Another pair of Dragon Ball Z movies arrive in high definition as there’s more android love and a little Bojack for the fans.
What They Say
Contains two classic Dragon Ball Z movies: Android Assault and Bojack Unbound.
Android Assault: When the quiet peace of a routine day is interrupted by violent explosions it seems like the entire world is under siege! But Goku quickly realizes that he is the target of the sudden attack! Who are these strange assassins? When Goku discovers that despite their great power, the culprits are not emitting an energy signal, it can only mean one thing: Androids! With Doctor Gero dead, just who is responsible for master-minding this new wave of Androids that are stronger, faster, and ten times more deadly than before?
Bojack Unbound: The infamous millionaire X.S. Cash is funding the most amazing martial arts tournament the Universe has ever seen! The four finalists must do battle with warriors representing the four corners of the galaxy in a decisive battle to see who gains the right to challenge The Champ for the ultimate championship! But a ragged band of criminals have a scheme of their own: take over the tournament and conquer the Universe in the process! Their leader is the incredibly powerful Bojack, an evil menace who has broken free of his stellar confines! With Goku incapable of helping eradicate the planet’s latest threat and Earth’s greatest heroes falling one by one, the young Gohan must look deep within himself to find the power to destroy the wicked invaders.
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 releases of other Dragon Ball Z movies, it’s the English language side that makes out the best as we get two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes with its variable bit rate. The two mixes are rather different as one contains the original Japanese music (sans vocals for the most part) 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 in high definition audio. 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.
Originally in theaters back in 1992 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 earlier movie releases in the franchise in that the material is really limited by what it was. These features never looked great to begin with but these two in particular are looking better than the earlier ones with a lot less grain in general. 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. 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.
Using standard Blu-ray packaging, the cover art for this release mirrors that of the DVD steelbook and makes me again wish the Blu-ray edition got the same thing. The cover artwork is straightforward as it has Vegeta in his Super Saiyan mode trying to look all badass set against an indistinct background that has other characters shadowed. Below him is both the franchise logo and that of the two movies done in a similar fashion to the earlier movie releases. 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 Android 13 along the left 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 that features a scene of Trunks destroying a bad guy with his sword that’s spread out across both panels in full color of the keepcase as well.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The quasi-alternate worlds and side stories of the Dragon Ball Z movies continue as we get the tenth and twelfth ones here with Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound. FUNimation’s continuing to push the movie library side of the franchise pretty well with their DVD steelbooks that all maintain a solid feel together as well as the growing high definition releases on Blu-ray to entice folks to find the ones they want and maybe splurge on another. Unlike some of the other movies, these two don’t feel like they’re world altering events that have you wondering how it would possibly fit into the continuity. There’s a certain kind of plausibility to them fitting within the existing framework which is nice.
The first movie, Super Android 13, goes back to the well by showing what happened to Dr. Gero some time ago when he was killed off. With him dead, it seemed like the Androids would be fine going forward. Unbeknownst to everyone, the blood and “will” of Dr. Gero seeped into the massive computers below and it changed it in a way that caused it to create three new Androids of its own to carry on Dr. Gero’s will. That will is pretty simple at the end of Dr. Gero’s life as he wants to kill Goku and that’s what the new Androids are programmed for. The first two, No. 14 and No. 15, are less than subtle as they walk through everything until they get to Goku in the city and start causing trouble. The third one, No. 13, arrives later and has more personality and more power as he takes on Goku directly. What’s amusing about all of them is that they have a Red Ribbon tag to them, something that gets tossed out there occasionally in reference to the first series.
The self contained movie is mostly just one fight after another as everyone gets involved. The first two Androids get things going well enough, but it eventually gets bigger when No. 13 shows up and starts throwing Goku around a lot. That of course upsets Vegeta who has it in his head that he’s the only one that has the right to do that to Goku. Toss in just about everyone else that shows up to try and save the world from the threat of three Androids and you’ve got a standard slugfest. Surprisingly, the fights aren’t all that intense and sometimes come across as a bit silly. There’s a scene where Vegeta lunges at No. 13 and pummels his chest repeatedly, but it looks really badly done and is completely ineffectual, which in turn reduces the kind of threat that Vegeta was viewed as for so long.
Bojack Unbound brings us back to the Tenkaichi Tournament which is actually amusing as it’s being set up by a man with a whole lot of money and he’s doing it to show is son that money can accomplish anything. Mainly the kid wants to see big badass fighters and aliens duking it out so it works out for everyone involved, though it’s not in the same league or feeling as the previous tournaments. Everyone is back into it though and the tournament is a good bit of fun for the first half as the usual regulars show up and move through the preliminaries. The one figure missing from all of this is Goku as he’s dead and playing cards with Kaio in the afterlife. He’s still keeping tabs on the tournament as he watches his friends and his son make him proud as they do battle.
When the tournament shifts to Battle Island II for the main fight, everything goes out the window as an ancient evil has shown up named Bojack. Bojack’s got his little entourage and the whole thing turns out to be Goku’s fault. When he threw Cell to King Kai’s planet some time back, that broke a seal that has kept Bojack under wraps for quite a long time. But now Bojack is free and he’s come to Earth in order to destroy everything there. The first half of the feature is fun as it has everyone enjoying themselves in the tournament, but the second half drops the bouncy and upbeat dialogue and the joking aspects of it as it gets serious. The fights occur across the special tournament area where it’s all mock-ups of cities so it has a big feel to it, but it lacks something simply because you have Goku watching from the afterlife. This is a big moment for Gohan as he’s rising to the top and coming to grips with his place in the world since his father isn’t there, but it’s a tough baptism by fire for him and even harder for Goku to watch from beyond. The second half really lacks a strong narrative to it though as Bojack isn’t given much of a personality and he’s the essence of a cardboard cutout villain. The fun of the first half isn’t apparent in the second half at all.
Neither of these movies are bad to be certain, and they’re the kinds of features in the franchise that don’t really feel like big world threatening epics that the others tried to be. But at the same time, there’s the obvious danger to it all as well. What helps is that the Dragon Balls themselves are never brought in to play here so there isn’t a quick fix in the offing to be had. That does give it all a little more impact since they’re not racing to find those again or can have characters killed off easily because we know the Dragon Balls are practically in hand. Each story offers something different and I liked certain parts of each but not the whole of each. Which seems to be a continuing trend for me and these movies.
Japanese 1.0 Language, English TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
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.