Funimation // 1990 // 1000 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // March 11th, 2010
The Ultimate for any Dragon Ball Z Collector!
Funimation surprised the hell out of anime fans by releasing Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One, satisfying a long-demanded fan request: the original Japanese version of the popular anime, digitally remastered frame-by-frame. The second installment is here, Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two, so numbered because it's second. If you bought the first one, you're definitely buying this one.
Far away on the alien planet of Namek, Bulma and the rest of the gang head out scouring the land looking for the Dragon Balls, but danger awaits them. The tyrannical galactic overlord Frieza has his troops scouring the planet for the same Dragon Balls in a bid for immortality. But when Frieza's super-powerful Ginyu Force encounters Vegeta, still stinging from his defeat on Earth, they find a formally subservient Saiyan now ready to fight.
Goku races to Namek to help his friends, training the whole time (of course) and arrives just in time to make short work of the Ginyu Force. This forces the powerful Frieza to confront his opponents directly, and quickly reveals himself to be the most powerful opponent Goku and his friends have ever faced! Will they survive?
Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two contains episodes forty-three through eighty-four of the hit anime series, encompassing the Namek Saga and the start of the Frieza Saga.
Now we're cooking. Dragon Box One was great, but let's face it; the Vegeta Saga was hardly the show's crowning achievement in awesome. Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two gives us the Namek Saga and kicks off the Frieza Saga, which is where I fell into the show as a teen. We've got the enigmatic Frieza, scourge of the galaxy, able to destroy entire planets in a single attack, and an enduring legend about a Super Sayan making him extremely nervous. This is where Dragon Ball Z comes into its own as a dark and more mature entity. If you can't get down with this, then best walk away now.
As for this awesomeness of this set, there's not much more to say that hasn't been said already. Simply put, this thing is a godsend for fans. Dub after dub, cropped transfer after cropped transfer, there has never been a definitive and authentic representation of the Japanese Dragon Ball Z experience in North America. Fans had to pay hefty import fees and fight regional encoding on their DVD players to approximate the experience -- not to mention learn some Japanese. All that has changed with the Dragon Box sets, which for the first time give us lowly Westerners the "real" thing in all its dated glory. The presentation, the audio, the uncut content -- it's all perfect.
Dragon Box Two is a great ride. These represent some of the best episodes of the series, leading up to a showdown with Frieza that represents the pinnacle of awesome. Goku and his friends fighting the Ginyu Force push the show further into some amazingly detailed and epic fight sequences in the intense and over-the-top style that would become the series trademark. Of course, this also means freakishly drawn-out battles that take dozens and dozens of episodes to unfold, with plenty of standing around listening to internal monologues and "powering up." Admittedly, it's a love it or hate it kind of thing -- but odds are you won't be reading this review if you're in the latter camp. This set is for serious collectors only.
As with the previous installment, the presentation is top-notch. The Dragon Box sets are essentially North American copies of limited edition Japanese box sets, long coveted by Western fans. Toei and Japanese DVD manufacturer Pony Canyon have restored the entire series frame-by-frame from the 16mm film reels, fixing frame alignment to remove jitter and cleaning all dirt and scratches from the image. The transfer is virtually identical to the Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Two, so fans will know exactly what to expect here. A fair amount of grain is evident, but this is a two-decade-old animation, and frankly, one would expect as much. Colors are pleasing and natural, without being oversaturated, and, as advertised, there isn't a scratch to be found. The full-frame presentation -- a departure from past cropped 1.78:1 treatments -- gives this show the most faithful and accurate presentation yet.
As with the previous set, audio choices include the original Japanese mono presentation and a 5.1 English dub treatment, with the original Japanese music. Tinny and distorted, the mono track exhibits harsh trebles and weak bass, but has been cleaned up enough to still remain quite viable and enjoyable. The English dub makes respectable use of its five channels, spreading out sound effects and smoothing out the harsh treble qualities of the mono track, but you can only tweak the original source material so much. This version preserves the original Japanese score, abandoning entirely the English music many fans grew up on.
Finally, identical to Dragon Box One, there are no on-disc extras; fans get a handsome forty-eight-page hardcover booklet, a translated copy of the original material included in the Japanese release crammed full of trivia, sketches, and tidbits. Some of the content is redundant from the first box, which is unfortunate, but this is a minor nitpick at best.
My grievances with the first installment are the same I have with Dragon Box Two. The MSRP is too expensive, and fans are probably weary of having been duped into buying so many iterations of Dragon Ball Z on DVD over the last year that no one is going to take the plunge on this set. That's a shame, because it's a really nice set, but you can only get people to buy the same episodes so many times before they wise up.
If you bought Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One, then you'll be buying this, too. See? Nice and easy. Only the hardcore fans need apply with this one, but your dedication and reverent obsession has finally been rewarded. Funimation has kicked out a magnificent product with the Dragon Box set.
Review content copyright © 2010 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Japanese)
Running Time: 1000 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated