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. If you've found it difficult to pick these episodes up on broadcast then FUNimation's complete uncut collections are definitely your ticket for DBZ action.
Having followed Dragon Ball Z since the beginning, watching the seven previous collections with a combined total of 219 episodes seems like a daunting task when I look back upon it. Broken up over time it's not so bad, but when you're taking about a series that has 291 it's a big investment no matter how you slice it. It's one of the most epic shows to come along, and since then it has been the benchmark of success that many anime aspire to attain.
For the eight installment, everything gets underway with episode 220. The tournament is still going on and there's plenty of fighting to be had, but before the focus shifts to that the Z Fighters have to track down Babidi and see what the sinister wizard is up to. In the first episode they follow Spopovitch and Yamu only to get caught up in a fight (of course). Babidi's henchman, Dabura, finds the Z fighters and puts them in their place. He turns Krillin and Piccolo to stone and leaves Vegeta, Gohan, Goku, and Supreme Kai to ponder what to do next. In good hero fashion they follow Dabura back to Babidi's ship, and in good DBZ fashion they're not going to get out without a fight.
In order to restore their stoned companions the heroes must defeated Dabura, but in order to get off the ship they have to beat Babidi. They have to accomplish all of this while making their way through his minions and trying to prevent the reawakening of Buu. The first battle here takes place between Vegeta and Pui Pui. It's rather lackluster since it's kind of a one-sided fight, but Vegeta's really powerful and he's pissed off so that's never a good combination. With the first fight out of the way, Goku gets to take on Babidi's second crony, but again it's rather a pointless brawl.
Before we get to the interesting parts of the Babidi arc, however, the show shifts its attention back onto the tournament where Trunks and Goten are trying to fight. There's some light exposition here between some of the secondary characters, but the real meat of the story begins back on Babidi's ship where Vegeta makes a deal with the villain. By betraying Goku and the gang, Vegeta gains supreme power and becomes a viable threat. Of course his main goal is to destroy Goku, but things get further complicated when the mysterious Buu is brought back into the world. From this point on the focus of the series changes as the intensity of the battles increase, characters die, and all around there are heavy prices to pay.
Once again Dragon Ball Z provides a ton of bang for your buck. After subjecting myself to the abysmal GT series, getting back to Z feels like a breath of fresh air. Sure it's not the greatest show of all time, but it does its thing very well and offers plenty of intrigue in between the silly bits. There's all kinds of fighting this time around and as you'd expect from DBZ the ante is constantly being upped. Consider this one another solid entry in the franchise and worth checking out.
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 34 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 uncut season eight 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 trailers 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. Even with the tournament in full swing at the beginning of this installment, the inclusion of Babidi and the awakening of Buu are some significant events. There are some great dramatic highlights here and the show maintains a bombastic amount of energy right up until the last few episodes here. Fans can be pleased to know that this is yet another solid collection of episodes that will find an easy to appreciate home on their DVD shelves.
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