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Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 3 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 5, 2010 by  



The third action-packed volume of “Dragon Ball Z” via “Dragon Box Z” is here! 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 have gotten their wish in getting the original episodes in 4:3 format, the original opening and ending scenes, original next episode previews and very cool packaging and hardcover book. Definitely recommended for the hardcore DBZ fans!

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

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 3

DURATION: Episodes 85-126 (1025 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 May 4, 2010

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/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Stephanie Nadolny 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 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 and English with the complete opening and closing credits and includes the original episode previews.

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 the fall of 2009 and here we are with the third “Dragon Box Z” volume.

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.

The second volume of the Dragon Boz features episodes 85-126 on six DVD’s. The DVD’s are numbered Disc 13-18 in this latest volume.

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”, “Vegeta” instead of “Vegita”, etc. The DVD’s come with both Japanese and English dubbing.

In the third volume of the “Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z”, the set continues with the conclusion of the Freeza Saga (episodes 85-107), followed by the Garlic Junior Saga (episodes 108-117) and then the Artificial Humans Saga or Android Saga (episodes 118-126).

The continuation of the Freeza Saga was definitely one of the most impressive battles in the “Dragon Ball Z” saga as the Z warriors do all they can to take on Freeza but his power is too incredible and it leads to the first major transformation to Super Saiyajin for Son Goku.

After the battle that took place against Freeza, no one knows if Son Goku survived or if he is still alive.  The Garlic Jr. Saga takes place months after the major battle against Freeza and this time, Garlic Jr. returns and releases the aqua mist which turns humans into demons.  The Z Warriors take on Garlic Jr. and the Demonic Four Monarchs but also gives us storylines that shed more into the life of Kami-sama and Mister Popo.  These episodes also introduce a love interest for Krillin named Maron.

The next saga to begin the Artificial Humans Saga or better known as the Android Saga features the introduction of Future Trunks and also introducing us to King Cold and the return of Freeza ala Mecha Freeza.  Future Trunks has come from the future in which all the Z Warriors have been killed by androids and heads to the past via time machine in hopes of changing it.  We learn about Future Trunks and his parents but also featuring the long awaited return of Son Goku.

Future Trunks warns Goku about the future and that he and the other Z Warriors must prepare for a battle against two androids.  This marks the beginning of the Artificial Humans Saga and the return of Doctor Gero (now an android no. 20) and Android no. 19.

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. Currently, he is deceased and using his time to train before returning back to the land of the living.

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. Gohan has accompanied Bulma and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

Kuririn – Goku’s childhood friend who accompanies Gohan and Bulma to find the Dragon Balls in the Planet Nemek.

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. With her Dragon Ball scanner, she joins Gohan and Kuririn to find the Dragon Balls in Planet Nemek.

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

Vegeta – The Prince of Saiyan and the most powerful Saiyajin of them all. Comes to Earth in order to destroy it but after being defeated by Goku, rehabilitates himself and now finds himself fighting alongside Gohan and Kuririn.

Future Trunks – Takes a time machine from the future to the past in order to change the future in which his timeline, all Z-warriors have been killed by the androids (artificial humans).  In his timeline, Goku died of a virus but if he can get medication to him to prevent Goku from dying, possibly the Z-warriors and humanity in the future have a chance in surviving the android onslaught.

The main enemies in this set are:

Freeza – The evil tyrant known as “Emperor of Evil” responsible for destroying many planets including the planet Saiyan.

Ginyu Special Corps – Freeza’s elite team of warriors. Five members led by Commander Ginyu and features the members Butta, Jheese, ReaCoom and Ghurd.

Garlic Jr. – Wants revenge against Kami-sama for sealing his father in the Dead Zone.

The Demonic Four Monarchs – Garlic Jr.’s minions: Gash, Tard, Vinegar and Zald.

King Cold – The father of Freeza who has come to find Goku and the man who killed his son.

Mecha Freeza – Despite losing the lower half of his body, Freeza is resurrected with mechanical parts and now has become the powerful Mecha Freeza.

Android 20 (or Artificial Human 20) – The mad scientist Dr. Gero of the Red Ribbon Army has taken his brain and created Android 20 and now has become powerful.

Android 19 (or Artificial Human 19) – Created by Doctor Gero to absorb all forms of energy.

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Z” via this “Dragon Box Z Vol. 3” set contains episodes featured 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 these episodes which aired in 1990-1991, 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 (and will be released in the US this month on Blu-ray and DVD) which will look much better but for this DVD box set 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.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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. 3” doesn’t come with any special features but it comes with cool packaging and an awesome booklet. What we have is a yellow slip case box with Cell 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 check, relationship chart, History of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z overlooked moments  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 Z Kai” (“Dragon Ball Z” minus the filler episodes, remastered with new intro and vocals all re-recorded) which will be released this month but if you want the entire series, the Dragon Box Z series is what you want, otherwise if you want on Blu-ray – “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is the way to go. So, whether or not you pick the original orange box release, this Dragon Box Z release or “Dragon Ball Z Kai” release, all three are solid releases.

With vol. 3, you do get the epic battle between Goku vs. Freeza and its definitely an action-packed saga as everyone risks their life to go against Freeza.  After the Freeza saga, you do get a few filler episodes .  You get the return of Garlic Jr. which was an average storyline saga as he uses the dark mist to turn the Planet Earth to violent zombie like people.  Piccolo, Gohan and Kuririn must save the day.  Well, add in Kami-sama and Mr. Popo as well.  Which was pretty interesting because these are two characters that are rarely explored in the series.  Plus you get storylines such as Kuririn and his girlfriend Maron and more comedy-driven episodes when these two are focused on.

Things start to pick up as Freeza and his father King Cold go to Earth to blow up the planet. Yes, Freeza is still alive and wants his revenge on Goku.  That is until Future Trunks comes and takes the two on.   But although the android/artificial humans saga is not explored in this volume, you do get an idea of what tragedies took place in the future and is further explored in the DBZ special “The History of Trunks” (on Blu-ray and DVD and available now from FUNimation Entertainment).

Overall, for its presentation, 40+ episodes in its original presentation that was shown in Japan, remastered and featuring cool package-based content… for those hardcore fans who have waited this long for a true release respectful of the original Japanese DBZ anime series, “Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Vol. 3” is highly recommended.

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