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DRAGONBALL Z – DEAD ZONE THE MOVIE / THE WORLD’S STRONGEST (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 8, 2009 by  



“DRAGON BALL Z gets the Blu-ray treatment with FUNimation Entertainment giving the DBZ fans the first two films in 1080p, TrueHD audio and at a great price!  Both films are action-packed, well-acted and for two films that are twenty years old, the colors are quite vibrant on Blu-ray.

TITLE: DRAGONBALL Z – DEAD ZONE THE MOVIE / THE WORLD’S STRONGEST

DURATION: 52 minutes (105 minutes for both)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High-Definition, 16×9, Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 with Japanese Music, Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 with U.S. Music, Original Japanese

CATALOG #: FN-05034

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

DEAD ZONE THE MOVIE

Director: Daisuke Nishio

Screenplay: Takao Koyama

Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi

Art director: Yuji Ikeda

Animation director: Minoru Maeda

Producer: Kozo Morishita

THE WORLD’S STRONGEST

Director: Daisuke Nishio

Screenplay: Takao Koyama

Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi

Art director: Yuji Ikeda

Art: Hitoshi Nagasaki, Shigenori Takada

Animation director: Minoru Maeda

Producer: Kozo Morishita

Art Coordinator: Minoru Nakamura

DRAGON BALL Z CAST:

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Stephanie Nadolny as Son Gohan

Hiromi Tsuru/Lalainia Lindbjerg as Bulma

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Kuririn

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Takeshi Aono/Christopher R. Sabat as Kami-Sama

Akira Kamiya/Chuck Huber as Garlic Jr

Daisuke Gouri as Gyuumaou

Kenji Utsumi as ShenLong

Kôhei Miyauchi as Kame Sennin

Mayumi Shou/Lisa Ann Beley as Chi-Chi

The Dead Zone

Garlic Jr.’s on the hunt, and Gohan is on the hit list! Kidnapping the kid for his Dragon Ball, it seems the sadistic villain is on a quest to collect all seven. As Goku arrives prepared to save his only son, Garlic Jr. summons the Eternal Dragon Shenron, prepared to wish for immortality. His ultimate goal: To take over the Earth, in order to seek revenge for the death of his father. With heightened powers and blessed with eternal life, not even the combined efforts of Goku and his friends can defeat Garlic Jr. now. And as the fiend creates a Dead Zone, intent on sending the heroes into the void, their rescue may lie in the hands least expected. This is the story of two sons and two fathers.

The World’s Strongest

Dr. Wheelo rises again! His cunning assistant has gathered the Dragon Balls amongst the frozen mountain peaks. The sinister Dr. Wheelo has been freed from his icy tomb at long last. But before these two mad scientists can take over the world with their biotechnology, the doctor is in dire need of a might body in which to place his even more fearsome brain.

Seeking out the most powerful fighters on the planet, both Piccolo and Master Roshi are brought before the deranged doctor.  Yet just as their friends rush to save them, it is revealed that Goku is actually the world’s strongest.  Things look grim as Dr. Wheelo turns friends against friend as wits and wills are matched.

When I first watched these two films, it was during the years of when anime clubs were slowly flourishing across the US and I remember just watching these films in Japanese but being in awe with the action.  That was over 15 years ago and FUNimation Entertainment has surely been on “Dragon Ball Z” fans happy list because not only have they released the “Dragon Ball Z” and “Dragon Ball GT” series on DVD in the US in Japanese and English but with season box sets of over 25-30+ episodes for a great price.

With the announcement that the “Dragon Ball Z” films would be released on Blu-ray, but not one but two films on one disc, “Dragon Ball Z” fans were in total hi-def heaven! So, how do the films match up on Blu-ray?

Let’s start off with the first “Dragon Ball Z” film “DEAD ZONE THE MOVIE”.  The film was released in Japan back twenty years ago.  The film introduces us to Garlic Jr. and his goons who have kidnapped Son Gohan for the Dragon Ball.  Garlic Jr.’s evil goal is to call on the eternal dragon Shenron to grant him immortality.  With Piccolo beaten, Son Goku and Kuririn together with Kami try to fight off Garlic Jr. and his henchman.  But with heightened powers and immortality, can Goku defeat Garlic Jr?

In the second film titled “THE WORLD’S STRONGEST”, Dr. Kochin has kidnapped Master Roshi, Bulma and Piccolo in order to find a body suitable for his boss, evil scientist Dr. Wheelo, who’s brain has been kept alive and is just looking for a suitable body so he can destroy the world.  Having thought that Master Roshi and Piccolo are the strongest, Dr. Wheelo’s attention starts to shift to Goku due to his enormous power level.  Thus, their attention turns to Goku who is joined by Kuririn and Son Gohan as they not only are trying to protect the Earth but must defeat Dr. Kochin and his henchman but also must fight against a brainwashed Piccolo.  Will Goku be able to fight and protect everyone?

VIDEO:

If there is one thing that is important to remind everyone is that these two animated films are twenty years old.  It’s a general known fact that a lot of older animated films and even TV series have not been preserved well.  There is only so much that can be done with the original master source, so let’s start with the good and the bad.  The good is that this is probably the best we are ever going to see “Dragon Ball Z”.  It’s on Blu-ray, hi-def and the picture quality was great for that time and the colors are nice and sharp with it’s 1080p transfer.  The video was remastered in High Definition and digitally restored and you get a nice wide screen 16×9 transfer.  Colors look good for two anime films that are twenty years old.

With that being said, now the bad.  The film is old, so old that there are a lot of dust and scratches and at times, noticeable grain.  Because of the better picture hi-def quality, the dust and scratches become more evident and in some areas grain is more visible but really, not that bad or too distracting.   Again, I emphasize that these two films are twenty years old and sure Disney can retouch and remaster a lot of their film classics and have the deep pockets to do so but they also have taken care of a lot of their films.  In Japan, it’s known that this has not been the case for many of their older animated films.

So, are the scratches and dust distracting? Probably not unless you are so intent on focusing on it.   There are times when I paused the video in low-light segments and I didn’t see any artifacting and paused on some scenes where it looked quite vibrant.  Again, the colors really come out with the new transfer but it also enhances certain blemishes on the original film source.

AUDIO:

Like the treatment they have given to their TV season box sets of “Dragon Ball Z”, this Blu-ray disc features Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 with Japanese or U.S. Music and the original 2.0 Japanese track.  I love having been given the choice and although I grew up watching “Dragon Ball Z” with its original Japanese language, I have to say that the English dubbing for the US “Dragon Ball Z” is terrific and perfectly cast.  Audio came out quite clear on my front channel speakers, I don’t really recall hearing much from my rear surround.   Dialogue was clear and  even the music on both tracks came out clear.  The Japanese track was basic as expected and I don’t really expect to see any Japanese audio remastering for this older film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Surprisingly there are no special features included on the Blu-ray but there are a good number trailers for a lot of the recent FUNimation DVD releases.

If you are a big fan of the “Dragon Ball Z” series, you’re definitely going to enjoy the amount of action in each film.  Especially seeing all your favorite characters together.  Considering these are the first two films, they center around Son Goku, Piccolo, Kuririn and Son Gohan.

When it comes to the “Dragon Ball Z” films, these can typically be non-canon as some of them really don’t fit into the actual timeline of the TV series.  These two films are action-packed but they really deal with Son Gohan and the amount of power he has had at a young age and as he grew older.  The first film does tie into an episode arc on the “Dragon Ball Z” television series that features Garlic Jr. but the second film, really doesn’t tie into the series but can be considered as a side-film.  An extra adventure…

For me, I am more biased towards the Super Saiyajin Goku years and this film focuses before that time when Goku would ride Nimbus and fight with his staff.  And Kuririn, is always used more for his comedic value in the film.  But both film’s do setup that thought of Son Gohan actually containing a lot of power, more than anyone realizes and that went together quite well on what was happening in the TV series.

But part of the enjoyment of “Dragon Ball Z” is the action sequences and these two films deliver.  Seeing these films remastered and the colors really pop was very nice.  Again, enjoying the Japanese series growing up, it’s great to hear the stellar acting on the English dub.  Is this Blu-ray perfect? Considering these two films are twenty years old, the presentation on Blu-ray is still way better than what many of us have seen of the series in the past.  Would have loved to see the original film trailers or more special features but overall, the fact that fans of the series get two films on one Blu-ray disc for such a great price is quite awesome.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Dragon Ball Z” series and own a Blu-ray player, then definitely start considering getting these films on Blu-ray!






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