Dragonball Z Movie #09: Bojack Unbound (of 13) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, August 14, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2004



What They Say
The infamous millionaire X.S. Cash is funding the most amazing martial arts tournament the Universe has ever seen! The four tournament finalists must do battle with warriors representing the four corners of the galaxy in a decisive battle to see who gains the right to challenge The Champ for the ultimate championship!

But a ragged band of criminals have a scheme of their own: take over the tournament and conquer the Universe in the process! Their leader is the incredibly powerful Bojack, an evil menace who has broken free of his stellar confines!

With Goku incapable of helping eradicate the planet's latest threat and Earth's greatest heroes falling one by one, the young Gohan must look deep within himself to find the power to destroy the wicked invaders. Can Gohan summon enough strength to deliver the finishing blow?

The Review!
The ninth movie in the Dragonball Z franchise, Bojack Unbound provides just under an hour of decent fight scenes and fun from a host of characters.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is pretty decent but it's not all that wide in how it feels but it's about what we expect from the TV show so we weren't too surprised that this wasn't all that more expansive. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems during regular playback. We did check out some of the English 5.1 track and they managed to find a number of good areas to really punch things up and give both the forward and rear speakers some new life with the action. Providing you enjoy the English version, the 5.1 track is a definite plus.

Video:
Originally released in 1993, this movie is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is in my eyes about on part with a lot of the TV series, maybe a touch better quality overall but mostly it just makes up for things with more going on and more lively backgrounds than better animation itself. The transfer looks good and is generally free of nicks and scratches and other print damage, cross coloration is very minimal and only a few areas of noticeable bothersome aliasing was visible. FUNimation continues to use alternate angles for the openings and closing and it works out well here (unless you want to know a Japanese voice actor in which case you're out of luck from what I can tell). For Dragonball Z fans, this is probably on par for what they've released before so there aren't any surprises here.

Packaging:
Providing a good mix of characters and some good looking colors with it, the front cover has the cast of good and bad layered nicely and has the brighter character artwork colors balancing the natural and dark earthy colors well. I do find it a bit disingenuous to say "includes 3 uncut versions" on the cover when they're talking about audio tracks since, to me at least, the way its phrased at first indicates video more than audio. The back cover provides more colorful character artwork along the top and bottom while bringing in a decent summary of the movies premise with a few shots from it. The discs technical information is fairly well listed though a bit spread out. As is the norm I believe for Dragonball Z releases, no insert is included in this release.

Menu:
I really liked how this menu worked when it loaded as it had a number of small blocks with character shots on them flip over, like the old Memory card game, to provide a grid-like shot of the battlegrounds stadium set against a soft blue sky while some of the softer instrumental music plays along to it. The menus access times are nice and fast and the layout works well with easy navigation. Our players language presets didn't work too well though due to the listing of the subtitles for the Japanese language track being listed as Japanese and our player defaulting to English.

Extras:
The only extra included is a number of character profiles, though these are for the English language version only.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Before I get into the movie itself, I have to take a moment to comment on something with this disc. I admit to not buying any of the Dragonball Z TV releases, mostly because it's so out of order I have no idea where to really start anymore. I do like the movies since they're generally self-contained and I can punt when it comes to figuring some parts of it out. So I don't know if this is normal on the TV series releases, but I was surprised to find a series of toy commercials, unrelated I believe to FUNimation properties, at the start of the disc.

Surprised and definitely unhappy with it, since depending player particularities, it's either somewhat skippable or entirely locked out. We've had this issue somewhat with them in the past as they put trailers for their other anime properties in front of shows like Kiddy Grade and Tenchi GXP and we've had the inability to skip them. Even worse, if you have your player preset to Japanese language as a default, it'll play these trailers with no sound since it's an English track and they keep the Japanese track listed but not really there. So not only are you forced to watch it, you don't even get sound. It's even worse when they're toy commercials. I simply do not like this practice. I hate that Universal does it with their trailers as well so it's not something restricted to FUNimation.

Which is why I'm so happy I can say HAH to both of them now as the Zenith player I bought has a feature called "autoplay" which means it skips all pre-loads and menus and just starts playing the actual show itself. While it means I have to change languages on a disc from FUNimation, it means I'm not spending the first couple of minutes watching soundless commercials. I know why companies do things like this and I know marketing divisions love this but it just alienates so many people.

But onto the show! Bojack Unbound is the latest movie to get a DVD release and it's a fairly entertaining self-contained release. The show has us dealing with Money who is throwing a huge battle tournament with a prize of a million zeny. His young son, whom he'd do just about anything for, wanted to see aliens and the best way to do that is to invite them to a contest to fight against each other for a big cash prize. With over two hundred contestants, the games kick off fast and furious as the way to qualify for the semi-finals is to not be beaten down during this period or fall off into the water. The ultimate goal is to survive long enough to fight Money's big fighter defending the prize, Mister Satan.

Of course, Mister Satan didn't expect the people who fought and beat Cell to come to such an event, so throughout the fight he's continually looking for a way to escape the battle island and get away from everything that's going on. A lot of the participants are obviously familiar faces, such as Picolo, Trunks, Gohan and Krillin. There's some amusing commentary by Bulma and Chichi as they watch from the sidelines and then there's the view from up on high with Kai as Goku is there, dead of course, playing cards with the cheating monkey and watching his son participate. Everyone gets a nod in some way, from brief scenes to some better moments, and if you've got a favorite character that's even semi-regular he probably shows up on screen here at some point.

The tournament ends up going horribly wrong later during the semi-finals however when it turns out that the fighters Money has gotten to handle them at this level are Bojack and his friends who have escaped from being imprisoned in some sort of star or something. It's not really gone into much detail as it isn't relevant to the action at hand. Bojack and his friends are tough individuals and the show shifts into a high gear power fight with a lot more at stake than originally intended. It follows a lot of the traditions of the series in powering up and bringing out the best abilities you have. With a runtime of just under fifty minutes, it's basically two episodes long and it really feels that way in a way. It just avoids a lot of the repetition that it'd be if it was actually in the series. Since it has matching animation quality, the show doesn't provide any surprises in this department.

As an aside, I apologize for any name disparities. I did have the right subtitle track playing for the show but finding the names online and listening to the dub while writing the review may have compromised a few of them. Just imagine that I watched it in English with real Japanese subtitles on for it.

In Summary:
The original Japanese title, "The Galaxy is in Danger!! The Super Awesome Guy!" sort of clued me in on what to expect, which wasn't much. The movie is a fun way to kill about an hour of time (or less if you can skip the commercials) and doesn't challenge any of the TV continuity or go out of its way to be anything more than a couple of good fight sequences. I'd almost call it a filler movie if I thought that the franchise would go so low but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 50
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball Z