And now, Manga Entertainment has finally done it and released Dragon Ball Z in the UK. DBZ is almost like a dream come true release for Manga’s public face, Jerome. Ever since I first met him, he’s mentioned how he would really like to release Dragon Ball Z and how hard a license this would be to get. Now that it’s finally coming out here in the UK, I felt that praise is due to someone who has put a lot of effort into this happening.
The series will be released in 9 collection box sets, and the first box set has just came out on the the 2nd of July. It includes the first 39 episodes of the series, which comprises the “Saiyans Saga” or “Vegeta Saga”(as some call this story arc.) I must say I’m particularly pleased that this is not the butchered Funimation release – and if you’re wondering why there are 39 episodes in a box set, this is due to the fact that Dragon Ball was not originally broadcast in the traditional season format, but continually, with a few breaks in between for special broadcasts. This format makes it almost impossible to split the episodes up into neat box sets that include a season from start to finish.
The DVD has re-mastered video and 5.1 English audio and the English soundtrack includes a version of the opening and ending song composed by Bruce Faulconer, which in my biased opinion is inferior to “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” by Hironobu Kageyama, or the ending theme “Detekoi Tobikiri Zenkai Pawā!” by MANNA. The ending song on the American version for some reason always puts me to sleep. This is quite a shame, considering that the menu actually says “English Dialogue with Japanese Music 5.1 Surround Sound” – I was seriously looking forward to hear the original songs in 5.1 sound.
But not all is grim, it is actually a pleasure to hear Goku’s voice changing. I’m not saying that Masako Nozawa does a bad job, but it’s just outright wrong to have Goku still have the same high-pitched voice he had when a child. Sean Schemmel does a decent job and actually gives the character a completely different feel, which is much more appropriate to the kind of hero that Goku is.
Dragon Ball Z Rebirth featurette which shed some light on the re-mastering of Dragon Ball Z.
A New Look featurette.
Textless opening and closing – these have the Japanese songs.
So, a lot has been said (or written) about this release, but what is the actual anime like? It follows quite faithfully the original manga by Akira Toriyama, with the plot revolving around Son Goku, the protagonist of the original Dragon Ball. The story starts five years after he defeats the Great Daimao (Evil King) Piccolo Jr (the Jr part is dropped completely in this version).
STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS
The first episode introduces Goku’s family: his son Gohan and Chichi, his wife, showing that peace has returned to Earth after Piccolo’s defeat. But little do they know that the peace won’t last for much longer as the Saiyans are coming to Earth. The Saiyans are an alien race, that make a living out of conquering other planets by killing all the inhabitants and then selling to the highest bidders. Raditz, the first Saiyan to arrive is looking for Kakarott using a device that can identify and track fighting power. He initially meets with Piccolo, but realising he is not the person he is looking for, he soon moves on, leaving Piccolo, intrigued and overwhelmed by the difference in power between them. Meanwhile, Goku is meeting his friends at Kami House to introduce his son Gohan to them, when suddenly Raditz arrive at Kami’s Island and reveals that Goku is Kakarott, his brother sent to Earth to annihilate life on the planet several years ago! He bring news of a difficult job, where the powers of Goku are needed to completely conquer an alien planet and asks Goku to join the Saiyan space pirates. As Goku refuses to join him, he kidnaps Gohan and commands Goku to kill innocent earthlings and accept his offer, if he wants to see his son again.
In order to fight Raditz off and rescue Gohan, Goku join forces with his former enemy Piccolo, who is also concerned with the Saiyan invasion, but even their combined powers don’t seem to be enough to vanquish the powerful alien. In a last effort to defeat Raditz, Goku holds him up, while Piccolo uses his Special Beam Cannon to pierce both of them. As Raditz is dying, he taunts the Z warriors, saying that with Goku dead, Earth won’t be able to stop the Saiyans Nappa and Vegeta from avenging him. However, they reveal to him the existence of the Dragon Balls and their power to fulfill any wish of those who manage to collect all seven of them and how they will use them to revive Goku. But little do they know that the other Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta, have been listening intently to their conversation.
Now Vegeta is set to collect the Dragon Balls to make him immortal and he and Nappa are heading to Earth. The Z warriors have one year to prepare themselves for the fight with the Saiyans which will decide the fate of the Earth. Goku uses this time to go to the planet of King Kai in the other world and train under him, while Piccolo trains Gohan to become a fighter. The other Z warriors go to prepare with Kami-sama. When the Saiyans arrive, the Z warriors start to fight with them, only trying to buy time until Goku is back from King Kai’s world. The Saiyans send their underlings, the Saibamen, to fight the Z warriors, who suffer great losses during this fight. Yamcha is killed by a Saibaman, who self-destructs, Chaozu blows himself up in order to try to kill Nappa and Tenshinhan also dies, after using the last of his strength to try and injure Nappa, both attempts proving to be futile. Piccolo sacrifices himself in order to save Gohan, also causing the demise of Kami-sama and the Dragon Balls.
Then when all seems to be lost, Goku arrives! With the amazing new techniques he learned from King Kai, Goku easily defeats Nappa, who, defeated, is then finished off by Vegeta. After this, the most dramatic battle seen in the Dragon Ball series up to this point, follows. This arc also starts the transformation power-up in the series, which is an integral part of the shounen shows, and essential for some of the most amazing moments in the Dragon Ball series. All in all, this first box set is sure to please new comers as well as to old fans. And Dragon Ball Z is a show that any shounen fan out there should definitely check out.