Dragon Ball Z Kai, Part One – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $54.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: May 18, 2010

If you think you’ve seen everything, wait until you see this Saiyan smack down.

Hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans like myself know the Dragon Ball Z saga well and yes Dragon Ball Z Kai is familiar territory to all those who have grown up with the anime series or Akira Toriyama-sensei’s masterpiece manga series. What we have in Part One of Dragon Ball Z Kai is not only an anime version true to the manga but, at last, a true Dragon Ball Z experience on Blu-ray that will not fail to make fans drool. Somebody please get me a napkin.

Covering the first 13 episodes without the filler of past versions of this story, Dragon Ball Z Kai finds our hero Goku living happily with his wife, Chi-chi and their son Gohan. He has put his fighting days behind him after having made quite a name for himself fighting just about every foe including Prince Piccolo. Then, from the skies, crashes a pod that’s similar to the one that dropped an infant Goku on Earth so many years ago. What steps out is an invader that would change Goku’s life and those of the inhabitants of Earth forever.

The powerful alien that is unleashed on the planet has a somewhat familiar feel and with the monkey tail it’s almost hard to ignore the similarity between this stranger and Goku. In fact, the invader is looking for Goku only to find Piccolo thanks to a device that seeks out powerful fighters. As the invader continues his search, Goku takes his son to meet up wit his close friends in Master Roshi’s island home. Unfortunately, his reunion with Master Roshi, Bulma and Krillin is cut short when the stranger finally finds him.

You see, he is a powerful being known as a Saiyan by the name of Raditz that is born to wreck havoc on different planets. Raditz has come to Earth to find his young brother, Kakarrot, so his brother could carry out the mission he was sent to do … destroy Earth. You see, Kakarrot is actually Goku and Raditz is his older brother. Disgusted by his young brother’s noble nature, Raditz kidnaps Gohan and gives Goku an ultimatum. Instead, Goku teams up with Piccolo to fight Raditz and get Goku back.

Oh, the battle is an epic one and in the end Raditz is killed but the victory isn’t without its price. You see, Goku sacrifices himself during the battle and, right before the eyes of his friends, our hero dies. Unfortunately, Raditz’ dying words spells disaster for Earth because there are two more Saiyans ready to head to Earth and they are more powerful that Raditz. Earth’s heroes have one year to prepare for the oncoming battle as well as gather all the Dragon Balls to resurrect Goku.

In the Other World, Goku trains hard as well with King Kai who has perfected attacks that would give him an edge in battle if the others did call on Shenron to bring him back to life. Meanwhile, Piccolo – Goku’s fierce rival – takes Gohan as his disciple and trains the boy who shows his true potential as a fighter that might even surpass his own father. On the other side of the world, Yajirobe assembles another group of familiar fighters to join the battle. It’s a group that includes Yamcha, Krillin, Tien and even Chiaotzu that become the famous Z-Fighters.

The race to become more powerful is cut short when the two remaining Siayans arrive ahead of schedule. With Goku resurrected by Master Roshi but still stuck on Other World, the fighter races across Snake Way. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Nappa and the Saiyan Overlord named Vegeta who are not only looking to find the one who killed Raditz but also find the Dragon Balls to make their wish come true. It is the Z-Fighters that get to the two Saiyans first.

The battle is fierce and members of the Z-Fighters don’t only fall but are killed in the process, Piccolo and Gohan launch their attacks as the return of a hero leads to one of the best moments in the 13-episode set. Thanks to the remastered and reworked episodes, the story flows more smoothly and this makes the action even more intense. This also means there’s more attention on the characters, making the sacrifices all the more shocking and downright touching.

As far as the Blu-ray version is concerned, the picture has been cleaned up in a way that will not fail to make a great impression when viewed on a good HD setup. Watching it in an HD screen capable of displaying a picture in 1080p makes a huge difference in quality and the same can be said about the sound. Anime, even the classics, should definitely be viewed in HD and this is proof of that.

Part One of Dragon Ball Z Kai, especially on Blu-ray, is destined to become the masterpiece anime and Dragon Ball Z fans will be proud to have among their collection. This is the classic epic that deserves to viewed by fans new or old so if you’ve been dying to show this one to a new generation of fans you cannot go wrong with buying this collection. Part Two is definitely on our list.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Living a quiet and happy life with Chi-chi and his son Gohan, peace is about to be shattered into a million pieces when an invader steps foot on the planet looking for Goku. Not only is the truth about his race revealed but those invaders calling themselves the Saiyans threaten the planet he has come to love. With the help of his friends and son, Goku overcomes even death to take on the Saiyan Overlord, Vegeta.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The Dragon Ball Z series has always looked good on DVD but on Blu-ray it becomes something else altogether. Oh yeah, the series really shines in this format so the Blu-ray version is high on my recommendation for those looking for an even more visceral experience.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The Japanese voices are still my favorite way of watching Dragon Ball Z but the English dub cast of Colleen Clinkenbeard, Sonny Strait and Chistopher R. Sabat just to name a few of the actors that make the characters sound true to their characters. The Dolby TrueHD sound really makes this a truly visual and audio treat.

EXTRAS: D
Unfortunately, there’s no audio commentary track or any other extras except for new trailers and the textless opening and closing songs.

OVERALL: A+
As we can see from Part One of Dragon Ball Z Kai, this is a very good year for Dragon Ball fans. The Blu-ray version is a Must Have for all those who love the ultimate visual and audio experience but, in the end, it’s the content that really shines and believe me this story deserves to be seen on HD.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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