Dragonball Z TV #36: Androids - Dr. Gero (Mania.com)

Review Date: Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2001

What They Say
Episode 115: The Secret of Dr. Gero
In his first fight as a Super Saiyan, Vegeta takes control of the battlefield and defeats Android 19 in a convincing fashion! Unwilling to share 19’s fate, Android 20 runs for cover in the mountains! Now Vegeta and the rest of the Z-Fighters must find the diabolical Android and put a stop to his evil ways. The hunt is on!

Episode 116: More Androids?!
Vegeta, Piccolo, and Gohan lead an exhaustive search through the mountains for the wily Android 20. But all is not as it seems – the hunters are also the hunted! Android 20 lurks in the shadows, ready to strike, and it looks like Piccolo is his first target! Can the mighty Namek withstand the Android’s energy-draining attack?

Episode 117: Follow Dr. Gero
Our heroes make a startling discovery – Android 20 is none other than the evil Dr. Gero himself! But this new revelation may have come too late, for the diabolical doctor has fled to his secret laboratory, where he intends to awaken two more killer Androids! Can the Z-Fighters stop him in time?

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

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.

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 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.

A pretty menacing cover of No. 20 that I like because the extreme close-up helps me to forget that the Rick Lebo artwork is but a screen-capture. 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. FUNimation must have finally realized that all episodes of DBZ do NOT contain nudity, as it changed the disclaiming warning on the back: "contains some violence and nudity" to "may contain some violence and nudity." Personally, while I think DBZ is violent enough, nudity is always a welcome bonus. Unfortunately, this volume contains no nudity.

Straightforward menus, but slow 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.

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.

This volume may be, content-wise, the best volume yet, sheerly based on the fact that NEVER has so much a**-kicking has occurred in an hour of DBZ footage. In the first episode we see an abnormally calm Vegeta absolutely slaughter and annihilate No. 19. For the second episode Piccolo bashes No. 20's head against a mountainous terrain. My enjoyment of the violence in these episodes is a solid eight out of ten, because if you can believe it, there will be even GREATER Z-warriors VS. Robotic Assassins fighting action later in the series. Toward the end of the disc, Trunks, our mysterious bishouen senshi, reappears and informs everybody that No. 19 and No. 20 are NOT the androids from his future. The "things become horribly complicated" part of the Artificial Human arc is about to begin!

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