Blu-ray Review: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season 2
29/09/2015 Leave a comment
We take a look at Manga UK’s Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season 2; a set which contains the most noteworthy of episodes in the Dragon Ball Z timeline, but has it been re-mastered and re-cut correctly? Well lets take a look.
Krillin and Gohan test out their new and improved powers in a throw down with Vegeta, Frieza struggles to unlock the magic of the Dragon Balls, and Goku races through space on a collision course with the Ginyu Force!
This installment of Kai has it all: seven Dragon Balls, four epic heroes, and three horrifying villains bent on world domination!
The pinnacle of Dragon Ball Z is finally here; the ultimate showdown between every notable character in the franchise against the ruthless tyrant known as Frieza; however this time it’s been re-mastered, re-dubbed, and re-cut for the ultimate thrill ride.
The second season installment of Dragon Ball Z Kai picks-up right where the previous episode ended with the Ginyu Force fast approaching Planet Namek and Vegeta frustrated at being deceived by Gohan. It starts off relatively comical with the introductions of the Ginyu Force, and their ridiculous poses, but once that’s out of the way it’s a constant stream of destructive battles and outrageous power-levels. In retrospect this is the Dragon Ball Z you remember; except this time it’s without the filler and offers a more streamlined viewing experience. What exactly do I mean? Well by the time you watch the fourteenth episode of this set you’ll find that you’ve see the Ginyu Force, the arrival of Goku and the battle with Frieza take place without so much as a break. It’s fast paced and it’s a great change to the previous slow-dreary-pacing of the original, but entertaining, series.
Interestingly enough there still is some rather ‘oddball’ moments within this release; for instance one particular episode sees Bulma chased by Dinosaurs and rescued by Gohan and Krillin; however the dinosaurs themselves are the same ones that have been seen on Earth during Gohan’s survival session. Obviously a bad choice by the original animators/directors but its still left in this ‘filler-free’ variation of the show. There is a point to this however, as it sees the three heroes reunite after a long time apart, but it’s just a bizarre way of doing it and, in some ways, could have been avoided or done differently.
Of course this is just another ‘bad editing’ choice when creating a filler-free version but there is another problem to be had with this release; and that’s the fact that the first two discs, which act as Part 3, feature the Kenji Yamamoto score while the second two discs, which act as Part 4, feature the replacement score by Shunsuke Kikuchi which is of course the score used in the original Dragon Ball Z TV Series. The difference is notable and it creates a different atmosphere; although it is worth nothing that ‘new’ vocal songs still appear even with the background score music being from the original. The removable of Yamamto’s score, and inclusion of Kikuchi’s score, was bound to happen at some point – due to the legal matter surrounding it – but its just disappointing that it happens just when the fight with Frieza starts to get interesting.
When it comes to bonus materials then it’s pretty much business as usual with this Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z Kai; as alongside the inclusion of textless songs – which are available in both English and Japanese depending on the audio selected – there are also a wide variety of trailers to be had.
The trailers in question are for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Sengoku Basara, Soul Eater, Evangelion and Dragon Ball Z Kai but interestingly enough they are the ‘US’ Trailers which can lead to some confusion as they can sometimes depict a title that is available on Blu-ray when its not; in this case Sengoku Basara. In terms of bonus content then theres really nothing new or different here; but at least majority of the ‘original US content’ remains intact this time around (unlike those on the past Blu-ray release).
Media: BD 50 x2, BD 25 X2
Region: A & B
Running Time: 3:27:40 (Disc 1 & 3), 1:32:19 (Disc 2 & 4)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) & Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Picking up right where the first season ended, Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season 2 is a no holes barred fist-fight that swiftly moves along from fight to fight with an informative and progressive plot; a progression which – not to put it bluntly – is how it should have been in the original Dragon Ball Z TV anime. Starting with the arrival of the Ginyu Force and ending towards the ‘near death’ of Frieza this 26-episode set has it all; comedy, death, brutality and the cold clinical stare of both lord Frieza and Vegeta – and from a Dragon Ball Z release what more can you ask for?
Of course you can ask for a better picture quality which is exactly what you receive from this Blu-ray. The combination of a HD-Native re-master, mixed with newly drawn characters and animations, makes for a truely new Dragon Ball experience. If you are looking for the retro-fitted-grain as seen in the original (or Dragon Box releases) you won’t find it here; instead you will find a crisp-and-clear picture quality that brings new life into an aging, but not outdated, series.
The same can not be said for the audio however; as while the first half of this set features the ‘new’ background score from Kenji Yamamoto the second half (otherwise known as Part 4 in the US) uses the original Dragon Ball Z background music from Shunsuke Kikuchi. The difference is noticeable, as it greats a different kind of tone for the fights, but it’s a situation that MangaUK, and any other anime distributor in the world, could not avoid. It’s also worth mentioning that the English Dub track, which has been produced by FUNimation, provides a slightly different experience to that of the original – and one for a more ‘mature’ audience. In short theres a lot more swearing, and while some scenes have been toned down (such as lack of blood during vegetates blast to the chest) it does offer a more ‘adult’ vibe to it – which is a good thing as the audience viewing this set have grown up a little (or at least we think so).
All in all Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season 2 is the ‘best’ way to watch the Frieza saga.It manages to cut-out the boring parts, move swiftly along and keep us entertained with its balance of trash talk, high flying violence and bloody fist fights – all of which were, in some eyes at least, were absent in the previous instalment. Combine these ‘viewing elements’ with the presentation and production of this blu-ray and you are in for the best Dragon Ball Z experience to date – that is IF you prefer visual clarity and fast-paced-entertainment over nostalgia.
Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season 2 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK.