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.
Looking back on the fact that I have sat through 253 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, it's quite daunting really. Since I started reviewing the uncut seasons every time a box set came out I would marathon play it right through to the final episode. With the ninth and final season in hand it only seemed fitting to give it the same treatment. Containing episodes 254 right up to the finale in 291, Dragon Ball Z's ninth season is what fans have been waiting for. It's a mad dash to the end that contains some of the show's best fights and most dramatic moments.
Now, if you recall, in the final moment of the prior season the Z Fighters had to deal with the resurrection of a big pink guy named Buu. As he was brought back to this world it's safe to say that their biggest challenge lay ahead of them. From one rampage to another Buu gets this volume started on the right foot, but this guy isn't your typical villain. He pretty much has a good side and a bad, and wouldn't you know? The bad one wins out here. You know what that means? It's fight time!
With Evil Buu taking the upper hand against Good Buu, a new and improved Majin Buu is created. This guy is a really powerful bastard and he pushes our heroes to their limit more than any other villain in the past. Goten and Trunks have to fuse together in order to stand a chance against him (which they don't really), and the whole affair brings Goku back with Vegeta and Gohan, as they all merge together as well. With their combined powers it seems as though Buu doesn't stand a chance, but since he has the ability to absorb beings and take their power the Buu danger grows exponentially. A victory almost seems impossible as some points and the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, though Buu actually succeeds at something that many other villains haven't been able to accomplish.
Even at this point there's still a whole lot of fight to be had and once the dust settles Goku and company have a nice little epilogue of sorts to bring the show to a close. It's an appropriate conclusion and it unfortunately leaves the door open for GT to pick up the pieces. Even so this ninth season is a success and proves to be one of the better seasons of the show we've seen in quite some time.
It may be a very polarizing show, but you simply can't deny Dragon Ball Z's influence on anime. Love it or hate it, it's a show that more or less defined the medium and set many standards we see today. I must admit that when I started watching these seasons my exposure to DBZ was very minimal. I had written the show off long before I watched it, and I'm pleased to say that the series beat my expectations. I was figuring that I wouldn't have a good time with the show and that wasn't the case at all. Sure it's full of a little too much fighting and every episode is stretched out, but it's entertaining in just about every way you could want. Whether you've seen the show or not you can consider FUNimation's uncut seasons recommended.
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 nine 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. From start to finish you're going to get more fighting than plot exposition throughout its 291 episode run. Even so, it has plenty of personality and it's endearing in many ways. There may be many naysayers who diss the show and quite honestly I used to be one of them until I watched it. While it may not be my favorite anime, DBZ is quite entertaining and was a pleasant surprise. It's a show I'll undoubtedly come back to now and then, and when FUNimation gets a hold of Dragon Ball Kai, you bet I'll sign on for that as well!
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