (one of the first stories is at a planet where they are charged for everything and with no power to stop it) – they try to add comedy through with the introduction of a robot named Giru that absorbs the Dragon Radar, which is really a way for audiences to find a way to interact with Pan who sadly, for a lot of the show, is treated simply as a weak link a lot of the time so they focus on her as the comedy element, whether arguing with Giru or being chased by giant bees…

They try to make the focus a lot sillier compared to the original DBZ. Yes, there were a number of goofy moments in DBZ, but for the majority of the series, it is the primary focus in GT, whilst incorporating the odd fight scene and villain. There is a planet where they have to save some people from being married off to a water beast named Zoonama, and Trunks has to crossdress to try and get close enough to cut off his whiskers which are the source of his power. Whilst is mildly amusing, it really doesn’t have the image I see when I think of a Dragonball series. You do see the cast a lot older (though Vegeta with a moustache in his first appearance was really odd), but all it does mostly is portray Goku as not as strong as before, and that his annoying traits suddenly become really annoying as a kid. Coupled with the fact that all the sub-stories when involving travelling around to find the Dragonballs range from a cult of robots which includes a very creepy guy who transforms Pan into a doll (and yes, it does get as uncomfortable as you think it does albeit just for a short time), to some attempting growing up for Pan and how she begins to appreciate Giru, which does set up for the final part of the search arc, where they return to Giru’s home planet.

This part is probably the only half-decent bit of the search arc, because it seems like Giru has betrayed the group, and the robot planet captures Goku and Trunks, with Pan upset at the betrayal and tries to save them. She frees Goku after some battles as Goku eventually takes on the Sigma Force, sadly not a robot version of the Ginyuu Force. The main villain, General Rilldo, actually turns Trunks into a metal block, and is able to absorb metal around him meaning as long as metal exists on the planet, he cannot be defeated. The actual fight and betrayal of Giru actually works out as a smart plan by Trunks and was actually rather clever in how it came about, plus Pan actually was a lot more active meaning she got to do stuff instead of being overshadowed by Goku and Trunks. It also sets up for the next arc the Baby arc, which at least returns us to Earth and get back to seeing some of our favourite characters from DBZ.

The Baby arc does give some hearsay to the DBZ of old, with the character Baby reminding me a bit of Cell and Buu in terms that he has to get stronger by absorbing energy and controlling other people (almost like Captain Ginyuu a little too). He goes to Earth to find and control the Saiyans, which leads to the return of Goten (who feels a bit out of place now he’s older and seems to be very much a ladies’ man) with Baby controlling them at their most powerful. He then gets to control Gohan, defeat Piccolo and finally search for Vegeta – we then see some of Baby’s origins and why he is after the Saiyans which surprisingly gives him better back story than a number of the later DBZ villains. With Baby now able to control multiple people after infecting, he is able to control Vegeta, ready for Goku’s arrival…

…unfortunately whilst the show does indeed have some more DBZ moments, it is incorporated with lots of silliness. When Goku for example is trained by the Elder Kai to recover his tail, thinking his other form would be enough, it leads to almost a ridiculous type of mini-game set which felt really pointless. There has been silliness before, but most of it actually had a point to it (like Goku’s training with King Kai) – this really felt tacked on in a season that is pretty much original and filler like in the first place. Baby’s parasite powers do lead to the return of Uub, and also a nice welcome return for Hercule and Maijin Buu who thanks to Buu were unaffected by the parasitic Baby. In fact, Hercule was one of the few characters who I enjoyed in GT as he has to explain to Goku what is going on, knows he can’t do anything about it but is still a devoted grandfather to Pan, ironically making him quite a lot more likeable than Goku. There was even a nice Krillin cameo which was fun, but seeing Picollo defeated so easily, and all the Saiyans just taken over by Baby made it feel they were rushing to the end sequence so that Goku turns into the Saiyan Ape, and Pan has to snap him out of an animalistic rage…which leads to the cliffhanger that he turns Super Saiyan 4.

This could at least lead into some proper battle sequences now he has reverted to an adult and at a new form of power. The problem is hopefully there is some explanation of this change and power from kid to adult because it feels really tacked on and rushed. It is set up obviously for Goku to beat Baby, when everyone from Vegeta to Uub is either defeated or controlled. This makes it not feel like a series that belongs in the Dragon Ball name, and many people don’t consider it canon as it was a spin-off. And I can definitely see why.

The likeable characters from DBZ seem to have gone, or at least we don’t see enough of them. Goku is much more unlikeable as a kid because his sense of responsibility (what little there was) is gone and seems perfectly fine letting life pass his way at least until he realizes he needs to get his skates on. Trunks is mostly a non-entity throughout, and Pan, whilst she does have some moments of character is basically useless for a lot of it – I can see why she is in it as DB has never really had a female protagonist at least in a fighting capability (Bulma being a non-action hero) but she isn’t really much better than her two male leads, and always seems to be on the losing end, which isn’t really what you want to see outside of the fact that Trunks and Goku are way more popular.

The show is very episodic, and it isn’t very entertaining. The journey is very random, the visuals whilst unique and strange don’t register for too long, the battles outside the final arcs are not really worth your time and it becomes very predictable. At least with the Baby arc set on Earth and the parasite managing to screw over everyone, it does add a bit of tension and also a bit of shock when you see Vegeta being attacked by Goten and Gohan. But even that was just way to hold off so Goku could get his monkey form…in the most silly way ever (and not in a good way).

This could have been a good spin-off – DBZ ending with Pan just 4 years old and Uub being trained by Goku. We could have seen how the cast grew up, and maybe just a separate DBZ story that didn’t revert Goku to a kid. The movies do a job with that so I don’t see why a spin-off series could either. Sadly, unless Goku’s SS4 power up makes me remember the Frieza arc, this is not going to be a fun trip….

Dragonball GT is a wasted opportunity thus far. The fun, cheesy factor of DBZ and the drama of a lot of the battle sequences have not been brought enough – instead we go through a journey which isn’t that entertaining, and try to add more comedy elements. Sadly, Goku’s trip as a kid seems to also shrink his personality, and neither his co-stars are interesting or likeable enough to help out. There is a shred of life in the Baby arc and ends in a cliffhanger which might at least remind people of the enjoyment one gets out of DBZ, but for most of this series, it was a real chore to go through. Not recommended unless you really want to see how the cast have aged…and Vegeta’s moustache.

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

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: January 20th, 2014
Running Time: 787 minutes
Price: £27.99

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

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