Dragonball Z Kai Season 2 (Episodes 27-52) (Cert 15)
4 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 600 minutes approx.
The HD remixed and redacted retelling of the Dragonball Z saga continues with these four action packed discs containing twenty six episodes that cover the infamous Freeza arc – infamous because of the epic battle between Son Goku and the villainous Freeza which was epic more in terms of its length (which we shall discuss later).
A quick recap of the story at this point and we rejoin the action on the Planet Namek, home of Piccolo and his race of green folk where the dragonballs originated from. Bulma, Gohan and Krillin are there to locate the Dragonballs in order to revive their friends who died at the hands of the evil Saiyan, Vegeta. Meanwhile Vegeta himself is on Namek to find the Dragonballs so he can wish for immortality – the same wish Freeza has in mind.
Because of the circumstances an uneasy alliance is formed between Vegeta, Gohan and Krillin when Freeza’s men are sent to find the Dragonballs and stop anyone who gets in their way. As it transpires this unlikely trio prove to be formidable opposition for Freeza’s henchmen, so he calls for further assistance in the form of the Ginyu Force, an elite fighting team, to deal with Vegeta and co. for him.
After such intense fighting in the previous episodes the Ginyu Force bring with them an air of comedy with their Super Sentai style posing and elaborate introductions, neither of which impress Vegeta who gets right down to the butt kicking. Admittedly it has been three years and god knows how many anime series in between my watching of the original DBZ so I don’t recall if the Ginya Force were as campy as they are here.
They are not alone in providing some comic relief as Bulma is on hand to bring a feminine touch to the otherwise testosterone fuelled show, usually at her expense. Here she is left to guard a Dragonball by herself while Gohan and Krillin deal with Vegeta, gets chased by a couple of dinosaurs and finally is transformed into a frog!
This last escapade may sound daft but it is congruent in that it is the result of Ginyu, the leader of the Ginyu Force, using his special skill – the ability to swap bodies with another person. When Goku finally arrives on Namek and shows off his improved fighting skills and increase power, Ginyu’s body swapping power is the one thing that proves to be the one effective tact in temporarily defeating our returning hero.
If you are a long time fan of DBZ then all of this will already be familiar to you so recapping the story is akin to preaching to the choir. Of course the difference here is that you get to see it is sparkling HD while the story is told at a faster pace, complete with freshly recorded dialogue and new musical accompaniment. The latter may not be immediately noticeable to many but there are a few sequences where it stands out to perfectly compliment the mood of a situation.
As discussed earlier one of the biggest draws about this revamped release is the streamlining of the material, with the handy excising of non-canon filler and paring back the fight sequences so they don’t outstay their welcome. The original animation team in 1989 had little choice to eke out the battles due to them catching up with Akira Tokizawa’s manga at the time so this luxury of trimming the fat is a welcome one.
Which brings us to the Goku vs. Freeza fight. It is one of those instances where its fame – or rather notoriety – comes from something other than the situation itself. By all means it is a back and forth barnstormer of a clash in which both combatants push themselves to extreme limits in search of victory, Freeza with his original form and Goku reaching the elusive Super Saiyan mode, but in the original series they took SO long to cover it.
This battle has the distinction of being one of the longest ever depicted in anime, running for twenty episodes and clocking up in excess of four hours in run time! Even the climax in which Namek is five minutes away from destruction lasted seven episodes! So it is with immense relief that this remake doesn’t follow suit – otherwise almost the entire set would feature nothing but this fight – reducing the whole clash down to a much more manageable nine chapters!
In terms of how far we have come in the story, the closing episode in this set which is number 52 equates to episode 105 of the original DBZ, that’s just under half the original tally. But don’t feel short changed as this release contains ten hours of DBZ goodness so you still get your money’s worth out of it.
A quick look through the archive of this site will reveal the fact I never got to see season four of the original series which covers the same material that will feature in the next release of Dragonball Z Kai, so we head excitedly into unchartered waters. As far as this volume goes, while the condensed battles are still protracted and often repetitious affairs, one cannot deny the sheer electricity and excitement generated here for fans old and new of DBZ!
English Language 5.1 Dolby True HD
Japanese Language 2.0 Dolby True HD
Disc 2 only:
US Cast Interviews
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song
Disc 4 only:
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song
Rating – ****
Man In Black