Dragonball Z TV Specials – The History Of Trunks/Bardock – The Father Of Goku (Cert 12)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 48 minutes approx. / 48 minutes approx.
The double feature releases of Dragonball Z movies may have ended but there are still further gems from the DBZ archive to be excavated for the HD remaster/Blu-ray treatment, vis-a-vis to two feature length specials that aired in Japan as an adjunct to the DBZ TV series.
Both films serve to add backstory and insight to the main DBZ story, although they may not be strictly considered canon as one of them didn’t come directly from the pen of DBZ creator Akira Toriyama. Regardless, their relevance to the main story and the diegesis of DBZ is authentic enough to make this a minor quibble one can easily overlook and accept these versions of events as part of the official folklore.
Originally airing on Japanese TV in 1993, The History Of Trunks was in fact the later of the two films despite being included first in this release. This was the one based on a bonus manga chapter by Toriyama and ran in between episodes 175-176 of the DBZ TV series, at the point of the Cell Games arc, yet it fits in more directly with the storyline that precedes it.
A rather self-explanatory title, we take a look at one of the more curious members of the Z-Fighters due to his time travelling exploits. As we know Trunks is the son of Bulma and Vegeta and his future self first appeared during the end of the Frieza arc having travelled back in time to assist Son Goku and co in their battle against the despicable despot by obliterating Frieza with ease.
We join the story as Goku dies of heart disease and the rest of the Z-Fighters have been killed by Androids #17 and #18. At this point Trunks is a wee babe in arms while the only other survivor is Gohan, still a youngster at this point. Thirteen years later, Gohan is now powerful enough to seek revenge against the Androids, along with Trunks who he has been training.
However, Trunks cannot achieve Super Saiyan mode yet so Gohan tries to limit Trunks’ battles but stubborn Trunks gets stuck in anyway, routinely defeated with ease by the Androids. Meanwhile Bulma has not only built a time machine but has also developed a serum that will protect Goku from his fatal heart disease, but Trunks is too consumed with defeating the Androids by himself to do her bidding.
Despite the permanent scowl etched across his face, we finally see from this film that Trunks isn’t the surly chap he appears to be and is capable of empathy and emotion. His relationship with Gohan seems closer than his bond with Bulma but there is no outward hostility shown towards his mother by Trunks, just typical pre-teen defiance.
Much of the screen time is devoted to the non-stop action of the showdowns between the Androids and our heroes but because this is a temporary adjunct, the conclusion is to be found in the main TV show instead. All this film does is set the scene for that development whilst sharing the events leading up to it and placing them into context whilst showing us a different side to Trunks.
The second film Bardock – The Father Of Goku first aired in 1990, appearing between episodes 63 and 64 and serves as a prequel to both DBZ and its predecessor Dragonball. Another self-explanatory title, this time we go right back to the birth of Goku on Planet Vegeta, christened Kakarot by his father Bardock, a low-level Saiyan soldier serving in Frieza’s armed forces.
At this point in time, the Saiyans were not nice people, conquering planets and wiping out entire life forms across the universe on Frieza’s command. When Kakarot is born, he shows no signs of being much of a warrior and is deemed useless, so Bardock effectively ignores his new born son, despite Kakarot being prepared to be sent to conquer a distant frontier planet called Earth.
During an attack on the Planet Kanassa, Bardock and his fellow Saiyans massacre all but one of the denizens, a warrior who curses Bardock with the gift of seeing into the future. At first Bardock wonders how this is a curse until he begins to have visions of the life that awaits his son on Earth, which confuses him.
Then when he joins another mission on the Planet Meat, Bardock finds the Saiyans have been wiped out by Frieza’s army, learning that Frieza was becoming concerned at how powerful the Saiyans were becoming, after the impressive growth in power of the young Prince Vegeta, and decided to act first by wiping the entire Saiyan race out.
It may not be canon but this is the most satisfying of the two films and arguably one of the better DBZ side stories. The legend of how brutal and merciless the Saiyans were has only been allude to in the main timeline via the occasional arrival of a surviving warrior from a doomed race seeking revenge on Goku for his race’s sins. Now we know why and the true depth of the connection between Goku and Frieza.
Vegeta’s initial hostility and superior attitude is also explained here, revealing not only that he is a few years older than Goku but also why he refuses to accept someone who was born weaker than him should become more powerful. Action is admittedly sparse compared to other films but this isn’t a complaint, given the strength and revelatory nature of the storytelling – in fact, this deserves more than just 48 minutes, it should have been a full story arc in its own right.
You could say this was a case of saving the best until last, and by ending this series of film releases with the prequel was a stroke of genius for those of us who began at the beginning. For DBZ fans I can say without hyperbole, that this particular presentation is an essential purchase in completing your classic DBZ viewing.
English Language 5.1 with Japanese Music
English Language 5.1 with US Music
Rating – ****
Man In Black