Dragonball Z TV #18: Captain Ginyu - Assault (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2000
This disc, along with the second Ginyu DVD, is a major revelation with anime fans because they are completely uncut and have English and Japanese language tracks. This is the first time Japanese Dragon Ball Z TV episodes have been released legally in North America. The discs themselves are actually not bad. The English audio is a decent 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo mix with the changed music. Dialogue is very clear and undistorted, with the fight sequences sounding very nice through my stereo set-up. The Japanese audio on the first Ginyu disc, Assault, is not quite as good. This is basically the same mono you normally hear from Japanese Dragon Ball Z. Perhaps the involvement of DVD and Dolby Digital has enhanced it somewhat, though I can't be sure. The music comes across fine, and dialogue is mostly clean and clear though there's a bit of a hiss, and the volume level is a tad lower then the English. Also, some areas the sound is starting to show it's age.
The video on the other hand was actually better then I had heard and was expecting. On the Assault disc, the characters looked surprisingly sharp. The backgrounds were a different story though. They were soft and grainy, though it wasn't so predominate that it presented a problem in viewing. Due to the fact that Japanese episode 67 and English episode 54 didn't quite synch up, the Assault disc was encoded on two video tracks. This means that switching audio on-the-fly isn't possible and is probably what compromised the backgrounds to look how they did. As of the second episode on the disc, both versions synch. On a side note, it took until Japanese episode 72 and English episode 58 for both versions to synch on TV. Then it fell out of synch again for a few episodes due to a cut that had to be made.
The cover art was very unimpressive. Nothing more then a screen cap. This won't turn any casual browser's head. On the plus side the images are very sharp, unlike Manga's fuzzy Castle of Cagliostro cover, but still boring none-the-less. The backcover features a few episode screen caps and summaries of each episode. However, here are actually typos/spelling errors in these summaries. Very unprofessional. Let's face it, if I can catch these errors, other people working at FUNimation should be able to as well.. As for extras and inserts, well, there are none, so nyah.
As far as the technical aspects of these discs are concerned, I wasn't really disappointed. DBZ is over ten years old, so both the video and audio masters are going to be far from perfect. I'll admit that the video Pioneer did on the syndication discs is better. Also, the Japanese audio on the movies is infinitely superior to these discs. Regardless, I won't hold anything against FUNimation for that. The reason for this is because the Japanese audio for the movies is just that; archived movie sound, which is bound to be stored better then audio masters for a TV show. As for the video, well, let's face it, Pioneer has been one of the first anime companies doing anime DVDs. They are hailed as the kings of anime on DVD. These are FUNimation's first DVDs ever. Frankly, I'm fairly impressed FUNimation was able to do what they did with these discs. This gives me hope for the future as FUNimation begins to master their craft.
So how's the actual content on this disc? Well, here's where a lot of the compliments will cease I'm afraid. FUNimation made some very poor decisions that I don't understand in the least. First off, what's most obvious is the opening and ending. The reason I'm not using them in plural is because they are only at the very beginning and very end of each disc, as opposed to at the beginning and end of each episode like they should be. Also, the last/next time segments as well as the eyecatches have been completely excised. I do know that the audio in the masters for the next time segments isn't present in the masters Toei gave FUNimation. Maybe that's why both the last time and next time segments aren't present. I sincerely doubt it though. With all these omissions, the disc has an almost amateurish look to it. When an episode ends, the screen freezes for a couple second, then the next episode title suddenly starts up.
I have to thank someone for the information in this paragraph. That person is Chris Psaros the creator and maintainer of Dragon Ball Z Uncensored (http://dbzuncensored.terrashare.com/). For those of you who don't know, Dragon Ball Z Uncensored is an excellent Dragon Ball Z site specifically made to inform people about the differences between the English and Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z. I'd highly recommend checking it out. Gratuitous advertising aside, Chris wrote an article on the Assault disc that informed me of something I never would have found out about if it wasn't for him. The overexposed audio on the openings is due to the fact that this is the opening used for Movie #1, credits and all. This means that the credits used on this opening do not correspond with any of the staff employed to create these specific episodes. For example Chiaki Imada was not the production supervisor on any of these episodes nor did Takao Koyama write the screenplay.
Now we come back to something I whole heartedly approve and support about the very basis of these discs. The subtitles. FUNimation made the extremely wise choice of hiring the very best translator for Dragon Ball Z. The reason I say this is because the translator is Steven Simmons of Toriyama.org. Mr. Simmons has a master in Japanese and is also one of the biggest and most dedicated Dragon Ball Z fans to ever grace this planet. That means that not only can he tell exactly what's being said but he cares about the show and will put that extra bit of effort to make sure that the subtitles are translated as fully as they possibly could be. The Dragon Ball Z TV episodes are finally available with a 100% accurate translation. We all know that the dub isn't accurate, but neither are any fansubs. AnimeLabs relies heavily on profanity and S. Baldric... well, I don't even think I should go there. It's nice to know that this series is in very capable hands. However, there are two flaws in the translation. These are not themselves were rather small, but the black border made them very readable. On the Assault disc the subtitles are a light gray.
So all in all this disc has some darn good points to it. Technically, it's certainly not outstanding but got off to a good start, much better then I had expected. Plus, the subtitles are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately the issues with openings/endings, last time/next time segments, eyecatches and most importantly the credits hampered this disc much more then was necessary.
Still, this DVD has appeal. I'm no stranger to Japanese-language Dragon Ball Z. I don't support fansubs, but a few have crossed my path. I've seen most of the movies fansubbed (first three officially) and a fair smattering of the TV series here and there. But before I saw this disc it had been awhile since I had seen Japanese Dragon Ball Z TV episodes, and I was getting used to the English broadcast. Plus, I've never seen any episodes in Japanese that I had previously seen in English before this. So, when I sat down and played this little sucker in Japanese, I was wowed.
The feel of the show completely changes. It's amazing just how much voice, dialogue and music can really affect and change a show. Basically, it's like the Sin disc; two shows on one DVD. This is the kind of thing you should show newbie DBZ fans to let them see what they're missing and veteran anime fans who don't like show yet haven't seen much of it in Japanese.
I'll admit that these episodes aren't terribly noteworthy to what has made Dragon Ball Z famous, or even noteworthy to the Frieza saga. But still, if watching these episodes in their original format is this much of a thrill to me, I can't wait to see more exciting episodes when they're released on DVD.
Relisys 17" monitor, Creative PC-DVD Dxr2 5X DVD-ROM, Cambridge Sound Words four speaker set-up.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 70
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball Z