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Dragon Ball Z Season 5 Blu-ray Anime Review

5 min read

Dragon Ball Z Season 5 CoverSome scares, some mystery, but mostly just more of the same.

What They Say:
As the battle with the Androids rages on, a fierce evil rises from the shadows: the monster known as Cell! Dr. Gero’s heinous creation is the ultimate weapon, a fighting machine built from the genetic material of the greatest warriors ever to walk the Earth!

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Season Five 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 features Trunks fighting Android 18 while the rest of the Z fighters stand in the background. The spine features the show’s title, season number, and episode numbers. The back cover primarily features Cell in his first 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.

Menu:
Season Five continues the general menu concept established in the first three seasons of this set. This time the menu focuses empty houses and apartments in the city—food remains on the table, clothes lie strewn about, all victims of Cell’s appetite. It’s a rather creepy design that highlights the horror aspects of Cell’s story and sets the mood for the collection. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, it’s a cool design that I quite like.

Extras:
There are quite a few extras on here that should please DBZ fans, especially the interviews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Goku was young he encountered a group of terrorists calling themselves the Red Ribbon Gang. The young Saiyan defeated them handily, but its leader, Dr. Gero, vowed revenge. Taking the Spanish’s advice that revenge is best served cold, the scientist bided his time, analyzing every piece of data on Goku—his fighting style, his powers, his allies and foes—and created androids that would use that information to destroy the fighter.

And they won: at least in one timeline. The Saiyan warrior Trunks travels from the future to save Goku and stop the androids before they devastate the world (again). While Goku recovers from a heart disease he caught in outer space, the other Z warriors try to stall for time. Unfortunately, a new player stalks the board—one who may pose an even greater threat than the androids Trunks fought in the future: an android named Cell.

Cell’s introduction adds an element of horror to the series. While there have been many instances where the Z fighters experienced fear, they never encountered horror. Cell slunk from the shadows, reaping through cities and gobbling up people to gain their power. While the Z warriors and the androids duked it out, he remained in the shadows, preying on the defenseless, and the scenes where we witness his hunting are genuinely disturbing.

The mystery of Cell’s origin and purpose take up the majority of this season, and I do like that the show plays with different genres other than the standard beat-em-up kung fu extravaganza. Of course, I would enjoy it far more if the show didn’t move at such a glacial pace. As always, it takes forever for anything to happen in DBZ. Entire episodes revolve around characters making single decisions, and too often the narrative digresses to something that I believe is intended to be funny but ends up annoying because it serves no real purpose in terms of developing narrative, character, or premise.

The worst part, though, is that the show ends with that most dreaded of word: tournament. Even if I didn’t know already that the Cell Games were coming, I could have guessed it. DBZ is, after all, a Shonen show, and Lord knows that they never stray from the tournament for any great length of time.

In Summary:
While I did enjoy the horror aspects of Cell’s story. The show continues to move at a glacial pace and it ends with the promise of a tournament, meaning that we will get a thirty-someodd-episode Season Six collection that features endless fighting and no real plot progression. As should be obvious by now, the Dragon Ball Z formula just doesn’t work on me like it did when I was in college, and I mostly just spend my time waiting for these sets to end. If you’re a fan then nothing I say will dissuade you, and that’s fine. But it’s not my cup of tea, that’s for sure.

Features:
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Sonny Strait, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Meredith Mauldin, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song, U.S. Trailer, Trailers

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: 24 June 2014
MSRP: $44.98
Running Time: 615 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080 i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16×9

Review Equipment:
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection

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