Dragon Ball: King Piccolo Box Set 1 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, February 03, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2003



What They Say
After a heroic effort at the World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku is faced with the most difficult loss of his life. His best friend, Krillin, is dead! Devastated, Goku sets out to uncover the truth behind the sinister murder. But the answer lies somewhere buried in Master Roshi's past.

What evil could be so horrifying that even Master Roshi is trying to forget? The answer, King Piccolo, the most dangerous threat to ever curse humanity! With Piccolo's henchmen slowly eliminating the world's greatest fighters one by one, a showdown with the bitter Goku is inevitable. Can he stop his reign of terror before the body count rises any further?!

The Review!
Revenge sets off the King Piccolo saga and leads to one of the more varied series if fights and adventures in some time.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though it's a stereo mix it feels like an old mono mix that it probably really is. While it's not a bad mix it's showing its age in general and has some muffling and static to it at times. In general, it sounds much like I'd expect from this show based on other episodes that I've seen of it and Z. Even for its minor problems, it's still a pretty clear and understandable track that doesn't really detract from the overall show.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1986, the double disc set here contains seventeen episodes worth of the show. The first volume has eight episodes and the second one contains eight. The source material for this series and the others up through GT have always struck me as pretty poor in general with a lot of film grain being strongly visible. This original series is no different and that presents the usual problems associated with so much grain in that a lot of the areas of solid colors look pretty shifty and almost alive in how they move. Even still with all the problems associated with the grain and materials, there aren't any obvious real authoring errors here so the bulk of the issues just comes down to the source and that's never easy to fix, particularly with such an old show. Either there's good materials or there isn't.

Packaging:
Keeping in theme with other covers for this series, the Turtle logo is prominent on the front cover and we get the headshots of Tenshinhan, Chaozu, King Piccolo and Yajirobe to help represent various points of this show. The character shots look good and nice and clean with some smooth colors to them. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a summary of what to expect from the major arc here. The discs features and technical information is scrunched down into a small strip and isn't all that clean to read, particularly with white on green and red on green. The insert has the front cover done up again without the corporate logos on them and opens up to a breakdown of all ten episodes with a brief summary of them. The back cover just provides boxart for other shows.

Menu:
Using the style and colors from the front cover, we get a good looking static image with a bit of music playing along. With little on the disc other than the show, the menus are quick and easy to navigate and load. Due to the language selection layout being what it is for FUNimation titles where it has subtitles and languages set so specifically and that it adjusts what angle you play, we didn't try out players' presets and instead selected it manually. The only issue I really have with the menus is the episode selection piece. Since they use only the English version of the episode names, if you watch it in Japanese and try to figure out where you left off you're in a real pickle since there's very little similar between the two.

Extras:
The only extras included on this release are a series of character profile sections.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The King Piccolo Saga, broken into two parts, hits up the first ten episodes worth in the first two disc release that picks up from previously set up items to move the storyline forward as King Piccolo uses his resources after being revived to restart his attempts to conquer the world. Naturally, Goku and the rest are there to try and stop him as there are some definite ties to him from the past that come up in surprising ways.

The show kicks off just at the end of the latest Tenkaichi tournament and to everyone's shock, Kuririn has been murdered and left just outside of the event area. A single paper there with the devil symbol on it sets off Goku who can't believe his friend is dead. While everyone tries to get him to stay with them so they can figure out what's going on, Goku just wants to get it going and heads off in search of the one who killed him. This effectively keeps the group split into two factions for most of this particular set and lets each of them focus on different things. For Goku's part, he spends a good portion of it dealing with Yajirobe, a wandering warrior of short stature and cautious nature who doesn't like Goku from the start since Goku stole his lunch from him without realizing it. This leads to some minor words between the two but they end up working sort of together when King Piccolo's children show up to steal the Dragonball that Yajirobe apparently has.

Goku and Yajirobe's arc is fun at times but can be just as frustrating as well since Yajirobe is one of the few characters that shows up in the younger run of Goku that I simply don't like. He does have his moments but for the most part he's just a selfish character that generally just makes snide comments, talks himself up and doesn't get involved much. He does get down and dirty with the fighting on occasion but he's just not someone in this arc of episodes that you can imagine wanting to spend much time with. The arc does do a good job of having the two guys deal with the arriving children of Piccolo as well as set things up for the next collection with the greater emphasis on King Piccolo himself.

The rest of the gang has a fairly interesting arc as well since they're more focused on dealing with the aftermath of Kuririn's death and then forging ahead with their course of action which is to help acquire the Dragonball's so that they can wish Kuririn back alive again. This leads them on a pretty varied journey to different areas while also coming across one of Piccolo's children named Tambourine briefly but mostly it's just bits wit the various areas and people they come across. This goes on until they actually catch up with where Goku is and try to push forward with a plan to help defeat Piccolo. What's interesting with this arc is that through Master Roshi we get a greater sense of the real danger behind Piccolo as he was involved in the previous attempts to seal him away along with the Crane master and their own master. This works nicely in giving Roshi a bit more of past that's fleshed out alongside the Crane master but it also ties Piccolor more into the present than just some new villain here to conquer the world.

With this covering only the first half of the King Piccolo saga, there's no real conclusion here but just stretched out pieces that segue into the next batch of episodes to keep the arc going. It does have a good sense of fun to it and one of the things that helped offset my dislike of Yajirobe was seeing Pilaf and his crew act in such a subservient way since they're now beholden to Piccolo. While they've had their high and mighty moments in the past (and in the future as well), seeing them in this position is a nice change of pace since they're quite afraid at times.

In Summary:
Pint sized Goku and his dealings with the newly revived King Piccolo is a fun arc and one that defines a lot of things that come later on. Just watching the entire birthing process he goes through for his children is disturbing and comical at the same time since he looks like a cat hacking up a fur ball. Much like the franchise in general, Dragonball goes to the method of building upon what's come before by revisiting it in new ways and this story arc is no exception as familiar faces and places once more come to the surface as Piccolo's plans play out. Good fun stuff that doesn't tax the brain and simply gives you solid boys action material.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 39.95
Running time: 206
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball