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Dragon Ball Z Season 9 Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Dragon Ball Z Season 9The thrilling adventure of Dragon Ball Z comes to a fitting end.

What They Say:
Majin Buu’s spree of terror continues, and his ruthlessness knows no bounds! In his quest to eliminate the remaining Z-Fighters, Buu has cut a path of destruction across the face of the Earth, leaving a trail of devastation so utterly complete that it may even be beyond the power of the Dragon Balls to repair…

With their efforts to stop Majin Buu quickly proving futile, the Z-Fighters have but one remaining hope against this seemingly invincible foe – the Fusion Technique! But for this desperate plan to succeed, Goku will have to join forces with his oldest rival, Vegeta! Can the combined efforts of these two mighty Saiyan warriors put a stop to Majin Buu once and for all? The final battle for the fate of the universe begins!

The Review:
Audio:
Much like the other seasons of this release, FUNimation offers three audio tracks for your listening pleasure. There are two English dub tracks that use the familiar stable of FUNimation voice actors and actresses. There are, however, differences in the soundtrack with “Broadcast 2.0” providing new intro music alongside the “Rock the Dragon”-esque incidental score. The other English dub track employs the original Japanese soundtrack. Because I grew up with Christopher Sabat, Sean Schemmel, Sonny Strait and the rest of the Cartoon Network broadcast voices, the second dub track was a real treat to enjoy. A track with the original Japanese voices and soundtrack together is available but presented in Mono rather than Dolby TrueHD.

Video:
The Android/Cell and Buu Sagas are Dragon Ball Z at its most prettiest, with the quality of animation receiving a notable upgrade after the Frieza Saga. The characters benefit from an increased budget that allows the characters to look more refined and detailed as well as more definition in facial expressions. When it comes time for my inevitable rewatch of the entire Dragon Ball Z series, it’ll be difficult to go back to those earlier episodes when the show was new and a bit rough. The high definition version of the show is vibrant and pretty, with the energized special effects looking clean and crisp. There issue of the aspect ratio cutting the top and bottom of the frame is still an issue but if you’ve managed to tough it out for this long, there is little to complain about by now.

Packaging:
Like other sets in the series, the packaging for season nine is pretty simple. Packed within a cardboard cover, the blue plastic case fits five discs, four for the show and one for extras. The cover depicts the pinnacle moment in the battle for Earth, with Goku prepping the Spirit Bomb in a last ditched effort to defeat Kid Buu. Apart from artwork that is representative of the content, the packaging layout is the same as the other eight sets.

Menu:
A sparse menu doesn’t get in the way of a compilation of scenes from the season. There’s a Play All function that will show each episode on the disc with title and end cards along with the station break animations. The Marathon option is the coolest playback feature of these Blu-Ray sets because it plays every episode on the disc on one continuous track. There are no commercial breaks and only one title and end card. Perfect for those lazy, rainy days when all you want to do is watch some Dragon Ball!

Extras:
Season nine offers some great bonus content in the form of interviews with Josh Martin (Majin Buu) and Chris Rager (Mr. Satan). There’s also a documentary, “From East to West: Dragon Ball Z’s Epic Journey” and “A Completely Serious Discussion About the Comedy of Dragon Ball Z.” These are great pieces of additional content that makes up for the lack of it in earlier seasons.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final season of Dragon Ball Z is as epic as one could expect from a show that routinely ruined the surface of the Earth. The world reels from Majin Buu’s reign of terror and mourns his high profile victims, Goku and Vegeta. Majin Buu is the pinnacle of evil for the entire Dragon Ball Z story and its going to take a lot more than Fusions, power increases, and devious tricks to bring down this malevolent pink nightmare. The Z Fighters have faced many challenges posed by super villains and none of them can be measured against the might of Buu.

This final collection of episodes begins after Buu rebels against his master Babidi and forms an unlikely partnership with Mr. Satan, the egotistical blowhard who took credit for Gohan’s victory in the Cell Games. Initially out to seek fame and fortune, Satan begins to see that Buu is capable of good after rescuing a puppy from near death. This new found goodwill is jeopardized by the appearance of two hunters looking to kill Buu. Their actions only serve to bring the monster to untold heights of anger after the men shoot the puppy and Mr. Satan. Buu is capable of healing his only friends but in a heartbreaking scene of suffering caused by uncontrollable grief and rage, he expels the evil part of his persona into a puff of white steam. That steam, however, manifests into a physical form, creating a copy of Buu that is skinny and gray. Recognizing the danger this new Evil Buu poses, he tries to defeat his progeny but fails and is absorbed into Evil Buu who becomes stronger and radically more sadistic.

Recalling Goku’s earlier promise of battle against a worthy opponent, Evil Buu travel’s to Dende’s Lookout and confronts Piccolo, Krillin, and the rest of Goku’s friends and family. Piccolo tries to stall for time in order to give Goten and Trunks the time to prepare for battle which results in the total extinction of human life on Earth – except for Mr. Satan. Buu’s evil doesn’t end there as he commits unique atrocities against our heroes in his quest to fight a worthy opponent. Meanwhile, on the planet of the Kais, Goku watches helplessly and Gohan practices patience under the bizarre tutelage of the Elder Kai.

Dragon Ball Z is notorious for creating story arcs made up with filler episodes that are light on calories and do little to advance the plot. The best example are the string of episodes that make up the final third of the Frieza Saga, where a planet doomed to explode in five minutes translates to, if you’ll forgive the hyperbole, about 500 episodes. Flashbacks and alternative viewpoints made the show almost unbearable to watch, an issue that the later seasons do a bit better with. Perhaps because it has been several years since I last watched this season, but the pacing feels pretty good. There are still a few episodes where nothing major happens and it even a few episodes before Buu really cuts loose.

The characterization of Majin Buu is the reason why I tend to overlook any faults with the season. Out of the entire pantheon of Dragon Ball villains, he is the most fascinating. No other antagonist has been offered such relentless evil and malice. Frieza was way too egotistical and his boasting made him far more annoying than terrifying. Cell really didn’t bring much to the table, either. He has a lot of “cool” factor going for him and unlike the other bad guys, he actually offers to spare the Earth if anyone can defeat them (though being the sore loser he is, he threatens to do it anyway when Gohan beats him down). Majin Buu, on the other hand, has no qualms about killing people. Babidi’s exploitation of the child-like being makes for a sad picture when Buu sees value in human life and dispel his evil nature only to be consumed by it. With no barriers to halt his evil deeds, Buu’s cruelty allows him to perform legitimately frightening acts, like turning Krillin’s wife and daughter into chocolate and eating them. He also turns Chi Chi into an egg and crushes her! The Buu Saga is the first in the entire Dragon Ball Z series where the dark and violent imagery made me feel uncomfortable which makes the final season one hell of a swan song.

Thankfully, even in its darkest moments, the show retains is sense of humor, peppering the dark episodes with a sprinkling of yuk-yuk laughs. Goten and Trunks are two precocious boys who manage to smile and joke in the face of Buu’s malice, especially in their fused form. At one point, the fused Vegito is turned into a piece of hard candy by Buu and still manages to put up a serious fight. The English dub track adds in a few particularly corny lines (Piccolo makes an out of character “But I left it in my other pants” joke) that would be worth an eye roll if the rest of the season wasn’t so grim.

In Summary:
Buu’s defeat brings the epic Dragon Ball Z series to a fitting conclusion with a battle that brings everyone together one last time. It’s been a long journey to this point and once again, I’m sad to see these characters go. Still, this is a wonderful ending to the Dragon Ball franchise. I can’t imagine starting a new series after this one. What stories are left to tell now that Goku is the most powerful fighter in the universe? Even if another series was licensed, what could you possibly do with it? Turn Goku into child and have him journey into space collecting a brand new set of intergalactic Dragon Balls with Trunks and Gohan’s daughter? Ha, what silly nonsense.

Features:
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Dragon Ball Z Retrospective: Finale, Cast Interviews, Textless Opening and Closing, U.S. Trailer

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

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 9th, 2014
MSRP: $44.98
Running Time: 875 minutes
Video Encoding:MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition 16×9 (HD Native)

Review Equipment:
Microsoft Xbox One with Blu-ray player app via HDMI, Panasonic 52″ LCD television

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