What They Say:
Dragon Ball GT Season 2 includes the Super 17 & Shadow Dragon Sagas – and as a bonus – A Hero’s Legacy movie!
The destiny of a legendary warrior, his long path wrought with peril, reaches its apex. The fate of Goku is now tied to that of the world and the most epic toil ever rested on the shoulders of one man has come to be – As one apocalypse is thwarted, another looms! Goku’s heroic friends fall around him and the warrior must steel his nerve, for two evil scientists have created the perfect killing machine: Android 17. As the abomination deals out terror with mechanical precision, horrible villains from battles past rise again. Yet even more chaos awaits! The most dangerous power of all time is stirring. The people of Earth have relied upon the power of the Dragon Balls to maintain peace and order, but the mystical relics are cracking and from their creeping chasms, seven Shadow Dragons are unleashed… Each more deadly than the last!
The audio presentation for this release is one that’s a bit busier than a lot of standard releases as they’ve included the two English languages mixes they have – one with the US based music that was created years ago and one with the original Japanese music, done as a 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps and one does as a stereo mix encoded at 192kbps. For fans of the original Japanese language, we do get something of the short end of the stick with a measly mono channel mix done at 96kbps which pretty much underwhelms, particularly in comparison to everything else on the disc. Each has their merits and each has their poor points to them, but Dragon Ball has such a varied fan following that it’s hard to please everyone. On the plus side, we at least have three choices to it and they’re all serviceable to one extent or another. We predominantly listened to the Japanese mix and had no problems with it throughout regular playback.
Originally airing in late 1996 and into 1997, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release has thirty episodes and a side story movie spread across five discs, which means most discs run just over or around two hours a piece, though the first ones run a bit more. Dragon Ball GT was never a great looking show to begin with and it pretty much had the same kind of production design as Dragon Ball Z so it does maintain the same kind of look and feel. That means we do have some fairly noisy and grainy backgrounds at times and it doesn’t have a really polished look, but that does add to some of its appeal as it is a traditionally animated show. It isn’t a bad presentation, but it is one that is representative of the source materials from what I can see. Line noise shows up in various panning sequences and there’s a few hints of cross coloration here and there. These aren’t deal-breakers to me though I do wonder if it’d look a lot better with a higher bitrate to play with beyond DVD. On the very positive side, Funimation did not crop and make this show widescreen, which is why I’ll support it.
Dragon Ball GT mirrors the Dragon Ball Z release in its design except that it uses a pea soup green color instead of the bright orange. I know why they used orange but I can’t figure out the green yet. The front cover has the logo down the side with the big Season Two tag at the bottom while the right sie features a full shot of Goku in his fusion form as a Super Saiyan 4. Amusingly, this look of his only shows up in the final few frames of the last episode of this set. But it probably sells better than cute or naked little Goku. The back of the slipcover has more of the green where we get a good rundown of the premise of this season and a nice selection of shots along the left as it talks about the number of episodes and discs. Add in a little character artwork and a clean if small basic technical grid and you can get the basics here easily enough.
Within the slipcover it replicates the front cover artwork for the top piece and opens up to a digipak that has space for all five discs in a two/two/single format. The very left section has a booklet holder in which we get a really nice booklet that has a rundown of the heroes and villains of this season and a breakdown of all the episodes. Behind the discs and the booklet is a four-panel shot of Shen Long, or at least part of him. The back side of the slipcover, which has copious amounts of this green, has the symbol that has been used since the beginning as it was found on Goku’s back.
The menus for this release are the same across all five volumes as it uses the pea soup green from the packaging along with the same headshot of Goku as its centerpiece. The menus are done in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and they fill out the screen nicely, though the green is a bit garish, especially with the bit of purple we do see from Goku’s outfit. The layout is straightforward with navigation along the bottom which includes the marathon play option. Submenus load quickly and the language menu details the options quite nicely, even if it doesn’t observe our player’s presets.
The only extras are included on the fifth volume and it’s simply the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are certainly appreciated.
The second half of the Dragon Ball GT experience is unfortunately like a good chunk of what made up the first half. So much of what’s done here simply feels either too rushed – which feels weird in saying – or it lacks the impact that we’ve seen in previous series. While the first collection was focused on the hunt for the Dragon Balls and then dealing with Baby, Baby is dealt with quickly and we rush through eight other big-time villains – and more.
The Baby story arc actually gets dealt with fairly quickly in this set, though it has the edges of what we used to see in Dragon Ball Z in how there’s a constant requirement to power up and work harder. The battle across Baby’s newly restored planet is pretty terrible as it destroys everything he just had recreated and many of those under his control are dying. Baby has become such a threat to the universe that it seems like everyone is watching and pinning their hopes on Goku. This is unfortunately a familiar refrain and one we see two more times in this set alone. As the Baby storyline progresses, it does have a good bit of fun with the whole Super Saiyan 4 thing and it does get kind of silly as the bar keeps getting raised in what Goku can do as he powers up and pushes his limits. Baby has been one of the less interesting villains of the franchise in general so I wasn’t all that said to see him taken care of in relatively short order, all things considered.
Unfortunately, the show only gets worse from here on out in terms of the villains and approach that it uses. With Baby out of the picture and the world suddenly back in fairly proper order, the evil Doctor Mu has returned to the scene and has been working with Doctor Gero in order to foster their next plan from the bowels of hell. Using two No. 17’s, they’re able to put them through a fusion process that allows the souped-up and ultra-powerful No. 17 to run roughshod over the entire world once again. This particular future was averted some time ago, but it’s back once again and the good Doctor’s have made it worse by bringing back lots of past villains from hell. The upside is that we do get some familiar faces, all the way back to the original series. The downside is that it’s all a cheap stunt.
Having the pint-sized Goku fighting against Freeza and Cell down in Hell could be interesting, except that he can’t really truly defeat them. And the two of them aren’t what they used to be, they’re just shadows of their former selves. The potential for an interesting fight is there, but when you remember that the fights that Goku had against both of these villains took place over numerous episodes and had a big epic feel to it, having it all resolved in what’s really a corny and joking manner simply doesn’t give the kind of respect to the past series that it does serve. In a way, much of what this kind of fight felt like was a mockery and little more. You can get away with that with some of the villains, which we do see during these episodes, but for others it’s just a stunt that doesn’t really work.
Where Dragon Ball GT actually got me interested was in the start of the third and final arc here when the gang is told that their overuse of the Dragon Balls for all these years is having a negative effect. So negative, in fact, that they no longer work and instead each of them is now home to an Evil Dragon born of minus energy that wants to destroy the world. But that’s just the start because their minus energy expenditure will ripple across space and dimensions and destroy everything. So once more, it’s up to Goku to try and stop the seven dragons that are setting up shop around the planet and he can only do it by fighting them. The idea that the dragon balls are having a negative effect is a nice change of pace and the way it pushes the idea that everyone has to work on their own to achieve things. Unfortunately, the dragons themselves are pretty weak for the most part and only towards the end does it become something more.
There are some nice moments to be had as the relationship between Pan and Goku is solidified even more and there’s a good epilogue piece that moves the show forward a hundred years or so in a way to try and potentially reboot it again while still remaining the same. It was also interesting to see that Vegeta is trying to pull himself up by his bootstraps to try and catch up to Goku again now that the Super Saiyan 4 level has been discovered. This gives him some nice growth after all this time and it pushes the relationship with him and Goku in a new direction since they actively work to have a Fusion moment together to defeat the final bad guy. But all in all, this set of episodes is like a lot of the Baby material in that it just feels rushed and without any sense of real impact to it.
Watching Dragon Ball GT in this collected form has been a lot better than the singles that came out before. Watching it in that format gave it even more of a spaced-out and too-long feel considering how much repetition there is here. This particular set is the weaker of the two halves of the series as it introduces so many characters and villains throughout it with little in the way of serious impact that you can’t really enjoy it in the way you could Dragon Ball Z. Bringing back so many of the past villains didn’t help and neither did introducing so many corny Evil Dragon villains for awhile. There are things to like (and that doesn’t include the movie, of which the less said the better) but they’re far outweighed by the mediocre and bad pieces to this puzzle.
Japanese 1.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 10th, 2009
Running Time: 740 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.