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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dragon Ball Z - Season One - Vegeta Saga
Dragon Ball Z - Season One - Vegeta Saga
FUNimation // Unrated // February 6, 2007
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted April 6, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
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
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

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.

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. The problem with going down that road is the fact that the episodes have been censored for the American audience so you're not exactly getting the whole picture. If you have waited patiently for a full block of episodes that featured uncut content then FUNimation has the ticket you've been searching for.

The first season of Dragon Ball Z has finally been released and it is without a doubt the pinnacle of all Dragon Ball DVDs to date. With 39 episodes spanning the entire Vegeta saga, fans looking for a comprehensive collection now have something to latch their Super Saiyan mitts on.

Dragon Ball Z follows the continuing adventures of Son Goku as he journeys through adulthood. The first series saw Goku as a growing child and developed his character into the icon that it has become. This time around Goku is all grown up (more or less) and has a child of his own (Gohan). If you have never seen Z but caught the first Dragon Ball then there will be plenty of familiar faces at every turn.

The Mean Green Machine Piccolo for instance is back and still pining for control over the Earth in the early portion of the series. His hatred for Goku is evident in the early episodes of Z but like most every other character in the show he develops and changes over time. Other returning favorites are Kuririn, Tenshinhan, Muten-RĂ´shi, and Bulma though many more appear throughout the series and even in this first wave of episodes.

When we first see Goku in Z he's twiddling away in the woods knocking down some trees. Meanwhile his son Gohan has gone to look for him but has gotten lost along the way. He winds up being chased by a tiger and is even swept away by a river. Luckily for him his daddy is Goku and can fly on the mobile cloud, Kinto'un, which he uses to save the boy.

With the lad in tow, Goku goes to visit the Kame House to see Master Roshi and his friends Krillin and Bulma. They haven't seen each other for five years and are naturally surprised to learn about Gohan. The reunion is short lived when a guy named Raditz shows up shouting something at Goku (who he calls Kakarot) about failing a mission.

Naturally everybody is confused but as light is shed on the subject it turns out that Raditz is Goku's Saiyan brother and originally Goku was sent to Earth to destroy it. It would seem that the Saiyans make a habit of traveling space eradicating cultures and putting planets up on the auction block for the highest bidder. Nice huh? As if this shocking truth weren't enough Raditz kidnaps Gohan and tells Goku to help destroy the people of Earth or his son will die. Naturally this doesn't sit well but when Piccolo shows up to offer a truce of sorts things take an interesting turn.

Piccolo and Goku team up to tackle Raditz and though his power seems to be overwhelming they eventually do a little bit of damage. In between it all Gohan screams in the background and eventually explodes into a fit of blind powerful rage. To make a long story short it turns out that Gohan has latent abilities far beyond those of regular Saiyans. This could be deadly if he fell into the hands of the bad guys but fortunately for Earth and the rest of the galaxy Goku and Piccolo succeed in defeating Raditz. Granted it cost Goku his life in the process but whose counting? The real problem at hand is the fact that two more Saiyan soldiers are on their way to Earth.

At this point the first season basically changes directions. Goku's soul is sent to the afterlife and he's determined to train in order to return to Earth in a more powerful state before the Saiyans arrive. Meanwhile Piccolo takes Gohan under his tutelage and forces the boy to live on his own for six months in an exceedingly dangerous environment. The show splits its focus between father and son for a while so that each can grow on their own. It was an interesting way to handle the flow of story but also important because it shows Gohan's growth as a person and warrior.

I don't want to give more away in case you haven't seen Dragon Ball Z already but let's just say that the action really picks up and the Saiyans do indeed come to Earth. It's a battle for the planet that ends in somewhat unpredictable fashion and leaves the door open for future episodes.

This first wave of 39 episodes was a lot of fun from start to finish. Some of the plotlines and battles are a little too drawn out and that results in the show dragging in a few spots but in the end it's not really a big drawback. The upbeat characters, quirky sense of humor, and outlandish trappings make these episodes enjoyable even when their slowly paced.

Admittedly I was never a big fan of Dragon Ball Z prior to sitting down to watch this collection. I found the Americanized version to be too childish due to the editing and the plot too hard to follow because episodes hardly aired in sequence. Now that I have this many uncut episodes back to back I see what all the fuss is about. Don't let you're preconceptions keep you from checking out Dragon Ball Z it's a fun show with well developed characters and real personality.

The DVD:

Video:

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 39 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 shows 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 the image quality here is very good with noticeable effort towards cleaning up the original print.

Audio:

With this latest Dragon Ball Z release FUNimation is offering a new audio experience as well. Included with the release is the original Japanese Mono track which I found to be the most suitable for the content. Granted the technical aspect of this selection wasn't the best but the dubbing quality outmatched the English presentation in my opinion.

As far as the English is concerned there are two tracks. The first is what you'd hear while the show was broadcast on TV with the revised music and such. The second is a 5.1 selection with the original Japanese music intact and a greatest sense of immersion. Both tracks are fine for what they offer though I felt that the Japanese was just better overall despite a few subtitle goofs.

Extras:

A couple of extra features make their way onto this collection but to be honest they are kind of light. There is a booklet included with the set that has some character information and synopsis of the episodes. On the final disc of the set there are some trailers, textless songs, and a five minute feature about the restoration and widescreen treatment for the show. It's interesting to get a glimpse at the process and the equipment used but if you are a stickler for the original presentation you'll undoubtedly be agitated by seeing the show tinkered with.

Final Thoughts:

Ok, so Dragon Ball Z Season One was a lot of fun. Say what you will about the show but seeing it in its original uncut format was an experience I won't soon forget. This release has turned this skeptic into a fan.

For many the widescreen treatment will be a major turn off. Loyalists to the show and those of us who like their anime presented in the manner it was originally intended to be will be annoyed. Still, the cinematic style will draw newcomers especially with the improved video quality taken into consideration. This collection is a tough one to grade but based on the worth of the show and price for this set I'm going to highly recommend it.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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