"Dragon Ball Z" is the most controversial anime ever made. Not for reasons because of questionable content in the vein of "Evangelion," "Cowboy Bebop," and "Koi Kaze" (though the show is very violent), but just in various different arguments. Some people feel that "Dragon Ball Z" represents the best anime has to offer, while other people believe that "Dragon Ball Z" represents the worst anime has to offer. Add into the fact that "Dragon Ball Z" has had one of the most questionable dubs of all time, and (along with "Sailor Moon") helped make anime popular in the USA (before "Pokemon" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!" painted anime as thirty minute toy commercials). With a reputation like that, "Dragon Ball Z" is certainly one of the most important animes ever made, but the show has been a hassle to buy if you were a fan of the show. Released in overpriced DVD's that retailed for $25 each and contained three episodes a piece, one had to buy at least SEVENTY DVD's before they could get all of "Dragon Ball Z" on DVD!
Add in the fact that the episodes were released out of order, and you'll see that buying "Dragon Ball Z" on DVD has certainly been one frustrating experience for many people (myself included). Now FUNimation is re-releasing "Dragon Ball Z" one more time in season box sets. These sets are supposed to be the ultimate release of the show, and the release hardcore fans have been waiting for. In some ways they are correct in this statement, and in some ways they are dead wrong. Like everything "Dragon Ball Z" related, the release of "Dragon Ball Z: Season One" is such a mixed blessing/curse that there is no way to be straightforward about the release. These DVD's are supposed to represent "Dragon Ball Z" as restored from a master print, with three sound options (Japanese mono, English surround, and English with original Japanese score), and remastered in high definition widescreen.
I'll talk about the widescreen remastering first since this aspect of the DVD is the most controversial (and with good reason). In case you didn't know, "Dragon Ball Z" was first aired in 1984. The show was animated in full screen, as widescreen TV shows didn't really exist back then. To achieve the widescreen scope this DVD presents, the image has been cropped at the top and the bottom, therefore losing about 20% of the image. This has caused the biggest problem with the release as a good portion of the show either looks cropped, poorly photographed, and sometimes silly and/or odd. The show almost never obtains the "cinematic look" FUNimation claims it's supposed to look with the new widescreen transfer, and even the most casual fan will find several shots in the show that look at the very least strange. Granted, it's not like you always feel like your missing something, but enough of the image is lost where you defiantly notice something is off.
The sound is fine. If you're watching the show in English FUNimation has given the show a brand new 5.1 surround sound mix, which sounds excellent on a surround sound system. If you're like me though, and prefer to watch the show in it's original Japanese language track, you'll find the same mono track that was presented on all the other single disk releases of the show. With (what surely sounds like) a fatal flaw when it comes to the viewing of the show, many of you may be wondering why you'd want to bother with the show at all. Well, two things: Picture and price. Yes, the display of the show may be the biggest problem for this show, but the restoration is also one of the brightest things about the DVD. While not perfect, "Dragon Ball Z" has never looked this good before on DVD. The colors are mostly perfect, and the tone is very consistent, with only some grain to be found in certain spots. Regardless what you think of the widescreen presentation, the look of the picture is excellent.
Then there's the fact that this DVD set retails for $50 and contains the first 39 episodes. I remember spending $20 on a "Dragon Ball Z" DVD with three episodes on it. If you bought the single disk releases on sale for $16 each (and this is being generous, as most single disk "Dragon Ball Z" DVD's will cost you $20 easily), then you'd spend around $250 by the time you got up to episode 39. Considering you can get "Dragon Ball Z: Season One" on sale for $30-$35 at most places, this is the cheapest "Dragon Ball Z" has ever been on DVD. At this rate, $250 will get you the whole show. All 291 episodes for what you would originally pay for the privilege to own 39 episodes. Despite the issues with the widescreen, it's hard to argue when the savings are that huge. Whether or not the widescreen issue is enough to scare you away from this DVD is entirely up to you.
Re-watching the show again after I hadn't seen it for several years has made me see it in an entirely different light. It no longer seems to be the greatest action show I remember it to be. Some of the fights are rather silly looking, there are stretches of time that contain way too much filler, and several episodes early on in the show seem to wasting time while they are waiting for the story to come around. That said, when the show is good it's very good. Character development in these early episodes is excellent, there are many heartbreaking moments, and to actually go back to when Goku wasn't a Super Saiyan is a revelation as it shows me that it was more interesting to see these characters grow stronger then it was to watch them...well, BE stronger! It's not a perfect show, but a good portion of the episodes on this set do hold up quite well, and there's a reason we'll still be watching "Dragon Ball Z" several years from now. Maybe in ten years the show will be revisited in a much better HD-DVD or Blu-Ray set. For now though, I think I can live with these sets. On that note though, why is Vegeta on the cover for Season One while Goku gets banished to being on the cover of Season Two?
This set contains the 39 episodes that made up the first season, and they span six discs. The first five discs each contain seven episodes, while the last disc contains four episodes and extras. One thing I really liked about this set was the marathon feature. This allows you to watch the episodes back-to-back, but only have to see the opening credits once (and the ending credits never show up in this feature). I wish more DVD sets would include this feature. The only drawback … more
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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One of the most popular franchises in anime history,Dragon Ballbegan in 1984 as a manga by Akira Toriyama inShonen Jump.Dragon Ball Z(1989), the second TV adaptation, is the most beloved: it ran for 291 episodes--more thanDragon Ball(1986) andDragon Ball GT(1996) combined. Over the years, the program has introduced countless boys to the world of Japanese animation. The first season re-introduces the main characters and sets up a new threat. Goku learns he's not an Earthling, but a Saiyan from the planet Vegeta. Only three other Saiyans survive, all of them extremely powerful and destructive. Goku destroys Raditz with the help of Piccolo, but dies in the process. He spends much of the season training in the Other World with King Kai. Piccolo takes over training Goku's son Gohan, anticipating he will have to face the remaining Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta. These episodes set the pattern for the combination of martial arts training, fantasy-battles and slapstick comedy that make the series so popular. The storyline rambles, with lots of digressions, repeats, and false endings--none of which bother the fans. AlthoughDragon Ball Zhas been released previously in the US, Funimation pulled out all the stops for this edition. The entire series has been remastered from the original prints, and the Japanese language track is included for the first time. (Goku and Krillin have higher-pitched, younger voices than they do in the American dub.) ForDragon Ball Zfans, this version clearly ...