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Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 5 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 13, 2011 by  



The conclusion of the Cell Arc, the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament and the Super Saiyaman Arc! All three major storylines are presented in 40 “Dragon Ball Z” episodes in one box set!  And for the hardcore fans who have wanted the series uncut, unedited, presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio with Japanese dialogue and theme music are getting what they want with these special “Dragon Box Z” sets.  If you are a DBZ fan, this DVD box set is highly recommended!

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

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z Vol. 5

DURATION: Episodes 169-209 (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 April 26, 2011

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

Norio Wakamoto/Dameon Clarke as Cell

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.

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 now with the latest, action-packed fifth volume of “Dragon Box Z” which focuses on episodes 169-209 which concludes the Cell saga, features the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament and the Super Saiyaman Arc.

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.

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 fifth volume of the “Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Z”, the set continues with the Cell Games (episodes 169-193) as everyone puts their hope in Goku defeating Cell.  But everyone is alarmed that Goku feels he can’t beat Cell at all but is not scared or worried of what may happen.  What secret does Goku have under his sleeve?

The next episodes that follow the Cell Games the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament and the Super Saiyaman Arc.

The tournament (episodes 194-199) features focuses on Goku who is still dead and living in the underworld.   But with the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament coming full force, King Kai and the other Kai’s wager on who will win the tournament.  Meanwhile, what happens when Future Trunks goes back to the future?

Meanwhile, as the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament is going on,  King Kai and West Kai at each other’s throats of who is the best, Goku or Pikkon? And thus the first disc on this box set focuses on the tournament.

The second storyline that follows after the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament reintroduces us to Z-Fighters seven years later (Episodes 200-209).

Bulma and Vegeta are married and have a young child named Trunks.  Gohan is now a teenager and will be attending public high school for the first time.  As expected, with his strict mother Chi Chi, Gohan becomes a straight A student.  But you also learn that he has a younger brother named Goten.

As Gohan enters Orange Star High School in Satan City (named after Mr. Satan because of his lie that he is the one that defeated Cell), he sees that there is trouble in the city with bank robbers and so forth, so with the help of Bulma, creates a costume for him and thus Gohan goes under the secret identity of Great Saiyaman.

In high school, he meets Bedil (Mr. Satan’s daughter) who is a powerful fighter and helps the police force take on the criminals.  Eventually, she catches on to Gohan’s identity and demands Gohan to teach her how to fly or else, she will reveal his secret identity.

For the third arc, a new World Martial Arts Tournament is happening and the Z-Fighters intend to take part.  Also, Goku has been granted a 24-hour stay in Planet Earth to take part in the tournament. As everyone reunites for the first time in many years, Goku for the first time, gets to meet his young seven-year-old son Goten.

Meanwhile, the Z-Warriors get a chance to see Gohan’s Super Saiyaman disguise.  How will they react?

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:

Cell – Unlike the other androids, he continually evolves ingesting humans in order to become a “Perfect Form” Cell.

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Z” via this “Dragon Box Z Vol. 5” 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. 5” doesn’t come with any special features but it comes with cool packaging and an awesome hardbound booklet.

What we have is a yellow slip case box with Gohan 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 reading style. The book features a profile of the Goku family, ultimate character and relationship chart, perfect guide, Dragon Ball Z Design Works Collection, Impressive Words, Fashion Check, We Count Down Anything and the Great Saiyaman Illustrated.

The overall box set package is definitely a solid presentation for the hardcore fans and I have to admit, looks way cooler than the previous orange box sets.

With this latest DVD box set, you get a total of 40 episodes which include the finale of the Cell Games and the long awaited fight between Goku and Cell, you get the Underworld Martial Arts Tournament arc and then you get the Super Saiyaman Arc which showcases the Z-Warriors seven years later and Gohan a teenager meeting Vedil for the first time.

These episodes are leading up to the martial arts tournament for the next volume where everyone will get to see the next generation of Z-Warriors, Gohan, Vedil, Goten and Trunks go into battle but for this volume alone and how much is included, this is an awesome DVD set!

And so, you are asking yourself?  I own the orange box sets of “Dragon Ball Z”, do I really need it?

For the most part, this DVD box set is definitely worth it. That is if you are a diehard fan and want how things were when they first aired on Japanese television.   That is these episodes are in standard definition with the aspect ratio of 4:3.  A focus on the original Japanese dialogue, music and unchanged, uncut opening and ending themes.  While the English dub is still included, these box sets are released for one reason and that is to appease the hardcore “Dragon Ball Z” fans!

And I have to give credit to FUNimation Entertainment for 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 with the special box set and booklet.

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. But for the hardcore fans who have demanded and have wanted the original series and how they were presented, you can’t beat these “Dragon Box” DVD boxsets. They’re awesome!

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.

Overall, hardcore fans get there money’s worth with this DVD boxset. You get 40+ episodes in their original Japanese TV presentation and each episode which were remastered and you also get cool package-based content. For those hardcore DBZ fans who have waited this long for the original Japanese DBZ anime series in its original presentation, this box set is for you!

“Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Box Vol. 5” is highly recommended.

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