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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two
Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two
FUNimation // Unrated // February 16, 2010
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted February 11, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Show:
FUNimation is heading back to the Dragon Ball Z well one more time, and I for one am not upset.  While I usually don't like double dips, Dragon Box 2 is definitely worth it.  This is the definitive release of a series that turned many people on to anime and manga, including many current manga artists.  A frame-by-frame restoration was performed on the image (which is presented with its original aspect ratio) and the episodes being uncut, this is the version that many DBZ fans have been waiting for.
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, Goku is in the hospital and 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.  To do that, Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma borrow the spaceship that Kami (a Namekian) originally used to come to Earth and take off into space.
With only a little trouble on the way, the trio arrives on Namek.  They quickly make some friends who help them look for the Dragon Balls. Meanwhile Vegeta arrives at his destination and receives some much needed medical attention.
This set:
For those that are intimately familiar with the series, this collection contains the rest of the Namek Saga, the Ginyu Saga, and the beginning of the Frieza Saga. 
While Bulma and company start looking for the Dragon Balls on Namek, they discover that there's another group looking for the magical orbs.  Frieza has his men scouring the planet, killing anyone who gets in their way.  Soon he has four of the seven balls, and it looks like no one can stop him.

To add more trouble to the mix, Vegeta has recovered, discovered that Frieza wants to get the Dragon Balls on Namek, and goes off to stop him.  Arriving on Namek Vegeta encounters one of his old mates, Cui.  Cui used to be stronger than the Saiyan, but after his time on Earth battling the Z Fighters he's surpassed his old friend and easily defeats him in.
There is one ray of hope however.  Back on Earth Son Goku has recovered (thanks to a Senzu Bean), learns where Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma have gone, and sets out after them in a Capsule Corp space ship.  It's a custom design that lets Goku train at extremely high gravities. 
Back on Namek, Vegeta starts collecting the Dragon Balls himself and makes quick work of Frieza's henchmen.  He does pretty well, until Gohan steals a ball that the Saiyan hid.  Vegeta starts hunting for the youngster and his friends with murder on his mind. 
Realizing that Vegeta is a force to be reconned with, he summons the Ginyu Force, a team of five elite fighters with amazing powers and wonderful battle poses.  When they arrive and go after Vegeta and the Earthlings, it looks like Frieza will win after all.
This set ends with the Earth forces (minus Goku) battling Frieza and having a hard time of it.
This is one of my favorite parts of Dragon Ball Z.  These three sagas, Namek, Ginyu Force, and Frieza, tell one big story that's epic in scale and just a lot of fun.  Things quickly go from bad to worse to awful and there are many surprises along the way.  Who doesn't feel scared for little Gohan when he's hiding from Vegeta who is looking to kill him, and who isn't relived when Son Goku finally arrives of the planet? 
While the battle against the Ginyu force is exciting and fun, when everyone teams up to fight Frieza is the highpoint of this set.  The contest against Vegeta on Earth was great, but this battle manages to raise the ante by a significant amount.  Even with Vegeta on their side, the remains of the Z-Fighters are having a difficult time.  The fact that Frieza reveals a secret to Vegeta makes the battle all the more interesting.
This section of the show moves fast and has some great action along with some nicely timed comic relief.  Every time that the Ginyu force poses when they introduce themselves creates fits of laughter.  It's a funny show at times, and that meshes well with the nearly non-stop action.
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??
 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.
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.
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 was on cloud none while I was watching this collection.  It's nearly perfect (the overlapping discs are my only real complaint).  This set is really devoted to the hardcore fan who wants to experience the show the way it was first broadcast, and it does everything it sets out to do.  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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