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DVD Review

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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: 775
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball Season 5 Collection

Dragon Ball Season 5 Collection DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     July 21, 2010
Release Date: July 27, 2010


Dragon Ball Season 5 Box Set
© FUNimation

Every time you think you've defeated the big bad, there's always another one standing in line.

What They Say

In the aftermath of his epic battle with Piccolo, Goku embarks on an electrifying quest to rescue his fallen friends from the realm of the dead. His perilous journey will take him to the heights of Korin Tower - and beyond - as he searches for Kami, a mystical being with the power to resurrect Shenron and restore the magic of the seven Dragon Balls!

But even if Goku succeeds in raising the dead, there's no guarantee he'll live long enough to enjoy a reunion with his slain comrades. The World Martial Arts tournament is just around the corner, and an eerily familiar foe known only as Junior wants to teach Goku the true meaning of pain! To survive the tournament and finally earn the title of World's Greatest Martial Artist, Goku must train his mind as well as his body in order to complete his amazing transformation from a bushy-tailed boy into a man to be reckoned with!

Contains episodes 123-153.

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 and the fifth disc has three episodes 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 Goku 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 sizable 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 first season as well as a breakdown of all thirty one 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 Goku in adult form 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)
The fifth set of Dragon Ball draws this part of the series to a close and it's one that has distilled a lot of what made the previous sets good down to a science. At this stage of the game we know the characters, the relationships are pretty much set and there aren't too many real surprises left. Over the course of the five discs in here that cover the final thirty-one episodes of Dragon Ball, we get a fair bit of training to be had, the passage of more time and one more Tenkaichi tournament to be had. We get a lot of what's been the best of the previous sets in here with a nice little twist.
 
After all that's happened in the last set with the fight against Piccolo Daimao, Goku and everyone else has a few options in front of them. Goku has to figure out how to revive the Dragon Balls so he can bring everyone back to life that died in the fight against him while everyone else has to get on with their training. Goku's journey takes him to some fascinating places as he has to go through quite a few hurdles in order to get the Dragon Balls working again. From place to place and eventually to Karin's Tower, that has him going further up to the place where Kami-sama live, the man who created Shen-long and the Dragon Balls themselves. This realm, the Upper World, gives us a look at something bigger within the Dragon Ball universe by having the linked connection to Piccolo there as well as the very well powered Mr. Popo who tests Goku over and over.
 
Goku's journey is a lot of fun but it changes along the way with its intent. Originally it was set to revive those who died, like Muten Roshi, but it became about training along the way for a new foe. Kami-sama reveals that Piccolo Daimao let loose an egg before he died that he can sense and another version of Piccolo is growing up in the world below that will cause trouble again one day. Goku's training period lasts for three years since another Tenkaichi tournament is going to come up and the rest of his friends all work together and then go their separate ways to train in effort to try and catch up to Goku. It's good to see that it's all a kind of friendly rivalry that they have, where they don't hold back against each other but they don't hold the skills or abilities of the others against them either.
 
The three year difference is a something that this series has used well in that they have pushed the characters to aging. Goku hasn't changed a whole lot over the years, but this set of three years has him entering adulthood now and he has a very different yet familiar look to him. The tournament is kept simple as there are less participants but stronger and more powerful participants. Naturally, Piccolo has shown up, though people aren't aware of who he looks like for quite awhile, and there are other mysterious fighters as well. The fun comes from Chichi making her adult-ish appearance here in trying to beat some sense into Goku for not returning to her all these years.
 
What makes this Tenkaichi tournament work is that they avoid a lot of the lengthy time spent on it that we saw in earlier matches. It made sense in those since we were seeing the progress of Goku and the others and how they were becoming something more than what Muten Roshi thought they could. Here, he's not even entering since he knows he's been surpassed. Goku has the clue on Piccolo and the match has a really quick pace about it as it works through some of the basic challengers before moving to being about the core cast whittling away at things until it all comes down to Goku's third try at taking the top slot in the tournament. A tournament that changes to being about the fate of the world again based on how much he's learned in the Upper World to win against Piccolo.
 
If there's a downside to the set, it's that it does go through familiar material in the buildup and training at the start and then it falls back to a tournament in order to advance things. There are lots of things to like about Goku's solo training as it again makes his world larger by introducing Kami-sama and expanding on where the Dragon Balls come from. The tournament itself obviously plays out in a familiar way though it has a lot more importance this time around. Where it doesn't work well the most though is in the epilogue story that has Goku and Chichi going off on an adventure together that has them traveling all over. It gets a bit over the top with the Mt. Frypan issue with the flames and where they're coming from while Chichi's father is running around like crazy trying to save a wedding dress. It's all designed to show us that Chichi and Goku are getting closer in an odd sort of way, but it's one of the few arcs in the original season that really left me feeling very disinterested in it overall.
 
In Summary:
As much as there is a sense of predictability about this set, it's a good set overall as it does draw the original series to a close and shows you how Goku has grown from the start. The early days are mirrored in a perverse way with Piccolo Jr. taking the stage here and having a revenge match against Goku with the fate of the world at stake. There's a lot of material with the Upper World and it covers a lot of other areas from the past as well, bringing together most of the cast at one point or another in a fun and enjoyable way. As a way of closing things, you can certainly finish this set and not move on to Z and feel very complete in what you got as it's wild and fun ride. The original run of Dragon Ball is one of my favorite manga and I'm glad beyond words to have a solid five box set collection that tells the tale in anime form so well. Definitely recommended for fans of the original classic.
 
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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