What They Say:
Goku, Vegeta, and Future Trunks take on the mighty Merged Zamasu in an epic confrontation of good vs. evil. But when the dust settles and they return to the present, the Z Fighters face even greater challenges. A baseball game grudge-match between gods and a mysterious attempt on Goku’s life keep our heroes in top form in preparation for the Tournament of Power!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as an English 5.1 mix, both of which are done up with the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series design as a stereo mix in its original form gets a nice little boost from the 5.1 mix but both of them largely work a solid forward soundstage design. It’s got some good impact in the fight sequences and the other sound effects related to it get some good placement and depth where needed. A lot of the dialogue is straightforward but there are some bigger moments that play well and it works in the way that you’d expect from this series, especially with the yelling – and more so in the English language adaptation. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally beginning its airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format with several extras on the second disc. Animated by Toei Animation, the series sticks to the traditional designs for the most part as we’d expect and it leans on what the recent feature film material has done as well. Unlike the older works, this series comes across as very bright and vibrant and that stands out. This is definitely noticeable in the oranges but the blue skies really hit a sweet note as well. Colors are strong and well defined while the details in the fluid fight sequences come across really well. There are gradients to be found in some of the backgrounds but this is all by design and probably somewhat due to the budget of the series. It’s a great looking show overall that’s encoded in a crisp and clean way.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with an O-card that replicates the case artwork. The cardstock gives it a bit more pop of color but also some metallic elements for Zamasu’s outfit and the general look of it with the rest of the character artwork benefiting from it. I do like the sparseness of the cover in its design with green and white backgrounds since it makes it a stronger character focus. The back cover works some good sized images along the left while the right runs through the premise of the series while also breaking down the extras. The technical grid lists everything cleanly and accurately while the reverse side cover does up the episodes by number and title on the left while the right has the character artwork from the front against a solid darker blue background.
The menu design for this keeps things simple but it has just enough to separate it from the default of other releases that it helps. With few discs using clips these days in the menu this one works it well as there are many workable scenes to pull from and bring to life to set the tone for the release. The block along the bottom doesn’t cover the whole section and is nicely broken up with purple and black with a dash of orange dots. The part, disc, and episode numbers are all listed clearly so that when it’s part of a larger collection down the line it’ll all fit together. The navigation itself is kept simple and effective both as the main menu and the pop-up menu. The design is simple but it’s problem free and worked well throughout the viewing session.
The extras for this release are fun as we get a nice thing for the English language fans. While The standards are here in the clean opening and closing sequences – of which there are three of each, we also get new Anime Expo 2018 interview videos. These bring us time with Sonny Strait, Matthew Mercer, and Kyle Hebert, which makes for some good fun as they talk about their experience with the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Dragon Ball Super train here moves just past the halfway mark of the run overall and it also delves into a couple of different arcs. The structure of the property, like other Dragon Ball works, has always been a bit fluid and wonky so there are no surprises here in that regard. We get the end of the Future Trunks arc here with the last couple of episodes, which is a little anticlimactic when you get down to it, and then you have a lot of placeholder episodes/epilogue material. The set then delivers us the first two episodes of the next arc at the very end as we get into the heavily promoted Universe Survival Saga, something that does hit a good note here in setting up anticipation for more.
The final couple of episodes of the Future Trunks arc aren’t bad when you get down to it as it wraps up the fight with Zamasu relatively easily, mostly within the first episode itself as Goku goes all out, as expected, against him. It’s a pretty solid action episode overall that unfolds and fans that just enjoy the fighting aspect will enjoy this, though it left me kind of meh about it as a whole since it’s been months since I saw the lead-up to this final moment. I do like the usual way it plays out in that Zamasu is just shocked that it happens and he ends up disintegrating, which is always a fun way for the baddies to go. The two parts also deal well with some of the lingering aspects of it all in focusing on getting Trunks back on the right path and squaring away any of the timeline problems that come up whenever he appears. My favorite moments are always when his parents give him that nod of approval that he so craves, especially when it also makes sure to keep young Trunks in the picture who just looks totally like nothing but trouble.
What then happens… well, that’s where this set lost me a bit. At first, we do get some of the enjoyable material in trying to bring Shenlong back with the pickup of the Dragon Balls as the intent is to bring back King Kai after what happened but it takes a few other turns and there’s just some general silliness to it all. It’s always nice to have everyone together but I also liked how Shenlong realizes that this is going to take some time as everyone has different ideas what to do with the various wishes. These things have been gags for a long time now and I don’t hold it against it but it’s just a little too on the nose when you get down to it, especially since it ends without King Kai revived and putting Goku in a position of promising to get around to it eventually.
The rest of the set until the last two episodes, however, is made up of just filler material. And it feels like filler in the classic sense, when you get an episode focusing on a baseball game that’s put together and dealing with mostly fluff that didn’t make a dent in being memorable at all. We do get a bit of time with Hit coming in to take out Goku, who is on edge as he feels something like this is happening, and there’s some enjoyment in seeing how the two deal with each other. But it’s also balanced by other events going on in these episodes, which includes bringing Jaco back for a bit and involving him by having one of his captures escaping since he wanted to get something to eat instead of doing his job. Normal gags and all, and admitted necessary downtime between the big arcs, but it just rings a bit hollow for me in a way I can’t quite pin down.
At least until the whole making a movie mini-arc comes in as “The Great Saiyaman” is put into production and I just found myself rolling my eyes too much. While it does have some fun and plays to a few areas, it’s just another piece that reminded me that the series really has gotten pretty sprawling in terms of cast and how they try to deal with it by giving enough of them time. It ends up where you get characters like Krillin more in the background than he should be and frustrated that Android 18 doesn’t get more time with him to deal with something more than the usual jokes and meaningless storylines. That’s the biggest thing in that they could do a nice side arc with some of these long-loved characters and explore something fun instead of just half a dozen or more empty pieces.
The final couple of episodes do get the Universe Survival Arc underway and that is a decent bit of fun as the two versions of Grand Zeo find themselves bored and we get a situation that comes together where Goku essentially finds a way to entertain them with a battle. His desire to fight the best out there is what always gets him into trouble and even everyone else is beyond horrified by how things unfold here as the two Zeno’s are putting the twelve universes against each other. When the representatives from one of them lose, they’ll wipe that particular universe. Suffice to say, the stakes are high and those like Beerus and his twins across the universes are beyond besides themselves with what’s happening and the impact it’ll have. It’s one of the rare times where you get a sense that Beerus understands that this is a truly bad situation that he can be impacted by.
I like Dragon Ball Super a lot overall and I’ll admit that even on some level I get some enjoyment out of aspects of these in-between episodes from the arcs. But marathoning a bunch of them just paints a show that doesn’t know how to handle its cast unless they’re in a fighting arc at this point and that frustrates me as there are a lot of things that could be done considering the breadth and depth of the cast at hand. The end of the Future Trunks arc does all that it needs to and the start of the Universe Survival arc gets everything into place that I want for something that will finish out this particular run in a few dozen more episodes to go. Funimation’s release is pretty great here with a wonderful looking show and a great package, plus some strong original extras created out of their Anime Expo 2018 experience.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Anime Expo 2018 Interviews, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.