Dragonball Z TV #37: Androids - Assassins (Mania.com)

Review Date: Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, April 03, 2001



What They Say
Episode 118 Nightmare Comes True
The race is on, as the Z-Fighters engage in a frantic search for Dr. Gero’s hidden laboratory! But rather than stop the androids before they’re activated, Vegeta wants a challenge! And against Trunks’ sage advice, he’s bent on fighting the androids alone! Can Trunks dissuade Vegeta’s suicidal course of action?

Episode 119 Goku's Assassin
The demented Dr. Gero escapes to his mountain hideout and brings his killer androids to life. Without the help of Goku, who's bedridden with a deadly disease, all hope seems lost. It looks like Dr. Gero will finally get his revenge against Goku. But wait! His evil creations have a vendetta of their own!

Episode 120 Deadly Beauty
Vegeta faces off with Android 18 for a showdown on the highway. Even though Trunks and the others are there to help, the Saiyan prince insists on battling his opponent single-handedly! Will Vegeta’s overconfidence against this android of unlimited power be his undoing?


The Review!
FUNimation makes a new DBZ VCD (err, DVD, more on that later…)

Audio:
Another dual-language audio track with a solid Japanese mono and English stereo. The stereo mix, however, comes mostly out of the center channel, and the English dubbed version is so inanely hideously horrible … ah, some things never change. As always, the dubbed version replaces the original orchestral Japanese score with a terrible wannabe techno/heavy metal remix. Also, the Japanese track at the end of the disc actually becomes (not switches to) English dubbed for the ONE next episode preview.

Video:
Either Toei keeps their analog masters of Dragon Ball Z TV in the Sahara Desert, or it purposely gives FUNimation substandard tapes in hopes of boosting their unannounced Region 2 DVD boxset sales. The video has many nicks and scratches, not Uresei Yatsura-bad, but noticeable. More so, the picture seems drowned in a heavy layer of grain, and the viewer can easily detect much softness and pixellation. The video flaws really detract from certain scenes on this disc when there are massive energy blasts that cover the whole screen, as you can clearly see how flawed the picture is. I daresay the picture looks more like a VHS tape, given all the color-bleeding. That said, this disc still beats fansub quality. Still, with only a single-layer encoding and the massive amounts of technical flaws on the disc, the video itself looks more like a VCD than a DVD.

I just noticed this little fact at the end of the previous Dr. Gero disc: while the rest of the video looks substandard, the next episode previews looks virtually flawless. I was shocked when I discovered this, so I took a second look at the other Android discs. Sure enough, ALL the next episode previews had nearly flawless video quality. Strike up another tally mark in the "Why fans hate FUNimation" column; the company remasters and properly encodes the previews, yet the other 61 minutes of footage looks like a Hong Kong VCD bootleg!?

Bonus: the episode title screens have 2 angles, one for the Japanese and one for the English.

Packaging:
Ah, a very nice and slightly menacing picture of those sexy cyborgs, No. 17 and No. 18, preparing for battle. My only complaint about this cover is that these three episodes provided at least fifty possible candidates for covers (tons of extreme close-ups of the duo), such as the freeze-frame at the end episode one, which I think would be the best cover so far had it been used. Still, Rick Lebo's artwork is but a screen-capture, so I can't give him really high marks here, although the wrap-around touch with No. 16 is nice. I can forgive him because there is not a Region 2 DBZ release that FUNimation could have used. Still no insert, and the episode descriptions use the dubbed version's titles.

Menus:
Straightforward menus, but s low access time, compared to other non-FUNimation releases. These menus are identical to the other Androids discs menus, which just goes to show how cheap and lazy FUNimation is. One may switch audio or subtitle tracks during play, but switching chapters makes the language and subtitle selection return to default, suggesting that two separate video segments were used, and further suggesting a conspiracy of editing. A terrible delay occurs when changing between episodes and title credits.

Extras:
Note to FUNimation - previews for dubbed VHS videos are not "extras." Grrrr…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When watching this single-layered disc, I discovered that the uncut and unedited Dragon Ball Z on DVD is still, indeed, cut and edited. As with the previous discs, we still lack next episode previews. FUNimation claims that the tapes Toei sent it had the previews but no audio. If these were true, FUNimation should have just made a deal with the I-channel to acquire the previews. Only one preview exists on the DVD, but it is the dubbed preview. Only one textless opening and ending sequence is shown, which I consider a flaw because every single episode of DBZ had different credits. The eyecatchers are also senselessly left to die on the cutting room floor, despite fan protest. FUNimation just really needs to release a DVD boxset of DBZ TV. While it is currently releasing an average of one volume every two weeks, it will still take until 2007 to release all the episodes of DVD. Also, one would spend about $2,300 to collect all the discs, as they alternate having four and three episodes per DVD.

As for the show itself? Come on, it's DBZ, the greatest anime series of all time.

Ah, finally, the debut of (Super Bishouen Robotic Assassin) No. 17 and his equally deadly female counterpart, (Super Bishoujo Robotic Assassin) No. 18. Oh, yeah, Riccum (I mean No. 16) also becomes our newest cast member. Ok, the made up the Super Assassin part, but this trio is my favorite set of DBZ villains. Maybe it's because they are incredibly sexy; maybe it's because they fight with a unique graceful, yet powerful style; maybe I have an unhealthy obsession for machines. Actually, the Japanese voice actor for No. 17, Shigeru Nakahara, has a beautiful and one-of-a-kind voice that really stands out. In a way, his portrayal of No. 17 is much like the Japanese Goku, so distinct that it cannot be replicated in any language. Mr. Nakahara also voiced the fan-favorite Trowa Barton in Gundam Wing. As for the VA for No. 18, I'm not familiar with her work, but I am VERY jealous of Kuririn! The idea of a clearly female villain (and I'm not talking about the English-dubbed Freezer) who can beat up powerful men is fascinatingly ironic. This turn in the Artificial Humans Arc makes the next 20 or so out of the 291 episodes my favorites. Start with a legendary battle between No. 18 and Vegeta, end with the greatest fight in DBZ history: No. 17 VS Piccolo. But I'm getting ahead of myself already, and I'll give out all the juicy details that THAT disc in good time…

As for the actual episodes… utterly awesome. I fell into fits of elliptic ecstasy when No. 17 and No. 18 stepped out of their chambers. The appearance of the correct artificial humans stuns all the Z-Warriors. In a most surprising turn of events, however, the new enemies have no interest in battling the other fighters; they merely are bored and want to go fight Goku to entertain themselves - much different motives from the evil, psychotic rampaging murderers of Trunks' future. Vegeta finds himself extremely incensed that the new foes don't pay any attention to him and instead, leave to fight Goku. His Saiyan pride proves his tragic flaw, as he foolishly challenges No. 18 to a battle. This two-episode fight (which concludes in the next volume) totally reverses the former dominance of Vegeta, who quickly dispatched No.19 in the last volume. Having seen this disc, my hands get giddy when I think about watching the No.17 VS Piccolo fight, which is a couple discs down the road. But for the present, Assassins is my current favorite from the Android arc discs.

A few quick afterthoughts, although reviewing this disc marked the third time I had watched these episodes in Japanese, for the first time I noticed No.17 wondering to himself why Dr. Gero built No. 16 as a pure android, but converted he and his sister into cyborgs. This is a nice foreshadowing of future events that I totally missed on the first two viewings.

I felt that even though that it is pretty clear what No. 17 means in the last episode on the disc, I thought Steve Simmons, the translator, should have added a quick cultural note about the code of "Shibudo," seeing how most Americans are not familiar with medieval Japanese history.

And finally, there is a lot of confusion on the nature of the "androids" in DBZ. A "robot" is a machine that vaguely resembles a human. An "android" is a robot that looks exactly like a human on the outside. A "cyborg" is a human with robotic (or artificial) parts. In Japanese the term meaning all of these translates into English literally as "man-made man" or "Artificial Human." Akira Toriyama himself stated that No. 17 and No. 18 were delinquent teenagers whom Dr. Gero converted. Thus, No. 16 and No. 19 are androids; No. 17, No. 18 and No. 20 are cyborgs, but you can safely use the term "Artificial Humans" to refer to all of the above.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony DVP-650D DVD players with Audioquest and s-video cables on a Trinitron XBR 27 inch color TV.



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: F
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball Z