Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box 4 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We enter one of the more entertaining, yet convoluted arcs in the series as the Android and Cell Saga converge in this box set. Future Trunks’ time travels have created a much bigger problem than just a bunch of Androids from his future. An unexpected guest is born which turns the Earth into his personal playground. Cell has arrived and he is just too fun.
What They Say:
The battle to harness the power of the seven Dragon Balls explodes in vivid detail like never before. The Dragon Box features over 40 uncut episodes, remastered and restored frame by frame, rendering the legendary action in pristine clarity. Each episode is presented in Japanese and English with the complete opening and closing credits and includes the original episode previews.
Unchanged from the previous boxes, Dragon Box Vol. 4 features two audio tracks. The original Japanese mono track (48 kHz, 96 kbps) and the popular English dub set against the original Japanese soundtrack in a 5.1 mix (48kHz, 384kbps). The Japanese track is still great and for the purpose of this review, the vast majority of my time was spent with the Japanese audio.
The colors are vibrant and accurate with no loss in film grain or detail. All presented in its original aspect ratio of 4:3. Any flaws you see in the video at this point are in the source itself. I still couldn't be happier. Nothing has changed between this volume and the previous.
Packed in a sturdy cardboard box, this volume features Cell’s first form on the cover. Inside, the six DVDs are kept within two solid "book" type cases that open up and lie flat. These house three DVDs each. These are black with an etched drawing of Shen-Long on the covers. On the spines are little bits of a bigger picture that will become complete as you collect these box sets. The disc art is very nice as each one features a different character with a clean Toriyama illustration set against a white background. The disc art features an assortment of characters on each disc.
The menus remain unchanged. Simple, fast and get the job done. Each disc features a different action shot from the show in the background with an eye scouter overlay that has the different disc options in it. Basically, you're looking at the action shot through the eye scouter. Navigating the menu is very quick which is always a plus in my eyes.
Another hardcover booklet is included with this volume. Each page is made from a nice quality glossy paper and is filled with information about the series, show, characters and more. There is a guide for each episode, a look at the designs of the show, a section on the visual gags hidden in the episodes and the character relationship chart has been expanded to include the developments up to this point. Also of a note, a short look at the development of the Red Ribbon Androids. Going back to the first one in Dragon Ball.
Content (Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Previously, on Dragon Ball Z: Future Trunks’ prediction came true as two Androids appeared in a coastal town and raised hell. Being artificial beings, they don’t give off “ki” making them undetectable to our heroes. As they spread out on foot, they sneak up behind the hapless Yamcha and stab him right through the chest.
Feeling Yamcha’s power level drop, the fighters rush in and meet up with these Androids. As creations of the Red Ribbon Army genius Dr. Gero, their mission was simple: Kill Son Goku. After all, he was the boy who thwarted the Army’s ambitions of attaining the dragon balls many years ago.
Thinking that they have the upper hand, the Androids let it slip that they have all of Son Goku’s data from his fights during his childhood and his fight with Vegeta. Hearing this, Goku is all too ready to fight as they do not have data from his time on Namek, his battle with Freeza and his ability to transform into a Super Saiyan. Goku dominates the rotund Android #19 until he begins to act strangely. Goku struggles until its finally revealed that he never took the heart disease medicine that Future Trunks gave him. As Goku falters, Vegeta shows up to turn the tide as he transforms into a Super Saiyan after finally achieving the form.
Vegeta makes quick work of Android #19 and #20 realizes that he is in over his head and makes a break for it back to his lab to activate the remaining Androids. At this moment, Future Trunks shows back up in this timeline to help the cast out. Noticing the remains of Android #19, he doesn’t recognize that robot as all. He meets up with the cast as they all make their way and find Dr. Gero’s lab. Upon seeing #20, he doesn’t recognize that Android either (confusing everybody).
#20 activates the black haired, scarf wearing #17 and the blonde haired, blue eyes female #18 as his trump cards. However, he is betrayed and destroyed by #17. The two activate the massive android #16 for fun as they are interested in his skills. The Z Warriors are shocked, but Vegeta sees this as a chance to test out his power level. He goads #18 into a fight but #18 easily overpowers Vegeta, breaking both of his arms. #17 then takes care of the rest of the warriors as they attempt to interrupt the fight. The only one left standing is Kuririn as he is warned to just leave them alone while he receives a kiss from #18 (starting his crush on the girl).
Defeated, the Z Warriors lick their wounds wondering if there is any way to stop these monsters. Their pity party is crashed when Bulma informs Trunks and Gohan that she has found another time travel machine on the outskirts of a town nearby. The three go to investigate and find that it is the machine that Trunks used to travel back to the past. However, it is much older and shows signs that something has blasted through the cockpit.
This new development hasn’t escaped the eyes of Piccolo. On top of Kami’s tower, he watches as a strange, insect like monster sucks the life force out of humans. Fusing with Kami and becoming a Super Namek, he confronts the bug called Cell. While fighting, the bug reveals he is another Android created by Dr. Gero’s computer. Hailing from the same time period as Future Trunks, his mission is to absorb #17 and #18 to achieve his “Perfect Form.” However, in his time line, #17 and #18 are eventually destroyed by the time he leaves the lab. So, he murdered Trunks and stole his time machine to go back to the past where they were not destroyed. Piccolo has heard enough and is intent on destroying the beast, but he escapes using Tien’s “Taiyo Ken” blinding technique (one of many techniques Cell has from our heroes).
With Cell on the loose, the situation has become more dire. Even though Goku has woken up, cured of his heart condition, he is no match for either the Androids or Cell. After meeting up with all of the warriors, he proposes using the Room of Space and Time in order to power up to stand a chance. In this room, they can experience one year of intense training per Earth day. Vegeta and Trunks enter the room first while Goku and Gohan wait their turn. Piccolo stands watch for any changes.
For a brief moment in time, Piccolo believes he has received a blessing from heaven. The Androids have shown up at the Kame House. He flies down to confront and warn them about Cell. #17 seems uninterested so Piccolo decides that if he can’t convince him, he’ll destroy him. The fight between the two is intense, but it leads a powered up Cell right to them. After a short conflict that even sees Android 16 getting involved for the first time, Cell absorbs #17 becoming “Semi-Perfect” Cell.
#16 takes #18 off the island while Tenshinhan holds Cell at bay with a flurry of high powered attacks. Cell goes on a rampage, destroying every island in his path. Just as he finally pinpoints #18’s location, Vegeta and Trunks show up, fresh from their time in the Room of Space and Time. Vegeta powers up and completely overpowers him in every way. Unable to fight back physically, Cell uses Vegeta’s pride against him and convinces Vegeta to let him absorb #18 so he can show him true power. Vegeta stupidly agrees and Cell quickly absorbs the poor girl and achieves his Perfect Form.
With Cell completing his goal, he takes Vegeta up on his challenge and finds that there is none. This transformation has completely outclassed Vegeta. Even Vegeta’s most awesome attack, the Final Flash, becomes somewhat of a joke to Cell. After a few strikes, Vegeta is knocked out. This causes Trunks to power up, however, due to his own inexperience, his weakness is revealed and he gives up the fight to the superior Cell. Just when things look terrible, Cell decides to make things interesting. He creates the “Cell Games” tournament and gives them ten days to power up as much as they can to challenge him. If they fail, he will kill every single person on Earth.
With this declaration, Goku and Gohan step out of the Room of Space and Time. Both of them as full powered Saiyans. Both of them acting as if the transformation were their natural state. Goku decides to size up Cell and concludes that he can’t tell who is more powerful and that everyone will just have to wait and see.
As you can see, this set of episodes signals the start of the “arms race” in Dragon Ball Z. Opponents are put in front of our heroes that have become so powerful, ideas are introduced in order to allow them to power up very quickly so that they can stand a chance. In the beginning of this set, Goku and Vegeta are clearly our front runners. After years of training, they have achieved their Super Saiyan forms. Piccolo and Gohan have improved leaps and bounds as well.
However, at the flip of a switch more opponents are brought in which completely lay waste to them. Vegeta is over matched by #18 and #17 takes out everyone else with ease. Noting this, the search for the quick power up begins. Piccolo merges with Kami to accomplish his while the Room of Space and Time is introduced for the others. Time inside the room is lengthened while the time outside is only one day! Power ups ahoy! By the time Vegeta and Trunks step out of the room, they have accomplished more in that one year than they did in the three years leading up to this saga. By the time Goku and Gohan step out, Gohan has not only reached Super Saiyan, but he can completely control it.
Things don’t completely add up though. While I should be able to sit back and relax at the hyper powered soap opera playing out in front of me, several nagging questions pick at my mind.
One, why does this year make so much of a difference when three years could not? Lets take Vegeta for example. In the three years leading up to the Androids’ arrival, Vegeta trained every single day in an environment that was between 25 to 100 times Earth’s gravity. He finally reached Super Saiyan status during this time, but that was it. Yet, inside this Room, he becomes much more powerful than Super Saiyan in â..." of the time in a place that was only 10 times Earth’s gravity.
What was the reason? Because he now had a new goal? Was it not his goal to become the most powerful Saiyan to begin with? Was it because he got a power up after recovering from near death? No, because that is only brought up when it fits the story. This doesn’t even mention Trunks. He never really had much training to speak of and its unlikely that he received any from the selfish Vegeta. Why was he able to power up so much in such a short amount of time?
What about Goku and Gohan? During his time in this Room, Goku never looked like he powered up much at all despite showing off that he could transform to the levels of Vegeta and Trunks without much thought. Meanwhile, the always underachieving Gohan grew by leaps and bounds. He attained Super Saiyan after getting mad at himself over all of his failures (of which there were many) and quickly powered up to the level of his father. What was he doing during those three years he trained with both Goku and Piccolo? All of that time and he was still useless. Was all he needed just that extra year?
Perhaps I’m just over-thinking things and can chalk it up to “Shonen Rules.”
Two, what time line are we in anyway? Time travel is a real pet peeve of mine, especially when one leaves so many loose ends. Lets start at with what we see. Future Trunks arrives in the past and killed Mecha Freeza and King Cold. Goku arrives and says he could have done it anyway, so Trunks ends up changing history for no reason. He gives Goku medicine so he won’t die (changing history again) and reveals that he is Bulma and Vegeta’s son (risking his own life in the process). He then leaves.
Three years pass and he comes back to the past again to help the Z Warriors defeat the Androids. He finds that not only are there different Androids then in his time, there are more and much more powered up. Later, he discovers that one of his time machines arrived on Earth one year prior to his first arrival on Earth. The passenger was Cell, who later confirmed this saying that the Androids of his time were destroyed so he murdered Trunks and traveled back. It is also discovered that there were two Cells as Trunks and Kuririn kill a larva stage Cell in Dr. Gero’s lab.
Okay. So, which set of time travel rules are we working with here? Obviously going back in time and preventing Son Goku’s death in Future Trunks’ past does little to help his future as those Androids are still around. Future Trunks (or some version of his) then comes back to the past to help out. Why exactly? Did he discover that his time meddling did little to help his timeline so he decided to go back to mess things up again? Also, why were the Androids of the past timeline so much more powerful, yet less crazy than those in Trunk’s future timeline? Unless I missed it, this was completely unexplained. Did the presence of Cell in the timeline power up these Androids? I don’t see how.
Speaking of Cell, which version of Future Trunks did Cell kill? The first Trunks who went back in time the first time or the second time? Who killed off the Androids in Future Trunk’s messed up world anyway? Surely anyone who could do that could have killed Imperfect Cell as well right? If Trunks returned from the past and saw that his actions had no bearing on his hellish future, why would he go back yet again? Also, just how stupid were the Saiyans in his hellish time line that they didn’t figure out to go into the Room of Space and Time to power up to beat a weaker set of Androids? What’s going on here? What time is it anyway?
Setting all of that garbage aside (as much as one can), I still had fun watching this group of episodes. While the Androids are a bit on the bland side, Cell is a blast to watch. Norio Wakamoto revels in this role as Cell takes the spotlight. Take the pride and arrogance of Vegeta, crank it up to 1000, mix in a bit of dark humor and delight that he takes in his actions and you have Cell. When Cell takes on Vegeta (in both Semi-Perfect and Perfect forms), the two work off of each other wonderfully. Goading each other on, they both talk mad trash to each other in a set of episodes that are the highlight of the arc thus far. This culminates in Vegeta’s impressive “Final Flash” which is one of my favorite attacks in the series.
Outside of Cell and Vegeta, all of the major players in the series see pretty good screen time so if you have a favorite, you’ll find something to enjoy here. Piccolo gets involved with two major battles, Trunks sees action multiple times, Tien shows his worth and even Kuririn finds himself in the middle of major points on a consistent basis. The only fans left out are Goku and Gohan fans. Unless you like to watch training. Lots of training.
The Android/Cell sagas offer a good bit of action here as many characters get involved as the power “arms race” begins in earnest. Our heroes power up only to be smacked back down only to power up once again in quicker succession. Norio Wakamoto’s Cell is clearly the highlight of this volume as his excellent portrayal of the character provides a good bit of distraction from the nagging questions that pulled my attention away from the action on screen.
As the Cell Games begin next set, we finally get to see Goku vs. Cell go at it at full power. In the end though, a new hero will rise.
Finally, here is the updated tally of the most memorable moments. These are not in order of most to least, but rather in order of appearance.
1) Goku's Kamehameha vs. Vegeta's Galick-Ho beam battle.
2) Freeza reveals his final transformation.
3) Vegeta's final speech on Namek before his death.
4) Goku's transformation into a Super Saiyan.
5) Freeza is cut in half by Trunks
6) Vegeta’s “Final Flash” attack on Cell.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles
Samsung PN50A400 50" Plasma HDTV, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver, Yamaha 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers, PlayStation 3 Slim via HDMI @720p
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 1050
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball Z