Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: C
- Menus Rating: C-
- Extras Rating: D
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
- MSRP: 24.98
- Running time: 80
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Dragon Ball Z
Dragonball Z TV #55: World Tournament - Blackout
By Jonathan Hertzog
February 07, 2002
Release Date: July 31, 2001
FUNimation learns from its past mistakes... only some of its past mistakes, and puts out a pretty good DVD.
Another dual-language audio track with a solid Japanese mono and English stereo. I mostly listened to the Japanese track. Occasionally I switched to the English track, screamed in pain at the hideous dub and heavy metal background music remix, and resumed the disc in Japanese. But now it should be fairly obvious that I have a passionate hatred for the English dubbed version. You've got to wonder where these guys learned to act - oh, wait, that's right... they never learned to act - the English VAs freely admitted at AKON 2001 they had no previous experience in acting before DBZ. English dubbed DBZ sports the worst acting, the most inaccurate "adaptation" into English and the most annoying, wannabe heavy metal soundtrack ever recorded. If it were possible I would burn the dub track OFF the disc.
Things are looking up here. Maybe Vision Wise Inc. finally learned how to author a DVD without massive encoding problems. Nicks and scratches are present and the screen jitters sometimes, but these problems are most likely due to the source tapes used to master the disc. There are quite a few blonde-haired people in these episodes, and rainbows appear frequently where the blond color meets the black-drawn lines. One video segment did worry me in particular. On the "extras" portion of the disc, there is a preview for the original Dragon Ball series and my God! it is submerged in a thick layer of grain, an ill omen for the future.
The front cover is still just a screen capture and I didn't find it very appealing. It features Gohan looking at two guys who are about to jump him. On the plus side, the "includes two versions..." labels is much smaller than the previous discs so you can enjoy the art more. Still no insert is provided. I wonder if FUNimation has an inkling that maybe something should go in the black space inside the case which has two hooks to hold a sheet of paper in place. The episode listings on the back cover still use the incorrect dub version episode list (for the true Japanese episode number, add 14 to each number. Thus episode 201 is really 215). I think this could be a problem for FUNimation when it goes back and re-releases unedited version of episodes 1-67 because the first unedited episode according to FUNimation is episode 54 (68). Will it switch out the covers on all its videos and DVDs? Trying to figure out what DBZ episodes are on which DVDs may become harder than figuring out the differences among Urotsukodoji releases.
The menus this time around are akin to the ones used for the TV Specials - the Trunks and Bardock discs. The disc opens up with a catchy scene of Vegeta picking his number and then giving a truly evil smile. Each submenu opens with a different video segment. Of course, the major drawback here is that every time you change one thing or explore a menu option, you are taken back to the submenu and forced to watch the video segment again. It is impossible to fast forward through the segments. It's also worth mentioning that the audio for the menus is for the English dub only. Hopefully, browsing through the menus will be your only contact with it.
Note to FUNimation - previews for dubbed VHS videos are not "extras." Still, I didn't give the extras a "F" because the preview for Blue Gender looked pretty cool. There was also an advertisement for DBZ action figures it was HORRIBLE, but such a cheesy way I couldn't help laughing. I do hope that FUNimation would get some of the Japanese TV commercials for the Super Famicon DBZ video games, DBZ sunblock and (my personal favorite) the DBZ "hyperdesk," but for now I'm happy with lame advertisements for shoddy action figures.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When watching this single-layered disc, I discovered that the uncut and unedited Dragon Ball Z on DVD is still, indeed, cut and edited. As with the previous discs, we still lack next episode previews. FUNimation claims that the tapes Toei sent it had the previews but no audio. If these were true, FUNimation should have just made a deal with the I-channel to acquire the previews. Only one preview exists on the DVD, the one for the last episode, but it is the dubbed preview (the dubbed previews the for other episodes are inexplicability missing, and we know they exist because Cartoon Network airs them.) I still have a problem with the creditless openings/endings. While they are nice as extras, the credits of each episode of DBZ were different and FUNimation doesn't even take the time to translate them so that the hardworking folks at Bird Studio and Toei Animation receive the recognition they rightfully deserve. The random release schedule needs to be changed. I've watched the DBZ from start to finish a few times now, so I can jump to anywhere in the 29 episodes and start enjoying it. But releasing the fighting tournament DVDs BEFORE the discs covering Gohan's experiences at school would be confusing to people who are seeing these episodes for the first time. These episodes contain many references to the past dozen or so episodes that are totally lost on fans whose last episodes were the ones played on Toonami. FUNimation just really needs to release a DVD boxset of DBZ TV. While it is currently releasing an average of one volume every two weeks, it will still take until 2007 to release all the episodes of DVD. Also, one would spend about $2,300 to collect all the discs, as they alternate having four and three episodes per DVD.
There are some improvements, however. Every episode has opening theme, recap, part 1, eye catchers, part 2 and the ending theme. Significance? 1) the eye catchers are back. Yeah, it's only a few seconds of animation, but it IS part of the show and since they are on the source tapes there is no reason to edit them out in the first place. 2) Instead of the one opening theme followed by 3 or 4 episodes followed by one ending theme presented on the previous Frieza and Androids discs, we now have more complete episodes. Granted it's not perfect because the previews are still missing, but that's why we have the I-channel.
As for the show itself? Come on, it's DBZ, the greatest anime series of all time.
After Piccolo forfeits to the mysterious fighter Shin, Videl begins her match against the rather muscular Spopovich. What should be an easy win evolves into a fascinating match. While Videl is a normal human and lacks the Earth-destroying power of the other fighters, her battle receives a dramatic portrayal that rivals some of the more complex fighting sequences done in DBZ's early seasons. Of course, seldom in DBZ do fights turn out the way one expects. Regardless of the damage Videl inflicts, Spopovich continues to get up and assault her- something is unnatural with this guy. In the third episode, Gohan's classmates discover (well... sort of) the identity of the Great Saiyanman. In a funny little moment, Gohan resigns himself to giving up high school because of his high profile as a superhero. In the final two episodes, the plot twists foreshadowed in the previous volume come to a head with the revelation of the true identity of Shin and his motives behind entering the tournament, but more importantly, the mentioning of the last great villain in DBZ... Majin Buu! Most of the Z warriors depart to the location of Majin Buu, marking the transition from theTournament story arc to the Majin Buu arc. Due to the episodic nature of DBZ location/arc transitions is something we've all seen before, but they lead to exciting plot twists and legendary battles, so bring on the next volume!
DBZ as a show continues its fine, rich (and addictive!) traditional of storytelling that keeps you glued to your TV screen. The content problem (other than that Dr. Slump reject - Mr. Satan, whose overblown personality and flat characterization REALLY grate me) is that no matter how much DBZ I watch on DVD, I'm always left wanting more.
On the more the technical aspects FUNimation finally is starting to improve. Restore the previews, change the menus, add some decent extras, and maybe throw in an insert and you guys will be golden.
Sony DVP-650D DVD players with Audioquest and s-video cables on a Trinitron XBR 37 inch color TV.