Region: 1 - North America
Length: 925 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
English Dolby Digital Stereo
Japanese 1.0 Mono
Son Goku's friends have always thought there was something weird about him, after all how many other people do you know have the power to defeat demon king Piccolo? It's been three years since Goku beat Piccolo at the Tenkaichi boudokai, he's settled down with Chi Chi and had a son. Now after all this time Goku is headed to a reunion.
Dragon Ball Z is the sequel series to Dragon Ball, and covers the latter volumes of the original manga by Akira Toriyama. This set loosely covers the first stort arc – the Vegeta saga (also commonly referred to as the Saiyan saga). After three years Goku is attending a reunion with some of his friends at his teacher Master Roshi's house. At first things seem to go pretty well and everyone gathered is extremely surprised to see Goku is now a father, especially since his small son Gohan seemed to be everything Goku isn't polite, smart and extremely shy. This being Dragon Ball things don't turn out as planned. An extremely powerful warrior shows up claiming to be Goku's long lost brother Raditz ;revealing along the way that both he and Goku whom he calls Kakarot are in fact a type of alien called a Sayain, a bloodthirsty race dedicated to fighting.
The arrival of Raditz (and of course later on Vegeta) marks a huge turning point in Dragon Ball, paving the way for the introduction of a whole universe of bad guys. The plot also gets much more serious, and the fighting becomes even more ridiculous and over the top. At it's heart though it's still Dragon Ball through and through, the opening scenes which show Radtiz's arrival are loving parody of Superman's arrival on Earth down to the alien spaceship's discovery by a local farmer. Even the filler episodes in this volume verge towards the silly as Tien and Yamcha's activities in the missing three years are filled in having been skipped over in the manga. Viewing several episodes at a time helps the pace by leaps and bounds.
FUNimation have made much of this release after abandoning their Ultimate Uncut Editions only a few DVDs in. Instead they moved towards these boxes, despite all the talk about re-mastering they are essentially budget slim packs. Considering how long FUNimation has had the licence and have been putting out bilingual DVDs of other series the release of season one uncut is overdue. Whilst the series looks reasonable for its age, I suspect that a new transfer would have been required anyway. The decision to make the box set wide screen is also a mystery, DBZ was animated for T.V. It's just a shame that the Japanese "Dragon Box" footage wasn't used, the fact that re-mastered footage exists supervised by Toei is frustrating. There are some positive points however, after numerous requests it is now possible to watch the dub with the Falconer score or the original Japanese version, which makes remarkable difference to the atmosphere. Since they had to recall voice actors in order to dub scenes previously cut, they have gone to the effort of fixing dialogue in a few places and re-recording dialogue for the narrator so that it is consistent with later volumes.
The Japanese audio is also present, the subtitles interestingly refer to many characters such as Krillin by the Japanese versions of their names (Kuririn) and also make a good effort at indicating the characters different accents. Supporting the idea that this really is a slim pack style release is the fact that the only extras are trailers for other FUNimation DVDs (one of which auto plays every time you load a DVD) and a short film about the re-mastering process.
You could of course watch DBZ with a frown and point out how it doesn't really tackle any major issues, or perhaps make remarks that the fighting goes on too long. Some critics have even called it banal, whilst many of these points are somewhat valid – Dragon Ball Z was never designed to have the effect it did. It defined the shonen martial arts action series so much so that today's big hitters such as One Piece and Naruto openly owe much to it.
Dragon Ball Z is a lot of fun, hugely atmospheric and strangely silly all at once. It drawn both on Western and Eastern pop culture mixing Kungu-fu movies with American comics naturally and with great humour. By now I suspect most fans will either love it or hate it, those on the fence could do worse than checking out this set. For existing fans the combination of the misty haze of nostalga, uncut episodes and low price should help them overcome this release's short comings.
Note from the Editor: Azure is a huge DBZ fan, so her review of this DVD might be a bit biased.
If you dislike DBZ please take 6 points off the rating. ^_-