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DVD Review

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 14 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 720
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball Season 4 Collection

Dragon Ball Season 4 Collection DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     May 10, 2010
Release Date: May 04, 2010


Dragon Ball Season 4 Box Set
© FUNimation

The Tenkaichi tournament is usually a big deal in this world, but this time around it’s a launching point for an epic adventure.

What They Say

Goku's headed for a showdown with a sinister green fiend!

A new breed of evil - more powerful than anything ever experienced - is taking the world's greatest martial artists down for the count. Goku is quick to join the fight, but he's about to meet his match in the form of King Piccolo. This menacing monster has the power to pulverize the planet, and his murderous rampage will not stop until he controls the power of the seven magic Dragon Balls.

When Krillin is the first hero cut down by the monster's minion, the stage is set for a brutal grudge match between Goku and Piccolo. Earth's greatest champion vows to avenge the loss of his best friend, but first, he must journey to Korin Tower on a quest for the Ultra Divine Water: a magical elixir that could give him the strength to save humanity - or send him straight to the grave!

Contains episodes 93-122.

The Review!

 

Audio:
FUNimation has a pretty standard set of mixes here in the audio department that won’t really surprise anyone. They’ve included the two English languages mixes they have, one with the US based music that was created years ago and one with the original Japanese music, done as a 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps and one does as a stereo mix encoded at 192kbps. For fans of the original Japanese language, we do get something of the short end of the stick with a measly mono channel mix done at 96kbps which pretty much underwhelms, particularly in comparison to everything else on the disc. Each has their merits and each has their poor points to them, but Dragon Ball has such a varied fan following that it’s hard to please everyone. On the plus side, we at least have three choices to it and they’re all serviceable to one extent or another. We predominantly listened to the Japanese mix and had no problems with it throughout regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally airing from 1986 to 1989, Dragon Ball is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This set has thirty one episodes on it split up in a very strange way, where the first four discs have seven episodes each, the fifth has two plus the clean opening and closing, so it’s not using a lot of that space. Having not seen any of the Japanese releases of it, I can’t say how close they are to those, but this set looks really good when taken into the context of the previous releases from FUNimation and the age of the show. It’s not completely clean or anything, there are noticeable areas of blocking and banding to be had at times, generally with dark areas, but overall it’s far better than what we’ve had before and it looks good. Not fantastic, there’s no way this show could look fantastic I think, but it’s the best it’s looked in the US to date. I would have preferred that the episode layout per disc was a bit better though.
 
Packaging:
Though it’s not my preferred packaging of choice, FUNimation has done right by Dragon Ball by taking what they did with Dragon Ball Z and applying here, but with a great shade of blue instead of bright orange. The digipak is easy to identify with Piccolo Daimao on the front, the sideways logo and a clear listing of it being season one. The back of the slipcover has a very good layout with several shots from the show and a sizeable summary of what it’s all about. The episode count is given a couple of times and the discs features are nice and clean as well. Inside the slipcover we get the standard foldout digipak piece which is done in a good shade blue with the outside featuring the same front as the slipcover and the rest has the blue with the turtle logo. Opening it up to the discs, the background has Shen Long spread out across it in shades of blue. Included in this is a booklet that covers character profiles for those that show up in the second season as well as a breakdown of all thirty episodes. While I would have preferred a simple slipcover with five thinpak cases to hold each disc, I do appreciate the consistency between the seasons, since Dragon Ball Z is done this way as is Dragon Ball GT.
 
Menu:
The menus for this release are the same across all five volumes as it uses the blue from the packaging along with the same headshot of Piccolo Daimao as its center piece. The menus are done in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and they fill out the screen nicely and it looks nowhere near as garish as the previous set did. In fact, everything looks really good here. The layout is straightforward with navigation along the bottom which includes the marathon play option. Submenus load quickly and the language menu details the options quite nicely, even if it doesn’t observe our players presets.
 
Extras:
The only extras are included on the fifth volume and it’s simply the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are certainly appreciated.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't like this show, but a lot of that stems from the Dragon Ball Z franchise which is a whole other beast. The faults of this show tends to be a bit more in the area of repetition, which in this case is that we are once again at the Tenkaichi tournament. The fights have made up a good part of this series overall and it can get a bit draining to see us back into that routine again. That said, this tournament does add a little more flavor to it that we've seen and it leads into one of the better arcs of the franchise, one that will end up launching one of the biggest characters of the series overall.
 
The Tenkaichi tournament has come down to the last couple of matches before it reaches the ultimate fight. The pairings are pretty good though as we have Jackie Chun going up against Tenshinhan as well as the really fun one involving Kuririn against Goku. When it comes to Jackie and Ten, the whole thing revolves around Jackie trying to show Ten that he's following the wrong path under the Crane Master and he has to realize it. Ten's so focused on being the strongest at this point and doing anything to achieve it that he can't really understand what Jackie is trying to say. Jackie, as Muten Roshi, has a larger goal here that starts to take shape as he's really quite pleased by what he's been seeing with the tournament and in Ten, Goku and Kuririn. His past as a fighter comes to light later in the set, but what he's so pleased about is that there are so many people that can take up the mantle that he and the Crane Master once held.
 
The fight between Kuririn and Goku is one of my favorites of the tournament so far simply because the two of them are having such a blast with each other. While Kuririn doesn't realize that Goku is fighting at a match level and not his battle level, he's so energetic and glad to be having a match with his friend that it doesn't matter. The two don't really hold back in a way and they go at it using all that they've learned under the Turtle Hermit and beyond, which leads to some neat little moments as Kuririn tries to utilize Goku's weakness to his advantage. You can't help but to smile along with this fight, even though you know what trajectory it will take as the final match must be between Goku and Tenshinhan. That match alone is really quite good since it allows the two to go all out and really challenge each other.
 
The whole tournament leads to what I was really looking forward to rewatching and that was the way the show has no problem in killing off characters for awhile. Even though you have the potential for a return to life because of the Dragon Balls, it's always enjoyable when you have a series of some length and you can take out various members of it for awhile to allow other to shine. This new arc brings in a villain from the past named Piccolo Daimao who once fought against Muten Roshi's master and was defeated by him, sealing him in a Denshi jar for all this time. Piccolo Daimao's time on Earth has been lost to history, but Muten Roshi relates the tale of the days when the world trembled under his cruelty and simple violence and evil. Sealing him in the jar ended up killing Roshi's master, making it a nearly lost art for all this time.
 
Amusingly, Piccolo Daimao has returned through the utter foolishness of Pilaf and his gang as they found his jar and had hoped to use him to gain power. Once they realize how badly they've erred in freeing him, even though Piccolo is in his elder stage, they barely hope for a small area to control under him instead. Because of his past, Piccolo is intent on destroying any and all martial artists out there so that they can't seal him. His ability is intriguing as he can birth eggs out of his mouth to create different versions of himself to serve as his warriors that he's telepathically connected with. Piccolo Daimao is definitely the first true villain of the series that's all about domination and evil that's tied up in capability, unlike Pilaf or the Red Ribbon Army.
 
When you add in the Dragon Ball's to the mix with Piccolo, he sees a way to return to his youthful form and sets out on a multipronged attack to achieve his goals. What's really fun about all of it is that he does kill off several characters and cleans house a bit on some of the past Tenkaichi tournament participants in a series of attacks. Piccolo doesn't hold back, even against Goku when he finally faces him over the course of the arc a few times, and we get some really strong fight sequences that helps to set up for the future as we see what kind of inner strength and natural ability that Goku has. It's interesting watching this again after seeing the Z franchise a few years back and the various movies on Blu-ray as the arc of Goku is pretty clearly and well done.
 
While I like this set overall, there are things that I don't care for. Piccolo is a solid villain with a good story here, though it's been a long time since I read the manga for this so I forget how he gets tied into Namek proper from that franchise, which has me questioning some of what I'm seeing. The main thing I don't like here though is the introduction of a new character called Yajirobe. This pint sized character is like a bulkier, hairier Kuririn that's completely self centered and, frankly, plain annoying. From his voice to his outfit to the way he carries himself, he's a character that annoys me from the moment he's introduced until the moment he dies. And sadly, he doesn't die which means I'm annoyed by him regularly.
 
The other thing that I don't like, but do, is the character of Tenshinhan. I had first met him in some of the Dragon Ball Z movie specials and didn't have a clue about him. When he was brought into this series, ostensibly as a sort of bad guy because of his need to win and prove himself with a touch of cruelty, he was fairly one-dimensional. As this set plays out, he does become a much more interesting character because he starts to become influenced by Muten Roshi and what he wants to teach him. He does turn into a valuable ally as the bodies start dropping and the scale of things really starts to hit. It changes his perceptions of what Goku and the others have been taught and makes the Turtle Hermit someone to really respect and listen to, as well as to learn from. Sadly, I don't think Tenshinhan really had a strong story told for him after this series in general, which is a shame.
 
In Summary:
Dragon Ball didn't exactly slow down in the last set but it did give us a new Tenkaichi tournament taking place after a few years of training. The fights got progressively better and the finale for it here in this set is the best of the Dragon Ball series I think. What happens after that though is what changed the series I think with the introduction of a real villain, the loss of characters and significant growth of Goku and the world that the series takes place in. This set of thirty episodes is simply a lot of fun overall with very little real filler as the story is continually moving across two main arcs. When they come together, it's simply filled with action and fun that doesn't linger too long or stretch things out too much. Unless it involves Yajirobe, then the whole thing feels like it's moving at a crawl.
 
Features
Japanese 1.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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