you aren't already familiar with the world of Dragon Ball and its many
sequels and incarnations, I would be surprised. It's gone down in
one of the most loved (and hated) anime series ever created. It's based
Manga of great success both in Japan and now stateside, and there are
devoted (and aggravated) fans that it's hard to remember a time when it
popular in the US. Based solely on sheer expansiveness, it's the
Pokemon on steroids.
where does this Dragon Ball film take you? It takes you all the way
back to the
very beginning of the saga. To put it briefly for diehard fans: this is
beginning of the Dragon Ball TV series retold and with new animation in
movie format. It introduces you to the concept of Dragon Balls. The
being, for any potential newbies still out there, that when all seven
mystical balls are collected you can call out a Dragon to grant you one
Then the Dragon Balls disperse around the planet Earth and Earth's
Warriors (some of them aliens like young Goku) have to find them before
guys do. You know... because the bad guys just want to use their wishes
and stuff. That's Dragon Ball's plot in a nutshell. However, when you
open, you'll find that the characters and the journeys they take are
entertaining and enjoyable than you might have imagined them to be.
this film we are introduced to many of the key players. Goku (who you
familiar with from Dragon Ball Z) is
just a wee lad. He's energetic in the best way possible. You can't help
enjoy this character, and I think that is one of the primary reasons
series has continued to be so successful.
We meet him and Bulma around the same time. Bulma is a girl who
find the Dragon Balls and she has been tracking them down. She finds
had been in Goku's possession, and, after they become acquainted with
another, they decide it's a good idea to team up in search of the rest.
Unfortunately, Goku's Dragon Ball gets stolen by henchmen working for
Gurumes. These bad guys are collecting them for the King so that he can
for more food to chow down. In the process, we discover that these
also collecting Rubies in the King's Kingdom and that they are valuable
have covered the land in wealth. This wealth is not shared with the
though and is destroying the peaceful, earthy environment of the
Goku and Bulma strive to get the stolen Dragon Ball back we are
introduced to a
number of core characters from the series. The introduction of Master
in fact a film highlight - we can see how even from the beginning of
he was just a perverted old man who also happened to be one of the most
respected martial artists in the world. He helps them on their journey
providing some of the more gross-out and juvenile adult humor. If
kind of thing that entertains you in an anime, this definitely has an
of that -- despite the focus of the film being on the action and
won't give away what ultimately happens, but I will say that having
the series and this first film, things go down a slightly different
storytelling. Not everything is as you remembered it. This is best
viewed as a
companion piece. It is enjoyable action-packed fun with a good heart
of humor but it does nothing to really progress or change how one
about the show or characters.
must say that I found the biggest drawback of the film to be its
Honestly, it's so short you can hardly proclaim it to be a "Full Length
Film" as promoted on the cover art. It's an actual theatrical film
That much is true and it won't be debated. Yet that hardly qualifies it
length with a runtime of only 50 minutes. This is the same length, in
as two episodes of the television series and if you aren't prepared for
going in, you are definitely going to feel let down by how quickly the
ends. It won't entirely 'fill you up' but will instead merely serve as
appetizer to the Dragon Ball universe.
The film is presented in both English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and
Japanese Mono. The English voice language track is a new dubbed version
voice actors did a great job at updating the feel of the film for fans.
original language track is also a good dub, but I honestly was let down
mono mix sound quality. It definitely sounded very 'sickly' and was
definition. It was not a pleasant highlight of this release due to its
quality. The surround audio on the new English dub was impressive
a grade that should reflect my opinion when one considers both options.
of the Blood Rubies
is presented in its OAR of 4:3 (Full
Frame). This is truly a mixed bag. I think it's the best the film has
looked as far as I am aware. I have seen it before on previous DVD
it definitely looks to have had some decent re-mastering work done.
years since I last watched it, and I no longer own the other Funimation
so I can't do a direct comparison. However, I believe that some work
done to present the film better than before. Despite this effort the
still riddled with dirt and scratches. None of these instances were
distractions from the experience, but it was definitely not as pristine
full restoration would have shown. Given the age and source of the
this may have been the best Funimation could do and we may not see a
treatment anytime soon. The colors look rich, and the video seems to be
compression issues and other ailments. It's a pleasing if somewhat
bonus features are included on
this release whatsoever, unless you count some standard trailers for
Funimation releases. It's certainly disappointing and doesn't add much
this DVD release.
story is simple -- but entertaining -- and the characters are the same
probably already know and love. If you are starting with this film it
be a bad way to gain some familiarity with the Dragon Ball universe
is not, in my consideration, a better way to be introduced than the
itself, but you won't regret the time spent watching it regardless. I
suspect that this is the uncut release. It doesn't mention it on the
but the film seems edgier now than it did when I last viewed it on an
DVD release. If this is the case, fans will surely consider this to be
worthwhile upgrade. Recommended.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.