Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: All
- 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: Tournament Box Set
By Rachel Oliver
February 07, 2003
Release Date: February 25, 2003
Finally, nearly two years after the DVD release of the third movie, FUNimation has finally begun releasing the original Dragon Ball TV series on hybrid DVDs. And they have most certainly outdone themselves compared to the releases of the much more popular Dragon Ball Z.
So far I've only taken the time to watch these episodes through in their original Japanese language. Rather than being labeled Stereo/Mono for the English and Japanese audio respectively (as has always been the case with Dragon Ball Z), this release has only the Dolby Digital logo on the case. I'm no audiophile, but to me, the Japanese audio sounds simply incredible. If the audio hasn't been redone somehow, then I must at least give FUNimation props for fooling my speakers and I.
Well, the video looks bright and clear and colorful, and doesn't much show its age. It does seem a bit dithered at times, though it hardly detracts from the overall quality. Since the English and Japanese versions use different video tracks for the openings and endings, and the episode up through the title card, the loading time is annoyingly long between episodes, possibly due to the amount of episodes (seven on Disc 1, eight on Disc 2). This was barely noticeable with Dragon Ball Z, which has only three or four episodes per disc.
This has been labeled as a boxset, but it's not a box at all! Instead, it's just a regular plastic DVD case. The cover art is much nicer than a boring old screencap, featuring Lunch, Kuririn, Gokuu, and Kamesennin behind a large "kame" symbol. And the "Dragon Ball" logo used looks to be the same as the logo from the covers of the original Japanese manga volumes, except nicely recolored gold. Inside, there is two discs, one on each side. And in between them is an...insert! The front of the insert booklet contains the same image as the outer case, the back features ads for other FUNimation titles, and the inside contains descriptions of all fifteen episodes. Definitely a lot more effort was put into this than I'm used to with Dragon Ball Z.
The menus have a nice, slick font, and are fairly simple to navigate through. They're decorated with various pictures of characters on top of black backgrounds; not too flashy, but not bland either. The most notable thing about the menus, I think, is pieces of Shunsuke Kikuchi's original score playing as you browse them.
As usual, there are trailers for FUNimation's other titles. But much to my surprise, those aren't the only extras. Disc 1 has character profiles of twelve main characters appearing throughout these episodes, and Disc 2 contains info on the IF Labs figures. Nothing too extravagant, but it's something at least.
Now while I haven't fully watched the dub track on these discs yet, I have seen these episodes in English on Cartoon Network quite a few times. And, I must say, this is some of the best dubbing work FUNimation has done. The voicing is decent, and the scripts were very true to the original in even the edited dub, so I'd imagine the script is even better in the uncut version. Not to mention the choice to use the original music in the dub. Even so, I personally find the original Japanese version much more enjoyable, especially when subtitled with the wonderfully faithful translations of Steve Simmons. If you have only ever heard Masako Nozawa voice Gokuu as an adult, and thought it weird to hear a grown man being voiced by a woman, you may change your mind after hearing how lovable Gokuu sounds as a kid.
The episodes are of course laid out in the same style as all of the newer Dragon Ball Z DVDs. All of the credits are blank for the Japanese version, since it's been explained that full credits are not available for each episode. And there are no next episode previews, since apparently FUNimation only receives those from Toei with no audio. But on the bright side, the cute eyecatchers with Gokuu and Oolong are intact. And the full "Makafushigi Adventure" opening and "Romantic Ageru Yo" endings are there, with nicely translated lyrics for the Japanese versions, and FUNimation's dubbed versions of each song with the dub. The only problem here is that the wrong ending is used for episodes 14 and 15. Originally, there were three ending animations used throughout the series. The first was used with episodes 1-15, and then the second, used in episodes 16-101, was a slightly redone version that now featured the newly introduced Lunch and Kuririn. I don't know whether there was no bl!
ank version of the first ending ava
With licensing issues preventing release of those first thirteen episodes, FUNimation's first hybrid DVD release of the Dragon Ball TV series begins with episode 14, halfway through the first dub season. But this isn't nearly as awkward as the similar licensing situation with Dragon Ball Z, as these episodes begin a new storyline. During the initial hunt for the Dragon Balls against Pilaf, the great Kamesennin Mutenroushi had offered to train Gokuu, just as he had trained Gokuu's grandfather, Son Gohan. And now that the hunt is over, and Grandpa's memento Four-Star-Ball has turned to stone for one year, Gokuu has decided to take him up on his offer.
This is where episode 14 picks up. Once Gokuu arrives at Kame House, there's still a price for training -- Gokuu has to bring Kamesennin a "pichipichi gal". Of course, Gokuu can hardly tell the difference between men and women, never mind distinguishing attractiveness. Luckily for Kamesennin, another boy, a young monk named Kuririn, arrives and also wishes to receive training. Once Kamesennin approves of Kuririn, he sends him to help Gokuu find a gal. And the two of them find a very cute girl named Lunch, who is willing to come to Kame House with them, though she's not as perfect as she seems: when she sneezes, she transforms from a sweet, innocent, quiet girl into another loud, violent, gun-toting girl.
And then Kamesennin's training begins, which consists of the boys having to look for stones, deliver milk, farm, run from dinosaurs -- your typical martial arts training. During one of their milk runs, Gokuu and Kuririn learn of the upcoming Twenty-First Annual Tenkaichi Budoukai ("World's Best Martial Arts Tournament"). Once their training is complete, Kamesennin allows them to compete in the tournament against all of the greatest martial artists in the world. Including Yamcha, who returns to the story to compete in the Tenkaichi Budoukai, with Buruma, Oolong, and Pual also returning as spectators.
Naturally, Gokuu, Kuririn, and Yamcha all manage to pass the preliminary matches and make it into the final eight. The other finalists include Lanfan, who uses her feminine wiles to win; Namu, a solemn man who wants to use the prize money to save his village; Bacterian, a big, disgusting person who has never once taken a bath; Giran, a mean, strong, dinosaur-like monster; and the mysterious old man, Jackie Chun... After the silly quarter-finals, and somewhat more serious semi-finals, it all comes down to Jackie Chun versus Son Gokuu in the final round, for what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest fights in the entire Dragon Ball series.
Dragon Ball is certainly not for everyone, and I wouldn't consider these the best episodes of the series. However, if you like adventurey fighting mixed in with some sex and toilet humor, then you should definitely check this out.
27" Sanyo TV, Aiwa speakers, Panasonic DVD-RV65 player