Dragon Ball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1 - Mania.com

DVD Review

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Ball Kai

Dragon Ball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1

Dragon Ball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1 DVD Review

By Bryce Coulter     July 22, 2010
Release Date: May 18, 2010

Dragon Ball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1
© FUNimation

Can a man who lives with goats and a rainbow colored mist trick you into thinking that this filler collection is worth your viewing time?  

What They Say

The legendary Z reborn!
For the first time in history, experience the legendary Z as the master intended with this manga-centric, fresh take on Akira Toriyama's original vision!
The last descendants of an evil race of warriors known as the Saiyans are on a collision course with Earth, and Goku - the strongest fighter on the planet - is all that stands between humanity and extinction. To save his friends and the world he loves, Goku must travel to a realm from which few return, but should he survive, he'll discover the power to face the villainous Saiyan warlord - Prince Vegeta.
Contains episodes 1-13

The Review!

The audio presentation for this release is spot-on as both language tracks get an updated stereo mix.  The English 5.1 mix was very solid and we noticed no distortions or issues.  The soundstage does a pretty decent job of using the soundstage effectively.  However, do not expect the rears to get much of a workout.  Obviously, you are going to have some new voice talent with this remake.  Overall, they did a pretty good job, but I got tickled a few times with how some of the voices were so similar to the cast in One Piece.  Perhaps I have a more sensitive ear and pick up each voice actor to easily.  
Originally airing from 1986, Dragon Ball Z Kai is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio.  Remastered in 2009, Dragon Ball Kai looks as good as it is ever going to be.  The remastering is on the same level as Robotech and  much better than what was done with Voltron.  The colors look good and the detail is much better than what I can ever remember with this series.  Granted, this is my first in-depth exposure to the franchise, but I did get to see television broadcasts in the past.  Of course, you will see some blemishes.  Overall, this is a very clean and solid look for the series.  One thing that you will notice is that there several kinds of animation pieces that are grafted into the footage.  This is noticeable at the first several viewings, but soon becomes less noticeable as you move on through the episodes.  The different video segments are hard not to notice, but can easily be forgotten.
The Dragon Ball Z Kai packaging looks a little less beefy than its predecessors.  This release features two thin DVD cases with case with a cardboard slipcover. The front cover is features Goku readying an attack.  This is set against a white background that really draws attention to Goku. The logo is featured on the lower left corner. The back cover is oriented horizontally with another action shot of Goku.  A dark grey background with white text provides a summary for the collection.  A few clips from the episodes in the collection is displayed on the back along with the technical specifications. The DVD cases feature Vegeta and Raditz respectively.  Both images appear primarily on the back panel while an orange colored cover filled with black stars is on the front panel. Also on the front is the title for the series and the disc number.  Overall, a nicely assembled thinpack that will please anyone who is collecting the series.
The menus for this release are a bit disappointing in that there is nothing more than a static image of the famous dragon from Dragon Ball and a horizontal navigation menu.  Some clips from the series scrolling on the screen would do this menu well.  Of course, packing seven episodes per disc might limit what can be put on the menus, but it still would be nice.  The menus were easy to navigate and worked with absolutely no issues.  
The extras included in the collection are found on the second disc.  The extras include the textless songs for the series and a handful of the latest FUNimation trailers.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).  
Yes, I am one of those guys who tried my hardest to avoid watching Dragon Ball Z.  Like other shonen series, I avoided this because it would take forever to watch it.  With the plethora of anime out there, I didn’t want to feel tied down to completing a really long series.  Then I had a revelation…  If I am reviewing One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach, don’t I owe it to myself to watch the granddaddy that started it all?  My prayers were answered when Dragon Ball Z Kai came out.  A condensed version of the original 291 episodes can now be had for the mere price of around 99 episodes.  According to statements made by Happinet, the Japanese company releasing the series, they plan to release around 99 episodes.  This number could change somewhat as the production for these episodes are still ongoing.  Anyhow, condensing this down to the bare essentials of Dragon Ball Z should be enticing enough for anyone who has any interest in watching it from the beginning without investing an immense amount of time.  
Whenever something is condensed, there will have to be edits and you will see plenty of edits throughout this new adaptation.  You will immediately recognize this since the very first episode in this collection rapidly summarizes Goku’s background.  Essentially, you get a recap of the original series and an introduction to an adult Goku.  He is married to Chichi and has a four year old son Gohan.  Also included, is a quick overview of Goku’s birth and how his planet died as he was sent hurtling towards Earth.  In addition, we also learn about the attack by Frieza and the death of Goku's father.  There’s a lot to take in as the first few episodes throw a lot at you.
The story settles in on the demise of the Saiyan home world and its galactic band of mercenaries who wipe out planets’ civilizations in order to sell them to the highest bidder for resettlement.  Raditz, Goku’s older brother has sought him out to join the Saiyan pastime of conquering planets.  Much to Raditz’s surprise, Goku is not at all interested in planet conquering and thus begins the first major conflict of this collection.
The fighting kicks off and is surprisingly quick.  One of the biggest deterrents for me in ever wanting watch Dragon Ball Z was the fights.  They took way too long and the monologuing was as ridiculous as it was funny.  Suffice to say, this collection is a little less talk and a lot more action.  Goku’s fight with Raditz ultimately leads to a victory for Goku, but not without losing his own life. Taking out Raditz meant that Goku had to sacrifice himself to save everyone from immanent destruction by the Saiyan.  
More Saiyans are on their way and Goku’s friends have got to do everything they can to prepare for their arrival.  This means training and recovering the seven dragon balls in order to summon Goku back to life.  Meanwhile, angelic Goku must prepare himself to fight the Saiyans.  This means he will have to seek out the wisdom and guidance of King Kai who can train him to fight the Saiyans.
Piccolo takes on the task of training Gohan, who has Saiyan blood in him.  Piccolo knows that if Goku is to succeed, he will need Gohan’s help at some point when battling the Saiyans.  Piccolo's role is humorous as he sets aside his villainous tendencies in order to help prepare Earth’s defenders to fight.  He has 10 months and he is putting all of his eggs in one basket, and that golden egg is Gohan. 
In Summary:
Dragon Ball Z Kai is this reviewer’s first attempt in watching this anime series.  There is a lot thrown at you in the first few episodes and can feel a bit overwhelming as a new viewer.  The first thirteen episodes cover nearly the first thirty episodes of the original series.  The plot’s timeline slows down after the first couple of episodes, and the fighting action is intense.  One has to wonder how much content is missing as there are a lot of supporting characters who seem to have more to them than what is revealed.  I can only speculate on how the story will culminate.  I am trying not to spoil the surprise and look at the fan sites and wiki sites on the web.  It will be interesting to see how the story plays out.  So far, I am intrigued by this story and am anxiously awaiting the next collection.  If you haven’t watched this classic series, then you owe it to yourself to take the plunge with me and watch this new take on one of the greatest shonen series.   
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Staff Commentary, Marathon Play

Review Equipment

Samsung  UN46B6000VF 120Hz  LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA  2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p


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