Dragonball Z Movie Collection Four: Super Android 13/Bojack Unbound (Cert PG)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 46 minutes approx. / 51 minutes approx.
We kick off the new year with another double helping of feature length(ish) DBZ culled from the archives and presented for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.
From 1992 comes the 7th film in this series, Super Android 13 serving as an adjunct to the introduction of the Androids one of which, No 18, would later become a regular character in the DBZ saga and an honorary member of the Z-Fighters through her marriage to Krillin. At this point though, 18 appears very briefly in the prologue of this tale alongside her twin brother 17, shown killing their creator Dr. Gero.
Moving onto the current timeline (of the main DBZ story that is) and the Z-Fighters are out shopping at the city centre while Yoshi, Oolong, Krillin and Trunks are waiting to see an idol show. The peace is disturbed by the arrival of two powerful beings on a path of destruction prompting Son Goku to step up and confront these beings. Unable to read their Ki, Goku deduces they are not human and lures them away to a remote location to spare the civilians.
They take the fight to secluded arctic area, with Goku joined by Trunks, Krillin and Gohan to lend a hand but the two androids revealed as 15 and 16, introduce a third member of their team, no 13, a nigh on invincible fighter that not even Super Saiyan Goku can take down, and when he is in a corner, Android 13 has one final trick up his sleeve that all but assures his victory.
If you think about it, Goku should really be thanking the android as their arrival got him out doing more shopping and judging by the amount of bags Chi Chi already had, that is surely a blessing. Instead, the androids are on a revenge mission that has been pre-programmed in them and needs to be fulfilled even after the death of Dr. Gero, and you know it is serious when Vegeta and Piccolo show up and their combined efforts are in vain too.
DBZ films are a bit like 12-bar blues songs, you know exactly what you are getting from them and they deliver just that right down to the letter. The only marked difference this time is the debut of Trunks in this series of standalone films, the son of Bulma and Vegeta who arrived from the future to prevent the villains of the current timeline from existing.
Creating a new group of villains from an existing story arc to challenge our heroes can be viewed as either laziness or smart in perpetuating a credible sense of continuity while saving valuable time inventing a background story for them when a cursory preamble offers sufficient exposition as demonstrated here.
The second film in this set is in fact the 9th DBZ film overall for reasons that will become clear in the future. Bojack Unbound also takes a different approach to its story telling, drawing its inspiration from a hitherto unexplored source for these films. One major event of DBZ was the martial arts tournaments in which father and son Goku and Gohan would take to the world stage to show off their fighting prowess.
In this yarn, a 200-fighter all-comers tournament is held with the winner getting the opportunity to face off against Earth’s mightiest warrior, Mr. Satan, who has been credited with defeating Cell (but we all know different, right kids?). At this point in the saga, Goku is dead and trapped in the Other World, so it is up to Gohan to represent the family, while Krillin, Trunks, Yamcha, Tien and Piccolo also enter the contest.
Gohan, Trunks, Krillin and an unnamed fighter all advance to the semi-final stage set on a separate Battle Island, where they are to face four World Warriors in one-on-one combat. However, the unnamed fighter is killed by his opponent – expressly forbidden in this contest – who turns out to be a rogue fighter and not a licensed warrior. He is one of the followers of Bojack, a dangerous warrior with global destruction on his mind in revenge for being incarcerated.
Originally released in 1993 this film reveals a huge jump in the TV series timeline, where Goku was largely out of the picture due to being killed by Cell. He still makes a few appearances here, watching on as Gohan fights his way through the tournament but seeing his young son being manhandled by Bojack and not being able to do anything is hard to ignore, even if you are in the afterlife.
The tournament setting offers a fresh premise to build this film around thus offer a renewed interest for anyone feeling a little stultified by seeing the same regurgitated set-up of vengeful warriors or interloping aliens attacking the earth. The comedy quotient is also on the increase thanks to return of Mr. Satan, the all-conquering hero who is in fact a big wimp, spending most of his screen time on the loo!
Bojack himself isn’t a particularly engaging antagonist, partly through being a non-canon creation and for not having a backstory or purpose beyond being an evil megalomaniac, just like most other villains. He may be powerful and dangerous but so are farts after a ferociously hot and spicy curry! Bojack does have a female second in the form of Zangya who is pretty vicious but as a supporting character her potential isn’t fully realised.
If it weren’t for the hilarity of Satan, the freshness of the tournament and Gohan now the nominal hero of the hour, this would be just another DBZ film, so be thankful there is something different on offer to make this one of the more enjoyable entries in this series.
Overall, it is hard not to find this latest DBZ movie collection release a brief diversion from the winter blues, and if you can’t rely on DBZ for that, who can you rely on?
English Language 5.1 with Japanese Music
English Language 5.1 with US Music
Original Japanese Mono
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black