Mania Grade: A-
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- 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.
- MSRP: 39.95
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball: Piccolo Jr. Part 1 Saga Set
By Rachel Oliver
July 20, 2003
Release Date: July 15, 2003
Another nice release of the Dragon Ball TV series from FUNimation, this set continues with the streak of episodes that have yet to air on Cartoon Network. Though probably not good as the two King Piccolo sets, some of these are rather good episodes, and they start off the final storyline of the series.
I've watched all of these episodes through in English and Japanese, and each language sounds just wonderful. The packaging doesn't distinguish whether anything is stereo or mono, but it is common knowledge that the Japanese audio was originally done in mono, and FUNimation usually dubs in stereo. But whatever the case may be, I think both audios sound about equal in quality.
The video looks really great. It's hard to believe this is such an old series, because the animation and colors look so bright and new. The title cards for the tournament episodes are particularly noteworthy, and don't seem like something from the late 1980's at all. The loading time also seems pretty good. The only negative thing I can think of is that compression seems a bit more evident this time than on the two King Piccolo sets. But compared to everything else, that hardly detracts from overall enjoyability at all.
As with all of the Dragon Ball TV releases, this is another nicely done two disc set in a single plastic case. The cover art follows the same formula as all of the previous sets, with the gold "Dragon Ball" logo in the same font style as the original manga, and a large black and white "kame" kanji. This time, however, the characters pictured are Piccolo (the second incarnation), Cyborg TaoPaiPai, Kuririn, and Chi-Chi. And there is a bit of a green theme this time, but a different shade from the Red Ribbon Army set. The insert features the case front cover art on the front, advertisements for other FUNimation products on the back, and inside contains descriptions of the fifteen episodes on these discs.
The menus are about the same as always, with the black backgrounds, pictures of different characters on each screen, and pieces of series background music playing as you browse. The same nice, smooth font is used once again. Overall, it is nothing too fancy, but it all works, and is easy to navigate.
The extras are nothing too extravagant, but they're still great compared to the Dragon Ball Z releases. There is twelve profiles of relevant characters, and a good choice of characters at that. There is also trailers for Dragon Ball GT, Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragon Ball Z, and Lupin III.
As far as what's there and what isn't, there are no surprises. Episode 133 would have been the start of the fourth ending animation, completely redone with adult versions of the main characters, but the second ending animation is still used. A shame, but I guess FUNimation can only work with what Toei gives them, which is likely the problem. Speaking of adult characters, this set marks the debut of some new voices. Gokuu, Kuririn, and Chi-Chi's adult dub voices from Dragon Ball Z take over with episode 133.. In the Japanese version, however, they all retain their child voices, except they're done a bit deeper. And, this is also the first appearance of Kami, Mister Popo, and the most familiar incarnation of Piccolo. The dub is handled fairly well, with mostly faithful scripts and decent voicing. But, I still prefer the original version, and the subtitles are done nicely this time.
Where the previous set had left off, Piccolo Daimaou had been killed by Gokuu. But not before Piccolo created one last offspring, much different from the others. After meeting with Karin again to heal up, Gokuu learns that there is a temple high above Karin Tower, where Kami lives. And Kami would probably be able to bring back the people who have died. To get to the temple to see Kami, all Gokuu needs is Karin's permission, and his Nyoi Bo. Once Gokuu has all of that, he reaches the temple. But he is forced to battle Kami's servant, Mister Popo, before he can meet with Kami. Gokuu doesn't win the battle, but he is allowed to meet with Kami anyway.
As it turns out, Kami looks identical to Piccolo, because they were once one and the same. Kami informs Gokuu that Piccolo has survived, and his offspring will be appearing at the Twenty-Third Tenkaichi Budoukai ("World's Best Martial Arts Tournament") in three years. Kami wants Gokuu to stay here and train until then. In return, Kami restores Shenlong, and everyone at Kame House revives those killed by Piccolo Daimaou. Shenlong tells them all how Gokuu is training with Kami, and so Tenshinhan, Yamcha, Kuririn, and Chaozu all resolve to train as well.
Gokuu's training starts off with a bunch of so-so anime filler episodes. First, he meets a little girl and her mother while trying to retrieve a crown and become faster than lightning. Then he meets a very large family while trying to become as quiet as the sky. In one fairly interesting episode, Gokuu travels back in time and meets young versions of Kamesennin and Tsurusennin, and their teacher, Mutaito. After that, Gokuu stays in the heavens training with Mister Popo, fighting a Gokuu "doll", and playing tag with Popo. Meanwhile, Tenshinhan and everyone have decided to go train at Karin Tower. Along the way, they end up having to save a village from a volcano.
Finally, the three years pass, and everyone meets up at the tournament (with new character designs, including grown up Gokuu). Naturally, Gokuu, Tenshinhan, Yamcha, Kuririn, and Chaozu enter. During the preliminaries, Chaozu is eliminated by TaoPaiPai, who has returned as a cyborg. Once the preliminaries are through, the quarterfinal matches end up as: Tenshinhan vs. TaoPaiPai, Son Gokuu vs. Anonymous (a girl who is mad at Gokuu for some reason), Kuririn vs. Ma Junior (Piccolo's offspring), and Yamcha vs. Shen (a mysterious nerdy old guy). Tenshinhan manages to defeat TaoPaiPai, and then Gokuu beats the anonymous girl, who turns out to be Chi-Chi. Gokuu had accidentally promised to take her as his bride many episodes ago, and now he decides he'll fulfill that promise. After that begins the fight between Kuririn and Piccolo...
Well, this set certainly has a mixed bag of episodes. They start off heavy on plot, then go into some missable, yet tolerable, filler, before starting off another Tenkaichi Budoukai. The introduction of Kami and the explanation of his relationship with Piccolo are rather interesting and important. And, in my opinion, the tournaments are always fun and exciting. I think I could really only recommend this set to current Dragon Ball fans, especially those who can enjoy the story when it's light on action.
27" Sanyo TV, Aiwa speakers, Panasonic DVD-RV65 player