Dragonball Z Kai Season 3 (Episodes 53-77) (Cert 12)
4 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 577 minutes approx.
While for many of you this release simply furthers the retelling of the epic Dragonball Z saga, for yours truly, this marks first time entry into unchartered territory as I missed out on the corresponding volume of the original DBZ release.
Season three of Dragonball Z Kai sees the story conclude the Freeza Arc then morph into the Cell Arc by way of the Android Arc. Confused? Then allow me to elaborate. The opening episodes in this set feature the aftermath of Son Goku’s devastating battle with Freeza which resulted in the destruction of the planet Namek. Showing some customary benevolence, Goku shares a tiny bit of his Ki with what is left of Freeza to allow him to escape the doomed planet.
A year later, while the Z Fighters are still awaiting Goku’s return, Freeza’s remnants are picked up by his father King Cold who rebuilds his son as a cyborg. They arrives on Earth seeking vengeance but before they can do anything a mysterious sword wielding figure able to transform to Super Saiyan form shows up and slaughters the entire group with alarming ease.
He reveals himself to be Trunks, son of Bulma and Vegeta, who has come from the future to warn Goku about a powerful android due to attack the Earth in three years time, and to be careful of his own health otherwise he will be unable to prevent the destruction of the universe. No pressure then.
Even in redacted form there is plenty going on in DBZ Kai making each volume frustratingly essential in keeping up with the course of events, whilst at the same time exposing the limited scope of fresh ideas. We may only be three releases in but the already permeating sense of “lather-rinse-repeat” within the story lines is reinforced here – New nemesis arrives, Goku is unable to beat him, Goku goes away for rehab and more training, Goku returns to save the day while his friends all get their butts kicked in the interim.
This is of course a staple problem for long running shonen fantasy adventures but where DBZ suffers the most is that the locations or scenarios barely change nor do the cast list, outside of the arriving enemy. Case in point, we are barely clear of the mammoth Freeza arc and the Z-Fighters are immediately thrust into combat with another dangerous foe seeking universal domination. Granted, in the storyline chronology a year has elapsed between arcs but it is not as if we are eased into this new story.
A gentle, light relief buffer, perhaps expanding on the surprising relationship that blossoms between Bulma and Vegeta would have sufficed; or maybe some actual family time for the Son clan before kicking off again to give us a breather and further develop the relationships would have been time well used. Not that I don’t appreciate that the whole point of Kai was to present us with an “all killer, no filler” version of the saga, but sometimes a little respite is a good thing.
To the credit of DBZ creator Akira Toriyama, he does deftly conflate two storylines into one smooth running arc, beginning with the arrival of the aforementioned androids and continuing with the imposing threat of the mighty Cell, although there us a conjoining factor between the two. Toriyama also plays with the concept of time travel via trunks but does seem to confuse himself as to what the specific laws are, resulting in the inevitable abuse of the time continuum paradox.
For instance, upon his return three years after his first visit, how can older teen Trunks exist in the same space as his newborn self? And what happened in this period between his visits that ensured the androids which arrive on Earth were different from the ones he spoke of to Goku? There is no reason for the androids to change since Trunks didn’t do anything to change history (except when he wiped out Freeza and his father, but by rights, if he had done that surely Freeza wouldn’t exist for him to slay?), so it is just as well this show was aimed at younger viewers who wouldn’t put the details of the story under such scrutiny.
But for all the quibbles and flaws in the logic, we can appreciate this show on the level it is intended, as a slice of bombastic shonen fantasy action adventure, pitting good versus evil. Interestingly, some of the characters, such as Vegeta are still in a grey area, doing his it by fighting alongside Goku yet still hell bent on defeating him and becoming the sole ruler of the universe. It seems even having a son hasn’t quelled this selfish side to him!
Similarly, the androids – numbered 16, 17 and 18 – begin as ruthless violent killing machines, laying waste to anyone and anything that stands in their way yet they have a rather personal issue that drives them which suggests maybe their anger is misdirected. With a few hints dropped as to the future direction of this arc, it would seem the potential for a change of heart for these artificial beings is quite ripe.
Keen eyed viewers will notice new eye-catches and a new closing credits theme song appear a few episodes into the release otherwise this is business as usual on the presentation front. Be warned if you are prone to skipping the recap at the start of the episodes, some do continue the action straight from the previous end point, not always much but on occasion something of relevance has been added.
The fact you’ve come this far with Dragonball Z Kai means you know what to expect from this series thus you won’t be disappointed. As ever this ten-hour collection gives you plenty of action to keep you occupied until the next release, provided the cliffhanger hasn’t forced you to bite your fingers to the bone in the meantime!
English Language 5.1 Dolby True HD
Japanese Language 2.0 Dolby True HD
Disc 2 only:
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song
Disc 4 only:
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song
Rating – ****
Man In Black