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Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 20, 2009 by  



Dragon Ball Z fans have waited a long time for the show to come to the US the way it was presented in Japan.  20-years after the first episode appeared in Japan, hardcore DBZ fans will finally get their wish with a beautiful remastered “Dragon Box Z” featuring the original episodes in 4:3 format, original opening and ending scenes, original next episode previews and very cool packing and hardcover book.  Highly recommended!

 

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

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-42 (1050 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Japanese Voice track with original music mono, English voice track with original Japanese Music 5.1 surround, 4:3, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Released on November 17, 2009

Based on the manga and created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Daisuke Nishio

Series Composition: Takao Koyama

Character Design by Yuji Ikeda

Music by Shunsuke Kikuchi

Screenplay: Aya Matsui, Hiroshi Toda, Jun Maekawa, Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Keiji Terui, Masashi Kubota, Reiko Yoshida, Satoru Akahori, Sumio Uetaka, Takao Koyama, Toshiki Inoue, Yoshiyuki Suga

Episode director: Atsutoshi Umezawa, Daisuke Nishio, Hidehiko Kadoda, Hiroki Shibata, Johei Matsuura, Junichi Fujise, Kazuhisa Takenouchi, Kazuhito Kikuchi, Masahiro Hosoda, Minoru Okazaki, Mitsuo Hashimoto, Osamu Kasai, Shigeyasu Yamauchi, Takahiro Imamura, Tatsuya Orime, Yoshihiro Ueda

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Zoe Slusar as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Hyle Herbert as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Robert McCollum as Son Goten

Takeshi Kusao/Eric Vale as Trunks

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Hiromi Tsuru/Tiffany Volmer as Bulma

Kozo Shioya/Josh Martin as Majin Buu

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chichi

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Kuririn

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Yuko Minaguchi/Lucy Small as Videl

Hirotaka Suzuoki – Tinshinhan

Tohru Furuya – Yamucha

Miki Itou/Meredith McCoy as Andrid No. 18

Daisuke Gouri/Don Brown as Mr. Satan (Hercule)

Michael Dobson as Supreme Kai

The Ultimate for any Dragon Ball Z Collector!

Originally produced in limited quantities in Japan, the incredibly rare Dragon Box has long been the ultimate prize for avid Dragon Ball Z collectors. Now this coveted collection has been reproduced for the first time in the United States, delivering the authentic original Dragon Ball Z experience to hardcore fans.

The battle to harness the power of the seven Dragon Balls explodes in vivid detail like never before. The Dragon Box features over 40 uncut episodes, remastered and restored frame by frame, rendering the legendary action in pristine clarity. Each episode is presented in Japanese with the complete opening and closing credits and includes the original episode previews.

Truly the essential edition for Dragon Ball Z purists, this set isn’t an addition to your archive – it is your archive. Your wish is finally granted. The Dragon Box is here.

For the hardcore “Dragon Ball Z” fans of the original Japanese animation, the previous box sets were not what the diehard fans were wanting.  So, FUNimation Entertainment is bringing the Japanese limited edition Dragon Box Z  to the US featuring over 40 episodes, digitally remastered (frame by frame) and using the correct aspect ratio (4:3).  Definitely for the hardcore fans of the class Japanese anime episodes of “Dragon Ball Z”.

I first discovered “Dragon Ball Z” during the very early 90’s.  During the infant stages of Japanese anime conventions in America, there would be “Dragon Ball Z” parties where many people would gather around a hotel room and watch a marathon of episodes.  Needless to say, the series which hadn’t been released in America was very popular but of course the only way people could see the show were fan subs with terrible quality on VHS.

I then had the opportunity to discover “Dragon Ball Z” through a Japanese video rental store and although I was taking Japanese at my university at the time, I would rent all that I can but probably miss a lot of the story since my comprehension of Japanese was quite bad at the time.

But then the series came to the US, the videos were released with several episodes per volume and I have to admit, looking back how anime TV episodes were distributed, especially like a long series such as DBZ, if one was able to collect every episode, it would literally cost an arm and a leg.

In 2007, FUNimation Entertainment did something quite wonderful and that was releasing a digitally remastered, digitally restored version of “Dragon Ball Z” in 16×9 widescreen and you would get around 32-36 or so episodes per volume at such a low price.  This was such a fantastic deal and for nine seasons (the final volume released was released in 2009), I’ve watched “Dragon Ball Z” completely and have given nothing but positive reviews for them.

But…

I would receive e-mails from the hardcore fans of the Japanese television series who were very upset that the show was not presented in its original aspect ratio (4:3) which is the ratio for standard TV and felt the previous releases featured colors that were saturated, the wrong opening and ending credits, no previews for the next episode.  Suffice to say, those hardcore DBZ fans who loved the original Japanese episodes were upset.  For me, I just looked it at it price wise and figured, at least we are getting something for a great price and I wasn’t going to complain.

But this goes to show you how FUNimation Entertainment does care for its fans and not sure if they received a lot of mail from hardcore fans but they decided to bring out “Dragon Box Z Volume 1”.    In Japan, these episodes were cleaned frame by frame and removing jitter and some grain.  Keeping the original colors but most importantly for the fans, keeping everything intact including the 4:3 aspect ratio.

With the first volume of the first volume, the first 42-episodes on six DVD’s are included.  As for the series, aside from the technical differences as mentioned earlier, because the series focuses on the Japanese version of the show, the names of characters are different as the Japanese versions uses “Kamisama-hen” versus “Master Roshi”, Kaio the Genki Dama versus “King Kai”, “Tenshinhan” versus “Tien”.  But the DVD’s come with both Japanese and English dubbing.

“Dragon Ball Z” begins five years after the finale on “Dragon Ball”, after Goku defeated King Piccolo.  “Dragon Ball Z” begins with Goku introducing his friends to his young son Gohan.  But while things seem peaceful, unfortunately things are going to go from peaceful to downright terrible when Goku’s brother from the planet Saiyan, Raditz, goes to check and see if Goku has destroyed the planet Earth.   But Goku, who was raised by the peaceful Gohan when he was a baby grew up compassionate towards the living life on Earth and swore to protect it.

Needless, to say Raditz is disappointed and decides to kidnap Gohan in order to fight a battle against Goku.  Both Goku and Piccolo decide to work together in order to beat Raditz and rescue Gohan.

So, the first arc of this box set features Raditz arriving on Earth and the fight that ensues and a major character is killed off.   The second arc features Piccolo training Gohan to become stronger while Goku trains at Kaio-sama’s world and the arrival of the two Saiyans: Vegeta and Nappa who take on Earth’s toughest warriors which include Yamucha, Tenshinhan, Krillin, Piccolo and Gohan.  This arc features even more deaths of characters.  The third arc features a battle between Goku and Vegeta and a death of another major character.  The  final fourth arc features Bulma, Krillin and Gohan searching for the dragon balls from the Planet Namek.

The main characters during this part of the series are:

Goku – Now an adult, married to Chichi and has a son named Gohan.  Constantly training in order to become stronger.  Still naive and hungry as he was when he was younger.

Gohan – Goku’s young son.  Goku realizes that Gohan has strong potential but during an unfortunate incident, asks for Piccolo to train his son in fighting to protect people and the planet.

Piccolo – Still a rival to Goku but during these dire circumstances, the two form an alliance.  Due to circumstances, Piccolo accepts Goku’s request to train Gohan.

Chichi – Goku’s wife, Gohan’s mother who is very strict.  She does not want Gohan to be like his father and makes him study.

Bulma – A woman still developing products at her father’s company, Capsule Corp. and uses her intelligence to solve the Z Warriors under dire circumstances.

Kaiosama – One of the Kings who trains Goku on how to fight with gravity ten times greater than Earth at Kaio’s world.

Z-Warriors: Krillin, Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Chaozu, Kamisama-sen, Yajirobe are continuing their training to protect people from the Saiyan invaders.

The main enemies:

Raditz – Goku’s older brother who is so upset that Goku has not destroyed the planet Earth and now set on killing him.

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all.  Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but wants to fight the strongest of the planet.

Nappa – Sidekick of Vegeta and tremendously strong.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Dragon Ball Z” via this “Dragon Box Z Vol. 1” set presents the episodes in standard definition, 4:3 aspect ratio.  The colors are much different than the previous box set where colors were deeper and more pronounced, the colors of the series features its original presentation as it was in Japan and of course, restored frame by frame in which the previous season was not.  Personally, I don’t have a preference to which is better but if anything, this set is for the hardcore fans who preferred the original Japanese presentation.

But for a series that debuted back in 1989, you have to acknowledge how good the transfer was for this restoration.  Granted, there is a “Dragon Ball Kai” currently airing in Japan in High Definition but for this release, considering it’s 20-years-later,  for the diehard fans who have wanted these episodes in its original presentation for so long, Pony Canyon definitely did a very good job on restoration and again, great to see FUNimation Entertainment bring this box set to the US.

As for audio, this is where things are a bit different from the original Japanese audio presentation.  Because FUNimation Entertainment had to include the English dubbed audio, instead of using the 448 kb/s  audio, they went with 96 kb/s.  This may upset fans who wanted a higher bitrate but because its important to attract those who are prefer English dubs and make the set even more marketable, the English dub had to be included.  With that being said, I’ve grown up watching the Japanese audio and typically, I prefer to watch anime in Japanese BUT with “Dragon Ball Z”, I have always felt that the English dub was among the best out there and the voices just sound right for the characters.

But the intention for this box set was for those who wanted the Japanese audio.  Personally, it’s a preference that I would rather have 5.1 surround versus mono or stereo soundtracks.  And when I do, I typically set my receiver to stereo on all channels since I have a 7.2 setup.  But fans will be happy that they get the original Japanese audio for the complete episode, previews for the next episode, opening and ending theme and you get Hironobu Kageyama’s “Cha-La, Head-Cha-La” instead of the Falcouner score.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Box Z  Vol. 1” doesn’t come with special features but it comes with cool packaging and an awesome booklet.  What we have is a yellow slip case box with Goku on the front, unlike the season box sets which were gateway folded, the DVD’s are presented in two foil covered DVD cases and are presented in Japanese style with the first disc on the right hand side and the two discs on the left.

Also included is a hardcover 50-page booklet titled “Dragonbook”  in Japanese style which has information on each character, episode summary, fashion and design works collection are featured.  It’s a pretty solid presentation for the hardcore fans and I have to admit, looks way cooler than the previous orange box sets.

For the most part, this DVD box set is definitely worth it.  But before fans who have bought the original single volumes and then the season box sets go on a tirade of having another version of “Dragon Ball Z” released, the main thing to remember is that those who have been vocal from the start were the diehard fans.  They wanted the original 4:3 aspect ratio, they wanted the original Japanese presentation and the could care less about the English dubs and the Falcouner score.

Personally, the season box sets are still solid for those who are not so demanding.  This box set is primarily for those hardcore fans and FUNimation Entertainment are giving those fans what they wanted for so long and I see that as quite admirable because they invested in bringing this release stateside and preparing it for the American consumer.  And for those not familiar with those season box sets, well the good news is that the English dub is featured as well.

Do I have a preference on which I like better? Well having watch both…and enjoying the season box sets, I am actually content with both but I will have to say that “Dragon Box Z” has a much cooler packaging presentation and about 6-8 more episodes but you will be paying about $15 more.  So, it’s really up to you if it’s worth it.  Personally, if you just want to see the episodes and prefer to watch it with the English dubs, the original season box sets can be found for a great price these days and were solid releases to begin with, it was just not to the liking of those who wanted the original Japanese presentation.

This box set was created for those who wanted “Dragon Ball Z” to be presented how it was in Japan and they have waited a long, long time for it.  So, I look at these box sets as fans are now getting the best of both worlds and now those fans should be happy.  Now the only thing is left will be the Blu-ray fans who will be clamoring for “Dragon Ball Kai” (“Dragon Ball Z” minus the filler episodes, remastered with new intro and vocals all re-recorded) and want their HD fix and truthfully, I can’t wait to see how gorgeous the series will look whenever it is released in the US especially with lossless HD Japanese audio, but for now, don’t expect DBK to come out in the US anytime soon.  Your good with the original season box sets or the Dragon Box set.  Again, both are solid releases.

Overall, for its presentation, 42-episodes in its original presentation, remastered and its’ cool packaged content… for those hardcore fans who have waited this long, “Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Vol. 1” is highly recommended.

 

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