Dragon Ball is the world's most popular anime franchise. With over 500 combined episodes, a bunch of movies, some OVA, and manga to boot you'd be hard-pressed to say that it was anything but. In fact it's so mainstream that most non-otaku associate the show as the definition of anime simply because it's absolutely everywhere. As you'd imagine this is something that could be considered both a good and a bad thing.
The sequel series, Dragon Ball Z was arguably the most well received of Toriyama's Dragon Ball programs. With a whopping 291 episodes under its belt collecting individual volumes of the series would no doubt be a daunting task. Equally challenging would be the quest to catch each episode on TV. The problem with going down that road is the fact that the episodes have been censored for the American audience so you're not exactly getting the whole picture. If you have waited patiently for a full block of episodes that featured uncut content then FUNimation has the collection you've been searching for.
For a while now we have been checking out the uncut seasons of Dragon Ball Z as FUNimation has been presenting them. Up to this point five seasons and 165 episodes have come and gone, and I'd be hard-pressed to say that this wasn't a hell of a ride. Due to its scope and impressive amount of background Dragon Ball Z is epic and the journey of Goku and company continues with the release of the sixth installment. Rather than fill in the blanks for folks who are just joining us I'm going to cut right to the chase and talk about the episodes that pertain to this installment. I figure that if you're looking at the sixth season of a show, you probably already know what's going on or at least have a very good idea.
This time around things get started with Cell up to no good. Out of all the villains that Goku has faced since Dragon Ball Z began, Cell is probably the most dangerous. He has the ability absorb people to power up and can fully regenerate any damage he incurs. Naturally he's perfect for the longwinded battles for this series and in this installment \he gets his nefarious deeds underway by creating a fighting tournament with the future of Earth on the line. Naturally Goku and the rest of the Z Fighters have to enter and do their best to defeat him in order to save their favorite planet. This storyline lasts for quite a few episodes in this season and Cell is basically the number one bad guy spread across these twenty-nine episodes.
As preparations for the tournament begin, Goku and Gohan seem oddly at ease and aren't too entirely focused on training like Vegeta, Trunks, and Piccolo are. Gohan takes a moment to help out some villagers who are being taken advantage of and the father and son enjoy some downtime to celebrate a special occasion. Consider this the calm before the storm as events quickly transpire that bring about the return of Dende, villains such as General Tao, and goofy inclusions like Mr. Satan. After you get through that bunk there are four episodes that only depict Goku fighting Cell. This drawn out battle comes to an interesting conclusion and in the end it's up to Gohan to finish the job.
The stuff with Cell is very drawn out for the rest of this volume with the villain going away and making yet another return. To top it all off more action involving those pesky Androids surfaces as well. Trunks' future world is still at risk and as this installment winds down that particular storyline starts picking up steam again.
All in all Dragon Ball Z's sixth season has a lot to offer for fans of the series. The battles are definitely the main feature here and there's almost constant action in this installment. Because of that you can expect all twenty-nine episodes to wrap up sooner than you'd think they would. I love DBZ when the episodes all mesh together and this volumes does just that for nearly its entirety. If you've been following the show to this point there's definitely no reason to stop. Yet another solid collection of episodes!
If you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z you already know that FUNimation has cropped the original 1.33:1 image and churned out a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfer in the process. The promise was put out there that more would be gained and it would give the show a nice theatrical appearance. While the image does carry a certain cinematic flare now there are times when it's glaringly obvious that sections were chopped off. Newcomers may not recognize it as easily as fans but even I, with my limited exposure to the show, spotted a few areas that made me question the decision.
As far as the content itself you can expect a mixed bag of quality. Sometimes the colors appear vibrant with a wide palette though there are quite a few spots where the show looks washed out. Other nitpicky flaws such as grain, dirt, and scratches also appear throughout the 29 episodes here. With all of that being said, I do have to say for a show this old it looks very good. Compared to other anime from this timeframe the care taken to clean up the image here is definitely appreciated.
Overall the video quality on this DVD is tough to gauge. For starters, the cropped anamorphic widescreen does little improve upon the presentation. I mean, I love widescreen anime as much as the next guy but why mess with a classic and present it in a manner that wasn't intended? Other than that controversial subject matter the image quality here is very good with noticeable effort towards cleaning up the original print.
Dragon Ball Z season six includes audio quality mostly identical to what came before it. This means that you can expect the original Japanese Mono track and a track for English stereo and surround. I enjoyed the original Japanese track the most and listened to that for much of my viewing. The English dubbing has always sounded cheesy to me and therefore it is a "must avoid" while watching in my opinion. There are some out there who would rather deal with the English dub and not bother with reading flawed subtitles.
As far as the quality is concerned what is here is fine but not groundbreaking. The 5.1 English track certainly offered more immersion during battle sequences with some ambient noise kicking in at times. The stereo and mono tracks were noticeably lackluster in the technical presentation but all around the sound quality was crisp and clean.
Once again Dragon Ball Z's Uncut DVD set presents the Marathon Feature for extended play. Aside from that there are some trailersa and a booklet with character data and episode recaps.
Dragon Ball Z has always been a show that made its mark by offering more action than story. This installment attempts to balance both out, but the fighting takes over a couple of episodes in and doesn't let up until the final episode's credits roll. The pacing here is very brisk with a lot of battles and more Cell. After two installments of virtually nothing but Cell I do feel that the wind has been taken out of his sails slightly. Thankfully there really aren't any weak moments in these episodes and if you've been following the show to this point then you can prepare for another rocking collection.
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