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“Dragon Ball Z - Season Sets”-{Blu-ray}
Taylor Carlson
Studio: FUNimation
Release Date:
Special Features:

Textless Songs, Trailers, Booklets, Remastering featurette (first season only)


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 Z is an anime adaptation of the second half of Toriyama's manga series, and it serves as the sequel series to the original Dragon Ball. It was followed by an anime-exclusive series called Dragon Ball GT, which met with a mixed reaction from fans. ***

Essentially, Dragon Ball Z picks up 5 years after the original Dragon Ball left off. Son Goku, the martial artist the original series revolved around, has married and now has a child of his own. Of course, periods of peace don't last long in the Dragon Ball world. It isn't long before an extraterrestrial villain lands on Earth and tells Goku of his less-than-favorable origin. As the series progresses, newer and stranger villains enter the picture - far more deadly and dangerous than anything our hero has ever faced before, but his friends are still around to lend a helping hand. ***

The Z series is generally revered as the best of the Dragon Ball Trilogy of Series. And it isn't any surprise why. The battles are at their most intense, the characters continue to develop, and Toriyama throws in just enough interesting twists and turns to keep things interesting. Yes, it gets bogged down in clichés and redundancies at times, but that doesn't keep fans from loving the series less - myself included. ***

Prior to 2007, the release history of the Dragon Ball Franchise in America had been a hit-and-miss one. The first VHS tapes and DVDs were edited versions. Eventually, FUNimation began releasing uncut DVDs (including a Japanese audio track), but these were released in no particular order, and were insanely overpriced - not to mention they didn't include every episode, including the first 2 seasons worth. Eventually, they started releasing those episodes too - but aborted their plans as quickly as they had started. Does your head hurt yet? It ought to. ***

In early 2007, FUNimation finally started releasing affordable Season Sets of the Z series. And these have met with a mixed reception, especially considering that the Dragon Boxes are now being released stateside (but that's a story for another day.) ---

Image And Sound: These Season Sets of Dragon Ball Z contain several things I hate: Cropping. Noise reduction. Dirt and print damage galore. An unremastered Japanese audio track. The list goes on, but I'll leave it at that. FUNimation, rather than doing a substantial restoration effort to get rid of the excessive dirt and debris at the top and bottom of the image, just straight-up CROPPED the picture, claiming it has now been “enhanced for widescreen viewing.” They claim a big-time remastering effort has been done, but instead they just slathered the picture in DNR. Dirt and print damage are as visible as ever. The Japanese audio track has clearly not been remastered, whereas the dub version gets a new mix that sounds better than ever. Disappointingly, the dub, while supposedly revised, is as inaccurate and juvenile as ever. ***

There are lots of people out there that say things like “the cropping isn't that bad!” or “it's the best the show has ever looked.” Truth be told, I may be complaining too much - but with the Dragon Boxes out there, why bother experiencing the show this way?

Special Features:

Nothing but trailers and textless versions of the intro/outro songs. The first season set has a brief remastering featurette, but the results of the actual remastering really make you wonder just how authentic the comments here really are.

Final Words:

I LOVE Dragon Ball Z. It is my all-time favorite Anime series, period. But these sets, despite a low price tag, just have too many visual flaws compared to the vastly-superior Dragon Box sets FUNimation is now releasing. The Season Sets for the original Dragon Ball and GT are just fine, but avoid the Z sets and get the Dragon Boxes instead.


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