The Dragon Ball franchise has been on the market for quite some time, though in reality FUNimation has merely milked Z to death. GT has been squeezed to some extent, but the original remained largely untouched until last year when they began releasing seasoned boxed sets. These chunks of Dragon Ball have been quite the treat for fans. I mean, FUNimation went back and digital restored the picture quality and has been packing thirty or so episodes on five discs for each set. To say fans have had something to cheer about would be an understatement.
If you haven't checked them out yet then you should know that FUNimation left the original aspect ratio intact. That means if you hooted and hollered about the widescreen treatment of Z, then you really have nothing to complain about. What's here has been treated quite well and lovingly restored. Considering the show is over twenty years old it's nice to see such care given. One doesn't typically see this with shows of this vintage, but then again Dragon Ball is something special.
This is the anime that most non-anime-loving people associate with the medium. It's iconic in so many ways and should be standard watching for otaku in order to appreciate the genius of Akira Toriyama. I won't break down into a complete dissection of the show, but I will say that the series is about an alien boy named Goku who comes to live on Earth. He was sent here to destroy us all but wound up being tamed and became our greatest defender against the galaxy's worst of the worst. There's more to it than that, and more characters to talk about, though for the time being we'll just leave the description there. If you want to learn more (should you have absolutely no clue what the show's about) then by all means check out some of our other reviews for the series. There are a lot of them.
In the last installment of Dragon Ball the show carried the torch of the first by working on the Red Ribbon saga. Goku gets involved with the Red Ribbon Army and all hell breaks loose as they clamor for Dragon Balls. This conflict took up all thirty episodes and saw Goku climbing Muscle Tower and squaring off against General Blue and Commander Red. The Commander Red storyline didn't quite wrap up in the last installment though, so that's where this one picks up.
Beginning with the episode "Sacred Water", the third season of Dragon Ball continues to focus on Goku's plight in the Tower. Basically Goku's ascension of the tower has increased his strength and made him more formidable. That's rather enticing to a mercenary named Tao who has been tracking him. Naturally another fight ensues, but Goku comes out on top though that shouldn't be much of a surprise. Afterwards the little tike feels like he could take on a whole army by himself. Lucky for him there's a Red Army standing in his path! Goku basically declares war on them and heads off without his friends to claim the last two Dragon Balls as his own.
Once this saga comes to a close the Fortuneteller Baba saga opens up and sees Goku and friends through more fighting as they attempt to get the dragon to grant their wish. This particular saga was a lot of fun and it offered up more variety than the Red Ribbon one did. There's just more diversity amongst Goku's foes and we actually get to see the Dragon Balls come together and a wish granted. There's still more action after the dragon has been called upon, but it all sets up for the adventures on Papaya Island and the Tien Shinhan saga that begins at the end of this volume.
The third installment of Dragon Ball continues to be a lot of fun and it packs a lot of punch. The adventures of young Goku are epic in many ways and the episodes you'll find in this collection exemplify that. Sure some of the content is stretched out and battles typically last longer than they should, but from start to finish this was probably one of the more diverse and exciting volumes the franchise has seen in a while. Fans will want to scoop this up immediately while newcomers will definitely want to start with the first season.
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 three 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 with artwork and information, 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 third collection of 31 episodes as they were meant to be seen, just slightly better looking. The Commander Red, Fortuneteller Baba, and start of the Tien Shanhan sagas are quite entertaining. There's a lot of action, plenty of character development, and loads of story to dig through. This one is strongly recommended!
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