Like it or not, Dragon Ball is the largest and most popular anime franchise ever created. If you're looking at Japanese animation you can't deny that fact and if over 400 episodes and 17 movies aren't enough proof for you then, well, you're just living under a rock. You don't have to like it, you don't have to understand it; Dragon Ball just is and for better or worse it's what mainstream people associate anime with.
As a rabid otaku I must admit that my experience with Dragon Ball Z has had many ups and downs over the years. I had only seen the sub-par English dubs when I was younger and it wasn't until FUNimation's latest full season releases of uncut episodes that I was able to see the program the way it was meant to be. The show always was a frustrating experience and it's hard to argue that. Half the runtime of each episode was taken up by recaps and posturing during battle but when you look at the story as a whole it was actually quite captivating.
The adventures of Son Goku and his son Gohan are something of legend and it's Akira Toriyama's vision that brought their strange world to life. So much happened during the course of the show that it's impossible to bring you up to speed and quite honestly, I don't want to spoil anything for you. If you haven't watched the show by now or don't know what's going on then go check out FUNimation's release. Then again, after sitting down with the Dragon Ball Z Broly double feature I'm not entirely sure you need to understand the ins and outs of the show.
If you have been following high definition releases them I'm sure you've already come to the conclusion that there just isn't a lot of anime on the market. This Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray actually marks the first entry onto the format for FUNimation and if you ask me it was a wise choice. The aforementioned mainstream association of Dragon Ball and anime means that the target audience would probably be higher than, say, Beck. Now don't get me wrong, Beck is one of my favorite series and I would love to have it presented in 1080p but when you're marketing to Tom, Dick, and Harry, I suppose you have to go with what has the best potential of selling.
As far as the content of this double feature Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan and Broly: Second Coming. When it comes to the DBZ movies it's my understanding that among fans these are probably the most well-received. Prior to this viewing I had only heard about the Broly films through friends and after watching them together I have to say that the package felt very complete. The movies complimented each other well and I can easily see why FUNimation paired them up for this release.
The premise of the first Broly picture is set up rather well and it quickly fits in with the rest of Dragon Ball. In the middle of a relatively peaceful afternoon a spaceship arrives and spits out some guy named Paragus who informs Vegeta about a Legendary Super Saiyan. Naturally the ex-villain is intrigued by the prospect of a worthy adversary and sets off to another planet for a battle of galactic proportions. It's worth mentioning that several other characters from the show tag along; namely Gohan, Trunks, Krillin, Master Roshi and Oolong. If you know anything about the DBZ formula then you probably figured out that they are there for filler action until Goku arrives.
Fortunately for the would-be beaten to a pulp warriors Goku receives a telepathic message and charges on ahead to tackle Broly. The two have a bizarre history that is explained during the film and, if you ask me, it's kind of ridiculous though I suppose you just have to take it with a grain of salt. In any event Goky and Broly fight, a planet is in jeopardy, and all hell breaks loose in good Dragon Ball form. By the end of the picture I felt it was little more than a stretched out episode though the production values were noticeably higher than what you'd expect to find in the show.
Taking place a little later in the series, Second Coming brings Broly back onto the Dragon Ball scene. Set years after the events of the first film, this one mainly involves Gohan, Goten, Vidal, and Trunks because at this point Goku isn't really around. The film is kind of on the short side and once again it feels like an extended episode though it's very entertaining. The core of the plot sees Broly landing on earth only to become encased in ice where he stayed for the course of seven years. As it turns out Goten and friends are out looking for Dragon Balls when they unwittingly come across a recently thawed Broly. Fighting ensues and Gohan shows up to put an end to it all.
Overall I felt both films were decent from a Dragon Ball Z standpoint but in the end they failed to entertain otherwise. The stories were simplistic without a lot of drama and basically everything was overshadowed by an abundance of fighting. I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing and if you're coming to this release with interest then you were probably expecting that anyway.
At the end of the day whether or not you'll want to pick this up depends solely on how much you enjoy Dragon Ball Z. Collectors may find it annoying that nothing else of the franchise has been released on Blu-ray (these are the 8th and 10th movies after all) and the uninitiated probably won't want to bother. However, chances are good with the holidays fast approaching that some DBZ fans are getting PS3s and this would make a perfect accompaniment. I enjoyed both Broly features quite a bit which was kind of surprising considering the story elements are very light. I say check it out but only if you're a fan of the show.
When it comes to Dragon Ball Z on DVD you hear a lot of talk about how the original picture has been tainted by FUNimation. The recent uncut release of the show has been chopped into a widescreen presentation from its original full screen and has had most of the gunk filtered out of it. While some sections certainly don't look natural, on the whole FUNimation's work has revitalized the show. Thankfully you can essentially say the same thing about the Broly films on Blu-ray.
Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan and Broly: Second Coming are presented on Blu-ray with a full 1080p HD output and AVC codec. The films are presented on a 50GB disc and preserve the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1. A little pamphlet inside the case describes the efforts taken to remaster the films and prep them for an HD presentation. Let's just say that the picture was cleansed again and again not to mention the color was spruced up. The end result is a vibrant looking release that is mostly free of digital effects and film grain. There are still a few points throughout where dirt is noticeably within the transfer but these were negligible considering the original source.
While I haven't seen these particular films before I have seen Dragon Ball of many different varieties and I can honestly say that this is just about the best it has ever looked. I suppose one should ask themselves if DBZ really needs to be in high definition though I suppose that question would spark fervent debate much like FUNimation's widescreen job on the series.
Three audio tracks make the final cut for this release though to be quite honest they aren't anywhere near as good as they could have been. The original Japanese and dubbed English 2.0 tracks lack the power that you'd expect them. Sound in both selections feels relatively flat though thankfully the 5.1 English offering does spruce things up a bit. Still, the sense of immersion isn't as good as it could have been and I just didn't "feel" the action as much as I should have. With Blu-ray we're used to receiving uncompressed PCM tracks and much better audio as a whole; that's just not the case here.
There are no features available on this disc apart from some trailers of some other releases and talk about DBZ going high def.
If you happen to own a Blu-ray player and you love Dragon Ball Z then picking up the Broly double feature won't really require a second thought. The films are entertaining for what they are and they are better than the regular episodes of the show, despite the fact that they feel only slightly extended. The effort FUNimation took to bring these movies up to snuff for Blu-ray is impressive and it's hard to deny the vibrancy of both pictures. There are still some flaws and the audio isn't as powerful as one would hope but the fact that FUNimation is moving in the high definition direction is a very good thing. Folks who aren't into anime shouldn't bother picking this up because it's not going to change your opinion. However if you consider yourself to be an otaku then this release comes recommended.
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