Dragon Ball Z: Broly Double Feature - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 34.98
  • Running time: 140
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
  • Series: Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z: Broly Double Feature

By Chris Beveridge     November 09, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2007

Dragon Ball Z: Broly Double Feature
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan
A Saiyan warrior has arrived on Earth, and his plea for assistance has ignited a clash between Goku and Vegeta. Sparks fly as the two battle to be the one to confront the galaxy's new menace. Yet the true menace lies closer... The volatile Broly has his own agenda and his target is the most powerful Saiyan in the Universe! But will it be Goku or Vegeta?

Broly: Second Coming
Defeated but far from dead, the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly has returned and he's got a fierce thirst or revenge. Not only will he threaten Goku, but his rage will imperil every innocent soul on the peaceful planet. All earth's heroes must unite and join this terrifying battle - an undertaking which could prove their last!

Remastered in high definition and digitally restored!

Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.

The Review!
FUNimation lands their first title on the high definition format of Blu-ray and it's rather reminiscent of their first DVD titles.

This release has three different audio tracks on it and it's not exactly next generation audio but it is far better than what the DVDs have provided. The first track is an English 5.1 mix which is encoded at 1.5 mbps. It's not as strong with the forward soundstage stereo mix which is done at 384 kbps but it does provide for some decent surrounds and minor placement throughout. The stereo mix is certainly louder but the 5.1 mix is more pleasing overall. The original Japanese stereo mix is given the same treatment as it has a 384 kbps encoding but comes across more like the 5.1 mix does in terms of loudness. All three tracks, which are encoded via DTS, sound good but it'll depends on tastes and equipment as to what sounds the best. The Japanese track feels like it could have been better if it had received an original PCM 2.0 mix but it doesn't sound as bad as the DVDs have over the years as it is much cleaner.

Originally released back in 1993 and 1994 respectively, the two films are presented in what is considered to be their original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Transferred from 35mm film masters, the end result is a presentation in 1080p using the AVC codec. The initial discussions about the release talked about an average bitrate of 15-18 mbps but the final product plays a bit higher at times with lots of peaks into the high twenties and thirties. This release is going to be somewhat controversial, as has just about every Dragon Ball Z release, because of how it was transferred. According to the included insert that talks about it, the outside company FUNimation worked with use the Spirit DataCine to bring it into their systems. They then ran it through the Digital Vision DVNR1000 to remove film grain. It then got more processing via the Teranex Vc600 video computer through which they remove "thousands of instances of dirt, scratches and debris." It's als stated that they use the da Vinci 2k Plus color system to make sure colors remained as they were in the original film prints.

Unfortunately, you mention DVNR around anime fans and there is generally a lot of freaking out. I do not have the original highly regarded Dragonboxes to do a comparison with. I also do not have the original DVDs for these movies that FUNimation released. I have seen the second feature here and other movies as well as the bulk of the TV series however. The work done on the release has produced a very bright, colorful and solid looking presentation that beyond some minor white speckling that's still evident along with film splices, looks very appealing. The backgrounds, notably the blues, tend to be a bit grainier looking but it's to be expected based on both its source material and its age. Beyond that the two shows look very good and even had people only mildly familiar with Dragon Ball Z to comment on how good it looked. According to some who have also seen this, there are areas where detail has been lost due to the DVNR process however. Some areas there is more detail to be found though, particularly when it comes to the various areas of black which previously looked completely solid but now there are things you can see in them. This is a mixed bag for some folks depending on what they're expecting, but I suspect that those whose only exposure is to the FUNimation DVD releases will be very pleased by this.

The release, done in standard Blu-ray packaging thankfully, goes to the classic use of a split cover to highlight it's double feature format. Each half covers artwork from that particular movie while the top has a nod towards the inclusion of both. The logo is spread across the center of the cover and each side has the smaller logo for that particular feature. The artwork looks good but only as good as the originals did which means it's not terribly detailed or vibrant. The back cover uses a shot of Broly in full on anger mode against a backdrop of buildings along with a few shots from the two shows. The summaries are provided for both features and there's mention of the films origins for transfer and basic technical information. The technical grid is fairly standard material but it is very amusing that it lists Dolby Digital in the corner when the entire thing is done in DTS. Audio formats aren't listed at all beyond the different kinds of tracks available. FUNimation should take a serious clue from Buena Vista or Sony's releases for how to work out their technical grids in the future. Blu-ray releases have so many more items to list through that are selling points that it's very important to get it right. The reverse side features full color artwork of Goku going against Broly. The included insert provides another scene of the two while the reverse side talks about the transfer of the film and what was done with it.

FUNimation hasn't had the flashiest of menus around but they're generally pretty solid looking and have some interesting animation to it. For this release it uses a piece of animation from the second movie and tweaks the colors and movement to bring it to life as shifts to the main top level menu. That menu features a pair of images from each film, one to each side, while the rotating sunbeams move around in the background. With this being a double feature, each movie is given half the screen with the basic selections needed for it. In the center bottom area is the extras and setup submenus, all of which move in and out flawlessly and very well. The disc defaults to the English DTS mix and no subtitles so it's not reading our player presets.

What's far more surprising, and an element that I think is considered a given as it's been on every other release I've seen including adult material, is that there are no pop-up menus here. One of the features, geeky gimmicky that it is, is that you can access everything on the fly in the middle of the movie. It also allows for creativity on the part of the publisher to come up with something in-theme. No pop-up menus exist here though and it's something that definitely adds that "last gen" feeling to it. You can change audio and subtitle options on the fly however so it's not a complete loss.

The extras are more promotional than anything else but considering how little exists for the franchise in general it's not a surprise. The first is a three minute HD feature that talks about the franchise going high definition in general and then closes out with a brief piece exclaiming that it's coming to Blu-ray. The second piece is a ninety second commercial for the Dragon Ball Z Season Sets that are available on DVD. I had admittedly hoped that it would give hint to a true high definition release but this is the same trailer we've seen before except that it utilizes much higher bitrates.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Broly features mark FUNimation's first foray into high definition media and they've chosen wisely in the long run. The films are considered the most popular of the franchise and the series certainly has more mainstream appeal than the vast majority of their catalog of titles. By providing two movies on one disc they also increase the perceived value and it provides a tentpole to their continuing season sets that are coming out from high definition prints. For those that want something a bit more than Dragon Ball Z however, this release is going to feel weak. Yet as someone who wants their other titles in this format, I do find that this is a great way for them to get their feet wet.

The two movies center around the legendary super Saiyan that will become known as Broly. The first feature revolves around his introduction which takes place in the time period where Goku is still alive and Vegeta is grudgingly living on Earth with Bulma. Trunks is still hanging around in his teenage form and there's a strange sense of family to all of it. Everything changes when another Saiyan, a weak one, come to inform Vegeta that a new world has been set for him to rule. It's all a trap based in personal history in which Vegeta is being lured there to be defeated. Goku ends up there after King Kai informs him of a new threat that must be dealt with immediately. A few tagalongs end up there as well as Master Roshi and Gohan find themselves making their way on board.

The bulk of the show once the discovery is made about the trap is focused on the fight between Broly and just about everyone else. It's a bit of an odd fight, though one that has a great motivator to it. The entire planet, which has been subjugated and ruined by the Saiyans, is about to be destroyed by a cosmic event. So even if everyone wins there's still a larger threat looming. Not unlike many other Dragon Ball Z movies, the bulk of it is about the fighting and that plays out well as everyone increases in strength and the entire world is their battlefield. Where it feels weak though is with some characters like Vegeta that are easily tossed aside. That's not entirely unheard of but his reactions to it feel very out of character. The main draw is the fight between Goku and Broly though and that does have some great moments.

The second feature bumps things forward several years to the period where Goten is running around with the young Trunks and Vidale. Gohan is playing up his super hero role and is making his way in the world now that he's arguably the worlds strongest. Broly's been lying dormant on Earth for a bit now but he's finally awakened and is about to face the next generation of martial artists. Initially Goten was a character that frustrated me but as I started to delve into the original Dragon Ball material I found more appeal in him. Not unlike the first movie, there are some large scale fights here that really shine, particularly when Gohan gets into the picture. The childish moments are amusing in their own way, though my kids laughed more than I did when Trunks wet himself on Broly, but it's not out of place in this franchise in general.

What frustrates me the most, and this is evident in numerous specials, movies and later material in the franchise, is that even when Goku has moved on they keep finding ways to bring him back. It negates his own sacrifice and what he went through but also gives everyone a convenient out when things get too heated. It's almost like they write themselves into a corner about a storyline and realize they made things too big and have to fall back on the retired start quarterback. While this one does make some sense in the context of finishing what was started in the first feature, it's an element to the movie and the franchise in general that continues to frustrate and annoy me.

With FUNimation's first Blu-ray release, we've covered some of our frustrations with their audio choices and packaging nitpicks along with their missing pop-up menus. But what really needs to be covered as well are the subtitles. When they began releasing their first Dragon Ball Z DVDs, the small white font and poor placement felt out of place with what's considered industry standards. Over time they have tweaked them a bit and they're not as bad as they used to be. Their Blu-ray release however definitely needs work, both in the font itself as well as size and placement. We still predominantly watch everything subtitled in household and have loved the fonts we've seen from various Hollywood studios. The smoother lettering and better borders applied to them fix every grievance about DVD subtitles. These however are placed far too low and have too much of a border. They're definitely smoother than the DVD subtitles FUNimation uses but they have a decidedly low quality level around them in comparison to what everyone else is doing.

In Summary:
As a launch title into the realm of high definition media, these two Broly movies certainly provide fans with some great eye-candy. Combined with decent audio and a good price point considering it's two features, the release has plenty to offer while the company undergoes the learning curve of how to produce a proper Blu-ray release. There are some key elements missing here that keep it from feeling like a proper next generation release and some of what they've done with the video will keep a segment of fans away. A large chunk of the fandom that has migrated to Blu-ray however will be thrilled with what they get here and enjoy it for what it is. This is definitely a mixed bag but one that does show some of the potential that can be had.

English 5.1 DTS Language,English 2.0 DTS Language,Japanese 2.0 DTS 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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