Dragonball Z Movie Collection Six: Fusion Reborn/Wrath Of The Dragon (Cert PG)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 51 minutes approx. / 52 minutes approx.
And so we reach the end of the DBZ movie double pack releases of the 13 original “feature length” outings from the 1990’s before an 18-year break ended with the arrival of Battle Of Gods in 2013. Does the first wave of non-canon spin-offs go out with an almighty Super Saiyan bang?
First up is Fusion Reborn from 1995 which takes place around the time of the Majin Buu arc, explaining why in the opening prologue we see a deceased Goku in the middle of a martial arts tournament in the afterlife! Whilst Goku is in combat against a Namekian named Pikkon, we drop in on hell where a teenage oni in charge of a spirit-cleansing machine is too busy rocking out to the music on his walkman to notice it overflowing.
It finally explodes and all of the evil spirits escape, reincarnating the dead on earth whilst killing the living in hell. Most problematic of all, the spirits engulf the oni’s body and turn him into a powerful giant blob of pure evil with a hunger for destruction calling himself Janemba. This leaves Goku and Pikkon to abandon their fight to deal with Janemba while the Z-Fighters on Earth face off against the rampaging dead spirits.
Of all the DBZ films, this one takes itself seriously the least, evident by the appearance of none other than Hitler as one of the resurrected evil spirits. Yes, the Teutonic Terror leads an army of Nazi tanks through the city with domination in mind, but doesn’t reckon on the Z-Fighters as opposition. In this instance, it is Goten and Trunks who send this overtly cartoonish incarnation of Der Führer back to whence he came.
Also representing Z-Fighters on Earth are Gohan and Videl in their guises as costumed heroes Great Saiyaman 1 & 2, whilst in Hell, Goku receives support from Vegeta. It is when Goku struggles to vanquish the gelatinous Janemba even in Super Saiyan III mode and Vegeta has equally poor success, incurring Janemba to adopt a sleeker and far more powerful form that the only solution is for the estranged brothers to employ the titular fusion into their supreme form, Gogeta!
This might be the silliest entry into the DBZ universe yet but it cores highly with on the action front, providing two sets of hard-hitting fantasy punch-ups across the living world and the afterlife. Janemba’s appearance isn’t too dissimilar from that of Majin Buu, albeit he is bright yellow and can only say his name, but his second form is more agile and threatening, if a little generic in being drawn from the same template as Freeza, who also makes a brief appearance in this film.
Of course, the sight of Hitler is the main talking point, an abstract idea even for anime yet despite the random goofiness of it, the lack of irony and context makes it a curious ides to throw into the DBZ melting pot given its usual policy for keeping reality distant from its fantasy world. But for sheer, unadulterated fun this daft but hugely enjoyable opus is a great tonic for the current winter blues.
Rounding off this run of original films is Wrath Of The Dragon, also from 1995, although the dragon in question might refer to Goku’s Dragon Fist punch rather than a particular beast. Fitting into the DBZ timeline after the conclusion of the Majin Buu saga, the story begins on Earth as Great Saiyaman 1 & 2 (Gohan and Videl) are called to save an old alien man named Hoi from jumping off a high tower.
Hoi explains that he has a music box inside which a powerful warrior named Tapion has been sealed away, and needs to be freed otherwise Earth will fall to an impending evil only Tapion can stop. When the music box proves impossible to open, Goku and the Z-Fighters disperse to gather the Dragonballs and ask Shen Long to open the box, which he does.
Tapion is released but is very angry as he reveals that Hoi has duped them into also releasing a ramping beast called Hildegarn that will destroy all living beings on Earth. Yet, only the bottom half of this gigantic beast appears – the rest is trapped in Tapion which he naturally doesn’t want released but after befriending Trunks, the Z-Fighters help Tapion stay safe, But Hoi has other plans…
Wrath Of The Dragon is one of those infuriating adjuncts that reveals tremendous potential for being a story that could play out as a full arc in its own right, such is the depth of the premise driving it. Cruelly condensed into 51 minutes doesn’t do it justice and we are left wanting to know more about Tapion, his background and the vendetta Hoi has against the human race which are briefly touched on here.
DBZ creator Akira Toriyama must have thought so, providing the character designs for Tapion and his fellow Conatians, the Elven like race from the planet Conats whose priests developed the magical sword and ocarina that would control and defeat Hildegarn. The reason only the bottom half of Hildegarn appears on Earth is revealed during a flashback/exposition dump in which Tapion shares his history with Bulma.
There is a lot of invention in the detail behind the story even though it contains many familiar beats of the fantasy genre and DBZ itself, making the compact story telling the cruel given its obvious potential. Despite Tapion also being worthy of a role within the Z-Fighter, it is an already overcrowded unit, which explains why the action is reserved for Goku, Gohan, Goten, Trunks and Vegeta with favourites like Krillin or Piccolo are absent.
Referring to the question in the opening paragraph about whether this collection goes out with a bang, thanks to the second film it most certainly does, making for a satisfying way to kill a couple of hours, whether you are a die-hard fan or not.
English Language 5.1 with Japanese Music
English Language 5.1 with US Music
Original Japanese Mono
Rating – *** ½
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