Dragon Ball Z Saga 1: Sayain Showdown (also w/box) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 24.98/39.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z Saga 1: Sayain Showdown (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     April 04, 2005
Release Date: April 12, 2005

Dragon Ball Z Saga 1: Sayain Showdown (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Earth's peace is forever shattered by the hostile arrival of an alien mercenary whose evil knows no bounds. This new menace's campaign of terror begins by ruthlessly beating Earth's greatest hero within an inch of his life!

Complicating matters is the shocking revelation that there is more to this sinister invader than meets the eye!

This is the ultimate uncut special edition dvd not seen before in North America and includes an artbox to hold the entire set!

The Review!
It's back to the beginning as FUNimation finally gets to roll out the original Vegeta saga material uncut and bilingual at long last.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having done the show previously in its (albeit edited) English language release, we've been wanting to see it in its original language for a long time now. The shows mono mix is pretty much what we expected though and it's fairly lackluster and misses a lot of the oomph that's become so common from so many more current fighting shows. Even though it lacks that, it's not something that's really a problem if you've seen any of the show before since you're already used to how it feels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and it's basically on par of previous Japanese language releases of the show.

Originally airing in 1989, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show definitely feels its age in a lot of ways with the way it has its grain and color palette as well as the animation itself. The transfer for these episodes definitely look better than the previous release of the series but the source materials for the franchise has never been particularly strong to begin with and always easy to see where they made their shortcuts in animation. With just three episodes on the disc the quality of the authoring is quite good but there's only so much they can get out of the materials. Colors look good if a bit bland and washed out in a few places, cross coloration is non-existent and the only real noticeable problem is some occasional aliasing.

Using foil paper for the cover, FUNimation has done a nicely stylized cover where it's got the core image of Goku racing towards the viewer while the speed lines flare out from him in interesting colors. The background is made up of various characters from the episodes here and with the mixture of blacks against the fiery colors with the character designs it looks appropriately dark and powerful. The foil in particular really makes it all work better than it would otherwise. The back cover plays up a similar feel with Raditz getting the full color shot and various designs and speed lines behind and around him underneath the summary and shots from the show. The discs extras and basic technical features are relatively easy to find though as usual things are mostly mixed down at the bottom with the production information. As is normal at this point in time, no insert is included with this release.

With the release of the first volume of this saga, a disc + box release was also done. The box itself is of the mildly flimsy type in that it's not a chipboard box but it's not paper thin either. The box is done entirely in black and red with each panel featuring a particular character; one side has Goku while the other has Vegeta while the spine panel has Piccolo. Interestingly, the logo is only on the main panels and not the spine so there may be some kind of larger image to come from that. Inside the box they've included a fully articulate Goku action figure that's really nicely put together. Goku didn't last long inside his sealed box and before I knew it he spent the weekend with my two kids. Apparently Goku is quite polite at tea parties and really likes the Disney Princesses.

The menu layout is reminiscent of the cover layout as it uses the same shot of Goku but angles it a bit and covers it up with lots of heavy speed lines, flames and a piece from the show itself set to some of the darker music to the show that's rather atmospheric. The layout is nicely done and it looks good in how it conveys the feel of the show. The navigation is pretty straightforward and things are done the same as most other FUNimation releases with languages selecting the right angle to be played, which is why our players' language presets never work right here. Access times are nice and fast and this is a nicely in-theme menu.

While the original releases really had nothing for extras and the franchise in general is fairly weak on them, FUNimation has come up with some good stuff for their release here. The first is a rather interesting "Goku vs. Vegeta" featurette that at first I thought was just going to be a montage of fight moments but is instead a rather lengthy piece that talks with the English language voice actors for Vegeta and Goku about their experience with the show, this particular story arc and how it's changed them over the years. It's interspersed with comments from fans at conventions and other people who have dealt with the property and other than some goofy fan comments is an enjoyable watch since it does let you see more inside of the English language production. I'd expect Chris Sabat to get some grief for his one rendition of the stereotypical fan but having seen it in person myself far more times than I care to remember I'm certainly not going to give him grief over it.

The extra entitled Follow the Nimbus Cloud takes you into each of the three episodes and shows you exactly what was cut out of the original US run by placing a Nimbus Cloud icon on the screen during the footage that was cut. What this ends up showing is that unless there was fighting going on, it was cut. Well, not really, a lot of fighting was cut since it got bloody, but just the opening episode alone shows a disregard for things like set-up and atmosphere. The last extra included is a couple of rounds of trivia where the answers are shown in clips from the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Six years ago at this time I was doing almost exactly what I'm doing now, looking at the first volume of the Dragon Ball Z franchise. At that time, due to distribution agreements and other contracts, Pioneer was releasing the first seventeen volumes of this saga onto VHS and DVD and only in its English language and edited for TV format. Suffice to say, over the course of those episodes it did little to enamor us of the property and at times it was such a chore to get through we barely had more than a line or two to say about the show.

Dragon Ball Z takes place some five years after the King Piccolo storyline and things have really settled down and the world has come to some sort of peace as they've spent time rebuilding and getting things back in gear. Goku and Chi-chi are living happily together with their young son Gohan, who is really far too mothered, and most of those whom we've come to know in the original series have gone their own ways and have either spent their time in training or just living their lives.

Of course, things cannot possibly stay the same as they are and we get to see a new threat hurtling towards the Earth in one of those cute little spaceballs that serve as transportation for aliens. What wicked thing comes this way this time is someone named Raditz and he claims to be one of the last of the Saiyans, a race of strong and powerful warriors who have all but died out in recent years. The remainder of them have gone into an amusing business of "planet clearing" where they take on a particular planet where an alien race wants to take over and they eliminate all the hostile inhabitants from there. The Saiyan's love to fight and this lets them do just that on a grand scale while getting paid for it.

Raditz's arrival on Earth indicates that someone's looking for this planet now and in fact the clearing should have begun ages ago. As is discovered when Raditz meets up with Goku and several others at Kame House, Goku was sent to Earth a long time ago and is actually Raditz's younger brother. Their sending Goku here was to ensure a start of destruction by the time the rest of them arrived but nothing's happened at all and he's quite furious with his younger brother, but still willing to give him a chance to prove himself and join up with his kind. All Goku has to do is start killing a few hundred people and then they'll get to work together.

Obviously this goes against everything that is Goku and he's set to take Raditz down right on the spot but he's barely able to even touch him never mind lay a real hit on him. The one hit Raditz scores takes the wind out of Goku and leaves him staggering while Raditz swaggers and then decides to take Gohan into his possession to encourage Goku to do what he's been instructed to do. Unable to stop him, Goku's almost left floundering on the shore of Kame House feeling impotent about his inability to stop his son from being kidnapped.

To Goku's surprise though, he's being afforded some help as he starts to recover from the simple attack. Piccolo arrives having sensed the immense power that Raditz emanates and finds him to be a greater threat to his plans for world domination than Goku is. So while it goes against his previous stands, Piccolo has decided to team up with Goku for the duration of this fight to take down Raditz and whoever else may be with him so that the two of them can get back to their own regularly scheduled feud.

This sets the stage for the next… well, a huge number of episodes as a good chunk of it is filled with arguably some of the best fight scenes of any series. The three episodes here do a good job of building up the basics of what the fight is all about and it does it far better than the cut version ever did since even with what it explained, it felt so rushed and like it missed so much that it didn't give you the right feeling for it. And having become much more familiar with the cast in the last few years, it's helped a lot in understanding the various connections between the characters that I most definitely didn't get the first time around. It also lets Gohan get a lot more screen time which is a plus since it fleshes him out with time not spent crying in either Raditz or Piccolo's hands but it does reinforce the mama's boy image that they overdid.

In Summary:
At the end of the volume, I've got mixed feelings about this release. One on hand, they did a really great job of putting it all together and doing it up right with extra material, box and toy. But the other side of me is disappointed with the Z franchise overall in that it's not as tightly released as the original saga was with numerous episodes per collection. This is a series that demands marathoning when you watch it and doing three episodes at a time is like going to the big race and only running a few hundred steps and then standing around for a couple of months. My hope is that when this is completed, this franchise gets proper treatment like the original in the next generation format with its higher space capacity and from having made most of its sales in this generation.

Things have changed dramatically in the six years since I last looked at this show and my now being able to appreciate it is quite the swing for a show that I didn't even want to put in the player back then. Seeing the show uncut is almost like seeing it for the first time and my interest in seeing more of it is definitely piqued after this. If the edited and butchered version of the Goku/Vegeta fight can be called the best fight ever, then the uncut version should probably be amazing.

Japanese 1.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,Spanish 1.0 Language,English Subtitles,Goku Vs. Vegeta Featurette,Follow the Nimbus Cloud,Trivia Game

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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jnager 3/13/2012 1:38:05 PM

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