Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 3 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
- MSRP: 39.95
- Running time: 346
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Army Saga
By Rachel Oliver
April 13, 2003
Release Date: February 25, 2003
Already FUNimation has released their second two-disc set of the Dragon Ball TV series, just a few weeks after the first. Not much has changed since last time, but the first set was very well done, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.
I've mostly only watched these episodes in their original Japanese language, though I have watched some of the dub also. Once again, there is no distinction of stereo or mono, and it's just labeled with the Dolby Digital logo. The Japanese audio just sounds amazingly good. I don't know what, if anything, has been done, but I hardly notice any crackling or anything. The English audio, originally recorded in stereo, also sounds nice.
The video is just wonderful. Even though these episodes were originally produced in 1986, they look clear and bright, like something new. Dithering does seem more obvious this time, because there are a lot of solid color shots of the sky and snow. But I don't think it's so bad that it makes it unwatchable. The ending credits and episode titles are on separate angles for each audio, and the video tracks switching and loading between the episodes still seems kind of slow loading at times.
Even though this is labeled as a boxset by many retailers (including FUNimation's own online store), it is once again just a two-disc set kept in one normal DVD case. The cover art design is almost the same as the Tournament set (giant black and white "kame" symbol, golden "Dragon Ball" logo from the manga), except this time the characters pictured are Gokuu, Murasaki, and Pilaf, with the Red Ribbon Army logo behind them. Another difference is that there is a bit of a green theme, where the last set had a blue theme. The insert is also about the same as last time, with the case cover art on the front, and ads for other releases on the back. The difference is episode descriptions for these seventeen episodes on the inside, and the green theme.
The menus once again are solid black with pictures of various characters featured on each screen, with samples of music from the series playing in the background. Nothing fancy, but it's easy on the eyes. The font used is also very nice, and overall, it's not difficult to find your way around the menus.
The extras here aren't too much, but are certainly better than nothing. There's just trailers for some of FUNimation's other releases, and bios of twelve characters appearing throughout these episodes. I disagree with some of the characters chosen, though. "Krillin" and "Roshi" hardly appear in these episodes at all, and yet some of the characters who are fairly prominent in these episodes, like Gen. White and Sno, don't have bios at all.
Picking up right where the last set left off, this set contains most of the second dub season. The script quality has gone down since the first season, in my opinion. The voicing isn't as good either, mainly because of the bad accents given to some of the Red Ribbon Army members. The Japanese version is still pretty good though, even if the subtitles have been translated by a different person. There are a lot more insert songs in these episodes, all of which are nicely translated in the original, and missing from the uncut dub. Layout wise, there are no surprises. Correct openings and endings are used, and the second eyecatcher debuts in the right episode. And of course no next episode previews or Japanese credits, due to unavailability.
Following his loss to Jackie Chun, Gokuu has learned that there are many people in the world stronger than he is. And so, Gokuu decides to go search for Grandpa's Four-Star-Ball once again as a means of training. At first, it turns out that Pilaf is also once again searching for the Dragon Balls. But Pilaf and his gang fall out of the picture fairly quickly with the appearance of a new enemy, the Red Ribbon Army. The first major member of the Red Ribbon Army that Gokuu encounters is Col. Silver, who is rather easily defeated. Though Silver does manage to destroy Gokuu's cloud, Kintoun. The Dragon Ball in this area was not the Four-Star Ball, and thus he needs to search again. But Gokuu manages to get around his lack of transportation by befriending a robot that can pilot an airplane.
The plane crashes in the far north (where another Dragon Ball was anyway), and Gokuu is saved from the cold by a little girl from Jingle Village. He learns from the girl and her mother that the Red Ribbon Army has taken their village elder hostage, and is forcing all the village men to help search for the Dragon Ball in this area. As thanks for saving him, Gokuu decides to assault the Red Ribbon Army's nearby base, Muscle Tower, and rescue the village elder and beat up all the bad guys there.
After taking out quite a few random henchman, Gokuu's first real challenge is the huge robot, Sgt. Metallic, on the third floor of Muscle Tower. And then on the fourth floor is the ridiculous ninja, Sgt. Major Murasaki. Just before Murasaki's defeat, he decides to send out Cyborg #8 to attack. However, #8 is a pacifist, and instead helps Gokuu for the rest of his time in Muscle Tower. After one more fight on the fifth floor against the blob monster, Buyon, Gokuu and #8 reach the top floor where the leader of Muscle Tower, Gen. White, and the village elder are.
Once the elder is rescued, and Muscle Tower is completely defeated, Gokuu finally finds the Dragon Ball, but it still isn't his grandfather's. Unfortunately, the Dragon Radar has been damaged, so Gokuu has to take a side-trip to go find Buruma's house in West City and get it fixed. But before he leaves Jingle Village, an old man explains to him that Kintoun can't be destroyed. So Gokuu and his cloud are reunited, and he doesn't have to go all the way to West City on foot. When Gokuu finally finds Buruma's house, she volunteers herself to help him look for his grandfather's Dragon Ball. And so the two of them spend some more time in the city before leaving for the third Dragon Ball.
While most of the filler material (mainly in episodes 29-33, 42, and 45) is missable, I find the Muscle Tower episodes, especially the ones involving Murasaki, fairly enjoyable. But if you're any kind of Dragon Ball fan at all, I think $40 for these seventeen episodes is well worth it.
27" Sanyo TV, Aiwa speakers, Panasonic DVD-RV65 player