Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $14.98 US
Running Time: 50 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
This is the beginning of legend and the start of an awesome movie franchise.
Like most North American kids, my first viewing of the first Dragon Ball movie was on a worn-out VHS copy but the experience of watching it as a wide-eyed kid infatuated with anime made it an unforgettable experience. Several years later, FUNimation brings us Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies and I have to say that this timeless classic is still just as good as it was back in the day and looking even better on DVD.
As the first movie in the Dragon Ball series, Curse of the Blood Rubies is an altered version of the beginning of the Dragon Ball saga. Of course, the movie switches villains so gone is Emperor Pilaf and the story that leads up to his meeting with Goku and, in its place, introduces us to King Gurumes who is currently ruling over his kingdom with an iron fist.
You see, King Gurumes has found out that beneath the rich soil of his people’s land are precious gem stones known as Blood Rubies. So he sends his soldiers and workers to dig up the soil and even misplacing his kingdom’s citizens, evicting them of their land. Only one little girl, a cute redhead named Pansy, is unafraid and opposed to the King’s greedy mission while her neighbors cower in fear of the military might.
The King himself suffers from an affliction, however, one that makes him a gluttonous beast who eats without ever getting his fill. He has heard of a way to cure his ravenous hunger and that is by collection all seven mythical Dragon Balls in order to summon the great Shenron who grants wishes. So the King sends his two trusted soldiers, Major Bongo and the sexy Pasta to find and collect all seven Dragon Balls.
On the other side of the globe is a young boy with a monkey tail that goes by the name of Goku. Living by himself since his grandfather’s death, Goku is a wild kid who goes fishing for a giant fish by kicking it to death. Overhead he sees a plane flying towards his home and before he can wonder what a plane is he is run over by a cute girl riding her motorcycle. She is Bulma, a resourceful and spunky young woman who realizes that this boy is not only unique but superhuman. Bulma tells him that she’s searching for the Dragon Ball of which she already collected one and was on her way to locate Goku’s own Dragon Ball.
As it turns out, though, the ones piloting the plane have taken Goku’s four-star Dragon Ball so both Bulma and Goku chase after them using one of Bulma’s many Capsule technology. They chase by air only to find themselves in an air-to-air battle with Major Bongo and Pasta. Their Capsule plane is shot down in unknown territory where the real adventure begins.
While Goku meets and goes up against a shape shifter who doesn’t seem to be as big as he makes himself out to be when they meet, Bulma runs into Pansy – the little girl from land that King Gurumes is destroying. Pansy is on a mission to find the legendary martial arts master named Master Roshi to get him to help her people defeat the King and his soldiers.
Meanwhile, Goku learns the identity and real form of his attacker. He is Oolong, a talking pig who can turn into anyone. During their little scuffle, Oolong realizes that they’re in the territory of a hardened thief who shows his face. He is Yamucha, a bandit with good fighting skills who challenges Goku in battle. Yamucha is a tough opponent but shows his weakness immediately when Bulma enters the scene. You see, the big guy is so incredibly shy around girls that he comically stiffens up like an ironing board.
Bulma decides to help Pansy find Master Roshi as they head towards an isolated island where they meet an elderly man who isn’t exactly what they all expected at first glance. In fact, he seems more interested in taking a peek at Bulma’s bosoms than Pansy’s plight. When the King sends a submarine to destroy the island, Master Roshi shows his true power in a move he calls the Kamehameha. Interestingly enough, Goku pulls off the move that Master Roshi took forty years to master.
And so Goku becomes the champion that Pansy has been looking for and decides to help her and her people put a stop to King Gurumes once and for all. He is joined by Bulma, Oolong and even Yamucha in a major confrontation as they head to the King’s castle.
Despite it’s shot length, the movie is actually very exciting and filled with good battles as well as the familiar Dragon Ball humor. It’s also interesting to see how well the story comes together nicely seeing as the memorable scenes from the main series are intact such as Goku meeting Bulma or his first encounter with Oolong. The movie even goes into the fun moments that occur between Bulma and Yamucha who hoped to find the Dragon Balls for a similar purpose. We’re also grateful that the movie looks good on DVD and the new English dub voice work suits the movie.
Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies, Movie One, is a true classic that any Dragon Ball fanatic should have in their collection. Besides that, it is also the perfect way to introduce Dragon Ball to a new generation of anime fans. Trust me when I say that after watching this any newcomer will find themselves wanting to check out the series. It’s just that good and this DVD is certainly proof of that.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In a kingdom that is ruled by a mean and gluttonous king searching for valuable gems called Blood Rubies, said king learns of what collecting all seven Dragon Balls can do so he sends agents to find them. Somewhere far away, a boy named Goku and a young woman named Bulma meet a little girl searching for the legendary Master Roshi in order to save her home from the tyrant king.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
Compared to past releases of the movie, this one looks spectacular on DVD with some rough patches that have been smoothed out for a great picture. The folks at FUNimation definitely know how to do a great job restoring classics and this is no different.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voices make for some great memories if you’ve seen this movie before and the new English dub voices that include Colleen Clinkenbeard and Cherami Leigh make for an even better viewing experience. Plus, you have to love the original score.
Sadly, no audio commentary track has been added or any other special features connected to the movie itself. There are a few FUNimation trailers, however.
Now this is what we call an Instant Classic in every sense and a DVD that you shouldn’t be without if you’re a loyal Dragon Ball fan. Despite its fifty minute length, this movie has everything you can ask for in an animated feature film for Dragon Ball enthusiasts old and new.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment