Dragon Ball Z Feature 1: Bardock The Father of Goku (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Mark Thomas
Review Date: Thursday, October 29, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The first of two Dragon Ball Z specials tells the story of Goku’s father and the fate of the Saiyan people.

What They Say
Before there was Goku, there lived his father Bardock. A low-class Saiyan soldier under the command of Frieza, Bardock is attacked by the last of an alien race they are employed in destroying. Healing on his home planet of Vegeta, Bardock discovers he has been blessed with the ability to see into the future.

But the blessing soon becomes a curse, as the Saiyan finds himself haunted by visions: the tragic extermination of his own race and the destruction of their beloved planet, all at the hands of Frieza. Bardock sets off on nightmarish race with fate to avert the impending disaster. But as his strength fails and despair sets in, hope will be found in one last vision.

This is the story of Bardock, the father of Goku.

The Review!
For this viewing, I listened to the English Dub with original Japanese music, which is offered in 5.1 surround. There are also options for the English Dub with US music, also in 5.1, and the original Japanese track, which is only offered in mono. This mix is pretty nice, and I liked that Funimation gave us the option between the Japanese and US music. The dialogue is clear with no dropout, the sound effects are nice, and there is some pretty nice directionality during the fight scenes. And since this is Dragon Ball Z, there are plenty of those.

This is shown in its original 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and has been digitally remastered in high definition. This transfer is pretty clean, with no real technical problems, but it is a title that shows its age (1990). Flaws in the originals have been cleaned up and the colors redone, but it is still not as clean as newer titles. That said, it looks about as good as any DBZ title, so fans of the series should not notice any difference.

The packaging here is fine, but nothing special. The front features a picture of Bardock set against a yellow monochrome picture of Freiza. The back has the same picture of Freiza in full color with some screen shots and summary. What is nice is that the case is clear, so the interior has an image of Shenron in the same monochromatic yellow from the front cover.

The menus for this release are pretty basic. It has a still image of Bardock (the same from the cover) set against a black background. The DVD options are underneath in yellow, making them easy to see and follow. Options for Play, Scene Selection, and Setup are available. Pretty basic, but functional.

Aside from some trailers, there were no extras on this disc.

Content:  (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bardock - The Father of Goku is the first of two Dragon Ball Z specials (along with The History of Trunks) that provide a little bit of back story to the main TV series. In this case, we get the story as to why Freiza betrayed and destroyed the Saiyan people and how Goku’s father, Bardock, tried to stop him. It provides a nice, brief side story to help ratchet up the tension for Goku’s and Frieza’ eventual conflict.

Like all Saiyans, Bardock is a warrior in Frieza’s army, helping conquer any peoples Frieza’s whims decide are unnecessary. During a routine conquest, Bardock has the privilege of killing the last of an ancient race but is badly wounded in the process. While he is recovering, he begins to have hallucinations regarding his new son, Kakarot, who was born while Bardock was away. These visions trouble him, but he quickly shakes them off when he learns his unit was sent on another mission.

Upon arriving where his unit is supposed to be killing aliens, he instead finds them all slaughtered at the hands of some of Frieza’s elite guards. He manages to kill off all but one, ultimately falling to the power of Dodoria, who leaves him for dead. While out, he has more visions, and he learns that the last of the aliens he previously killed, Tora, gave him the gift/curse of precognition (the ability to see the future) so that Bardock may witness his own destruction the way Tora witnessed his. It is then that Bardock learns of Frieza’s growing fear of the Saiyan’s power and his plans to destroy Planet Vegeta, and he has no recourse other than to try and stop him.

This special originally aired as a side story early in the Frieza story arc of the main TV series and was generally meant to help add some tension to Goku’s struggles with Frieza and his henchmen. And I think it works. Though it only clocks in at 48 minutes, there is some nice depth with Bardock as he goes from typical, bully Saiyan to sympathetic warrior fighting for the survival of his race. For a Dragon Ball title, there is actually not a whole lot of fighting (comparatively), and we instead get plenty of time for story and character development. It is a nice change of pace.

During all of this, we also get an early look at the development of Vegeta, as he quickly becomes one of Frieza’s strongest underlings, while at the same time starts plotting against Frieza in the background. It is his desire to fight that saves him during Frieza’s attack, as he had demanded a tough assignment and is sent to destroy an alien race all by himself. There is some nice character development here as we get to see what Vegeta was like while still a young man; it gives us some insight into his methods and motives during the TV series and adds a nice wrinkle to his ultimate conflict with Frieza too.

In Summary:
Bardock – the Father of Goku is a nice companion piece to the Dragon Ball Z TV series. There is some good background information explored here to help increase the tension in the Frieza story arc, and it is wrapped in a fairly decent story. As a companion piece, it is not a title that should be taken in independently of the TV series; but if you already have some knowledge of Dragon Ball Z, then you should find this entertaining. Recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS  (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 9.98
Running time: 48
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball Z