When the original Dragon Ball hit DVD a couple months ago it was something worth celebrating. I mean, how many years has it been since anyone has seen the original from 1989? Honestly, I don't even know. Z has been re-released countless times, but the original simply hasn't been touched for a number of years. Needless to say when FUNimation announced they were coming out with boxed sets similar to the treatment we saw with Z and GT, I was excited.
The big thing that they are toting this time around is the fact that these episodes are uncut and remastered. They decided not to mess with the aspect ratio of the show and left it with a fullframe presentation, so if that was something you hated about their Z collection, then set your mind at ease. What's here is a loving cared restoration of the original. Presented on five DVDs, this second collection brings together the second batch of episodes with 30 in all.
Last time around we were introduced to the roots of Akira Toriyama's massive series. In case you missed it, basically a monkey tailed boy is found on Earth by an elderly martial arts master, Master Roshi. Roshi names him Goku and teaches him about humanity, love, peace, justice, and all that good stuff. Okay, maybe it's not quite that sappy, but Goku's the hero, so think what you will. Soon enough he teams up with a girl named Bulma and goes on a quest for Dragon Balls. We discover shortly thereafter that several other people/creatures are after them too. The first set included the Emperor Pilaf saga and concluded with the Tournament saga. By the end of the volume there were also a couple episodes form the Red Ribbon saga, which is where this installment picks up.
At the start of this volume Goku and Chi Chi are on their way to save the Ox King, but get mixed up in a mad dash to get to Pilaf's flying base. He's competing against the Red Ribbon Army and ultimately he's beaten to the punch, and loses out on getting the Dragon Ball. Goku's battles with the Red Ribbon continue for quite a stretch here and the two go back and forth on some of the Balls. In almost every episode the Red Ribbon Army does something nefarious to get their hands on their prize, and Goku has to step in to save the hapless victim. This often puts his own quest in harm's way, but it's Goku so naturally that's going to happen.
One particularly interesting portion of this story arc comes from the Muscle Tower, which Goku has to climb. The Tower is more or less the Army's base and with each level there's another foe that stands out as being even stronger than the one before it. In this part we are also introduced to an Android, which are commonly shown in later parts of the franchise. Naturally there are some more fights for Goku and from here the show continues to focus on the Red Ribbon Army with the likes of General Blue and Commander Red sagas.
While we only get a little taste of what Commander Red has to offer, we get the whole shebang for General Blue. Basically Blue is a member of the Army and is out to get Goku. He's very narcissistic and kind of annoying as a character, but there are some pretty funny moments when he's involved. His saga is essentially one long fight that just takes place in different areas.
While the second installment of Dragon Ball features pretty much more of the same, I'd be hard-pressed to deny the charm of it all. This show is a blast to watch and though it is far too stretched out for its own good, the heart of the series is solid. Once again, fans of Z or other iterations should definitely check this one out, though those who haven't been into Dragon Ball would be better off checking out the first installment.
Much like the DVD release of Dragon Ball Z, this one hits DVD with a nicely cleaned up transfer that is sure to please many fans. I will say that one thing I was surprised about was the decision to present this DVD in the original 1.33:1 fullscreen. After all the hoopla about how they improved DBZ and made it more modern with the anamorphic widescreen, I don't understand why they dropped it for this release. Either way it's worth noting that the show looks great for its age, aspect ratio aside.
The restoration that took place here definitely cleaned things up a bit. There's very little in terms of dirt in the transfer and grain is kept as minimal as can be for an animated show that's over twenty years old. The colors are also incredibly vibrant for their age and overall the show has a nice clean look. DBZ's transfer looked a little sharper, but this one definitely holds its own.
Dragon Ball season two 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.
Like the DBZ releases, this one features the Marathon Feature for extended play, a booklet, clean animations, and some trailers.
The original Dragon Ball hasn't been seen on DVD or TV for quite a while now. I suppose that means the timing is right for an updated release, and thankfully FUNimation obliges that craving. This uncut boxed set features the second collection of 30 episodes as they were meant to be seen, just slightly better looking. The show is a hoot and it is really easy to see how this series was the flagship for many to come. I felt that the Red Ribbon Army was rather hit or miss, but this installment is still easily recommended!
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