Dragon Ball: King Piccolo Box Set 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 05, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Rather than picking up where the second set left off, FUNimation's third release of the Dragon Ball TV series instead skips ahead more than fifty episodes, to where the series left off on Cartoon Network. But I don't think most people will mind them going out of order, since these are some of the best episodes in the series.
I've watched these episodes through with both Japanese and English audio, and both languages sound excellent. Again, there is no specification as to whether each audio is in stereo or mono, and there's only the Dolby Digital logo. I know the English audio is originally recorded in stereo, and always left as such on DVD releases. If the Japanese audio has been left simply in its original mono, it sounds really nice even so.
As always, the video is beautiful. Very bright and very colorful, and just doesn't look at all like a series more than fifteen years old. There seems to be less evidence of compression this time, though I really don't think it was much of a problem on previous discs. One improvement I have noticed is that the loading time of video tracks switching, with it deciding which opening, ending, or title card to use depending on the selected audio, seems faster.
Well, this one is correctly labeled as a "set" rather than "boxset". It's two discs, with five episodes each, in one standard plastic DVD case. The cover art continues the same layout as the Tournament and Red Ribbon Army sets, with the large black and white "kame" symbol, and the gold-colored "Dragon Ball" logo from the original manga. Though the characters pictured this time are all new ones: Tenshinhan, Chaozu, Yajirobe, and Piccolo Daimaou. And some of the text and coloring are purple this time. And the insert, it features the case cover art on the front, an advertisement for Dragon Ball GT on the back, and descriptions of the ten episodes on these discs.
The menus continue the simple theme of solid black backgrounds, with a picture of a different character on each screen, and various pieces of background music from the series playing as you browse. The same nice, slick, techno-ish font is also used again. The menus are always somewhat plain, yet very nice, and simple to navigate through.
There isn't too much in the way of extras, but it's still a very nice improvement over the way FUNimation has handled Dragon Ball Z. There is twelve profiles of characters relevant to the episodes featured (well, with the exception of "Korin", but he'll be appearing in the next King Piccolo set). And there is also a trailer for Fruits Basket, and the somewhat infamous Dragon Ball GT trailer that seems to insult hardcore fans.
While it's nothing new that the episode previews and Japanese credits are missing, there is something else missing that I think is rather unfortunate: incorrect openings and endings. The same opening and ending songs, "Makafushigi Adventure" and "Romantic Ageru Yo" respectively, are used throughout every episode of Dragon Ball. However, there are two different opening animations, and four different ending animations that go along with them. With the first episode in this set, the second opening and third ending should be introduced. But the first opening and second ending are still used on this release. It's understandable if blank versions are unavailable, but it would be nice to at least see the other opening and endings as extras or something. And they did, eventually, get the correct openings and such with the Dragon Ball Z DVDs.
Aside from that, everything else looks good. Instead of continuing where the second release left off, FUNimation has opted to instead release the "new" episodes before they air on Cartoon Network. So this is also something of interest for casual Toonami viewers. And the new dubbed episodes are pretty well done, though not perfect. The script isn't completely faithful to the original, and is still a letdown compared to the scripts for the first dub season. But the general story remains the same, although the talk about demons seems a bit toned down.
The acting quality in the new dubbed episodes is as good as always. Yajirobe's voice is no surprise, and Tambourine, Piano, and Cymbal all have voices that fit nicely. As for Piccolo, he seems to be voiced by Chris Sabat, who has also done the voice of the other Piccolo and Kami. He uses a voice more similar to Piccolo Jr. than Kami, and it sounds alright. Originally, Piccolo Sr. and Kami were both voiced by Takeshi Aono and sounded very similar, and Piccolo Jr. was voiced by Toshio Furukawa and sounded much different. But I think it probably works better in the dub if both Piccolos sound alike. While I think the dub voices are okay, I personally still prefer the original Japanese voices. Clyde Mandelin's subtitle translations are pretty good, though there is a few instances of really hard swearing in the subtitles that seem very out of place.
But as for the actual episodes, the story picks up with the cliffhanger that ended the most recent season on Cartoon Network. After the conclusion of the Twenty-Second Tenkaichi Budoukai ("World's Best Martial Arts Tournament"), Kuririn went to retrieve Gokuu's Four-Star-Ball and Nyoi Bo, and was killed in the process. The Tenkaichi Budoukai announcer was there when Kuririn was killed, and informs Gokuu and everyone that it was a monster who killed him. The monster also took the Dragon Ball, and a roster of everyone who's competed at the Tenkaichi Budoukai in the past ten years. And despite objections, Gokuu takes the Dragon Radar and rushes off to find Kuririn's killer.
The only trace left behind is a piece of paper with the kanji for "demon", which Kamesennin realizes means that Piccolo Daimaou is the one behind this. Kamesennin explains about how powerful and evil Piccolo Daimaou was, until Mutaito, the former master of both Kamesennin and Tsurusennin, sealed Piccolo away in a Denshi Jar using the legendary Mafuuba technique. Though now, someone has found the Denshi Jar and set Piccolo Daimaou free once again. And as it turns out, the person who released him was Pilaf. Pilaf has also explained to Piccolo about the Dragon Balls, and so Piccolo intends to gather all of the Dragon Balls to regain his youth, which would also make him strong enough to conquer the world. And the reason for taking the Tenkaichi Budoukai roster is to find and kill all of the martial artists in the world who might be capable of using Mafuuba and sealing Piccolo up again.
The one who actually killed Kuririn was one of Piccolo's henchman, Tambourine. Once he catches up to Tambourine, Gokuu is rather easily defeated, not having rested since his fight with Tenshinhan. On top of that, Tambourine also destroys Kintoun. Tambourine then returns to Pilaf's airship, the base of operations for the bad guys, and gives Piccolo the Four-Star-Ball before setting off to kill more martial artists. In the meantime, Piccolo "creates" another warrior, Cymbal, to gather the Dragon Balls.
The rest of the gang back at Kame House, having assumed Gokuu is dead, decides they'll use the Dragon Balls to get rid of Piccolo Daimaou. Then they'll revive Kuririn, along with the other killed martial artists, a year later when the Dragon Balls reactivate. Buruma makes a second Dragon Radar, so that Kamesennin, Tenshinhan, and Chaozu can go search for the Dragon Balls. Of course, Gokuu really isn't dead, though Kintoun is. When Gokuu wakes up, he finds a huge fish cooking over a fire and eats it. But the owner of the fish, a rude, arrogant swordsman named Yajirobe, shows up and gets mad that his breakfast is gone. Yajirobe happens to be wearing a Dragon Ball around his neck, which leads to he and Gokuu fighting for a while, until Gokuu notices that Yajirobe doesn't have his grandfather's ball.
Cymbal then shows up after Yajirobe's Dragon Ball also. Gokuu realizes he's on the same side as the other monster. However, Yajirobe ends up as the one who fights Cymbal, and rather easily wins. Piccolo feels Cymbal's death from far away, and telepathically tells Tambourine to stop his killing and go avenge Cymbal. As Gokuu tries to convince Yajirobe to give him the Dragon Ball (so he can revive Kuririn), Tambourine shows up. Gokuu gets his rematch, and having had plenty of rest and a full stomach, he easily defeats Tambourine this time.
Piccolo decides he'll personally take care of this person who has killed both Cymbal and Tambourine, thus he and Gokuu fight. Despite getting in a few good shots at first, in the end, Gokuu completely loses, and Piccolo assumes he's dead and returns to the airship. The bad guys notice that someone else has gathered five Dragon Balls, and head in their direction. Kamesennin, Tenshinhan, and Chaozu notice someone with two Dragon Balls approaching, obviously Piccolo, and have no choice but to prepare for a confrontation, which ends rather tragically...
Well, this storyline pretty much sets the formula for all future villains in the Dragon Ball series, like Vegeta, Freeza, etc. And while most people don't like the lighter-toned original Dragon Ball anime, I think the Piccolo Daimaou story has a much wider appeal, which fans of only Dragon Ball Z could enjoy. I think these are definitely some of the best episodes of Dragon Ball, and well worth checking out.
27" Sanyo TV, Aiwa speakers, Panasonic DVD-RV65 player
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 206
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dragon Ball