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 ubiquitous 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.
The first season of GT came out a short while ago and we had the opportunity to check out what it offered. The first 34 episodes set up the story by introducing us to Goku as he's been turned into a child and is forced to once again traverse the universe in search of balls. The Black Dragon Balls got him into this mess and unless he finds them the Earth is doomed. Sound familiar? Full of misguided plotlines, ill-conceived concepts, and boorish fight scenes the first chunk of GT episodes exemplified many of the reasons fans hold the show in such disdain. Those instances where the series rose above mediocrity were rare, fleeting at best. Does the second half of the show fare any better?
Picking up right where the first season left off, the second continues the Baby Vegeta saga and pits Goku right in the thick of things as the end of Earth looms closer. In the midst of a fight with Baby, Goku turns into another stage of Super Saiyan. In typical Dragon Ball fashion this means his powers go through the roof and naturally Baby has to up the ante by going Ape himself. The fighting continues for a few episodes and there are many ridiculous moments leading up to the end. Once the dust settles it's time for Piccolo to step into the picture again as he and Goku arrive in Earth's final moments.
The tepidness of GT continues up through to the end and the only saving graces the show squeezes out in its final moments are some highlights from its many battles. The proverbial crap hits the fan at one point with regards to the plot and its characters, but Goku soldiers on to defeat Shenron. There are scant highlights worth noting during this trip aside from the fact that Goku is put through the emotional ringer and the powers on both sides continue to amplify. The problem here is that there's simply not enough context to the story. Everything just kind of happens for no reason and any moments that could have potential to feel genuine come across as being forced.
Ultimately Dragon Ball GT is not worth your time. At no time does it reach the level of quality that Z enjoyed, and because of that fans of Dragon Ball should really second guess whether or not they want to bother. A few good fight scenes and some nice interactions between characters simply aren't worth the price of admission. I suppose curious fans that have never seen the show could consider renting it, but disappointment will set in if you're looking for a series that's similar to Dragon Ball Z in terms of quality.
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. The follow up release by FUNimation brings the rest of GT to the market, but it's not really worth it. Curious Z fans might get by with a rental. Then again you're probably better off saving your money.
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