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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Three
Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Three
FUNimation // Unrated // May 4, 2010
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 26, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Show:
 
The third Dragon Box presents an impressive 42 episodes of one of the most influential anime shows of all time, Dragon Ball Z.  This time around we finish up the Freiza Saga and dive straight into the next big story arc, the Android Saga.  This is probably my favorite Dragon Box so far.  It has some great action and a couple of my all time favorite anime episodes.  
 


If you're reading this, chances are good that you already know the story, but in case you don't, here's a brief recap: After defeating Vegeta and the other Saiyans in the first season of the show, several of the Z Fighters are dead.  With the Dragon Balls gone, the only way to wish their friends back is to travel to the planet Namek, where the Dragon Balls were originally created.  Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma (with Son Goku trailing a little ways behind them) go to the alien planet but discover that Frieza and his Ginyu Force have arrived first and started gathering the magical orbs.  Vegeta also turns up and rebels against his old master, Frieza, after he discovers some secrets about the evil leader.  Eventually the Ginyu Force is dealt with, but that still leaves the impressively powerful Frieza.
 
As this collection starts Vegeta is getting his ass handed to him by his old boss.  Vegeta's powerful, but he's not the legendary Super Saiyan that he thought he was.  Luckily Son Goku has finished recovering from his earlier injuries thanks to the isolation chamber and arrives at the battle just as Vegeta dies from the torture that Frieza inflicted upon him.  Calm, cool, and collected, Son Goku walks past his companions and lets them know he'll take on Frieza all by himself.  He's been training and he doesn't need any help.  This begins one of the greatest epic battles of the series (in a show that's filled with them). 
 


In the aftermath, the Z-fighters get back to Earth though it takes Son Goku a route that is a bit more time consuming.  Things don't stay peaceful for long however as an old nemesis, Garlic Jr., manages to escape from the dimension where he was trapped.  He's brought some thugs with him, the Spice Boys, and a potion that turns people into demons.  With Son Goku still not back on Earth, it's up to Krillian, Piccolo, and Gohan to keep the planet from turning into a living Hell.
 
The collection wraps up with the introduction of a new character, Trunks, and a new set of villains, androids created by the villainous Dr. Gero. 
 


What can I say?  The Namek Saga, especially the end of it, is one of my favorite Dragon Ball stories.  It was great watching it again, uncut with the original music.  There are so many funny, exciting, and simply iconic scenes that it's hard not to enjoy this tale. 
 
My heart still starts pumping faster when Son Goku arrives at the fight with Frieza.  Vegeta is lying near death and the other Z-Fighters are terrified.  When Goku walks up Piccolo tries to plan a strategy for a group attack, but is brushed off.  He's going to take on Frieza by himself, and he doesn't need anyone's help.  It's a great episode, one of my all time favorites.  Then there's the first time Goku turns into a Super-Saiyan, and when the Dragon Balls are all gathered and Frieza makes a wish, and the shock of Vegeta dying, and... and... it's just a great, great story.


 
The Garlic Jr. follow up story is short and sweet.  I've never been a big fan of the diminutive villain, but turning the world into evil demons was a cool idea.  After those few episodes however, we get the start of another great story arc: the Android Saga and the introduction of Trunks.  I've also always enjoyed those five or so episodes where Trunks enters the series.  It's mysterious and pretty thrilling, especially with the return of Frieza and his even more powerful father.  (And let's not forget when Goku and Trunks face off against each other, with Son Goku only using one finger!)  Face it... this is just an excellent collection.
 
The DVD:

 
These 42 episodes arrive on six DVDs that are held in a pair of 'books', three discs each.  Two of the discs are overlapping (boo!) on one side while the third has a side all to itself.  There is also a hardcover book included with the set (more on this in the extras section.)  The three books are stored in a thick slipcase and the books themselves have a spanning spine.  Altogether it's a very nice looking set.
 
This is the definitive collection too.  All of the episodes are restored, uncut, presented with their original aspect ratio, with the original Japanese openings, original music, and even the original episode previews.  What more could you want??
 
Audio:
 
This time the options are the original Japanese mono audio or a 5.1 English dub (with the Japanese music... the English music is not to be found in this set, which is fine by me.)  I viewed it with the Japanese track, and though the English dub is good and a much more immersive experience (especially during the frequent fight scenes) I enjoyed the original track just a bit more.  Both tracks were clean and free of hiss and distortion and the show sounded great, even in mono.
 
Video:
 
The image is in its original full screen aspect ratio this time, and I couldn't be happier.  The picture has been cleaned up, frame by frame, from the original 16mm film.  I have the original Pioneer releases and this is an improvement.  There is less grain and some spots have been removed.  The colors are a bit more even, though not as bright as the original releases, which I found a little odd.  Though this version does look a little more realistic, I don't think that's what they were going for originally.  The colors aren't oversaturated though, as has been reported with the FUNimation season sets.  They also didn't go overboard with the digital smoothing as happened with the earlier brick collections.  
 
In any case the lines are tight and the colors are even and solid.  The blacks are generally deep.  On the digital side of things the shows look good too.  There is some minor aliasing and light posterization in a few places but neither is ever a distraction and other compression artifacts such as blocking are absent.  Overall this is the best looking version of Dragon Ball I have seen, and the set I'd recommend to fans.
 
Extras:
 
There aren't any extras on the discs themselves, which is fine by me.  I'd much rather have the show presented with the way it was meant to be seen.  I can live without the English dub cast 'party' commentary tracks.
 
There is a 48 page hardcover book that comes with the set and it is a real asset.  Not only does it contain a synopsis of every episode in the set, but there's a profile of Goku's family and a relationship tree that lets you know who is working with whom.  There are tidbits of trivia scattered through the book as well as character sketches.  It's very nice and a wonderful addition to the set.
 
Final Thoughts:
 
I have a lot of favorite anime shows.  Neon Genesis is amazing.  Ghost in the Shell is fantastic.  If I had to pick one series to be stranded on a desert island with, it would be Dragon Ball Z, and the Dragon Boxes are the version I'd take with me.  With the restored image, faithful reproduction of the original Japanese shows, original aspect ratio, and nice packaging, this is the definitive Dragon Ball Z collection.  Highly Recommended.
 
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