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Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 6, 2011 by  



The first “Dragon Ball” film uncut finally gets the DVD treatment.  An enjoyable alternate retelling of how young Goku and friends met for the first time.

Image courtesy of © BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies

DURATION: 50 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English Voice Track with Original Japanese music 5.1 Surround, Japanese Mono

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: December 28, 2010

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Daisuke Nisho

Music by Shusuke Kikuchi

Art Director: Y oshiyuki Maeda

Director of Photography: Motoaki Ikegami

Anime Production by Toei Anime

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masao Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Goku

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Kenji Utsumi/Christopher R. Sabat as Shen Long

Kohei Miyauchi/Mike McFarland as Kame Sennin (Master Roshi)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Brina Palencia as Pu’erh (Puar)

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Tomiko Suzuki/Cherami Leigh as Pansy

Goro Naya/Jonathan Brooks as Bongo

Mami Koyama/Kate Oxley as Pasta

Greedy King Gurumes is destroying his kingdom – and his stomach – with an insatiable hunger born of his maniacal quest to collect the cursed Blood Rubies! His only hope for survival lies in harnessing the wish-granting power of the seven magic Dragon Balls. Standing in his way are Goku, Bulma, Master Roshi, and a cast of unlikely allies who will join forces to prevent the king’s sinister wish from being granted!

It’s the series that started it all… “Dragon Ball”. Originally, a manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama for “Shonen Jump”, the manga series lasted from 1984 through 1995 and since the manga series has produced several anime series which include “Dragon Ball”, “Dragon Ball Z”, “Dragon Ball GT” and currently in Japan, a new HD broadcasting of “Dragon Ball Kai” and in 2009, an American live action film titled “Dragonball Evolution” was released worldwide.

“Dragon Ball” is the first arc of the series which aired in Japan from 1986 through 1989 and lasted for 153 episodes. The series was released by Harmony Gold USA in the late 80’s and then by FUNimation Entertainment in 1995 and uncut episodes were released on DVD in 2003.

Along with the TV series, there have been a total of three “Dragon Ball” films and the first is titled “Curse of the Blood Rubies” and premiered in theaters back in Dec. 20, 1986 and had its first release in the US on Sept. 1996 on VHS courtesy of  FUNimation Entertainment through Trimark.  The dub version was edited for content and was not the original version of the film.

As the “Dragon Ball” series has been re-released as season DVD box sets, many fans have been waiting for a DVD Release of “Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies” and a release that would be uncut.  Now, the uncut version of the film on DVD is now available and features a new English voice cast (utilizing a voice cast that correlates with the recent release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”) with Colleen Clinkenbeard as Goku and Monica Rial as Bulma.

The first Dragon Ball film “Curse of the Blood Rubies” is a modified retelling of the first episodes of the series.  Where Goku and Bulma have met each other to take on Emperor Pilaf, the movie version was modified  in a 50-minute format with Goku meeting Bulma, Yamcha,Master Roshi, Oolong and Puar for the very first time.  Also, substituting the main antagonist with King Gurumes and his two underlings Pasta and Raven.

The film revolves around a dictator named King Gurumes who became greedy for blood rubies (which are plentiful in the kingdom) has left his kingdom astray and everyone cowers in fear as the Gurumes soldiers have strict control over the land while they tear up the land to find more blood rubies.  Because of his greed, King Gurumes human form has led him wanting more and now he wants the Dragon Balls so they can help quench his appetite.

When Pansy has seen enough of the Gurumes soldiers beating on the villagers, she vows to stop them by finding the rumored martial arts expert named Master Roshi and hope Roshi can save her kingdom.  She ends up finding Goku, Bulma and Oolong and together they travel to find Master Roshi in hopes that he can help Pansy and her people.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

When I first saw “Dragon Ball”, it was probably back in 1992 and the quality of this raw Japanese video was so rough and hard to watch, it was just bad. Several years later, I was able to catch the first few episodes that aired on television but the problem was that the schedule was inconsistent and our television network was quite bad.  For the first movie, I was able to catch this in its original Japanese but was not so thrilled about the edited version that came out on VHS.

So, here we are nearly 25 years later and the uncut version of the film receives its first DVD release with a new English dub and its original Japanese mono soundtrack.  Featured in 4:3 format, “Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies” actually looks very good on DVD considering how many years have past and for a lot of classic anime films, its known that many companies did not take care of the original film elements and so they tend to have  their share of dust and scratches.  While it can be seen on this film, it’s easier to watch on DVD versus like how I saw the first “Dragon Ball Z” film on Blu-ray as the imperfections become more noticeable.

But in this case, if you really look, the dust and scratches are in most of the frames but that is if you are close up and really looking for it.  Otherwise, if you are watching it from a distance, it’s not too bad.

Last, it’s also very important to point out that because this is a film, the production quality is much higher than a “Dragon Ball” TV episode.  Better art design for the backgrounds and better animation, especially during the action sequences.  Colors are vibrant and for the most part, this animated film looks very good considering its age.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies” comes with no special features but FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

When it comes to anime films especially for popular anime series, sometimes you get new storylines that are very good or a rehash of episodes with newer footage.

“Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies”, the first “Dragon Ball” film is somewhere in the middle.  You get somewhat of a new retelling of how Goku met Bulma, Oolong, Yamcha, Master Roshi and the boss and his henchman are replaced with a new boss and his two henchman.  So, you do get a new original storyline of sorts but is pretty much an alternative universe of the original series storyline.

For the most part, fans of the “Dragon Ball” series are pretty familiar of how the films have been from the ’80s through the ’90s and you have some that are winners and some that are just average and in the case of “Curse of the Blood Rubies”, I found it to be quite enjoyable and if anything, this is a film that fans have been wanting on DVD, uncut, for a very long time.

The humor and action of the series carries over to the movie but also the sexual humor as well, so this DVD is not exactly for the children.  For example, one scene features Oolong pretending to be Bulma and using her breasts to entice Master Rohshi in helping them.  Another scene features Yamcha fighting with Pasta and then realizing Pasta is a woman when he accidentally gropes on her breasts.    But for the most part, outside of those scenes, the film is quite safe.

As mentioned in the video review, picture quality for this older film does display scratches and dust but it’s only if you are really looking for them, then you will see it.  I feel that the film looks good on DVD but if it was ever carried over to Blu-ray, I feel that the same situation as the first “Dragon Ball Z” film was on Blu-ray, everything is enhanced…good and bad.  So, for DVD, I felt that for a 1986 film, “Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies” looks very good on DVD.

As for special features, unfortunately these “Dragon Ball” releases never come with special features.

And last, for those who are mostly into anime films that are canon to the series, those viewers will probably not dig this movie as it is more like alternate storyline to how Goku met up with Bulma, Yamcha and friends.  But for those who are big “Dragon Ball” fans and are familiar of how the films are and for the most part, are typically non-canon, you’ll definitely enjoy “Dragon Ball Movie One: Curse of the Blood Rubies”.

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