That was one long damn fight.
What They Say:
All seven Namekian Dragon Balls have been assembled, and the dragon Porunga has been summonded! Goku and his loyal friends must stop Frieza from maing his wish for immortality. To defeat this monstrous foe—a Super Saiyan must emerge!
There are three audio tracks for this release: Dolby TrueHD English dialogue with Japanese music 5.1; Dolby TrueHD U.S. English broadcast version 2.0; and the original Japanese mono. For this viewing I listened to the English dialogue with Japanese music and it was very good. The sound was clean with no distortions or dropouts. The dialogue did stay centered from what I could tell, but here was some directionality to the sound effects. English subtitles are also provided and they showed up well without blending into the background.
As was the case with the previous season, Funimation went to painstaking lengths to clean up the show to make it HD-worthy. The overall picture quality is fine and you can see the time and care that went into upgrading it, but it also shows its age in ways that can never be addressed with a simple clean up. In terms of character designs, color palette, and just general animation style, it looks like a product of its time. This is not a bad thing in any way, but I do wonder if the hype over the HD upgrade might not set up unrealistic expectations in the fans.
Season three contains thirty-three episodes spread across four Blu-ray discs. The discs are housed in a standard Blu-ray case with a slipcase that displays the same art and information as on the case proper. The front cover is dominated by Frieza in his final form while Krillin, members of the Ginyu Force, Dende, Nails, and Guru stand in the background. The spine features the show’s title, season number, and episode numbers. The back cover primarily features Frieza (still in final form) along with some screenshots, show summary, and DVD specs. While the packaging is nice enough, it doesn’t really impress me either. While I do like that Funimation is trying to be consistent with the general design scheme, I do fine the art to be rather simple, and I actually had quite a hard time reading the back due to the small font size. Ultimately, it could have been better.
Season Three continues the general menu concept established in the first two seasons of this set. However, unlike the first two seasons, which focused more on background than characters, we actually see Krillin, Gohan, and Dende as they summon the Namekian dragon. The disc options are laid out on a transparent blue strip at the bottom in small white font. The option being selected is in yellow font to help you know which one you’re choosing. While the scene unfolds a heavy beat plays in the background that builds in intensity until the scene starts over again. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, it’s a cool design that I quite like.
It seems like lately Funimation has been including more extras with their releases. While this does come with the standard clean Op/Ed and trailers, it also includes interviews with two people directly involved with Dragon Ball Z. Although I don’t care much for the series, I will say that these are solid interviews that would be interesting to fans.
When last we left the Z fighters, Goku had been grievously injured by Captain Ginyu, so Vegeta placed him within a healing tank and outfitted Gohan and Krillin in Saiyan battle suits in preparation for their fight with Frieza. Meanwhile, on the spirit plane Piccolo, Yamcha, and the rest continue their training. However, if Gohan and Krillin can’t summon the Namekian dragon before Guru dies, then the dragon will disappear along with their chance of wishing back their dead friends.
Dragon Ball Z Season Three comprises episodes 75 to 107 of the popular tournament fighter. Season Two was basically one long setup establishing Frieza as a major threat and now we see that threat made good. Approximately 97% of this season revolves around fighting Frieza. First Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin fight the alien warlord, then Piccolo gets wished back to life and on Namek and he fights Frieza, and finally Goku wakes up and continues the fight when the others can’t anymore. This all builds up to Goku’s transformation into the legendary Super Saiyan and his final final fight with Frieza.
One of the problems with Dragon Ball Z (and, indeed most tournament fighters) is escalation. The first season had Vegeta as the big bad with Raditz and Napa playing warmup. He threatened to destroy the Earth and took a long time to beat. The second season, as I already said, consisted of building up the threat of Frieza with the Ginyu Force serving as his warmup act. Then we get to Frieza and it takes thirty-three episodes to beat him. He is exponentially stronger than Vegeta and threatens far more than just a planet. So the question becomes, where do we go from here? How can you top Frieza? With an enemy that takes forty-four or sixty-six episodes to defeat? An enemy that threatens a solar system? A galaxy? Half the known universe? How long will it be until we see Goku punching out God? That’s actually not a joke. In the upcoming movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Goku does indeed fight the Gods. Again, this begs the question where do they go from there? There comes a point where the franchise becomes so bloated that it becomes a parody of itself, mistaking real drama and action for greater spectacle—madder music and stronger wine, as it were, which can be fun for a while, but there comes a point when it loses its power and the music and wine only serve to remind you of the pleasures you once had.
I will say, though, that for all its issues, Season Three is probably the strongest. The show did do a good job of building up Frieza and he actually lived up to the hype. Goku’s transformation into a Super Saiyan was also satisfying as it was built up properly as well. Those were two instances when Dragon Ball Z actually earned its dramatic moments. Of course, the fights are still ridiculously prolonged and there are times when the characters just stand around gaping at enemies and trembling in fear for episodes at a time, but that’s also part and parcel for DBZ.
Dragon Ball Z Season Three is probably the strongest of the entire series. While it does suffer from the typical issues of prolonged battles and ridiculous escalation of threats, it does earn some of its more dramatic moments—especially Goku’s transformation into a Super Saiyan. However, in the end this is just the same old song and dance, and the band and the dancers are starting to get tired. Recommended only if you’re a DBZ fan.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Gen Fukunaga, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with John Burgmeier, Look Back at the Hummer Tour: With Sonny Strait, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Running Time: 830 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection