Starring Laura Bailey, Alistair Abell
Directed By: Daisuke Nishio
Studio: Funimation Prod
Buy on Amazon.com
It began, for me, at some point back in the late 90s. My friends Brett and Narb bought some VHS DBZ episodes and forced me to watch them. I’d never really heard of this show before and hadn’t much exposure to any anime whatsoever, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to see. And at first, I hated it. Hated. What did I see? A bunch of guys standing around, staring at each other, talking smack for twenty minutes before punching each other a few times. Wow, how could anyone be into this, I thought? It didn’t help that this was 60 or 70 episodes into the series. Of course, then something totally awesome would happen, like someone getting chucked through a mountain, and I would think “Eh, I guess it’s not all bad.”
So then at some point I started watching the series from the beginning, and even though they were the highly edited, dumbed-down Cartoon Network versions, I still got hooked. And I wanted to own this show, but at the time, they were releasing three episode DVDs for about $20 a pop. Screw that, I thought. Eventually they’re bound to release box sets, right?
Well, it’s 2007 and generally speaking, interest in all things Dragon Ball has died down in favor of the vast amounts of other anime now available here in the States. So what better time to release a well-priced box set? Yeah, here we have “Season 1”, 39 episodes that I got for $29.99, a hell of a better price than what they offered previously.
As for what the season covers… I don’t know if “seasons” work the same in Japan as they do for American TV, and it especially doesn’t help that the average anime series is less than 30 episodes total, so I’m not sure if this is an actual “season” or just an Americanized marketing gimmick. But what you get is the entire Saiyen/Vegeta saga, starting from the first episode and ending with Vegeta and some of the heroes heading off toward the planet Namek. It’s a pretty sweet set, actually.
But here’s the thing. The American/Cartoon Network versions of the episodes were notoriously edited down, sometimes removing as much as entire episodes, but sometimes just taking out some of the more graphic violence. Because, you know, Japanese kids are apparently more badass than American kids, or something. But anyway, this set presents the entire saga, complete and uncut, with three different audio options: 5.1 Surround English version, the original mono Japanese version, or a Stereo hybrid (English dialogue, original Japanese music). Now, I’m not a total purist, there is a lot of anime that I will gladly watch in the dubbed version but NOT Dragon Ball Z. The English voice acting is atrocious, and though this is the “uncut” version, the dialogue is still severely changed (just watch the English audio option with the subtitles and you’ll see what I mean. For a random example, the line “You bastard!” was changed to “How could you?” for them wimpy American kids.)
But anyway, back to the uncut thing. DBZ is notorious, even in its edited state, for having a lot of filler material. And it turns out that much of what was cut out (at least on this set) was nothing but filler. All together, this show can easily test the patience of any viewer, no matter how big a fan. Entire episodes are dedicated to things like Goku traveling down the snake road, or Gohan being chased by dinosaurs for no apparent reason. It can be, shall we say, shockingly annoying.
But once it gets down to business, wow. It’s still exhilarating to see Goku easily dispose of Nappa after Nappa wailed on all the other heroes for like six episodes straight. And it’s still awesome to see Goku desperately using far more Kaio-ken power than he should, even if you know that his power doesn’t even begin to compare to later in the series. And though there are far cooler things to come in the series, it’s still pretty damn great.
If you ignore the filler.
But aside from the multiple audio options, there isn’t much in the way of extra features on the set. Also, every disc forces you to watch a different preview of some other random anime. I guess it’s a bit of a pet peeve for me to have to watch crap before the movie, especially when it can’t be skipped, but what are you going to do?
(Note: One point of this set has the purists up in arms: the original made-for-TV aspect ratio has been cut down to a widescreen aspect ratio. Usually it’s not a problem but there were a few scenes where the altered framing looked bad.)
24-page booklet with episode summaries, character descriptions, and a DBZ timeline
English (Dolby Digital 5.1),
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo),
Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Favorite Scenes: Goku returning from the dead to kick ass all over the place; Goku mistaking Bubbles the Monkey for King Kai
Running Time: 925 minutes