Funimation // 1989 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 14th, 2005
Goku: It looks like they only want me, and that's exactly who they'll get.
Dragon Ball Z has had many incarnations over the years. At first, it was a popular show that started its run in Japan during 1989. Seven years later it hit United States syndication, but its violent images and cursing were cleaned up to make it more acceptable for kids. There were also several cuts to some subplots made to make the show move along faster. Then Pioneer released the US television versions on DVD. Another company called Funimation stepped in and picked up the later half of the series, and delivered an uncut version of those shows to the US market. Now Funimation is currently backtracking and releasing the first part of the show with its voice actors and all cuts removed. Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta Saga 1 -- Into the Wild is the third installment of the first run with Vegeta debuting at the climax of the series. This volume includes three episodes numbered seven through nine.
The story picks up as Goku has died and gone to another dimension where he will train with King Kai. This means the gang on Earth can't bring him back with a Dragon Ball for one year. Goku's son, Gohan, has been kidnapped for training by Piccolo. Seems the "green meanie" wants to train up every fighter the Earth has to go against the two evil Saiyans hurtling towards them. Meanwhile, poor Kirillin has to inform Goku's wife that her husband and child will be gone for a year preparing to battle the incoming threats. Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta Saga 1 -- Into the Wild takes us through the first parts of both Goku and Gohan's training. Goku has to run thousands of miles in the tedious plot concerning the arduous Snake Way trail. Gohan must face the wilderness alone for the first time, and Piccolo discovers something unique about the sources of Saiyan power.
These aren't the most action-packed episodes of Dragon Ball Z, but Funimation has done a very solid job with the collection. The transfers look surprisingly good considering the show originated in the late '80s. There is some dirt and grain present, and the occasional white mark shows up, but overall it looks good. The sound comes in four flavors: English five channel or stereo, Spanish stereo, and the original Japanese in stereo. The most problematic one is the English five channel, because it makes the score a little too heavy and it drowns out the dialogue. I preferred the Japanese track because it was sparse, and very well executed. But give Funimation props, because the voice actors in the English dub are all quite good.
Extras include a featurette with the voice actors from America contemplating who is superior -- Goku or Vegeta. It is mixed with fan footage, and is surprisingly the exact same featurette included with the first collection. New to this set is a trivia contest and a gallery of trailers. You'd think they could produce a lot of features for this title, since Dragon Ball Z never seems to wane in its popularity. So what's included in the "uncut" department? Well, the majority of these episodes include very little violence, so there's not too much added in the blood and bad words department. The most significant sequence I could find came in episode number nine where we see Gohan befriending a robot trapped in a cave. It was cut from the US versions, but the entire sequence is intact here for fans to finally see. It's a nice little story, and it does illuminate some changes that occur with Gohan.
If you're a collector or rabid fan this is an easy purchase decision. Welcome to your dream come true! If you're a newbie, definitely begin with the first volume of stories, since Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta Saga 1 -- Into the Wild starts at a midpoint. This is a classic anime series that threatens to overtake Robotech in popularity, and it's definitely worth checking out. The animation is a little dated, but solid storytelling never gets old. So go out and buy an action figure or a pack of trading cards, and get ready to spend some quality time with Goku.
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Featurette: "Goku vs. Vegeta"
* DBZ Trivia
* Official Site