Dragonball Z Complete Season Two (Episodes 40-74) (Cert PG)
6 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 812 minutes approx.
In the wake of the battle with the deadly Saiyan warrior Vegeta which saw Piccolo, Yajirobe, Chiaotzu and Tien Shinhan all perish while Son Goku was left badly injured, Goku’s son Gohan, young monk Krillin and female inventor Bulma set off for the planet Namek in search of a second set of Dragonballs to use their mythical power to revive their late friends.
And thus we dive headlong into a second mammoth outing from this legendary series with another thirty five episodes of nostalgic fantasy action packed into six discs. Picking up directly from the last volume, the intrepid trio Gohan, Krillin and Bulma are taken captive on a ship full of angry young kids.
They accuse our heroes of being servants of an evil being named Frieza, the man responsible for killing their parents and destroying their planet. Naturally our protagonists have never heard of Frieza but of course they soon will. The misunderstanding is eventually cleared up and the trio set off again for Namek where they crash land and are taken in by a pair of kind Namekians; however all is not as it seems.
Meanwhile as Goku is recuperating in hospital, Vegeta survives the beating he took from Goku and manages to escape where he too is on the mend. Having learned that Frieza is planning on locating the Dragonballs for himself in order to conquer the universe, the same plan Vegeta had in mind, Vegeta immediately sets off for Namek in the hope of beating Frieza to the punch.
Unfortunately he is too late as Frieza and his minions already have four of the Dragonballs in their possession while Bulma, Gohan and Krilin finally arrive, unexpectedly finding themselves forced into forming an uneasy alliance with their erstwhile nemesis Vegeta.
With the emphasis largely on action there is a lot of ground covered in this collection and even with some if it being filler material (or so I am reliably informed, having not read the manga) the pace and keen sense of adventure is kept up across every episode. The plot may essentially be a retread of sorts of the original Dragonball series – that being the quest for the Dragonballs – but the new cast of characters and a change in circumstances for the quest makes is a less obvious fact.
Once again the nominal lead protagonist Son Goku is relegated to supporting cast status as he spends the majority of this set in hospital then travelling through space en route to Namek while his offspring Gohan gets to carry the load in his place. Quite a burden for a five year-old but of course Gohan is not any ordinary five year-old (aside from his tiny stature you certainly would have easily forgotten this fact).
Indeed with Bulma supposedly the adult of the trio she is arguably the most immature and troublesome of the three. As the central female lead of the first Dragonball series, Bulma had little to do but be very annoying in the first volume of this show; here she is given the chance to show what she is made off in her own mini escapades while the boys are off fighting, as well as being very annoying.
When Goku does eventually arrive, it is of course in the nick of time as the Gohan-Krilin-Vegeta coalition is having a hard time up against Frieza’s hired help The Ginyu Force, a group of dangerous but rather comedic warriors whose main source of intimidation is their special poses, presumably to disarm their opponents by sending them into a frenzy of hysterical laughter.
Silliness aside, these guys are the real deal, proving to be formidable foes for any opponent, let alone our gifted heroes, and it is here we have to give some credit to DBZ creator Akira Toriyama for his creativity here, ensuring that the five dangerous warriors each have unique powers to prevent from being generic villains of the moment and provide suitably tough opposition for the protagonists.
While the remaster job on the picture is still impressive given the age and state of the original master tapes, there is a noticeable sign of over saturation on some of the lighter colours on this release, making pale skin colours even paler and the line details are often lost as a result. Everything else looks fine though.
For a release given a PG certificate there are a few moments which, it has to be said, explain why TV censors in the US were forced to act: a couple of characters give the finger, the word usually used to describe an illegitimate child is frequently used (in the subtitles at least) and limbs are severed in battle.
These incidents aside though, DBZ remains kiddy fare at heart and thus stays on the right side of being something one can keep the kids quiet with during the school holidays – when you’ve done watching it yourself of course!
Dragonball Z might be one of the few critic proof anime shows on the market due to its iconic status and worldwide fanbase of young and old anime fans. Newcomers might still wonder what the fuss is all about but there is no denying that one gets plenty of bang for their buck from this show and these releases from Manga are equally worthwhile.
English Language with Japanese Music 5.1 Surround Sound
US Broadcast Version Stereo
Original Japanese Language Mono with English Subtitles
Disc 6 Only:
Rating – ***
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