What They Say:
Goku’s headed for a showdown with a sinister green fiend! A new breed of evil – more powerful than anything ever experienced – is taking the world’s greatest martial artists down for the count. Goku is quick to join the fight, but he’s about to meet his match in the form of King Piccolo. This menacing monster has the power to pulverize the planet, and his murderous rampage will not stop until he controls the power of the seven magic Dragon Balls. When Krillin is the first hero cut down by the monster’s minion, the stage is set for a brutal grudge match between Goku and Piccolo. Earth’s greatest champion vows to avenge the loss of his best friend, but first, he must journey to Korin Tower on a quest for the Ultra Divine Water: a magical elixir that could give him the strength to save humanity – or send him straight to the grave! This epic box set contains the Tien Shinhan Saga and the King Piccolo Saga.
The DVD release has a 2.0 English stereo track and a 2.0 Japanese stereo track, which as mentioned before seems a bit off considering the DBZ releases had 5.1 English. There are no issues I noticed with the sound quality in either track, with no problem synching in with the subtitles (though there was problems with the video at times as shown below), and the 2.0 release is overall more than acceptable though I had to increase my settings considerably to make it acceptable for my system.
The video quality of Dragonball in this release is sadly a bit more suspect than previous releases (which feels worse considering I consider this the best set of the Dragonball releases) – whilst in general the show is finally visually, it does feel a bit grainy – not because of the older animation but because this is the first show in a while that I found has pause distortion (when you pause it, the picture is never clear and always full of lines). On one episode (97), after watch it in Play All, it for some reason returning back to the main menu so had to select episode 98 from the episode sub-menu, and there were very noticeable slowdown issues on several episodes in the last 3 discs. This is annoying at best as they were one offs but if this is the release that the shops are getting it is definitely a concern.
Similar to previous releases, the menu is very classic Dragonball, with Goku on the left, Chaotzu hovering over a Dragonball sign or King Piccolo looking murderous depending on the disc whilst clips showcase in the top middle area – selections are Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. The issue mentioned in video was strange as it went straight to the main menu after the episode finished but aside from that, selection was easy and returning to the main menu was no problem with my DVD remote – it has a classic Dragonball feel as the others do so pleasing to look at as well.
There were character profiles spread over the discs that were the same on discs 1-2, and slightly different on 3-6 – character profiles are for Goku, Yamcha, Tien, Krillin, Jackie Chun, Roshi, Bulma, Chaotzu, Man Wolf for the first two discs, with King Picollo, Cymbal, Yajirobe and Tambourine on the others.
There were trailers as well but again, it feels like a copy/paste of Australian releases as the trailers are sadly for shows in the UK not due out soon or (re)licenced here (Beast Wars Transformers, Angelic Layer, He-man, Cromatorie High School and DN Angel).
The biggest set of the Dragonball collection so far, covering two major arcs, introducing several well known characters, establishing some that I thought were just there for decoration in DBZ that you can see what they were like in the original series, some good fights, a lot of deaths occurring where we first get the idea of the resurrection of multiple people via the Dragonballs, Goku learning new stuff (both as a fighter and as a person) and the set up for one of my favourite character in DBZ, this was definitely the best set so far of Dragonball for fans and newcomers alike.
The first arc is what is basically the showcase of the character Tien. He briefly appeared in the previous arc bumping into Goku, but now him along with Chaotzu take centre stage. Whilst both characters were downgraded in DBZ (though Tien at least did have his moments) – the main rivalry is that Tien’s master, the Crane Hermit, was the rival of Master Roshi, a.k.a. the turtle hermit (who is back as Jackie Chun but of course is amusing as he has to play both roles without people knowing). All of the cast are there for the tournament, along with Tien and Chaotzu, with tensions growing between Tien and the gang, especially Yamcha. The early episodes just establish this, with all the main characters getting through to the next round, including Tien who nearly kills Gokus old opponent and friend Nam, making them realise his ruthlessness.
Indeed, it is later found out that Tien was also a disciple of the assassin Tao, and when he learns that Goku killed him, his antagonist nature becomes much more personal, yet you can also see the elements that will showcase him being a good guy, like he refused to try and kill Goku in his sleep compared to his cowardly master who would do that. It leads to Yamcha facing Tien, and Krillin facing Chaotzu (with Goku and Chun both winning their fights outside of main characters) – Krillin manages to defeat Chaotzu with some improved skills and some comic timing, but Tien firmly establishes himself as Goku’s latest rival as he defeats Yamcha, breaking his leg in the process. Even knowing what he is like in DBZ, it does a good job solidifying Tien as the main ‘villain’ for this arc.
This leads to Tien vs. Jackie Chun and Goku vs. Krillin. The first fight basically is Tien and the Crane Hermit figuring out Chun is Roshi whilst Roshi sees the good in Tien and is trying to make him see the truth. It leads to Roshi actually forfeiting the match despite concerns of Tien wanting to kill Goku, he definitely sees that Tien isn’t a killer. The second fight is Krillin surprising how much he has improved but Goku still being stronger, and the inevitable final fight between Tien and Goku happens. A lot happens as Tien at first vengeful, realising throughout the fight that Goku is a good kid and it was his own masters who were the deceitful ones and whilst I won’t ruin the winner, it ends with Tien now being a member of the Z-fighters with even Yamcha forgiving him. However, whilst everything seems happy, when Krillin heads back to the tournament square to retrieve some stuff, he seems to take quite a while. And Goku gets worried so he goes to find him…
Yes, all the jokes basically can start here with Krillin dying (for the first time…) at the hands of a mystery assailant. This is what is known as the King Piccolo arc and is the first time a truly evil villain outside of Tao perhaps hits the group. Whilst Tao was ruthless, he was still hired help and the actual boss characters like the RR Army and Pilaf were kind of a joke. Piccolo is a legit threat who was resurrected by Pilaf as a way to conquer the world, yet Piccolo is too scary to control and him and his underlings basically become Piccolo’s underlings. And it even has plot relevance with the Z-fighters as Roshis’ old master was the one that sealed him before and now concerned that martial artists may have the technique that could seal him away, he sends his minions to kill all the best martial artists in the world, most of them being in the series albeit briefly are slaughtered by the dinosaur like minions, with Goku being one of them though he doesn’t get killed he is knocked for a loop and sent flying into somewhere he doesn’t know.
This brings us the introduction of Yajirobe, who in DBZ was seen as quite a coward but had a few moments in the Vegeta arc. Here, he is a surprisingly good fighter holding off Goku and even is the one that kills one of Picollos’ minions who up until this point was untouchable. It is nice to see what these characters were like in Dragonball as he was pretty much an afterthought in DBZ. Whilst there are side stories involving Roshi finding the Dragonballs and Tien proving he is a good person, the main story is Goku trying to defeat King Piccolo. Whilst he does defeat the minions, Piccolo is in another category and his goal is to collect the dragonballs and return to his youth. When Goku is defeated, Roshi and Tien later step in, but surprisingly there are more deaths for the Z-fighters despite Roshi’s best efforts. It leads to Goku and Yajirobe returning back to Korin tower, looking for some Ultra Divine Water to get stronger. With Piccolo not only getting his wish, he kills the dragon so that the balls cannot be used against him, it is a tough situation – but thanks to a few deus ex machinas, Goku eventually does defeat King Piccolo, but not before Piccolo leaves behind one thing which will almost certain lead into the final arc…and one of my favourite characters from DBZ…
With two arcs in this 6 disc release (and the first two discs having 9 episodes each) this feels like a very worthwhile release. The two arcs are definitely important to the Dragon Ball mythos, with the introduction of Tien and how he came about, and in my opinion, the first true major villain of the franchise that the likes of Vegeta, Frieza and Cell would follow up on. King Piccolo is the first person who truly brings the fear and death of our main characters, with him and his minions killing 3 of the main good guys, and injuring several of the others before Goku can save the day. Yes, the idea of Goku being beaten up, figuring out a way to get stronger and save the day is predictable as it was the standard formula not just in Dragonball Z but in shounen series in general, but this was the first time it was with a big issue, and even more than the later series because the Dragonballs for the first time were not readily available after Piccolo made his wish, so it is interesting for the next arc (and the final one?) how this gets adjusted.
I also love the fact that characters that were bit-players in DBZ are more fully focused on in Dragonball, one arc is basically all about Tien, and the fact that at the time, he was Goku’s equal *similar to how Yamcha was close to Goku’s level right at the start* and also how he was in the past. We knew he had a villain edge from his brief introduction in the previous set, but being both a disciple of Roshis’ rival and of Tao, the first true villain of Dragonball gives him back-story and links with Goku, and vengeance plots whilst Roshi is able to see that he isn’t a killer, setting up his obvious switch of allegiances. The real surprise was Yajirobe, who really is much stronger than you would see him in DBZ being Goku’s equal for most of the arc, and whilst he is still got the glutton and cowardly characteristics of the sequel, the fact he manages to do better compared to more established characters like Krillin did in terms of the battles, then it was just nice to see and great to see a little bit of background for him.
Of course, despite being a lot more plot focused with the King Piccolo arc, it is still Dragonball. What you see is what you get, a lot of fun with some typically good battles especially in the tournament arc when Roshi/Chan questions Tien throughout the tournament, the fight between Roshi and Piccolo, and of course the twist of the Dragonballs now being useless thanks to Piccolo. The little ‘gift’ he left at the end of the arc suggests one thing which I am really looking forward to as a lot of questions are still to be asked. There was even a brief recall to Chichi as they reminded us of the promise Goku made to her to marry her, so I’m sure that is going to be brought up again – so it actually sets a lot of unanswered questions to be answered and this is easily the best combination of arcs as it goes into the final hurdle of the original series.
If you love the Dragonball series, this is definitely the set that you will get the most out of. Two arcs, one a tournament rehash but with new characters and still quite entertaining, and one legit serious arc with some comedy helped by Yajirobe, the King Piccolo arc is definitely my favourite of the arcs altogether – intimidating villain, setting up plot for the future, and whilst the predictably of Goku defeating him is obvious, it is still a lot of fun and with a lot of characters introduced, and the first of many deaths before it became common in DBZ, this is actually a very good release despite the animation issues I had. The best of the releases in terms of the show by far.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: September 1st, 2014
Running Time: 1005 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.