Not sure if it was the lack of characters and that the main antagonists just didn’t have anything going for it, but there was definitely a lack of something in this set of Dragonball…
What They Say:
The search for the seven magic balls continues! After meeting his match in the World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku embarks on a mission to recover the Four Star Dragon Ball that once belonged to his grandfather. His treacherous quest will take him from the terrifying heights of Muscle Tower to the darkest depths of the deep blue sea. But with the Flying Nimbus under his feet and Bulma’s Dragon Radar leading the way, there’s nothing mighty Goku can’t handle. With a dangerous new adversary out to get him, this will be Goku’s most dangerous adventure yet. The sinister Red Ribbon Army, led by cigar-chomping Commander Red, is determined to seize the seven Dragon Balls and use them to conquer the world! Watch as colonels, generals, ninjas, android pirates, and giant pink monsters use every dirty trick in the book to stop Goku from getting his hands on the magic Dragon Balls! This epic box set contains the Red Ribbon Army Saga and General Blue Saga. Spoken Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles.
The DVD release has a 5.1 Dolby Surround track along with a standard 2.0 Japanese stereo track. 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.
Video quality for the most part is really good – as before there isn’t an option with the previous releases for marathoning it compared to the DBZ/GT releases but no issues in sync with the subtitles. However for the first time in a remastered DB release I did notice some issues with the screenings when pausing the show – the animation never focused on the scene and was blurry most of the time doing this. This shouldn’t affect the watching of the show, but something that was familiar with in early UK DVD releases and thought had been phased out by now.
Set up differently than the DBZ and DBGT releases, similar to the first release we have images of Goku and Chichi on the first two discs as clips on the show whilst on the latter two discs Chichi is replaced by Launch – all are set on a blue background with a distinct Chinese theme/look. The selections on the middle and they are Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras – easy to navigate from the main menu and from the show itself. One interesting thing is it has two sets of subtitles, dubtitles and the original subtitles for the Japanese release.
We have a couple of extras – on discs 2 and 3 we have a selection of character profiles, albeit some of them are the same on both discs which unsure why that was needed. You have profiles of Goku, Krillin, Roshi, Launch, Bulma, Chichi, Murasaki, Pilaf, Mai, Shao, Ox-King and Android 8 for Disc 2 whilst Disc 3 also has Arale, General Blue, Sour Man and Commander Red.
There were some trailers as well, interestingly for Beast Wars and Battle Of The Planets.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second instalment of the original Dragonball series brings up something that was mentioned a number of times in flashbacks in the DBZ series in the Red Ribbon Army so I was wondering how much of an affect it would have in terms of a threat – turns out along with underwhelming, it certainly showcases why Dragonball is quite clearly a different series to Dragonball Z, and why perhaps watching it for the first time after watching both Z and GT probably isn’t the best idea as it seems to be much different at the moment in terms of the show’s mindset than what a DBZ viewer may expect.
It actually for a lot of the show is almost a rehash of the first part of Season 1. Goku is returning to look for his grandfather’s four star dragonball, and his journey leads him to a store which has the returning Pilaf now back in the plot as dragonballs are there to be found. However along with them, we get a mysterious military force also looking for the dragon balls. It leads to the ball being taken by a giant bird which is caught by the Ox King, which in turn leads to the return of Chichi. The Chichi/Goku relationship again has some fun to it, but like initially the rush job is done for comedy and with Goku not getting it, it does work as children but still comes off a little awkward. However when the Ox King is caught by the now named Red Ribbon army, whilst Pilaf who managed to get one of the dragonballs is threatened and he forfeits the ball to the army. The one good thing is that in between this, we do get an explanation via Roshi about the Dragonballs as he continues to trains Krillin so seeing the origin and how it works at least is explained.
From there on, it is basically defining the Red Ribbon Army as the main antagonists, as it leads to Goku suffering in a village looking for the dragonballs and nearly freezing to death – but is saved by a girl named Snow, and that the village is taken over by the army who are using the civilians by force to search for the Dragon Ball. Goku being Goku, goes to their main tower to go try and save them, combined with a giant robot (who is defeated when his batteries run out), a defective ninja (who keeps using silly tricks instead of actual skill), one of the first androids (Android 8, who is actually very nice and helps out Goku), a generic monster, and a blackmailing general which leads to his defeat at the hands of Goku and Android 8. A nice arc at least in terms of the Android 8 character that was never bad but was on the villains’ side due to a bomb in him (which is eventually deactivated) though was quite silly and the Dragonball sub-plot was all but forgotten until Goku defeated the general.
Dragonball seems to go more on a silly route despite some of the violent situations – usually revolving around Goku’s lack of real world smarts – for example when he has no money he wins some at a street fighting competition, but gives it to a person just for pointing out a policeman. Whilst it shows Goku as a kid and his naivety, it also makes you wonder what the point was in half of the arcs and half the things he does. It does lead to the return of Bulma now helping him find the Dragonballs, via a mini arc involving a hired female assassin from the army, and a very short line or two of Bulma dumping Yamcha to search. To say this was more a rehash of Season 1 without the excellent Master Roshi tournament arc is an understatement at this point.
From then on, it is basically the Red Ribbon Army vs. Goku in a search for the dragonballs. A combination of visiting Master Roshi to borrow a submarine (and a few perverted antics using Bulma’s microband allowing him to shrink), Krillin joining them for a pirate treasure search whilst the army descends on Roshi’s island and trying to find Goku and the others, the character General Blue who is easily the most interesting of the Army but only as he gets decent airtime and is showcased as a talented if narcissistic fighter who is intelligent and tactical with some legitimate tricks up his sleeve. It does lead to General Blue finally tracking the group down when they are separated to show his fighting process, and with his psychic energies nearly actually kills both Goku and Krillin at separate points, which in turn leads to Goku and Blue separating onto a strange island and after some unusual encounters – it leads to Blue stealing the dragon radar with the advantage as the arc ends preparing for the next release.
As you can probably see, there are a few problems with this arc. The first major one is that it just appears to be an extended rehash of the first part of the first set – looking for the Dragonballs but making it much longer-winded. The return of Pilaf added that but he became an afterthought for the actually less interesting Red Ribbon Army, mainly because the guys they used bar General Blue and Android 8 were hardly a threat, and used more for comedy. Even with a few legit worries (using firearms, the bomb inside 8, the soldiers on Bulma, etc) it does seem to be laughed off, mainly as Goku doesn’t seem to know anything or let anything phase him. There were some genuine nice moments with Goku and many of the characters, but the story just seemed way too predictable and the few interesting moments like with Chichi quickly went as the focus was on the new antagonists and the fact they were mostly so unmemorable it really didn’t work as an arc.
There were a few moments that were enjoyable – the brief talk Roshi had about the origin of the Dragonballs, the friendship between Goku and Android 8, General Blue in general was at least an entertaining antagonist and the fact he now has the Dragon Radar gives good set up for the next arc. The fights were interesting in some places (Goku beating the giant octopus…tastes like chicken ^^) and the story of the village at least was well intentioned with Android 8 being genuinely likeable and wanting to see him come through. However, the fact it felt so rushed in terms of the arcs and yet so slow in discovering the Dragonballs really made this release feel a lot harder than I expected to follow through. It doesn’t help that one of the main stories of the first arc (Goku and Bulma) was literally cut to two episodes of ‘Oh, I dump you and gonna travel with this kid for the Dragonballs again, bye!’ in this arc making most of their relationship in the first season seem entirely pointless.
That said, there is still a lot of cheesy harmless fun about Dragonball which can’t make me hate it. There were a lot of problems I had with this release but strangely I never actually was bored throughout. It at least kept me entertained in a childish silly way, Goku is still very likeable even if his naivety and idiocy can really get on your nerves at times – the few moments we got with Roshi and Launch were hilarious, and it does actually end with a finale to set up the next arc. I feel that it needs to be seen to get some of the flashback references in DBZ, but for me, it is one of the more unnecessary arcs so far.
Dragonball Season 2 just feels a lot of the same old formula from the first set, but this time spread out for the entire release with less interesting characters. Whilst Goku still holds interest, the Red Ribbon Army bar one or two characters are not good antagonists, and only the set up using one of the few good characters may make the remainder of the arc ready to enjoy. There were no big tournaments and whilst the fight scenes were interesting ranging from robots to monsters, it just didn’t seem to hold the appeal the first arc did. Disappointing, but still actually entertaining to a degree.
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK/KAZE UK
Release Date: July 7th, 2014
Running Time: 700 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.