Blu-Ray Review: Dragon Ball Z – 30th Anniversary Edition

Manga Entertainment UK brings us the Dragon Ball Z: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray Collection as a limited print run via the FUNimation website; but what does it contain and more importantly how is it visually presented when compared with FUNimation’s previous Blu-Ray release of the series in North America and Australia? Well let’s dive deeper into the set and find out more.

What is Dragon Ball Z: 30th Anniversary Edition?:

The Dragon Ball Z: 30th Anniversary Edition compiles the entire uncut 291 TV episode series of Dragon Ball Z into a single 37-disc collection, and for the first time in the UK at least, is presented on Blu-Ray via a brand new high definition transfer.

How is it presented?:

The episodes within this 30th Anniversary Edition of Dragon Ball Z are presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio with a new High Definition transfer that sees the picture grain mostly left intact and colours relatively neutral when compared to other digital restorations (such as the DVD sets released in the UK and Blu-Ray sets in Australia and North America). Fans looking for that ‘authentic’ experience need not look any further.

When it comes to audio options then the same audio options presented in previous Blu-Ray and DVD sets remain, with an English 5.1 audio track (that uses the original Japanese background music) as well as an English 2.0 audio track (that uses the English background broadcast music) in addition to the original Japanese Mono audio track.

It’s the same audio quality as the previous Blu-ray release and – in comparison to Dragon Ball Z Kai and Dragon Ball Super – feels slightly dated with its original English Dub audio recording; especially when it comes to Vegeta and Piccolo that sound drastically different to how they do now. Of course this is due to the age of the series; but both audio and visual qualities are what you would expect from a Blu-Ray release.

In terms of episode breakdown then each Season, or saga if you prefer, of Dragon Ball Z is split across four Blu-Ray discs. In the ‘retail’ product each disc will be located near information that list details of that season; but the discs themselves feature episode availability and season information. For instance the Saiyan Saga is classed as Season 1 and Namek Saga is classed as Season 2. It is the same ‘season layout’ as previous DVD and Blu-Ray releases by FUNimation and – ironically – the same episode numbering and presentation as the previous North American and Australian Blu-Ray release; so the episode presentation should be oddly familiar.

Comparison – How is the picture quality?:

Previously FUNimation released Dragon Ball Z as individual season Blu-ray sets with the picture being digitally restored and remastered in widescreen. These ‘Blue Box’ sets were similar to the previous DVD only ‘orange box’ season sets – of which were released in the UK via Manga Entertainment UK – and saw the picture grain removed, the picture cropped in widescreen and contrast enhanced in order to look like a modern-day anime release rather than a (at the time) a twenty year old anime.

This 30th Anniversary Edition seemingly offers a brand new high definition transfer that keeps the 4:3 aspect of the original release and retains some of the picture grain for that authentic experience. Additionally judging from the comparisons the contrast and colours have not been enhanced, so it remains true to the original by having a slightly darker (or dulled) colour than previous Blu-Ray and DVD releases of the series.

Season 1:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 2:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 3:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 4:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 5:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 6:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 7:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 8:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

Season 9:

30th Anniversary Edition:

Original North American / Australian Blu-Ray:

It is personal preference on which High Definition transfer you would prefer; but after watching a number of episodes back-to-back in both transfers the new masters offer a more natural looking show and more of the picture due to keeping its original viewing ratio.

The Original North American / Australian Blu-Rays do offer a more ‘modern day’ visual appeal – with its higher contrast and widescreen appearance, but it does crop off top and bottom portions of the visual in exchange for ‘slightly more’ at the sides of the picture. As you can see from the comparisons above the top and bottom sometimes have more details of the character (especially Goku with his Halo or Ginyu when holding a piece something in the palm of his hand) and give further insight into elements of the series that have not previously been seen in the UK.

A comparison between the North American / Australian Blu-Ray releases with the DVD Season Sets (of which were released in the UK) can be found here. You’ll notice that the widescreen cropping was changed on the Blu-Ray remaster in order to include portions that were ‘cut off’ during the DVD transfer.

Our View:

Dragon Ball Z, and in turn the Dragon Ball franchise, is one of my all favourite anime series and – to some extent – was the reason how I became involved with anime; especially through the Toonami block on Cartoon Network. This remains true for many people, but in this particular feature I am not going to talk about my personal experiences of the series or what I think about the series in detail; instead I’ll just focus on this particular release and what it contains from a general perspective.

Nostalgia aside this anniversary edition of Dragon Ball Z contains, as mentioned, all 291 uncut episodes in English and Japanese with a new high definition transfer that remains faithful to the original. In this instance viewers will find ‘every’ TV episode of Dragon Ball Z from the beginning to the end presented across 37 Blu-Ray discs with each disc clearly labelled on the events that are contained – and the packaging adding further insight into each discs contents. For continuity with past releases, both in the UK and America, the discs are split into Seasons (or Sagas) with each season spread across four Blu-ray discs.

Visually this 30th Anniversary Edition of Dragon Ball Z does what it sets out to be, a High Definition restoration of the original series in its original aspect ratio with both the English and Japanese audio tracks; but it does feature some minor problems. Firstly, and once again, the next episode preview segments are NOT included in this release and the Japanese Mono Audio track still offers sub-par quality for a modern day release. Naturally these are just small niggles (or complaints) for what is a rather interesting release; but given the age of the source material then perhaps it is unavoidable.

Presentation aside Dragon Ball Z, and for those that do not know, tells the story of Goku and latter Gohan, as they find out about their Saiyan heritage and take down an onslaught of enemies. The first story arc refers to the Saiyan Origins of Goku with the arrival of his brother Raditz, which then slides into the arrival of more Saiyans – in the form of Vegeta and Nappa – before moving into space with the Namekian and Frieza Saga. The story lines offered may seem different from one another; but in reality is it about exploring the Saiyan heritage and stopping an evil threat from causing destruction in the galaxy.

Filler story lines aside, of which see Garlic Jnr emerge from the Dead Zone (a sequel story inspired by the Dead Zone movie) and some mindless episodes with Gohan, a returning enemy from Goku’s childhood appears in the form of Dr Gero and the Androids. Here the Androids created by Dr Gero are out to destroy Goku in order to extract their revenge on him, but while locating him another android – known as Cell – arrives from the future to Absorb the androids that are attempting to kill Goku. It’s a cat and mouse story line that sees support characters (as well as Vegeta and Future Trunks) take to the spotlight in order to defeat this threat which leads into an amusing tournament known as the Cell Games Tournament.

This Cell Games Tournament has often been one of my favourite seasons within Dragon Ball Z, not because of how well it is animated – especially when compared to past seasons – but it gives Gohan the spotlight and shows how he has developed over the years within the series itself. Regardless the final three seasons of Dragon Ball Z take place several years in the future, with the starting of a World Tournament Saga that sees minions of a mad magician absorb energy from fighters in order to revive Buu. Yet again it is a cat-and-mouse situation with the cast of characters either chasing the enemies in order to stop their plan or avoiding them in order to power-up for the next fight.

That plan however bears fruit and Buu revives; which soon sees a string of fights between various characters taking place in order for victory to be achieved. It’s fast-paced shonen jump filled action with blood and minor violence, more so than Dragon Ball Super, combined with some filler content. Everything Dragon Ball Z has to offer, within its TV series at least, is here and presented in remastered high definition quality for the first time in the UK. Loathe it, or love it, this collection is the definitive way to experience Dragon Ball Z; and for me its a set i’ll enjoy time and time again.

Extras:

This thirtieth anniversary collection of Dragon Ball Z contains a wide selection of supplementary features and they are evenly spread out across the thirty-seven Blu-ray discs; but all of the bonus features are contained on the final disc of each season.

The list of supplementary content included in this release of Dragon Ball Z are as follows:

Season 1:
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 2:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Christopher R.Sabat
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Sean Schemmel
Justin Cook Shares His Headshot Collection
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 3:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Gen Fukunaga
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with John Bergmeier
Look Back at the Hummer Toy: with Sonny Strait
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 4:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Matthew O’Hara
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Daniel Mancilla
From the Vault: Goku Vs Vegeta Featurette
From the Vault: The World of Dragon Ball Z
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 5:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Sonny Strait
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Meredith Mauldin
Toei Tour: Raw Footage
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 6:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Eric Vale
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Cynthia Cranz
Dragon Ball Z Trivia

Season 7:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Justin Cook
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Nathanael Harrison
Dragon Ball Z Card Game: Past, Present and Future

Season 8:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Kyle Hebert
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Kara Edwards
Dragon Ball Z: Coming to America
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song

Season 9:
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Josh Martin
Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Chris Rager
From East to West: Dragon Ball Z’s Epic Journey
A Completely Serious Discussion about the Comedy of Dragon Ball Z
Celebrities Talk: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Z

All of the bonus features included in the Dragon Ball Z 30th Anniversary Edition set have previously been included on the North American and Australian Dragon Ball Z Blu-Ray Season sets, with the exception of “Celebrities Talk: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Z” which was created solely for this 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray Edition of the series. As such majority of the bonus features use footage from the previous Blu-Ray release of Dragon Ball Z, of which see the picture cropped and visually clearer, than the episodes contain within this particular set.

It is worth noting that the previous individual Blu-Ray releases of Dragon Ball Z saw the textless opening and closing songs as part of each season, whereas in this Collector’s Edition they are only included on a selection of discs. This is mostly to coincide with the minor changes that occur during the opening in this particular season of the series and that this set was being presented as a Complete Collection rather than individual season releases.

Naturally the highlights of these bonus features are the Interviews with various English Dub cast members, of which illustrate their own experiences with voicing the character, and featurettes that explore Dragon Ball Z within North America. The Dragon Ball Z Card Game for instance was something I wasn’t overly familiar with but the featurette(s) that explore the card game proved entertaining and insightful. A completely serious discussion meanwhile provided that rather mindless banter that you wouldn’t usually expect to see in such a serious and professional release.

Of course your perspective of these bonus features will be varied depending on whether you  1) like the English Dub for Dragon Ball Z or 2) Haven’t seen them as part of the previous American / Australian Blu-Ray season set. Of course I had seen them before; but they still proved entertaining and its nice to see them included as part of this release – as they have not been released in the UK before.

Specs:

Media:  BD (37 Discs)
Region: A & B
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DolbyTrue HD 5.1 (English with Original Japanese Background Score), Dolby True HD 2.0 (English with Westernised Background Score) & DolbyTrue HD 1.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Realistically this 30th Anniversary Edition of Dragon Ball Z is catered towards fans of the series that wanted it in high definition and in its original visual aesthetic, but despite this claim the 30th Anniversary Edition is suitable for all anime fans who wish to own all of Dragon Ball Z in one go. Sure enough the initial price may cause for concern, but considering what this set contains it is no more expensive than buying the seasons separately – with the added bonus of an exclusive figure and artbook featuring all sorts of artwork from the Dragon Ball Z universe.

Dragon Ball Z: 30th Anniversary Edition offers the visual quality fans would hope to receive while retaining the original audio options and bonus features from past releases and combines them together into a single collection for that complete Dragon Ball Z TV series experience that fans and newcomers will enjoy.

Score: review-stars-4

Dragon Ball Z: 30th Anniversary Edition is now available in the UK exclusively via the FUNimation website.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

One Response to Blu-Ray Review: Dragon Ball Z – 30th Anniversary Edition

  1. Pingback: Manga UK to Release Dragon Ball Super Complete Series and Dragon Ball Z Season Sets on Blu-Ray Later this Year | AnimeBlurayUK

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