Its Goku vs. Freeza in the universe's ultimate battle! The Namek saga comes to a close with a fight that brings the series firmly into where people are most familiar with it. Freeza's power is far beyond what any of the fighters imagined as he begins to toy with Goku and his friends. However, when he crosses the line, Goku's rage explodes. Freeza now comes face to face with his worst nightmare: The Legendary Super Saiyan.
What They Say
The battle to harness the power of the seven Dragon Balls explodes in vivid detail like never before. The Dragon Box features over 40 uncut episodes, remastered and restored frame by frame, rendering the legendary action in pristine clarity. Each episode is presented in Japanese and English with the complete opening and closing credits and includes the original episode previews.
Contains episodes 85-126.
As before, Dragon Box Vol. 3 features two audio tracks. The original Japanese mono track (48 kHz, 96 kbps) and the popular English dub set against the original Japanese soundtrack in a 5.1 mix (48kHz, 384kbps). The Japanese track is still great. It is clear, crisp and features the famed Japanese cast and soundtrack in all of its cheesy, tinny glory. Considering the age of the show (20+ years!), this track sounds great.
For the purpose of this review, the vast majority of my time was spent with the Japanese audio. I don't like the English script that changes some characters and their key characteristics.
The colors are vibrant and accurate with no loss in film grain or detail. All presented in its original aspect ratio of 4:3. That fact alone will make fans very happy. The result here is a 20 year old show that has never looked better than it does right here (Depending on how you feel about Dragon Ball Kai's presentation, of course.). Any flaws you see in the video at this point are in the source itself. I still couldn't be happier. Nothing has changed between this volume and the previous.
Packed in a sturdy cardboard box, this volume features Freeza's first form on the cover. Inside, the six DVDs are kept within two solid "book" type cases that open up and lie flat. These house three DVDs each. These are black with an etched drawing of Shen-Long on the covers. On the spines are little bits of a bigger picture that will become complete as you collect these box sets. The disc art is very nice as each one features a different character with a clean Toriyama illustration set against a white background. This time, the disc art features an assortment of characters on each disc.
The menus remain unchanged. Simple, fast and get the job done. Each disc features a different action shot from the show in the background with an eye scouter overlay that has the different disc options in it. Basically, you're looking at the action shot through the eye scouter. Navigating the menu is very quick which is always a plus in my eyes. In a nice touch, each disc defaults to the original Japanese audio. These are not the most eye catching set of menus, but it still gets the job done.
Another hardcover booklet is included with this volume. Each page is made from a nice quality glossy paper and is filled with information about the series, show, characters and more. There is a guide for each episode, a look at the designs of the show, a section on the visual gags hidden in the episodes and the character relationship chart has been expanded to include the developments up to this point.
Content (Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Just to get us all caught up, I will summarize what happened towards the end of the previous box set leading up to this point. Goku is stuck inside Freeza's ship, healing from his battle within Ginyu's body. Vegeta, Kuririn, Gohan and Piccolo have all had their turns fighting against Freeza in his various forms. Each have had varying degrees of success. Freeza finally says "screw it" and powered up to his final form. The sleek, silver and purple design we are all familiar with. He easily overpowers the entire group until Vegeta believes himself a worthy foe and steps up to the plate.
He was sadly mistaken.
Goku finally recovers and the main event of the entire Namek arc is underway. Goku and Freeza goat each other on, rumble for a bit, talk some smack, then rumble a bit more. If there is one thing that Freeza can do, its taunt his opponent. He is truly "S" Class when it comes to this aspect. Ryusei Nakao's flamboyant, confident and malicious delivery brings it all together making Freeza a character who can not only talk a good game, but back it up. In one of the many memorable moments of the arc, Freeza proclaims that he isn't even using 50% of his power (or 1% of his power in the English dub...quite a difference there) then proves it. However, Freeza has his fatal flaws: Hubris and just plain stupidity.
Goku knows he is completely outclassed and is forced to play his trump card. A super charged Genki Dama. The attack he used against Vegeta on Earth. He needs time to gather the energy though. So, he assumes his trademark pose. Arms extended into the air and asking for the planet to share its energy. He does this for three episodes. While he does this for three episodes, Freeza sits there, dumbfounded. He sits there wasting his time and my time. Goku's plot-armor is strong. He finally decides to end it, but he's too late and is smacked with a direct hit from the giant sized energy ball.
June 19th, 1991 marks the date where everything changed for Dragon Ball Z (Chapter #124 in the manga). Depending on who you ask, it changed for better or worse. It certainly changed shonen manga from that point and continues to influence manga artists to this day. On that date, Freeza not only survived the Genki Dama blast, he survived with relatively minor injuries. He narrowly missed killing Piccolo with a beam to the chest but Kuririn was not so lucky. He was hit with a blast from Freeza, who then lifts him into the air with a sick laugh and brutally murders him in an explosion that leaves nothing behind. All Goku could do was watch. Anger and rage consume him and with a primal scream that is never duplicated in the show after, Goku becomes a Super Saiyan. The green eyed, golden haired warrior that is the symbol of the franchise to this day.
From there, the two battle with renewed vigor at 100% of their full power. To up the ante, Freeza decides that he's had enough of Goku and attempts to blow up the planet. You see, he can survive the vacuum of space while Goku can not. Makes sense to me! However, he misjudges the power needed to blow up the planet. He states that Namek will blow up in five minutes. This becomes the longest five minutes in the history of anime. At least to my knowledge. If there is a show where five minutes lasts longer than 11 episodes, please let me know so I can laugh at it. Over the course of these 11 episodes, the two fight and fight and fight and fight. Random stuff happens elsewhere but we remain both intrigued and amazed at how long it takes five minutes to progress. Eventually, the fight concludes with Goku the victor desperately attempting to escape the exploding planet.
You just can't keep a good villain down though. Freeza shows back up on Earth as a cyborg with his father, King Cold. The Z Warriors, who felt his presence approaching the planet, rush out to meet the alien. To their surprise (and especially Vegeta's surprise), a young man confronts Freeza and turns into a Super Saiyan in front of his eyes. In the blink of an eye, Freeza is cut in half, blown to bits and King Cold meets the same fate. Not only that, he guides the group to the place where Goku will arrive on the planet. In a private conversation with Goku, the young man reveals his story. He is Trunks who has come from the future to warn Goku about two Androids who will cause hell on Earth. In his time, everyone is dead. Goku never got to fight because he died of heart disease. To make sure this does not occur, he has come from the past to warn the warriors of the upcoming battle and provide Goku with a cure for the disease. Oh, and he is also the son of Bulma and Vegeta.
See, this is why Vegeta is awesome. He goes from being the bad guy to the anti-hero who scores the hottest girl in the franchise.
By far, the weakest part of this set is the entire "Garlic Jr. Saga". This is a complete filler arc to bridge the time in between the end of the Freeza fight and the start of the Android arc. It brings back the villain of the very first DBZ movie, Garlic Jr. He's back from the Dead Zone and is still looking to take over Kami-Sama's position and turn the planet into a world of darkness. In his way stands...Piccolo, Gohan and Kuririn. Otherwise known as The "B" Team. For the purpose of this arc, each one is considerably less powerful than they were against Freeza and Vegeta (who was on Earth during this time) is off in space looking for Goku. Otherwise, he would end the arc one episode in by blowing Garlic up in the blink of an eye. Long story short, this is an overly long sequel to the first movie that never needed to exist. It's dreadful and makes the longest five minutes on Namek look riveting.
The Freeza Saga ends with a bang it marks the arrival of the iconic Super Saiyan form. Yes, the Goku vs. Freeza contest had many ups and downs. After all, it took 11 episodes for five minutes to pass. However, there was more fun in the fight than there was not. Freeza was an excellent villain and one of my favorite performances by Ryusei Nakao. The Garlic Jr. Saga can be skipped entirely and I would actually suggest doing so. There is absolutely nothing redeemable about it. Finally, the Android Saga begins with the introduction of Trunks and ends in a cliffhanger that has an Android putting his hand through Yamcha's chest. If that's not incentive enough to look forward to the next set, I don't know what is. Oh wait, there is a great incentive. The legendary Norio Wakamoto as Cell!
For fun, lets start a running tally of the most memorable moments in Dragon Ball Z. These are not in order of most to least, but rather in order of appearance.
1) Goku's Kamehameha vs. Vegeta's Galick-Ho beam battle.
2) Freeza reveals his final transformation.
3) Vegeta's final speech on Namek before his death.
4) Goku's transformation into a Super Saiyan.
5) Freeza is cut in half by Trunks
Japanese 1.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Hardcover Book
Samsung PN50A400 50" Plasma HDTV, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver, Yamaha 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers, PlayStation 3 Slim via HDMI @720p
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