FUNimation's Dragon Ball license continues to go strong. Granted most all of the franchise has already been release somewhere along the way, but it's safe to say that the series has enjoyed recent success regardless of that fact. The movies and the uncut seasons of Z have been doing well enough to warrant continued release as new fans flock to the show every day. Granted it's a franchise that appeals to a niche corner of the anime community, but regardless of that fact you can't deny the epic nature of Dragon Ball.
For quite some time now we have been checking out both the show's season and the films. With regards to those movies FUNimation has been presenting them in the form of a steelbook collection with two (or three) movies per release. Considering the films were little more than extended episodes I suppose this is a good thing. As a collector and fan of DBZ it's nice to know that the packaging is pretty slick and it saves a little bit on shelf space by getting two movies at one. We've already watched sixth such releases to date (including some on Blu-ray) and today we're looking at the seventh collection.
This time around "Fusion Reborn" and "Wrath of the Dragon" are the two films that take the center stage. With these being two of the last DBZ movies to be released I suppose the expectations have already been set. The other films in the series have been entertaining outings, but in all fairness there hasn't been anything to really ignite a spark or capture the attention of viewers. I've already mentioned how the movies were more or less extended episodes and unfortunately that's the case here as well. I will say, however, that "Fusion Reborn" takes the cake as one of the better DBZ features I've seen.
Though "Fusion Reborn" still takes place at some point in the DBZ saga like all of the other films, it's remarkably different with the way it approaches the material. Sure it basically boils down to a great evil being released, Earth is in trouble, and only the Z fighters can save the day, but the manner with which this story comes to fruition is quite entertaining and unique. Rather than pit our heroes against one villain, "Fusion Reborn" brings back much more than a handful. Something has happened in the happy fun land known as the Other World and wouldn't you know, a whole slew of bad guys were able to come trampling out!
At this point there are two separate battles taking place. In the Other World Goku has his hands full with a powerful and massive new enemy known as Janemba, who is even strong enough to cause grief for King Yemma. Janemba turns the whole Other World and all of its dimensions into a giant jelly bean realm and it's up to Goku to take down the big lug. In our world all manner of bad guys are brought back to life. Vampires, Hitler, Frieza, and a massive horde of zombies all come around to terrorize humanity and give our heroes a run for their money. The movie actually has some pretty good fight scenes and the story is quite entertaining. It's a goofier adventure than we usually get with DBZ too, so there're a lot of laughs to be had.
"Wrath of the Dragon" introduces some new characters with a story that pulls its pieces from another world. A monster known as Hirudegarn has been released. Naturally this fight comes to Earth and our heroes have to step up to figure out what the heck is going on and how to stop it. There were some nice elements to this story, and it was entertaining enough as a one-shot episode, but ultimately it just wasn't as entertaining as "Fusion Reborn" or some of the other films.
If you've been collecting the Dragon Ball Z movies then there's really no reason to not pick up this release with "Fusion Reborn" and "Wrath of the Dragon". While the former may be more entertaining than the latter, both serve the franchise well enough and will appeal strongly to fans of the franchise. I would say that this release is on par with the other recent ones by FUNimation and if you don't mind the fact that these movies are more or less extended episodes then you'll be pleased enough. Then again I suppose a release such as this is intended to only appeal to fans of the show anyway.
Both "Fusion Reborn" and "Wrath of the Dragon" are presented on DVD in much the same way the remastered show is. The original Japanese material has been brought through one filter after another to clean up the picture, and it definitely shows. While both films maintain a certain worn look with grain, dirt, and some faded colors there's no denying that the transfer contains an overall vibrancy and is much sharper than you'd imagine a twenty year old image would look like. The aspect ratio for both films is presented in anamorphic widescreen to give a somewhat more theatrical appearance.
Both films feature original Japanese language tracks with mono output and English 5.1 offerings with selections for original Japanese music and updated English tunes. When it comes to this series I have always been a fan of the original Japanese content and though the mono track is definitely more subdued I found the dub to be much more palatable. With that being said the English offerings are much better in the technical department with a greater sense of immersion. Unfortunately even that 5.1 selection isn't quite as robust as it could have been.
Sadly, all you're going to get for both films here is a collection of trailers for bonus features. At least the release's packaging is still pretty cool!
These Dragon Ball Z two-packs are a nice way for fans to get more bang for their buck. Due to the fact that each "film" is only about 40 minutes, having two of them definitely cushions the blow. "Fusion Reborn" is arguably the more enjoyable of the two movies here. It's more of a goofy adventure than any serious story, but somehow that worked out perfectly. Granted you're not really coming to DBZ for a thought-provoking and moving story, but if you're just looking to watch a fight you'll appreciate it just the same. If you don't already know what you're getting yourself into with DBZ then all you really need to know is that the show is an acquired taste. Those who love it will LOVE it, while the rest will remain indifferent. I wouldn't bother with these film releases if you haven't seen the show, but if you have then consider them recommended.
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