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Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

September 20, 2010 by  



The action and battles continue as  of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” is here!  “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is a must-buy, must-own anime series on Blu-ray. Highly recommended!

 

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two

 

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 325 Minutes

 

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

 

Release Date: September 14, 2010

 

 

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

 

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

 

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

 

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

 

Goku lies battered and nearly beaten, the Dragon Balls have been destroyed, and a new breed of evil looms on the horizon! Frieza, a violent galactic overlord, has discovered the source of the original Dragon Balls, and he’ll eagerly destroy anything to harness their wish-granting power.

Meanwhile, Vegeta – fully recovered from his humiliating defeat – travels to planet Namek on a mission to intercept Frieza and seize the Dragon Balls for own devious desires. With Goku out of commission, courageous young Gohan must journey to the far reaches of space to defeat a foe far more fearsome than anything his father ever encountered. The future depends on it!

For the past few years, I have been raving about FUNimation Entertainment’s releases of “Dragon Ball Z” from the original orange box collections to the recent Dragon Box Z DVD box set releases. And yes, I am a big fan of the anime series and yes, I am going to rave once again about this latest Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009. But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 100 episodes.

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first volume, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment (and is still being released) is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes, was remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of three volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released last year by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2010, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is now presented in HD, without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, has a duration of 100 episodes and the first volume on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment consists of the first 13 episodes. It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” (episodes 13-26)  on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 – “AN ALL-OUT KAMEHAME-HA! VEGETA’S TERRIBLE TRANSFORMATION” – With Goku unleashing his triple Kaio-Ken, Vegeta resorts to his inner ape.
  • EPISODE 15 – “GOKU ON THE ROPES! PIN YOUR HOPES ON THE SPIRIT BOMB” – Goku is worn out from battle, so Gohan and Krillin try to take on Vegeta in ape form.
  • EPISODE 16 – “DEFEAT THE INVINCIB:E VEGETA! WORK A MIRACLE GOHAN! – Krillin and Gohan continue to fight against Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17 – DAWN OF A FIERCE BATTLE! THE STAR OF HOPE IS PICCOLO’S HOMELAND! –  Although the battle is over for now, the Z warriors must find the Dragon Balls to resurrect their friends.
  • EPISODE 18 – “THE SHIP RESTING IN YUNZABIT! TIME TO BLAST OFF FOR PLANET NAMEK! – Bulma tries to use the Saiyan ship as a way to travel to the Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 19 – “A POWERFUL NEW FOE! FRIEZA RULER OF THE UNIVERSE!” – Another foe has their eyes in trying to get the dragon balls.
  • EPISODE 20 – “THE REBELLION AGAINST FRIEZA! VEGETA’S BURNING AMBITION!” – Gohan and Krillin take on Frieza’s henchmen, while Vegeta is about to take on Cui.
  • EPISODE 21 – PROTECT THE DRAGON BALLS! THE NAMEKIANS ALL-OUT ATTACK! – Goku goes off to the Planet Namek, meanwhile Krillin and Gohan watch Frieza’s men slaughtering innocent Namekians.
  • EPISODE 22 – DODORIAS TERRIFYING CHASE! A TURTH REVEALED TO VEGETA! – Gohan and Krillin try to rescue a young Namekian.  Meanwhile, Vegeta learns the truth of the destruction of his home planet.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – VEGETA’S COVERT MANEUVERS! A TRAGIC ASSAULT ON THE NAMEKIANS! – Vegeta searches for the two remaining Dragon Balls.  Krillin and Dende leave to warn the elders of Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 24 – FRIENDS REBORN! ZARBON’S HIDEOUS TRANSFORMATION! – King Kai tries desperately to warn Goku of the danger in Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 25 – POWER UP KRILLIN! FRIEZA’S MOUNTING APPREHENSION! – The eldest Namekian unlocks Krillins internal, dormant power.
  • EPISODE 26 – THE SCHEME IS SHATTERED! VEGETA STRIKES BACK AT ZARBON! – Vegeta tries to steal the Dragon Balls from Frieza and Krillin prepares for battle.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes?   That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

Also, as times have changed when it comes to what can be shown on television and stricter laws on what can be shown on television since 1989 and the fact that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” would be distributed worldwide on television in other countries (in the US, the series will begin airing on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons), most immediate changes are when it comes to the nudity and violence. Nude scenes featuring a young Goku or Gohan now feature their private areas now covered. There is now less blood during the most violent battle scenes.

But the added footage is easily noticed. I caught one scene with Nappa and Vegeta outdoors sitting near a campfire with a digital flame. Also, another scenes with Nappa with the dark stroke around the character which was seen in the later “Dragon Ball Z” movies. There were scenes in which shading was utilized but with all new sequences, it’s important to note that they created the sequences to compliment the older footage. So, everything looks just right together.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally.  But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels.  For example, in “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”, there is a good amount of surround audio during Goku and Vegeta’s battle, while in the Planet Namek scenes, you can hear a lot of flight (as a big part of the series in this arc features characters flying after the enemy or to get from place-to-place).

But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song DVD Version 01
  • Textless Opening Song DVD Version 02
  • Textless Opening Song Broadcast Version
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

The second part of “Dragon Ball Z – Part Two” focuses on the battle between Goku vs. Vegeta and the Planet Namek/Dragon Ball episodes.  Although, I originally enjoyed this arc from the original series, it was one of the longest story arcs in “Dragon Ball Z” leading up to the battle between Goku vs. Frieza (which should be the focus in the next upcoming release of DBZ Kai).

Fortunately for those who have watched the series many times, we do get various selected scenes from the Planet Namek arc to shorten up the arc in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.  I do highly recommend for those who have never watched “Dragon Ball Z” to please check out the actual series because watching this arc in its entirety is a must!

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series. Of course not but I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more. I

f you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was an expensive wait to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.

But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, there will be multiple volumes but this is one series that gets better and better with each season and the characters grow especially in powers and skill as they take on enemies that are much worse than the previous enemy.

As for the Blu-ray release and its special featuers, sure… I would love to have more special features included on this release but as the regular series never had them, we’re not going to see it on this Blu-ray release.  Granted, it would have been nice for FUNimation Entertainment to let their ADR director interviewing some of the voice talent and doing a commentary.  It’s done on other anime releases from FUNimation Entertainment, so I wish we had some commentary included.  Also, it would have been nice to have the original Japanese TV Spots included as well.  But you do get several textless opening and ending themes.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series.  Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is recommended because it’s a much shorter run at 100 episodes and this particular release cover episodes 14-26 thus far.  So, we are 25% complete.

If you are a fan of “Dragon Ball Z” or one who has always been curious about the series, then it’s about time to watch this series in HD.  Definitely recommended!






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