When it comes to the Dragon Ball Z franchise it seems that fans simply cannot get enough. For ages now, anime lovers all over the globe have been watching the adventures of Gohan, his son Goku, and the rest of the gang. Granted the show is something of an acquired taste and there are valid arguments to be made both for and against the franchise. Yes the battles take too long, yes the writing isn't "quite" as good as it could have been, and sure it's basically the same recycled plot over and over again, but gosh darn it all if it just wasn't so fun. Because of that, Toei Animation decided to piece together a follow up series to Z known as GT.
Released over a little over a decade ago Dragon Ball GT has become the bastard child of the franchise. Granted that title may not last once the tepid looking Dragon Ball live action movie comes out, but even so I'm sure it will be too close to call. GT is an entirely original project and strays from the path set out by Akira Toriyama. If you need any indication of just how poorly received the series was compared to Z, GT logged in a whopping 64 episodes compared to Z's 291. I could go on all day about it, but to make a long story short, this series was just a bad idea that spawned out of someone's desire to make more money on the back of Toriyama's work.
Now, before I get ahead of myself it's worth mentioning that Dragon Ball GT isn't all bad. There are some nice fights scattered throughout the show and though the stories never quite reach the level we grew accustomed to in Z some of moments were entertaining enough to please Dragon Ball fans. It's just that those snippets are spread few and far between and when compared to its predecessors it comes up woefully short by all accounts.
In almost every way Dragon Ball GT is a direct sequel to Dragon Ball Z. The show picks up right after the other and once again features Goku at the epicenter of everything. When the series starts out Pilaf has gotten his hands on the Black Star Dragon Balls and uses them to turn Goku into a kid. He loses most all of his powers in the process and as if that weren't bad enough, the Earth is going to be destroyed in a year's time. You know what that means? It's up to Goku to learn all his old tricks again and find the Black Dragon Balls before it's too late.
If you can't tell already, this series basically hits the restart button since everything old has become new again. Coming hot off the heels of Dragon Ball Z it's safe to say that some elements give GT a distinctly different feel, but at its core it is basically the same stuff, just skewed ever so slightly. The most enjoyable moments of this series come from Goku himself. He simply accepts what's happened to him as a matter of fact and moves on with it. This lends itself to some nice moments as other familiar characters such as Vegeta and Bulma react to his new state, but that's not really what this show is all about.
Early on in the show Goku heads out with Trunks and Pan in order to locate the elusive Dragon Balls. Since these aren't ordinary Balls Goku must get a starship and head out into the unfriendly territories of space. The first planet they hit is a vile place known as Imecka and our heroes quickly find themselves in a world of trouble. A tyrant named Lord Don Kee has a vice grip on the populous of Imecka and quickly sets a campaign in motion to crush Goku and company. Naturally some fighting ensues in typical Dragon Ball fashion and I'm sure you can guess who eventually comes out on top.
The next planet they visit holds a Black Star Dragon Ball, but there's kind of a big problem in their way. A giant monster poses a threat to the people and our heroes must find someway to stop the beast in order to get the Ball they need. Trunks poses as a girl in order to get closer to the monster and just when things seem to be going in their favor three dancing freaks show up to give them a run for their money. Yes, that's right, it's a Dragon Ball dance-off of sorts and it's just about one of the dumbest things I have ever seen.
From there the show continues a downward spiral and it kind of meanders around for a bit. The characters are bounced between one silly plot after another and throughout this installment it's basically the adventures of young Goku, Trunks and Pan. They tackle some enemies such as Rilldo, Dr. Myuu, and yes, even a baby Vegeta.
If you're an absolutely diehard Dragon Ball fan and you simply must have everything in your collection and at your disposal then I suppose GT will find its way into your collection. Personally, I felt that the concept was too dry and that the show simply felt like it was trying to hard to be something it wasn't. The 34 episodes here are mediocre for the most part and there are sparse highlights worth mentioning. Casual fans or newcomers to the Dragon Ball franchise don't really need to bother, but if you're curious I suppose you could give it a rental.
Dragon Ball GT hits DVD with a full frame aspect ratio that is kind of disappointing after enjoying the widescreen treatment given to Z. The picture quality has been restored though and for the most part this version looks better than previous editions I have seen. The picture still shows signs of age with faded colors in parts, grain, and an overall softness. There are still some nice black levels and all around the animation of the show is basically what we've come to expect from Z. In the end GT isn't bad looking, but it's not quite as lovingly cared for as its brethren.
Dragon Ball GT comes with English 2.0 and 5.1 as well as a mono Japanese track. The sound quality is decent enough and is more or less on par with the presentation of Z. Your mileage may vary with regards to the talent of the dub, but given the material the actors have to work with I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising. I did appreciate the English track with the Japanese music selection though. Overall the sound quality is adequate, but it's not really anything to write home about since the 5.1 isn't quite as immersive as it could have been.
The extra features here are kind of skimpy, but in all honesty that's not very surprising. There's a marathon play feature as well as some trailers and a booklet with some information about the show and characters as well as summaries of the episodes.
Dragon Ball GT just isn't anywhere near as entertaining as Dragon Ball Z. I hate comparing the two because they are separate entities for the most part, however, it's kind of hard not too considering GT is more or less billed as a sequel. The show's concept is unoriginal and tiresome, the stories are far-fetched and lame, and the level of energy just isn't quite as high as we'd expect. Like I said, there are a few moments that rise above the mediocrity, but those just aren't abundant enough to save the series. Consider this first half a rental if you're a curious DBZ fan, but everyone else can just skip it and find something else to watch.
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