Dragonball Z Complete Season Three (Episodes 75-107) (Cert 12)
6 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 766 minutes approx.
The third instalment of this epic saga continues the documenting of the tidal wave of destruction unleashed by the merciless warrior Freeza, whose rage knows no bounds as his campaign to gain complete control of the universe is derailed by Son Goku and company. If you though the fights in Naruto and Bleach are drawn out, they are Usain Bolt like sprints compared to the marathon battles in this set, with the clash between Goku and Freeza taking up twenty of the thirty-three episodes included here.
But it’s not all super powered combat – there is plenty of light hearted distractions to break up the monotony of the testosterone fuelled collisions, including Bulma swapping places with a frog and Chichi, Goku’s wife deciding to head a space crew to Namek to bring her son and husband home, only for the ship to break down before take off! But for those viewers who watch DBZ for the action, you are abundantly catered for in this collection.
Picking up from the end of the last volume, the seven Dragonballs of Namek are now in the possession of the unlikely coalition of Son Goku, his son Gohan, young monk Krillin and former foe now temporary ally Vegeta. With Goku injured and recuperating, Vegeta takes a well earned nap which leaves Gohan and Krillin to look after the Dragonballs.
Knowing that Vegeta wants to use the Dragonballs to achieve immortality, the mischievous tykes, with the aid of Namekian child Dende, summon the dragon god Porunga via the Dragonballs and use two of the three wishes to have Piccolo return from the dead and transported to Namek. Vegeta awakens in time to thwart their third wish and enforce his own request which the youngsters acquiesce to.
But before Vegeta can make his wish, the Namekian Grand Elder dies and the Dragonballs turns to stone. Vegeta has no time to be angry because an even more miffed Freeza realises he has missed his big opportunity to harness the Dragonballs’ powers and takes his frustration out of our heroes.
From hereon in it is battle galore time as each of our heroes step up to the plate to face off with the seemingly invincible Freeza. As impervious as he may seem, Freeza takes a bit of a walloping as his opponents refuse to lie down so easily. After Vegeta falls to a serious beating, Piccolo arrives to try his luck, having absorbed the power from a dying Namekian to make him even stronger.
Piccolo gains some ground against Freeza, to the point he is forced to reveal his true form one stage at a time. Solo and group attacks from our heroes seem to irritate Freeza more than harm him while his strength appears to be almost insurmountable. A last ditch plan from Vegeta backfires as Freeza reveals his final form (which frankly is less scary than the previous two) but all is not lost as Goku has fully recovered and arrives in the nick of time to take over the fight.
If these six disc releases of DBZ seem like a major commitment of time and patience then it is not unreasonable to say that this set – albeit the shortest one in terms of episode count – is the make or break test for this show. Granted the show is aimed at younger viewers and spread over a week’s daily viewing or even on a weekly basis, the big battles in this arc may seem like exciting, nerve shredding experiences; watched in a marathon session as this review has to, or purely because one now has the ability to do so thanks to the medium of DVD, and that romantic lustre is severely diminished and the paucity of action per episode is badly exposed.
With the actual display of powers of the fighters somewhat limited and repetitious, one begins to feel like they are trapped in an endless loop of grunting, screaming, explosions, and brightly coloured flashing lights to the point that each participant in these battle is interchangeable as indeed are the battles themselves. Not that they are essentially bad but after twenty episodes of this covering just one battle and the ennui and fatigue really sets in.
Of course this is due to the format of the show being geared to weekly broadcasts and presumably the idea of this vast episodic show being collated for future viewing was the last thing on the minds of the producers back in 1989. However, it is sure to be a common contemplation among many viewers as to how much quicker the story could have advanced if the surfeit of posturing, procrastination and silent loitering which takes up many valuable minutes an episode was eliminated? The Goku vs Freeza clash certainly wouldn’t be twenty episodes long that is a certainty. And another incriminating point – a critical five minute time period during the latter stages of this battle somehow spans EIGHT episodes!!
Despite the grievances this reviewer may have against the show, it still delivers what the legions of Dragonball Z fans expect from it. They will no doubt lap this latest release up with the same vigour and relish as they have the previous volumes, be it through nostalgia or first time, genuine eager anticipation.
English Language with Japanese Music 5.1 Surround Sound
US Broadcast Version Stereo
Original Japanese Language Mono with English Subtitles
Disc 6 Only:
Ratings – ***
Man In Black