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"Dragon Ball" - (Original - Season Sets) - {Blu-ray}
Taylor Carlson
Studio: FUNimation
Release Date:
Special Features:

Textless Songs, Trailers, Booklets


The Dragon Ball franchise has been around for nearly 30 years now. Akira Toriyama, also known for his work on numerous video games and other series, created a classic for the ages when he put the first volume of the Dragon Ball manga into Shonen Jump magazine in 1984. Like many manga series, it inspired an anime adaptation. ***

Dragon Ball is the anime adaptation of the first half of Akira Toriyama's manga series. This is the very beginning, featuring Goku as a naïve young child, traveling the world and meeting many of his friends for the first time - many of whom start off as enemies. As he grows, Goku discovers the secret of the Dragon Balls, trains and fights in martial arts tournaments, and squares off against villains bent on world domination and destruction. ***

Dragon Ball is the first in the Dragon Ball Trilogy, followed up by Dragon Ball Z (the second half of Toriyama's manga, usually revered as the best of the series) and Dragon Ball GT (an anime-only series that gets a mixed review from fans. ***

With Dragon Ball Z so wildly popular, it can be easy to overlook the first series. This is a shame, as it is no less excellent. This is the show when it was in a simpler, more episodic format - where the action was still all there, but humor and lighthearted situations were more plentiful. This is long before the days of episodes drawn out powering up, and characters being wished back from the dead until the cows come home. In fact, many fans prefer this series over Z. ***

The original Dragon Ball has a convoluted release history, though nothing near as bad as Z's history. The first 13 episodes were originally released on DVD by a company called Kidmark, which was the children's division of a company called Vidmark (which has since been acquired by Lionsgate.) These releases were dub only and edited. Circa 2003, FUNimation released uncut “saga” sets for the entire original Dragon Ball - but the first 13 episodes were still missing since Vidmark (and subsequently, Lionsgate) held the rights. Finally, in 2009, Lionsgate lost the rights, so FUNimation began doing “season set” releases for the original Dragon Ball, which included those first 13 episodes uncut for the first time. ---

Image And Sound:

FUNimation must have heard the fan outcry on the complaints about the Z series, because the original Dragon Ball sets are presented in the original 4:3 ratio, with no cropping or annoying noise reduction. These could very well be the same transfers Toei used on the Japanese Dragon Box sets, though I can't verify this since I don't own those. But the show looks very good, and these transfers are, if nothing else, a slight step up from the old Saga sets. ***

Sadly, the audio on the Japanese track is still fairly weak in comparison to the quality that was given to the dub. The dub version of the original Dragon Ball is more accurate and appealing than that of the Z sets, though I still have my quibbles here and there. I'll be sticking with the Jap audio, but that's just me.

Special Features:

There aren't any features on the discs aside from textless songs and trailers, however like the Z sets, each set comes with an informative booklet. Disappointingly, these sets lack the character profiles the Saga sets had, but it's a small sacrifice.

Final Words:

It's good to see that the original Dragon Ball gets treatment superior to the Z Season Sets. The transfers are spot-on, and with these affordable price tags, there is no better time to pick up the series than now.


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