Dragon Ball Z: Bardock/Trunks Double Feature - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 34.98
  • Running time: 96
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
  • Series: Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z: Bardock/Trunks Double Feature

By Chris Beveridge     July 29, 2008
Release Date: July 15, 2008


Dragonball Z: Trunks/Bardock Blu-ray
© FUNimation

Two of the more popular features from the Dragon Ball Z franchise make their way to Blu-ray again as we get opposite ends of Goku’s life dealt with.

What They Say
The History of Trunks
Goku is dead, victim of a deadly virus. Last of the Z Warriors to pass, the Super Saiyan's death has left the Earth far more vulnerable than ever before. With no one left to protect the planet, Androids 17 and 18 arrive to terrorize the great cities, plunging all into darkness where the inhabitants cower in fear. Is there no hope left in this apocalyptic horror? Is this the end?

Goku's son, Gohan, is now a man, and with an extraordinary young teenager named Trunks by his side, the two are determined to face off against the threat. But as tragedy follows upon tragedy, the world around Trunks is fast collapsing and there seems no check to the evil of the Androids.

This is the story of the future that never was.

Bardock - The Father of Goku
Before there was Goku, there lived his father Bardock. A low-class Saiyan soldier under the command of Frieza, Bardock is attacked by the last of an alien race they are employed in destroying. Healing on his home planet of Vegeta, Bardock discovers he has been blessed with the ability to see into the future.

But the blessing soon becomes a curse, as the Saiyan finds himself haunted by visions: the tragic extermination of his own race and the destruction of their beloved planet, all at the hands of Frieza. Bardock sets off on nightmarish race with fate to avert the impending disaster. But as his strength fails and despair sets in, hope will be found in one last vision.

This is the story of Bardock, the father of Goku.

The Review!
Audio:

The audio presentation of this release is rather good overall and is the kind of release that does its best to cater to all the different fans that have come to the show over the years. The original Japanese language is essentially preserved here in its mono form using a 640kbps encode. I’m not quite sure any higher would be useful but it does sound much better than any of the previous releases I’ve heard on DVD for it which typically ran about 192kbps. Not unlike the previous Blu-ray release for the Dead Zone movie, it’s the English language side that makes out the best as we get a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix with its variable bit rate as well as an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The  mixes are rather different as one contains the original Japanese music (sans vocals for the most part) in TrueHD while the other is the one done originally with the US created music. Depending on which you’re a fan of, you’ll be happy with this release regardless since you can sample both. The 5.1 mixes are significantly better than the DVD ones as they have a lot more impact overall and a greater presence. At the same time though, they aren’t really stand out pieces to begin with so just because it’s in TrueHD doesn’t mean it’ll blow your doors off. It is a solid presentation all around for what was originally a pair of mono movies released back in the early nineties.

Video:

Originally in theaters back in 1990 and 1993 respectively, the transfer for these two films are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are authored using the AVC codec. The experience for these two specials is really the same as we had on the Dead Zone and Tree of Might movies in that the material is really limited by what it was. These specials never looked great to begin with but they look good here considering the age and source materials. I’m not looking for clean pristine presentations of films that have grain in them, so it doesn’t bother me so grain doesn’t make me cry. Both of these movies have some significantly strong areas of grain that really has it looking very much alive. Unlike the DVD presentations of it though, it doesn’t result in noticeable blocking. The colors in general look much brighter and more solid than ever before and overall it feels more fluid. These films are not ones that I have any real expectations for and it reminds me of how they were when we first got them on DVD. It was great to have something new on DVD and to get a bilingual Dragon Ball Z flick, but it wasn’t going to win anyone over.

Packaging:

Using standard Blu-ray packaging, the cover art for this release mirrors that of the DVD steelbook and makes me wish the Blu-ray edition got the same thing. The cover artwork is a decent looking shot of Trunks with a serious look to his face set against a black background. Below him is both the franchise logo and that of the two movies done in a similar fashion to the Broly release. The consistency is definitely a plus in re-establishing these movies as part of a proper collection as opposed to a mish mash of things. The back cover is similar in its design as it has Trunks in another pose from the show with a black background. There’s a bit more color here as there are a few shots from the show and a good bit of very small text to provide the summaries of the two features included. The discs technical features are clearly listed in an easy to read grid while the remainder of the information is kept to the bottom. Hopefully over time a proper technical grid will be developed that will keep everything in the same place for quick reference. The insert that is included with this release is simple in that it has a fold-out piece that shows the original cover artwork while the back of it talks about the transfer of the film. We do get some reverse side artwork of Shen-long spread out across both panels in full color of the keepcase as well.

Menu:

The menus that FUNimation used in their first release was pretty weak but they’ve got things working much better here. The main menu has clips from the features playing along with the logo overlaid on top of it. The pop-up menu and the main menu navigation are one and the same so it has a good consistency there though they are fairly minimal in design. There isn’t a lot you can do theme-wise with this so the sleek approach works pretty well. Individual feature selection is available here and when you go into playing a particular feature, you can choose options there. Submenus load quickly and the trailers section is decently done. The only suggestion to mention here is to include the resolution next to the title for when high definition trailers start to be included as they <i>will</I> be the ones that are looked at.

Extras:

None.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

FUNimation’s push to get some of its biggest franchise material out onto Blu-ray makes plenty of sense, though they’re getting closer to catching up with their release plans in conjunction with the DVD side. The release of this double feature was done on DVD back in February of this year and it took a few more months for the Blu-ray to come out. Thankfully, releases going forward will apparently be much more closely tied, which is good, since it was a fair bit difficult in watching this release again after only a few months. As much as I like Dragon Ball Z now, I’m not quite up to re-watching it this soon.

Going back into the world of Dragon Ball Z in the last couple of years has been surprisingly a lot of fun since I had taken in the entire manga run. I found that I enjoyed that far more than the TV series which in turn has led me to enjoying, at least superficially, some of the movies and specials. When I first saw the History of Trunks years ago, I had actually enjoyed it fairly well since it had little to do with the cast of characters that I didn't care for. But with more history behind me now, and having not seen the Bardock special before, it felt like a good time to give this a whirl again, even if FUNimation did decide to crop and alter the video presentation.

The two specials are certainly interested to view in this reversed order in comparison to the original broadcast. The History of Trunks starts off with the death of Goku and then shifts ahead a decade or two to tell its tale. When the Bardock special comes around, it goes back to the birth of Goku and goes forward by showing the fate of his father and the Planet Vegeta (not to be confused with the Prince Vegeta). The disparity in the timeframes is rather amusing though I think it would have worked better if the Bardock special had been first in the layout so that you saw Goku's birth and then his death with Trunks. Of course, each of these specials are on their own discs, so you could do that easily enough.

History of Trunks still proves to be one of the more enjoyable shows I've seen when it comes to the movies and specials in the Dragon Ball Z world. Moving forward a number of years after peace has settled on the world and Goku has passed on (again?), it revolves around the rise of two artificial humans created by Dr. Gero that have decided to eradicate humanity. Few are left from the old days and it really seems as if only Gohan is around to try and stave off the madness. But even he has his limits and the two androids have an unlimited and infinite power source that keeps them going. Gohan reluctantly agrees to begin training Trunks, who is now in his teens, to help him in defeating the androids but it'll take time. Time that humanity doesn't have as the two androids seem to have fun destroying city after city. They don't do this in a big fashion but rather take their time as it is being done over several years.

This is a good back story filler kind of episode in which we get to explore more of what Trunks brought to the TV series when he arrived there. Getting to see it play out in less of a flashback form adds nicely to the overall mythos as well as seeing how the world progressed after Goku's death and the peace that came shortly thereafter. Much the same way, the Bardock disc does the same but from the other direction. Father of Goku takes us back to the days of Bardock, when Saiyan's were plentiful, and starting to become something of a concern to Freeza. Seeing prince Vegeta becoming more and more powerful and the revelations that when Saiyan's work together they become stronger, there is a concerted effort to remove them from the universe.

While there are some nice nods towards Vegeta where we see his mindset and how callous he is at this stage, the episode focuses squarely around Bardock and his future. During a fight on one world that they're finishing up in conquering, one of the warriors manages to knock him the right way and "curses" him with seeing his future and that of his people. Bardock doesn't believe him of course but then the visions start kicking in and he sees the destruction of Planet Vegeta and the future of his son. His relationship with Goku is interesting to see, though the two never really interact. Because Goku is born as a weakling warrior with a power level of only two, Bardock has no love for him at all or even a smattering of interest. But these visions of the future show him something very different which gives him a strange sense of pride.

Where the problem lays in these shows is that they're really just pieces that fill in some of the blanks. Nothing here is truly new in a way but it does help to flesh out certain things about the franchise. Bardock getting explored a bit more is definitely a positive, and surely could carry an arc himself if not more in giving us the Saiyan view of things pre-Freeza and though the early part of it. The Trunks story was welcome as it provided more background on the world that led up to the androids wrecking as much havoc as they did. Getting a better understanding of what went on behind the scenes as Bulma worked to help her son and seeing Gohan really step into the role that his father had was good to see. Gohan continues to be the character I find myself enjoying the most in the series so seeing these older adventures of his is simply a lot of fun. And that really does encapsulate what these two TV specials are, simple fun.

In Summary:

The upgrade for this release from the DVD to Blu-ray is admittedly something of a mixed bag. I liked the DVD well enough for what it was as it certainly came across better than the original DVD release from a few years prior. The main area that is noteworthy here is that the audio side really does get a good boost from being done in a lossless format. The English language mixes, done with both the original and the Japanese scores, are much stronger and more enjoyable because of it. In the end though, the two features on here are good ones overall though I have to give the edge to the Trunks feature if only because he’s more interesting and it deals with the future of the Earth. The Bardock story is good in what it delves into with Goku’s family history but it’s not quite as compelling as Trunks’ story. In the end though, I wish FUNimation had given this some steelbook love and made noise about it closer to the release of the DVD so people don’t feel conflicted about double dipping. If you have the recent DVD release, you’re likely in good shape unless you really want the lossless audio. If you didn’t snag it, this is the edition to get by far.

Features
Japanese 1.0 Language,English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

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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