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Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Eight (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Dragon Ball Z Kai”  is an anime series that action-packed from beginning to end.  And now this final eight volume has been released on Blu-ray! Featuring the final battle against Perfect Cel, if you are a “Dragon Ball Z” fan or one that has been wanting to watch the series but can’t dedicate the time to watch the complete series, will definitely want to give “Dragon Ball Z Kai” a chance!  Otherwise, DBZ fans who have already purchased previous volumes of DBZ Kai will definitely want to own this final volume for their collection!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Eight

DURATION: (Episodes 89-98) 250 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 5, 2012

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

The legendary Z reborn!

For the first time in history, experience the legendary Z as the master intended with this manga-centric, fresh take on Akira Toriyama’s original vision!

The last descendants of an evil race of warriors known as the Saiyans are on a collision course with Earth, and Goku – the strongest fighter on the planet – is all that stands between humanity and extinction. To save his friends and the world he loves, Goku must travel to a realm from which few return, but should he survive, he’ll discover the power to face the villainous Saiyan warlord – Prince Vegeta.

The exciting action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with the final HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume seven) as the safety of the world rests on the shoulders of young Gohan, as he takes on the evil Perfect Cell.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the past six volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai. This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2012 with the final eighth volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 98 episodes and with this latest volume, you have 10 episodes (Episodes 89-98).

It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Eight” (episodes 89-98) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 89 – Battle at the Highest Level! Goku Goes All Out! – The battle between Goku vs. Cell continues.
  • EPISODE 90 – The Opening Round is Concluded! Goku’s Moment of Decision! – Goku’s energy is getting lower as the fight with Cell continues…who else can step up for Goku if he is unable to fight?
  • EPISODE 91 – Get Angry, Gohan!  Release Your Hidden Power! – Gohan not wanting to fight, tries to convince Cell to end the Cell Games!
  • EPISODE 92 – Tears for an Android! Gohans’ Inner Rage Bursts Forth! – Cell vs. Android 16 and the aftermath.
  • EPISODE 93 – Unleash the Warrior Within! Gohan Takes the Offensive! – Gohan attains the level of Super Saiyan 2.
  • EPISODE 94 – Perfection’s End! A Fury Beyond Super Saiyan! – Powerful Gohan takes on Perfect Cell.
  • EPISODE 95 – A Hero’s Sacrifice! Last Chance to Save the World! – Perfect Cell tries to destroy Earth.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 96 – Combine Your Strenth! The Final Kamehameha! – It all comes down to Gohan as he goes up against Perfect Cell.
  • EPISODE 97 – A Bittersweet Victory! Until We Meet Again! – The Z Warriors must decide what to do with the Dragon Balls and what wish they will make.
  • EPISODE 98 – Peace for the Future! The Spirit of Goku is Forever! – With the fight now over, Trunks returns to the future.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Eight” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with Mr. Sabat and Mr. Schemmel – (4:34) ADR Director Christopher Sabat and voice actor Sean Schemmel talk about the difference of working on “Dragon Ball Z” a decade ago and working on “Dragon Ball Z Kai” now.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai” Part Eight comes with a slipcover case.

“Dragon Ball Z Kai” comes down to these final episodes as the Z Warriors take on Perfect Cell and the hopes of the world will rest on not on Son Goku’s shoulders but the shoulders of his teenage son, Gohan.

Having seen an untapped, enormous power that lies within Gohan, Goku hopes that Gohan can tap into this power and defeat the powerful, Perfect Cell.

For many Dragon Ball Z enthusiasts, many have ranked the Cell saga as the best in the “Dragon Ball Z” series. There was no doubt that Cell was the most destructive adversary the Z-Warriors have taken on and I can easily remember how many episodes it took until we finally saw the matchup between Goku and Cell.

For anyone who has watched the original “Dragon Ball Z” series, it’s not a surprise of how much this battle was dragged out for a long period of time in Japan and even for “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, it’s taken quite a bit of episodes, even when shortened without the filler to get to this ultimate matchup and the buildup to this match has been exciting and quite riveting thus far!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z – Part Eight” is pretty much all action as Goku and the Z Warriors take on Perfect Cell and hopes that Gohan will find the confidence to tap into his inner power.

Sure, the original “Dragon Ball Z” series goes into more storyline details.  With “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, viewers are losing a lot of the android saga especially the training episodes in the hyberbolic chamber in preparation for the fight against Cell in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”. So, I do emphasize that if you do want to watch the Android and Cell Saga, try to find the DVD release of the anime series (the awesome orange box series or even the Japanese uncut “Dragon Box Z” series), in order to learn about the complete storyline that leads to the battle against Cell.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.

Because the series only lasts 98 episodes, part eight continues and ends with the Cell saga, but there are rumors that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” will continue and perhaps lead to the “Majin Buu saga”.  But for now, the animated series ends with the “Perfect Cell saga”.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series if you love “Dragon Ball Z” or wanting to watch “Dragon Ball Z” but just don’t have the time necessary to watch every episode.   Also, it helps that the series is now on Blu-ray, so people can enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai” in HD.

Exciting, action-packed from beginning to end, for those wanting to experience “Dragon Ball Z” in HD, will definitely want to watch “Dragon Ball Z Kai” on Blu-ray and for those who have already purchased the volumes, this eighth final volume is the end and definitely worth owning.

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

All-out action! “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is DBZ in HD and this series looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray!  In this seventh volume of DBZ Kai, the Z Warriors take on their most powerful adversary yet, Perfect Cell.  If you are wanting an action anime series, I definitely recommend “Dragon Ball Z Kai”!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven

DURATION: (Episodes 78-88) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: March 20, 2012

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

The legendary Z reborn!

For the first time in history, experience the legendary Z as the master intended with this manga-centric, fresh take on Akira Toriyama’s original vision!

The last descendants of an evil race of warriors known as the Saiyans are on a collision course with Earth, and Goku – the strongest fighter on the planet – is all that stands between humanity and extinction. To save his friends and the world he loves, Goku must travel to a realm from which few return, but should he survive, he’ll discover the power to face the villainous Saiyan warlord – Prince Vegeta.

The action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back with another HD version of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (volume seven) as the Z-Warriors take on their most powerful adversary yet, Cell!

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the past six volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.  But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”.  All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai.  This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2012 with the seventh volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 98 episodes and with this latest volume, you have 11 episodes (Episodes 78-88).

It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven” (episodes 78-88) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 78 – Cell on the Verge of Defeat! Krillin, Destroy Android 18! – Goku trains Gohan while Cell tries to absorb Android 18.
  • EPISODE 79 – The Battle Turns For the Worst! Cell Attacks Android 18! – Trunk vs. Cell, Cell continues to try and absorb 18 to become a perfect Cell.
  • EPISODE 80 – The Tables are Turned! Witness the Power of Perfection! – Krillin and Vegeta vs. Cell.
  • EPISODE 81 – Vegeta’s Final Push! Defeat the Invincible Cell! – Vegeta vs. Cell.
  • EPISODE 82 – The Strongest Super Saiyan! Trunks Power Unleashed! – Trunks vs. Cell
  • EPISODE 83 – Cell Invades the Airwaves! Announcing “The Cell Games” – Cell arranges a tournament in anticipation to fight Goku.
  • EPISODE 84 – Training Complete! Goku Sizes up the Competition! – Goku and Gohan complete their training and plan to participate in the Cell Games.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 85 – The Truce is Broken! The Defense Force Strikes Back at Cell! – Piccolo and Vegeta train in the Hyperbolic chamber.
  • EPISODE 86 – A New Guardian! The Return of the Dragon Balls! – A new Kami and Mr. Satan challenges Cell.
  • EPISODE 87 – Mr. Satan Takes the Stage! The Curtain Rises on the Cell Games! – Mr. Satan tries to intimidate Cell.
  • EPISODE 88 – Showdown! Cell vs. Goku – Goku vs. Cell

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Seven” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai” Part Seven comes with a slipcover case.

For many Dragon Ball Z enthusiasts, many have ranked the Cell saga as the best in the “Dragon Ball Z” series.  There was no doubt that Cell was the most destructive adversary the Z-Warriors have taken on and I can easily remember how many episodes it took until we finally saw the matchup between Goku and Cell.

For anyone who has watched the original “Dragon Ball Z” series, it’s not a surprise of how much this battle was dragged out for a long period of time in Japan and even for “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, it’s taken quite a bit of episodes, even when shortened without the filler to get to this ultimate matchup and the buildup to this match has been exciting and quite riveting thus far!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z – Part Seven” features Krillin trying to save a woman that he has fallen for, Vegeta’s ego getting in the way and thus playing into the plans of Cell and of course, the heavily anticipated matchup between Goku and Cell.

Granted, you are losing a lot of the android saga especially the training episodes in the hyberbolic chamber in preparation for the fight against Cell in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.  So, I do emphasize that if you do want to watch the Android and Cell Saga, try to find the DVD release of the anime series (the awesome orange box series or even the Japanese uncut “Dragon Box Z” series).

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then. But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 98 episodes, part seven continues with the Cell saga and will conclude in the eight volume (note: “Dragon Ball Z Kai does not showcase the Majin Buu storyline).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series. Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is definitely recommended, especially now that it’s in HD!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Another action-packed, thrilling volume of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”! Part Five of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” features the introduction of Future Trunks as he comes from the future to give the Z-Warriors a dire message that the androids are coming!  If you are looking for an action anime series, look no further.  “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is awesome!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five

DURATION: (Episodes 53-65) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 28, 2011

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

 The epic showdown between Goku and Frieza reaches its climax as planet Namek crumbles beneath their feet! In the aftermath of battle, neither fighter is anywhere to be found, but Earth’s few remaining heroes have much bigger problems. A mysterious and powerful stranger known only as Trunks arrives from the future with a warning: the Androids are coming, they take no prisoners, and even Goku – wherever he may be – is no match for their kind!

The action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back and not long after Goku’s battle with Frieza, we are introduced to a mysterious teenager from the future named Trunks who warns the Z-Warriors of the pending arrival of the Androids.  With three years to train, will Goku and friends be ready to take on the power androids which devastated Trunks world?

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first five volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of four volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2011 with the fifth volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 100 episodes and with this latest volume, you have 11 episodes.

It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five” (episodes 53-65) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 53 – Goku’s Final Attack! Countdown to Planet Namek’s Destruction! - A new Grand Elder is selected, meanwhile will Goku escape from Planet Namek before it explodes.
  • EPISODE 54 – Goku Vanishes Into Space! Welcome Home, Super Warriors!- Z-Warriors resurrected.
  • EPISODE 55 – There Is Planet Earth, Father! Frieza and King Cold Strike Back! – A year later and the Z Fighters gather to fight Frieza and King Cold.
  • EPISODE 56 – I Will Defeat Frieza! Another Super Saiyan! – Who is the mysterious teenager that is taking on Frieza?
  • EPISODE 57 – Welcome Back, Goku! Confessions of the Mysterious Youth, Trunks! – Goku returns and a message from Trunks.
  • EPISODE 58- Goku’s New Move, Instant Transmission! The Three-Year Training Session Begins – Goku and team train for three years to prepare for the battle against the Androids.
  • EPISODE 59 – Undetectable Monsters! The Androids Appear! – Yamcha vs. the Androids.
  • EPISODE 60 – The Unbeatable Enemy Within! Goku vs. Android 19!- Goku vs. Android 19.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 61 – No Victory for Android 19! Enter Super Vegeta! – Vegeta vs. Android 19.
  • EPISODE 62 – Piccolo’s Assault! Android 20 and the Twisted Future! – The Z-Warriors look for Android 20.
  • EPISODE 63 – The Hunt for Doctor Gero! Discover the Hidden Laboratory! – Krillin and Tien search Dr. Gero’s lab.
  • EPISODE 64 – Number 17 and Number 18! The Androids Awaken!! – Android 17 and 18 awaken.
  • EPISODE 65 - A Sweet Face and Super Power?! Android 18 vs Vegeta! - Vegeta vs. Android 18.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight. But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the English dub work, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five” comes with a slipcover case.

Possibly one of the greatest characters to make an appearance in an anime series, Future Trunks, definitely made a tremendous impact when he first appeared on “Dragon Ball Z”.

The future son of Vegeta and Bulma, Future Trunks was a big surprise when he went on to take on Frieza and his father all by himself and in the past Frieza saga, everyone knows how long and how far Goku and Vegeta and friends had to go in order to defeat him.

Yet, this mysterious teenager from the future came with incredible power but also with a warning of two androids who would literally destroy humanity.  If Future Trunks can’t beat them who can?

This latest saga in the “Dragon Ball Z” storyline is the primary focus of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Five” and this latest volume incorporates Future Trunks and the Z-Warriors as they prepare and take on their deadliest foes yet.

For anyone who has watched the original “Dragon Ball Z” series, it’s not a surprise of how much this battle was dragged out for a long period of time in Japan and even for “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, it’s taken quite a bit of episodes, even when shortened without the filler to get to this ultimate matchup and the buildup to this match has been exciting and quite riveting thus far!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

Granted, you are losing a lot of the android saga in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, especially the Future Trunks special which to me was an important part of the original series. So, I do emphasize that if you do want to watch the Android and Cell Saga, try to find the Blu-ray release of the Future Trunk specials and check out the series. It’s important to note that FUNimation Entertainment is planning to re-release the complete series of “Dragon Ball Z” on Blu-ray and also, the “Dragon Box Z” uncut DVD box sets are still being released.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not. But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.  But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, part five focuses on the android saga.

Overall, if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series. Granted, I’m quite biased towards the entire “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is definitely recommended, especially now that it’s in on Blu-ray.

Definitely recommended!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The action continues in part six of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”!  The series features the conclusion of the Android Saga and sets up the beginning of the Cell Saga.  

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six

DURATION: (Episodes 66-77) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: September 13, 2011

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

 

Earth’s heroes continue their brave battle against the Android attackers, but a far greater evil looms on the horizon! As Goku hovers between life and death, the monster known as Cell blazes a trail of death and destruction on a quest to achieve his horrifyingly perfect form.

Should the hideous creature succeed in devouring his Android brethren, not even the combined powers of a Super Saiyan and a Super Namekian will be able to spare the people of Earth from excruciating extinction!

The action-packed anime series “Dragon Ball Z” is back and the threat of the Androids and Cell is featured in the latest part six of the series!

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 97 episodes (plus a bonus 98th episode or extra which was included in the Japanese release).

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first five volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six”

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has the full series of “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” available on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.  But watching it completely is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

As mentioned, currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”.  All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

FUNimation Entertainment have also released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (all eight volumes of “Dragon Box Z” have been released). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which follows the Z-Warriors ten years later and focuses on Goku, an adult Trunks and Goku’s granddaughter Pai.  This series was released on DVD in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2011 with the sixth volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 98 episodes and with this latest volume, you have 11 episodes.

It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six” (episodes 66-77) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 66 – The Time For Reunification Has Come! Piccolo’s Unshakeable Resolve! - Krillin uses the remaining Senzu beans to help Trunks, Tien and Piccolo.  Piccolo tries to convince Kami to merge in order to fight the androids.
  • EPISODE 67 – Another Time Machine? Bulma Uncovers a Mystery! – Trunks receives a message that another time machine may have come to his world…
  • EPISODE 68 – The Monster Goes Into Motion! Strike Up the Super Namekian! – Trunks, Gohan and Bulma investigate the other time machine which they notice remnants of a shell belonging to whoever was in the other time machine.
  • EPISODE 69 – I Am Your Brother! The Monster With Goku’s Energy – Piccolo takes on the monster named Cell.
  • EPISODE 70 – The Dizzying Deception and the Daring Escape! Defeat the Android! – Cell talks about how if he absorb Androids #17 and #18, he can achieve his “perfect” form.
  • EPISODE 71- The Hunt For Cell Is On! Goku, Back in Action! – Trunks and Krillin investigate Cell in Dr. Gero’s laboratory.
  • EPISODE 72 – Break the Super Saiyan Barrier!  Into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber! – Goku uses his Instant Transmittion ability to take Gohan, Vegeta and Trunks with him to the Hyperbolic Time chamber.
  • EPISODE 73 – The Super Namekian Powers Up!  Piccol vs. Android 17! – Bulma tries to decipher Dr. Gero’s blue prints, meanwhile Piccolo takes on Android #17.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 74 – Run, Android 17!  Piccolo’s All-Or Nothing Struggle! – Krillin tries to use the shut-down device before Cell can absorb Androids #17 and #18.
  • EPISODE 75 – Power Unknown! Android 16 Breaks His Silence! -Android #16 tries to fight Cell in order for him not to reach his perfect form.  Cell tries to absorb Android #17.
  • EPISODE 76 – Tien’s Desperate Attack! Save Your Friends, Goku! – Tien vs. Cell, meanwhile Gou and Gohan enter the time chamber for training.  Meanwhile, Cell’s path of destruction continues as he tries to search for Android #18.
  • EPISODE 77 – Beyond Super Saiyan! Vegeta Confronts the Monster Cell! – Cells destruction continues, Vegeta vs. Cell.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. Obviously, the more noticeable uses of the surround channels are the music and whenever the Z Warriors are in flight.  But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Six” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

Like the previous five volumes of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, this release comes with a slipcase.

For many “Dragon Ball Z” fans, the battle between the Z Warriors and Cell is a fan favorite.  With part size of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, you get the conclusion of the Android saga which leads up to the beginning of the Cell Saga and this is definitely one of the more intense action-packed battle sagas in the whole “Dragon Ball Z” series and was popular in Japan due to the popularity of Future Trunks.

For anyone who has watched the original “Dragon Ball Z” series, it’s not a surprise of how much this battle was dragged out for a long period of time in Japan and even for “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, it’s taken quite a bit of episodes, even when shortened without the filler to get to this ultimate matchup and the buildup to this match has been exciting and quite riveting thus far!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z – Part Six” was pretty cool.  .  From Kirilin having feelings for Android 18, Android 16 showing his love for nature and wanting to help the team, Goku showing his newfound power but noticing that his son has an even impressive power and so much more!

Granted, you are losing a lot of the android saga in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, especially the Future Trunk special which to me was an important part of the original series.  So, I do emphasize that if you do want to watch the Android and Cell Saga, try to find the Blu-ray release of the Future Trunks specials and check out the series.  It’s important to note that FUNimation Entertainment is planning to re-release the complete series of “Dragon Ball Z” on Blu-ray and also, the “Dragon Box Z” uncut DVD box sets are still being released.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series? Of course not.  But I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait weeks as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and each VHS tape in bad quality would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was expensive to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.  But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, part six completes the Android saga and begins the Cell saga which will be a big part of part seven and eight (note: “Dragon Ball Z Kai does not showcase the Majin Buu storyline).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series. Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is definitely recommended, especially now that it’s in HD!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Exciting, action-driven, adrenalin-pumping episodes in “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four”.  The fight that many fans have been waiting for in DBZK…Super Saiyan Goku vs. Frieza, a battle to the death!  Definitely a recommended fourth volume in the “Dragon Ball Z Kai” series!

 

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four

DURATION: (Episodes 40-52) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: March 8, 2011

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

After learning that Frieza murdered his father and destroyed his home planet, Goku takes aim at the putrid purple monster in the greatest grudge match the galaxy has ever seen! The bruises multiply at a furious rate as the two warriors trade blows in a battle that literally destroys planet Namek. As the slugfest approaches a standstill, Frieza forever silences Goku’s closest friend – sending Earth’s hero into a Super Saiyan rage that threatens to obliterate them both!

As a “Dragon Ball Z” fan, I have been waiting patiently for the match between Son Goku – Level 1 Super Saiyan vs. Frieza and now that time is here with part four of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”!

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009. But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 100 episodes.

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first three volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of four volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2010 with the fourth volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD. These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 100 episodes and the first two volumes on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment consists of 13 episodes each. It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four” (episodes 40-52) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 40 – Frieza’s Final Transformation! The Ultimate Nightmare Begins! - Frieza shows off his final transformation and takes on Vegeta and Gohan.
  • EPISODE 41 – The Moment of Truth Approaches! Goku Back in Action! – Vegeta the Super Saiyan takes on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 42 – Defeat Frieza, Goku! The Tears of the Proud Saiyan Prince – Frieza manhandles Vegeta.  Who can stop Frieza?
  • EPISODE 43 – Goku vs. Frieza! The Super Showdown Begins! – Goku returns to take on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 44 – A Boundary-Publishing Brawl! Goku, Frieza and Ginyu Again?! – While Goku and Frieza fight, Ginyu shows up again.
  • EPISODE 45- Kaio-ken Times Twenty!  An All-Or-Nothing Kamehame-Ha! – Goku uses his newly revised kaio-ken on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 46 – The Final Trump Card! Goku’s Ultimate Spirit Bomb! – Goku uses the ultimate spirit bomb on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 47 – Awaken, Legendary Warrior! Goku the Super Saiyan! – Ginyu uses his special beam to switch bodies with Goku and tries to convince Krillin and Gohan to defeat Ginyu.
  • EPISODE 48 – The Angry Super Saiyan! Goku Throws Down the Gauntlet – Vegeta fights against Ginyu (who is Goku in Ginyu’s body).

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 49 – Avenge the Fallen, Goku! Countdown to the Planet’s Destruction -The planet is unstable and is about to be destroyed.  While Goku fights Frieza, Gohan tries to search for Bulma.
  • EPISODE 50 – Full-Power Frieza! Shenron, Grant Our Wish! – While Goku is fighting Frieza, Shenron comes to grant a wish.
  • EPISODE 51 – Goku’s Furious Roar! A Last-Minute Resurrection! – Goku fights Frieza while Bulma, Vegeta, Piccolo and Gohan along with the Namekians get their wish granted.
  • EPISODE 52 – Duel on a Vanishing Planet! The Final Showdown! – Frieza tries a last desperation move on Goky.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

Also, as times have changed when it comes to what can be shown on television and stricter laws on what can be shown on television since 1989 and the fact that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” would be distributed worldwide on television in other countries (in the US, the series will begin airing on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons), most immediate changes are when it comes to the nudity and violence. Nude scenes featuring a young Goku or Gohan now feature their private areas now covered. There is now less blood during the most violent battle scenes.

But the added footage is easily noticed. I caught one scene with Nappa and Vegeta outdoors sitting near a campfire with a digital flame. Also, another scenes with Nappa with the dark stroke around the character which was seen in the later “Dragon Ball Z” movies. There were scenes in which shading was utilized but with all new sequences, it’s important to note that they created the sequences to compliment the older footage. So, everything looks just right together.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. For example, in “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three”, there is a good amount of surround audio during Goku and Vegeta’s battle, while in the Planet Namek scenes, you can hear a lot of flight (as a big part of the series in this arc features characters flying after the enemy or to get from place-to-place).

But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

Finally….Son Goku vs. Frieza, the ultimate matchup has begun!

For anyone who has watched the original “Dragon Ball Z” series, it’s not a surprise of how much this battle was dragged out for a long period of time in Japan and even for “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, it’s taken quite a bit of episodes, even when shortened without the filler to get to this ultimate matchup and the buildup to this match has been exciting and quite riveting thus far!

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z – Part Four” was pretty cool as we have seen Frieza manhandle the warriors with ease, but now he finds his ultimate match with Goku and the cool thing about this battle is that he goes against a stronger Goku but also seeing the emergence of the level 1 Super Saiyan.  I remember when I first saw this for the first time (and I was watching it way back when it first aired in Japan) and I was shocked!  And I was screaming in excitement like a sports match!  How much I was craving to see Goku give Frieza a much-deserved beat down.

You get a lot of action in this volume alone and it was a pretty long buildup but at least we are now nearing the end of the Frieza saga and now getting prepared for the Android/Cell saga.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series. Of course not but I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was an expensive wait to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.

But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, part four marks the halfway point and features a near close to the Frieza saga and I look forward to see how many episodes they will dedicate to balance off the android and cell saga.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series. Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is definitely recommended, especially now that it’s in HD!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The action and battles continue as of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three”!  Featuring Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan vs. the Ginyu Force and Piccolo vs. Frieza.  All-action, no filler and just an all-out action-packed volume of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”!

 

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three

DURATION: (Episodes 27-39) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: December 14, 2010

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

The last descendants of an evil race of warriors known as the Saiyans are on a collision course with Earth, and Goku – the strongest fighter on the planet – is all that stands between humanity and extinction. To save his friends and the world he loves, Goku must travel to a realm from which few return, but should he survive, he’ll discover the power to face the villainous Saiyan warlord, Prince Vegeta.

For the past few years, I have been raving about FUNimation Entertainment’s releases of “Dragon Ball Z” from the original orange box collections to the recent Dragon Box Z DVD box set releases. And yes, I am a big fan of the anime series and simiar to the first two Blu-ray releases of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”, I’m going to give my thumbs up to “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three”.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009. But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 100 episodes.

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first two volumes, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes and were remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of four volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released in 2009 by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2010 with the third volume release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” presented in HD.  These episodes are without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has a duration of 100 episodes and the first two volumes on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment consists of 13 episodes each. It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three” (episodes 27-39) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 27 – “A TOUCH-AND-GO SITUATION! GOHAN, PROTECT THE FOUR STAR BALL!” - Vegeta tries to get all seven dragon balls.
  • EPISODE 28 – “THE COUNTDOWN TO BATTLE BEGINS! ENTER, THE GINYU FORCE!” – Krillin brings Gohan to meet with the Grand Elder in order to bring out his inner power.  Goku completes his 100x Earth gravity training.
  • EPISODE 29 – “FIRST UP FOR THE GINYU FORCE! GULDO’S TIME FREEZE!” – Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan race to find the remaining five dragon balls before the Ginyu Force gets their hands on them.
  • EPISODE 30 – “THE NIGHTMARE RECDOME! COME OUT AND PLAY VEGETA!” – Vegeta vs. Recoome. Frieza tries to activate the seven dragon balls.
  • EPISODE 31 – “GOKU ARRIVES AT LAST! TAKE DOWN THE GINYU FORCE!” – With Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan barely alive after losing to the Ginyu Force, Goku arrives just in time to fight them.
  • EPISODE 32 – “THE STAR PLAYER APEARS! GINYU vs. GOKU!” – Goku vs. King Ginyu.
  • EPISODE 33 – “FULL POWER , GOKU! CAPTAIN GINYU’S DESPERATE ATTACK!” – Gohan shows Ginyu his full maximum power. Nail takes on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 34 – “SURPRISE! GOKU IS GINYU AND GINYU IS GOKU!” – Ginyu uses his special beam to switch bodies with Goku and tries to convince Krillin and Gohan to defeat Ginyu.
  • EPISODE 35 – “GOKU’S COMEBACK! CALL FORTH PORUNGA!” – Vegeta fights against Ginyu (who is Goku in Ginyu’s body).

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 36 – “FRIEZA CLOSES IN! MIGHTY PORUNGA, GRANT OUR WISH!” – Krillin and Gohan use the dragon balls and use their first wish, to revive Piccolo.
  • EPISODE 37 – “A NIGHTMARE TRANSFORMATION! FRIEZA’S POWER LEVEL ONE MILLION!” – Vegeta is back and now he must get to Frieza.  Meanwhile, Frieza shows his latest transformation.
  • EPISODE 38 – “FRIEZA BARES HIS FANGS! GOHAN’S OVERWHELMING ATTACK!” – Krillin and Gohan take on Frieza.
  • EPISODE 39 – “PICCOLO REBORN! FRIEZA’S SECOND TRANSFORMATION” – Piccolo vs. Frieza who shows off his second to last transformation.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes? That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally. But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels. For example, in “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three”, there is a good amount of surround audio during Goku and Vegeta’s battle, while in the Planet Namek scenes, you can hear a lot of flight (as a big part of the series in this arc features characters flying after the enemy or to get from place-to-place).

But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Three” comes with the following special features:

  • U.S. Cast Interview - (7:26) Featuring producer Justin Cook discussing the differences between “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and “Dragon Ball Z” and voice talents Sean Schemmel, Monica Rial, Sonny Strait, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Mike McFarland talk about their character and working on “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

“Dragon Ball Z – Part Three” focuses on the battle between Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan vs. the Ginyu Team and Piccolo vs. Frieza. Goku does make his return but bare in mind, even the original Frieza storyline for “Dragon Ball Z” was one of the longest and thus the fight between Goku vs. Frieza will continue in the next two volumes of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” (up to episode 54 and then transitions to the Future Trunks and Android storyline).

You get a lot of action in this volume alone but I have to admit that even during the airing of “Dragon Ball Z”, I was getting impatient as I wanted the Goku vs. Frieza storyline to start immediately and I wouldn’t be surprised if others feel the same way because with only a 100 episodes in this series, I was thinking how much more can they put into the Frieza storyline, especially with the Future Trunks, Android saga, Cell Saga and Majin Boo Saga still left.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series. Of course not but I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.

If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was an expensive wait to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.

But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, there will be multiple volumes but this is one series that gets better and better with each season and the characters grow especially in powers and skill as they take on enemies that are much worse than the previous enemy.

As for the Blu-ray release and its special features, I admit that I was surprised to find the voice talent interview with the American English dub actors.  But for me, it was great to put a face to the voice I have listened to for so long.  And I hope that FUNimation at least continues this with the upcoming Blu-ray.  I would be happy to see commentary added someday.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series. Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is recommended because it’s a much shorter run at 100 episodes and this particular release cover episodes 27-39 thus far.

If you are a fan of “Dragon Ball Z” or one who has always been curious about the series, then it’s about time to watch this series in HD. Definitely recommended!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

September 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The action and battles continue as  of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” is here!  “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is a must-buy, must-own anime series on Blu-ray. Highly recommended!

 

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. 2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two

 

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 325 Minutes

 

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

 

Release Date: September 14, 2010

 

 

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

 

Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Anime Production: Toei Animation

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

 

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

 

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

 

Goku lies battered and nearly beaten, the Dragon Balls have been destroyed, and a new breed of evil looms on the horizon! Frieza, a violent galactic overlord, has discovered the source of the original Dragon Balls, and he’ll eagerly destroy anything to harness their wish-granting power.

Meanwhile, Vegeta – fully recovered from his humiliating defeat – travels to planet Namek on a mission to intercept Frieza and seize the Dragon Balls for own devious desires. With Goku out of commission, courageous young Gohan must journey to the far reaches of space to defeat a foe far more fearsome than anything his father ever encountered. The future depends on it!

For the past few years, I have been raving about FUNimation Entertainment’s releases of “Dragon Ball Z” from the original orange box collections to the recent Dragon Box Z DVD box set releases. And yes, I am a big fan of the anime series and yes, I am going to rave once again about this latest Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman. I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil. But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect. He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult. The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before. “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases. It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009. But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 100 episodes.

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan, while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy and with the first volume, needless to say, I was quite happy with the first Blu-ray release of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and if you enjoyed the first volume, there is no doubt that you are going to enjoy “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”.

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series. If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment (and is still being released) is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku. “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”. All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes, was remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of three volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each). These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released last year by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2010, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is now presented in HD, without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, has a duration of 100 episodes and the first volume on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment consists of the first 13 episodes. It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series. The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes. Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” (episodes 13-26)  on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 – “AN ALL-OUT KAMEHAME-HA! VEGETA’S TERRIBLE TRANSFORMATION” - With Goku unleashing his triple Kaio-Ken, Vegeta resorts to his inner ape.
  • EPISODE 15 – “GOKU ON THE ROPES! PIN YOUR HOPES ON THE SPIRIT BOMB” – Goku is worn out from battle, so Gohan and Krillin try to take on Vegeta in ape form.
  • EPISODE 16 – “DEFEAT THE INVINCIB:E VEGETA! WORK A MIRACLE GOHAN! – Krillin and Gohan continue to fight against Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17 – DAWN OF A FIERCE BATTLE! THE STAR OF HOPE IS PICCOLO’S HOMELAND! –  Although the battle is over for now, the Z warriors must find the Dragon Balls to resurrect their friends.
  • EPISODE 18 – “THE SHIP RESTING IN YUNZABIT! TIME TO BLAST OFF FOR PLANET NAMEK! – Bulma tries to use the Saiyan ship as a way to travel to the Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 19 – “A POWERFUL NEW FOE! FRIEZA RULER OF THE UNIVERSE!” – Another foe has their eyes in trying to get the dragon balls.
  • EPISODE 20 – “THE REBELLION AGAINST FRIEZA! VEGETA’S BURNING AMBITION!” – Gohan and Krillin take on Frieza’s henchmen, while Vegeta is about to take on Cui.
  • EPISODE 21 – PROTECT THE DRAGON BALLS! THE NAMEKIANS ALL-OUT ATTACK! – Goku goes off to the Planet Namek, meanwhile Krillin and Gohan watch Frieza’s men slaughtering innocent Namekians.
  • EPISODE 22 – DODORIAS TERRIFYING CHASE! A TURTH REVEALED TO VEGETA! – Gohan and Krillin try to rescue a young Namekian.  Meanwhile, Vegeta learns the truth of the destruction of his home planet.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – VEGETA’S COVERT MANEUVERS! A TRAGIC ASSAULT ON THE NAMEKIANS! – Vegeta searches for the two remaining Dragon Balls.  Krillin and Dende leave to warn the elders of Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 24 – FRIENDS REBORN! ZARBON’S HIDEOUS TRANSFORMATION! – King Kai tries desperately to warn Goku of the danger in Planet Namek.
  • EPISODE 25 – POWER UP KRILLIN! FRIEZA’S MOUNTING APPREHENSION! – The eldest Namekian unlocks Krillins internal, dormant power.
  • EPISODE 26 – THE SCHEME IS SHATTERED! VEGETA STRIKES BACK AT ZARBON! – Vegeta tries to steal the Dragon Balls from Frieza and Krillin prepares for battle.

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings. But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks. The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3. As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD. The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD. But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes?   That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray. You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality. Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors. Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

Also, as times have changed when it comes to what can be shown on television and stricter laws on what can be shown on television since 1989 and the fact that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” would be distributed worldwide on television in other countries (in the US, the series will begin airing on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons), most immediate changes are when it comes to the nudity and violence. Nude scenes featuring a young Goku or Gohan now feature their private areas now covered. There is now less blood during the most violent battle scenes.

But the added footage is easily noticed. I caught one scene with Nappa and Vegeta outdoors sitting near a campfire with a digital flame. Also, another scenes with Nappa with the dark stroke around the character which was seen in the later “Dragon Ball Z” movies. There were scenes in which shading was utilized but with all new sequences, it’s important to note that they created the sequences to compliment the older footage. So, everything looks just right together.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989. Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine. In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts. I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Of course, for those wanting the true anime on HD treatment, this is probably not the series one should look for as you do get the original late ’80s animation and this series was created long before animators considered HD let alone were making the series digitally.  But it all comes down to how it looks compared to the original series released on DVD and I have to say that this is the best looking version of the series available despite it being a modified and shortened version of the “Dragon Ball Z” series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio. Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels.  For example, in “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two”, there is a good amount of surround audio during Goku and Vegeta’s battle, while in the Planet Namek scenes, you can hear a lot of flight (as a big part of the series in this arc features characters flying after the enemy or to get from place-to-place).

But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music. As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme. Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels. You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely. Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it. Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track. But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy. It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective. And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets. If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you. If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar. In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good. Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku. But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku. For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome! I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening Song DVD Version 01
  • Textless Opening Song DVD Version 02
  • Textless Opening Song Broadcast Version
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.

The second part of “Dragon Ball Z – Part Two” focuses on the battle between Goku vs. Vegeta and the Planet Namek/Dragon Ball episodes.  Although, I originally enjoyed this arc from the original series, it was one of the longest story arcs in “Dragon Ball Z” leading up to the battle between Goku vs. Frieza (which should be the focus in the next upcoming release of DBZ Kai).

Fortunately for those who have watched the series many times, we do get various selected scenes from the Planet Namek arc to shorten up the arc in “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.  I do highly recommend for those who have never watched “Dragon Ball Z” to please check out the actual series because watching this arc in its entirety is a must!

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean. Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series. Of course not but I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long. We would literally have to wait as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and would contain maybe two to four episodes. And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more. I

f you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was an expensive wait to collect all volumes. Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.

But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences. Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series. It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time. Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, there will be multiple volumes but this is one series that gets better and better with each season and the characters grow especially in powers and skill as they take on enemies that are much worse than the previous enemy.

As for the Blu-ray release and its special featuers, sure… I would love to have more special features included on this release but as the regular series never had them, we’re not going to see it on this Blu-ray release.  Granted, it would have been nice for FUNimation Entertainment to let their ADR director interviewing some of the voice talent and doing a commentary.  It’s done on other anime releases from FUNimation Entertainment, so I wish we had some commentary included.  Also, it would have been nice to have the original Japanese TV Spots included as well.  But you do get several textless opening and ending themes.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series.  Granted, I’m sure that many of us are quite biased towards the “Dragon Ball” series but for those who have always been curious about “Dragon Ball Z” and have no intention watching every episode made, then “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is recommended because it’s a much shorter run at 100 episodes and this particular release cover episodes 14-26 thus far.  So, we are 25% complete.

If you are a fan of “Dragon Ball Z” or one who has always been curious about the series, then it’s about time to watch this series in HD.  Definitely recommended!

Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The 20th Anniversary of “Dragon Ball Z” brings us a new HD version of the popular animated series.  Featuring an absolutely fantastic presentation of “Dragon Ball Z” via HD video and lossless audio , this Blu-ray release is truly a winner!  “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is a must-buy, must-own anime series on Blu-ray.  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation.  2009 Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part One

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4×3), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Toei Animation/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: May 18, 2010

Originally created by Akira Toriyama

 Music by Kenji Yamamoto

Produced by Shinichi Fukumitsu

Theme Song Arrangement: Seiichi Kyouda

Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Bryan Massey as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

 

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Shigeru Chiba/Justin Cook as Raditz

Tetsu Inada/Phil Parsons as Nappa

Yasuhiko Kawazu/Christopher R. Sabat as Mr. Popo

Mayumi Tanaka/Mike McFarland as Yajirobe

 

The last descendants of an evil race of warriors known as the Saiyans are on a collision course with Earth, and Goku – the strongest fighter on the planet – is all that stands between humanity and extinction. To save his friends and the world he loves, Goku must travel to a realm from which few return, but should he survive, he’ll discover the power to face the villainous Saiyan warlord – Prince Vegeta.

For the past few years, I have been raving about FUNimation Entertainment’s releases of “Dragon Ball Z” from the original orange box collections to the recent Dragon Box Z DVD box set releases.  And yes, I am a big fan of the anime series and yes, I am going to rave once again about this latest Blu-ray release of  “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part One”.

Having grown up with “Dragon Ball Z” and during my teenage years visiting the local Japanese video rental store and always in heavy anticipation of what was being shown on television in Japan that week and waiting the two weeks it would arrive in the US and watching it in Japanese, despite not knowing what was being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously.

The main protagonist Son Goku was Japan’s equivalent to America’s Superman.  I’m sure the juxtaposition of both Superman and Dragonball can be seen as a baby from other planet comes to Earth, the baby growing up to becoming a boy with tremendous strength and abilities and raised by a loving person who instilled good in his heart.

Granted, Goku’s original mission when landing on Earth was to destroy humanity but learning kindness towards people, nature and animals, he became a hero that protected all that he loved from any evil.  But most importantly, Goku was a character that was far from perfect.  He was a character that was always learning about people, enjoying life but most of all, setting a goal to becoming stronger and developing his skills in order to protect the people and the planet that he loves.

I was captivated by the original “Dragon Ball” series (which featured Goku as a child) and later with “Dragon Ball Z” featuring Goku as an adult.  The series would bring back the characters that were seen on the original “Dragon Ball” series but this time around, the series took on more of a serious tone as the enemies became more deadly and Goku and his friends were put into grave situations that they have never had to face before.  “Dragon Ball Z” would feature wonderful character development, intense action sequences and most of all, knowing how to extend the series to tease fans and keep people in high anticipation of what would be happening next.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to see this DBZ fandom grow in the US from the very early ’90s and seeing “Dragon Ball Z” viewing parties at the early anime conventions and then seeing how the series exploded into American pop culture once the series began airing on television in the US and with its DVD releases.   It’s hard to believe that this series I have followed for years and began in 1989 has celebrated its 20th Anniversary celebration in 2009.  But the celebration was fantastic news for fans as this time, “Dragon Ball Z” would be remastered for HD TV and would be called “Dragon Ball Z Kai” which would include a brand new opening and ending sequence, commercial cut scenes, new frames produced digitally, re-recording of the voice talent, new music and most importantly, focusing on the main story arcs and reducing the series 291 episodes to a total of 100 episodes.

Needless to say, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” received rave reviews from fans in Japan,  while some hardcore DBZ fans had a hard time watching a new interpretation of the series (especially with newer music) but when it was announced that the series would be released in the USA on Blu-ray and DVD, fans were happy.

Now, having watched “Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part One” on Blu-ray and as a long time viewer of the series, I have just one thing to say about this Blu-ray release… Awesome!

For my review of this Blu-ray release, I’m going to assume that many of the people reading this are familiar with the series.  If you aren’t, if you want to experience the full “Dragon Ball Z” 291 episodes, FUNimation Entertainment currently has two releases of the series on DVD but at the same time, it is not imperative to watch the original “Dragon Ball” series to understand “Dragon Ball Z Kai” but it is important if you want to know the relationships of each character.

Currently available from FUNimation Entertainment (and is still being released) is “Dragon Ball” which covers the younger years of Goku.  “Dragon Ball Z” covers the adults years of Goku and have been released in nine volumes (seasons) via an “orange box release”.  All nine volumes covers all 291 episodes, was remastered by FUNimation Entertainment but presented in 16×9 and utilizes both English and Japanese dub but caters to the English audience crowd who watched the series on television.

In 2009 and currently in the present, FUNimation Entertainment has released the “Dragon Box Z” DVD box set releases (as of this review, there have been a total of three volumes released featuring over 30-episodes each).  These releases are to satisfy the hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans who wanted the original Japanese uncut episodes, original Japanese music score but most importantly, the series being presented in its original aspect ratio of 4×3.

Also, released from FUNimation Entertainment were the movies and specials (on Blu-ray and DVD) and also the next story arc known as “Dragon Ball GT” (which “Dragon Ball” manga creator Akira Toriyama had nothing to do with until the final episode) which were also released last year by FUNimation.

So, here were are in 2010,  “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is now presented in HD, without the non-essential scenes or filler episodes and instead of 291 episodes, has a duration of 100 episodes and the first volume on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment consists of the first 13 episodes. It’s important to note that this is not a remake of the series, nor is it a new HD recreation of the animated version of the series.  The series uses the original 1989 animation but is cleaned up of all damaged cels and blemishes.  Only the opening, ending and commercial cut scenes feature new animation.

Here is a basic summary of each episode on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1 - A summary of the “Dragon Ball” series and how afterwards, Goku and Chi-Chi now have a family and a son named Gohan.  Having been away from his friends for years, Goku wants to introduce Gohan to his old friends.
  • EPISODE 2 – A Saiyan named Raditz claiming himself as Goku’s older brother has arrived on Earth and wants Gohan to destroy Earth.
  • EPISODE 3 – Goku and Piccolo vs. Raditz.
  • EPISODE 4 – With the events that took place after the battle with Raditz, the Z Warriors learn they have one year until more Saiyans arrive on Earth and thus they must train and prepare.  Meanwhile, Goku must undergo training as well from King Kai.
  • EPISODE 5 – Piccolo trains Gohan to prepare him for what is to come in one year’s time.
  • EPISODE 6 – Six months have passed and we see where both Goku and Gohan are in their training.
  • EPISODE 7 – Goku continues his training with King Kai, meanwhile the Z Warriors complete their training on Earth and now prepare for the Saiyan visitors.
  • EPISODE 8 – Goku completes his training and King Kai warns Goku of overuse of the powerful Kaio-ken technique.
  • EPISODE 9 – Vegeta and Nappa arrive on Earth and they send their Saibaman after the Z warriors and tragedy hits the team hard.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – Nappa takes on the Z warriors but his power is so tremendous and more Z warriors go down in battle.
  • EPISODE 11 – Vegeta spares the remaining Z Warriors three hours in order to wait for Goku’s arrival.  Will he show up in time?
  • EPISODE 12 –  Vegeta loses patience and thus the battle begins again as Nappa takes on Piccolo, Kuririn and Gohan.  But what happens when Goku arrives?
  • EPISODE 13 –   Goku vs. Vegeta

VIDEO:

I always find it interesting when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z” because each review, I’ve always mentioned how things look much better when I saw the series especially comparing to my old Japanese TV recordings.  But with the release of the series via the orange box season sets and then the Dragon Box Z releases, although they look good…nothing compares to how gorgeous “Dragon Ball Z Kai” looks.  The picture quality is clean, no spotting, no blemishes, no dust, no speckles… Colors are absolutely vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and the series looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and 4×3.  As mentioned earlier, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is not a remaking of the series in HD.  The most noticeable addition is the opening and ending sequence and also the commercial cut scenes which use new animation and featured in HD.  But ow awesome would it be if a “Dragon Ball” related series was re-created to look like those digital HD scenes?  That would have been amazing.

But once the series begins, for those who have been watching “Dragon Ball Z” long enough or multiple times will just in awe of how beautiful and how clean the anime series looks in HD on Blu-ray.  You’ll also notice scenes that you have never seen before.

First, lets discuss the picture quality.  Not one blemish can be seen in these episodes. With the sketches and animation cels having since been discarded and anime series back in the ’80s and early ’90s not really being taken care of, Toei animation had new frames produced for this series and it was a laborious job of digitally tracing over still frames from existing footage and filling them with softer colors.  Some scenes were cropped and new scenes were added.

Also, as times have changed when it comes to what can be shown on television and stricter laws on what can be shown on television since 1989 and the fact that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” would be distributed worldwide on television in other countries (in the US, the series will begin airing on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons), most immediate changes are when it comes to the nudity and violence.   Nude scenes featuring a young Goku or Gohan now feature their private areas now covered.  There is now less blood during the most violent battle scenes.

But the added footage is easily noticed.  I caught one scene with Nappa and Vegeta outdoors sitting near a campfire with a digital flame.  Also, another scenes with Nappa with the dark stroke around the character which was seen in the later “Dragon Ball Z” movies.    There were scenes in which shading was utilized but with all new sequences, it’s important to note that they created the sequences to compliment the older footage.  So, everything looks just right together.

But watching this series on Blu-ray, I can say that “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does not look like a series that came from 1989.  Tohei Animation did a wonderful job with this animated TV series, editing these episodes and choosing what scenes to include and what new scenes to add to ensure that the pacing works out fine.   In terms of picture quality, those ugly dust, speckles and blemishes are gone, I did not see any major edge enhancement or compression artifacts.   I have no doubt that fans will enjoy this HD presentation of “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

This is where “Dragon Ball Z Kai” shines on Blu-ray and its the lossless audio.  The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack.   And both soundtracks sound great!

But here is the lowdown on the lossless audio.  Sound effects are now heavily utilized on the surround channels.  For example, the first episode with Goku and his son as they are near a river.  You can hear the water splashing and flowing through the surround channels.  During battle, you can hear each blast panning from left surround channel, through the front channels and then right surround channel to full effect.    When a person is screaming, the surround channels are used as well.  I didn’t notice major activity via LFE but felt the series was more front, center and surround channel driven.

But the biggest and most noticeable difference when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z Kai” and its previous “Dragon Ball Z” releases on video is the music.  As a hero like Superman or Batman will have its own musical orchestra driven theme song in a film, Goku now has a theme, the enemies have their theme and when a Z-Warrior passes away, there is a theme.  Music is used to full effect in the series and the majority of it is orchestra driven and also utilized in the surround channels.  You will hear the strings or brass playing through the surrounds and its done rather nicely.  Some people may have an issue with the battle music as the music tends to incorporate the style that you hear from the most recent video games and transitions from jazz/funk to synthrock.

But these effects and music sound so delightful via lossless, its hard not to be impressed by it.  Again, the English soundtrack is much more immersive because it utilizes a 5.1 lossless soundtrack versus the Japanese 2.0 lossless track.  But I know fans who have wanted anime on Blu-ray with Japanese lossless should be happy.  It’s important to note that this is a TV series and not an OVA or film, so the fact that there is so much going on with this TV series audio-wise is pretty awesome.

Granted, I know there are hardcore fans who will tell me that they loved the original Japanese music and I’m sure there will be fans including myself who love the new music, but of course, this is all subjective.  And with that being said, for those who liked the Falcouner music, then buy the orange season box sets.  If you want the original Japanese BGM, then the “Dragon Box Z” sets is for you.  If you want a lossless soundtrack with outstanding music that is fully utilized with your home theater setup, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is fantastic.

As for the dubwork, the voice acting has also been revamped with Colleen Clinkenbeard now providing the voice for Son Gohan, Monica Rial for Bulma and Brina Palencia for Chiaotzu and Puar.  In Japan, the most noticeable difference is for Kame Sen’nin (Master Roshi) as Kohei Miayuchi passed away during the final season of “Dragon Ball Z” back in 1995 and for DBZ Kai is voiced by Masaharu Satou.

For the most part, both voice acting for the English and Japanese were very good.  Of course, listening to both soundtracks voices are much different from each other especially the voice of the main character Goku.  But depending on your preference, both Masako Nozawa and Sean Schemmel do a fantastic job as Goku.  For those who watched the English dub and have played all the DBZ video games will probably see the most noticeable different with the character of young Gohan.

Overall, because of the clarity of the audio and how much it plays in the part of enhancing the enjoyment of the anime series, the lossless soundtrack for “Dragon Ball Z” is awesome!  I enjoy the new BGM and if you have a 5.1 or 7.2 setup, you’re going to enjoy the soundtrack of this series.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z Kai” Disc 2 features the textless opening and ending themes and FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

All that went through my mind when I was watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was how awesome an experience it was to see this series finally in HD and how fantastic it looked and how incredible the lossless audio track was.  I’m still impressed after watching part one and how this TV series looks on Blu-ray.

As a person who has followed the series for nearly 20 years, watching “Dragon Ball Z Kai” was a bit surreal because everything looked so clean.   Especially comparing with how it looks to the first movie on Blu-ray which had dust and scratches galore and HD enhancing those defects, it was great to see a blemish-free DBZ series.

Now does “Dragon Ball Z Kai” replace my feelings towards the original series.  Of course not but I can tell you right now that when watching “Dragon Ball Z” many years ago and even watching it again and again, part of the experience at the time was being kept at the edge of your seat because each saga lasted so long.  We would literally have to wait as it would come out to our Japanese video rental store and would contain maybe two to four episodes.  And this really tested your patience especially with each saga or battle lasting like 30 episodes or more.  If you were an original DVD purchaser of “Dragon Ball Z” when it was released per volume, not only was it an excruciating wait, it was an expensive wait to collect all volumes.  Sure, the DVD box set releases definitely have fixed the problem and is much cheaper than how things were back then.

But what “Dragon Ball Z Kai” does is cut down all non-essential scenes, all filler episodes and focusing on the more important scenes of the story including the action sequences.   Footage was re-edited to closely follow the manga and the action is now a more faster pace and I found the pacing for this series to be quite enjoyable and for those watching anything Dragon Ball related for the first time, especially on television, “Dragon Ball Z” makes it much easier for those viewers, especially those with a short attention span.

For long-time fans, this new revision of the series maintains the heart and soul of “Dragon Ball Z” but gives us the best looking and best sound version of the series.  It’s not meant to replace the previous “Dragon Ball Z” series that we have enjoyed (and for many, have spent money for via the box sets) but to compliment it and also to bring the series to HD and now on Blu-ray.

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a part of the lives of many people for two decades and with this release, hopefully will entertain a new generation of DBZ fans or hook fans who have been curious about the series for a long time.  Because the series only lasts 100 episodes, there will be multiple volumes but this is one series that gets better and better with each season and the characters grow especially in powers and skill as they take on enemies that are much worse than the previous enemy.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” is easily a must-own anime on Blu-ray series.  Highly recommended!

FUNimation Entertainment Announces English Dub Cast of Dragon Ball Z Kai

February 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Flower Mound, Texas – February 14, 2010 — FUNimation® Entertainment has announced the English cast of the latest chapter of the genre-establishing Dragon Ball franchise, “Dragon Ball Z Kai.”

In “Dragon Ball Z Kai” the Dragon Ball Z story is retold to more closely follow creator Akira Toriyama’s original tale about a brave young warrior named Goku.

A project personally overseen by Toriyama, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has been re-edited and re-made using the latest in digital technology.

The new series also features renewed soundtracks and a re-recording of the series by key members of the original voice cast.

New cast members:

Gohan – Colleen Clinkenbeard
Bulma – Monica Rial
Narrator – Doc Morgan
Chiaotzu and Puar – Brina Palencia

FUNimation Entertainment will begin releasing the series on DVD and Blu-ray starting with Part One on May 18, 2010.

For more information about Dragon Ball Z Kai, please visit the official web site at www.dragonballzkai.com .

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