What They Say:
Goku embarks on a journey to test his strength against the best of the best! Driven by his promise to a heartbroken young boy, Goku completes his training under Master Korin and prepares for a brutal rematch with Mercenary Tao! These two powerful warriors trade blows in a furious flurry of Dodon Rays and Kamehameha Waves, but that’s only the beginning of this adventure. The Red Ribbon Army continues to cast a dark shadow across the land as they inch ever closer to attaining ultimate power. Only Goku can halt their reign of terror and resurrect a fallen friend, but first he’ll have to fight for possession of the seven Dragon Balls!
To complete his quest, Goku must beat a fortune-teller at her own game, slam the door on Demon Land, tame the dread Inoshikacho, and survive a beating from a masked dead man. His journey will be filled with danger, but with each victory, Goku gains the strength needed to emerge victorious from the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament!
The DVD release has a 2.0 English standard and a 2.0 Japanese stereo track. The English track is good but again, there have been previous 5.1 releases in the Dragonball franchise so surprised this one didn’t – no probs with the sound being in sync with the subtitles…however…
When the Japanese audio track is selected, after the first half of episode 81, the DVD skips to episode 83 instead of playing the second half of episode 81 if you watch it in Japanese (so the second half of that part is basically dub only if you want to watch it) AND for one of the episodes (episode 73) the subtitles only has the dubtitle option have mentioned previously. This was very noticeable in the selections when I had the Japanese subtitles on whilst watching the dub and was very confused when it came up as the same dialogue as the subtitles in English.
Never notices these glaring issues before and it had to be noted.
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 with the obvious issues mentioned above not included. Again 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. It shouldn’t really affect the viewing mostly but combined with the glaring deviances from the above notes on the audio and it does feel like this was a rushed release in terms of the visual quality.
Set up differently than the DBZ and DBGT releases, we have images of Bulma on the discs – 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 (with the above issues mentioned in mind) – also there are clips in the background of the show.
On all the discs, we get some character profiles – some are duplicated but the profiles are for quite a lot of the cast – we have Goku, Bulma, Roshi, Korin, Tao, Violet, Upa, Bora, Commander Red, Yamcha, Pilaf, Baba, Commander Black, Terror, Plague and The Sky Dragon.
On Disc 2 we also have some trailers for Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat and Kimba The White Lion…which again seems strange because they haven’t been licenced in the UK. From what I understand, this seems to be a straight conversion to the Australian Release where they have been licenced, which does mean coupled with the above problems, this really does seem like a hack and release.
Dragonball kind of went in the back seat with the recent arc, where whilst it was important to finally know who these Red Ribbon guys are, they weren’t really that interesting compared to the first tournament arc, where we learned how Goku and Roshi were master/student, learning the Kamehameha, etc – it is weird watching Dragonball after never seeing it until after you have watched DBZ and GT. Interestingly it seems to start in the same problems, but quickly changes it and seems to fit well more into a Dragonball series.
For example, with the Dragonballs still being searched, Commander Red summons an assassin named Tao, who is quite feared. First action? Kills off the returning Blue with ease showcasing him as the next big bad for Goku. And indeed, he actually does wipe the floor with him, as well as even killing Gokus’ friends Upas’ father – making this officially the first time Goku actually wants to collect all the Dragonballs and make use of its power. So yes, officially this is the first time the Dragonballs are going to be used to wish someone back to life.
Upa tells Goku who survived his fight with Tao when his dragon ball protected him, to try and climb Korins’ tower. Korin if you remember from DBZ was the white godly cat who appeared occasionally so again, nice to see his origins. The Tower took Roshi three years to climb, and Goku does it in less than a week – making him far stronger in a short period of time as well (also we learn the origin of the famous senzu beans here too) which when he returns to earth, he definitely has the same type of thing of a shounen jump syndrome, as bad guys beats good guy, he returns much stronger and now begins to wipe the floor with Tao. Tao also then tries to climb the tower, but with his dark heart, Korin tricks him and leads to Taos’ full defeat…and surprisingly considering Goku in DBZ, his actual death. Again, kind of interesting how Gokus’ character changes when it comes to killing, albeit at his age he may not comprehend what he did, but still…
The Dragonball collection continues when Bulma, Yamcha and later Krillin become helping him out, but the main thing is Goku decides to try and take out the entire base himself. Despite hindrances from Commander Violet, and Commander Black actually killing Red when he turns his back on him, Goku manages to take everyone out and gets all but one of the Dragonballs. So from that, we get to another character that made appearances in DBZ, Baba – the witch/fortuneteller who they need to use to try and find the last Dragonball as the radar isn’t broken so they think might have been swallowed by something.
This arc is basically almost a tournament arc but with a surprise ending. Baba is sending champion fighters and if the group can defeat them all, they get their fortune for free instead of paying the fee for it. It is a very mysterious group – Krillin first loses to a vampire (which then Upa and Paur comically defeat), then Yamcha goes up against an invisible man (won when a bit of Bulma fanservice causes Roshis’ nose to bleed, a spray over the man – Roshi also being Babas’ brother which I never use from the DBZ canon), then a near unbeatable mummy (Yamcha nearly gets killed, Goku) a controlling demon (whose powers are useless on Goku because he is too innocent) and the surprising final fighter. I won’t say who it is but is a real surprise and quite some interesting and touching moments as the fight does wrap up.
After that, we do get the location of the last Dragonball…who if you recall was actually in the hands of our old friend Pilaf. After a few skirmishes, Goku gets it and indeed, the needs of his friend Upa was more than the Dragonballs and wishes Upas’ father back to life. In turn, we now set up the next world Tournament, and Goku, after Roshi says he has nothing to teach him now, decides to travel the world on foot to get stronger, which in turns leads to a few random episodes of Goku defending dojos, fighting demons, stopping scams before just like that, 3 years have passed getting ready for the tournament which I will assume the next release will then set up.
This definitely felt a step up from the previous release. First of all, we actually had a creditable villain in Tao in the first half, as he was a legit threat to Goku and was cruel and murderous to all people who didn’t satisfy his greed – whether it is parents, assassins or tailors, he just killed them. This was the first time I saw Goku go into the mode of getting stronger and returning better to beat the bad guy, which would become a standard formula in DBZ, so this is kind of where it started. I wasn’t as keen on the base attacking as the villains were a lot less threatening and was pretty obvious Goku was going to win, but it did however set up the Baba arc, which was like Korin, great to see their origins and the battle sequences and the threats they occurred (especially the mummy and the Devils’ Toilet – Yamcha had huge reason to be scared) combined with the final battle surprise, it definitely felt like Dragonball was more enjoyable there.
The final few episodes did seem like filler, but I guess they didn’t just want to skip straight to 3 YEARS LATER and just showcase how Goku is becoming stronger and smarter. In fact I was surprised to that there was some decent development in Gokus’ character as he realised the world is harsh and the fact he now wishes to use the Dragonballs for their intended purpose for the greater good, and not just a keepsake of his grandfather.
It definitely felt Dragonball got back to its roots, and was a lot of fun, and setting up for the new tournament with new characters and powers (Tien and Chaotzu were in one of the final episodes though not mentioned by name, they did mention the tournament so I’m assuming they will be part of that), I am actually looking forward to the next arc with punches and kicks to the head.
The only issues I have with this arc is the actual audio/video issues I mentioned – if you have to watch everything, you have to do it in English – the actual show was pretty good and much stronger. With the Ribbon Army having a threat in Tao that arc changed for the better, minor characters from DBZ like Korin/Baba showcase their origins, some good battles with unique characters, and good set up for the next tournament. The show did the set up well, even some character development for Goku outside the shounen jump syndrome of losing, then getting stronger, make this release good as a story…just hope you can watch all of it.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: C-
Video Grade: C
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: August 25th, 2014
Running Time: 650 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.