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Dragon Ball Z Kai — Part Four Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: AB
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 8, 2011
  • List Price: $54.98

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004FOPFIE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season One Part Four (2 Disc) -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Dragon Ball franchise is one of the most popular anime series to hit in the past couple of decades. It has spawned television series, feature films, and numerous merchandising products from trading cards to video games. The franchise is so ubiquitous is hard to believe that it has been around for 25-years.

Dragon Ball Z Kai arrives in celebration of that 25th Anniversary. It is not a new series, but rather a rebuilding of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z anime. The Toei Animation Co. has gone back to the original drawings and animation cels to redo the series, being that most of the cels were destroyed when the series originally ended in 1996. New frames were added and the original series was shortened from over 200 episodes to just 100 episodes, to create a more compact, action-packed version of Dragon Ball Z.  The original English voice cast was also brought back to re-record their parts for this revitalized version of the Dragon Ball saga.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, Dragon Ball follows a boy named Goku who arrives on Earth mysteriously and grows up to become a great warrior. He befriends a girl named Bulma and together they go on a quest to seek out seven mystical Dragon Balls, powerful charms that when brought together have the power to summon a magical dragon that can grant wishes, such as bringing people back from the dead.

Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z Kai pick up when Goku is an adult and he meets his older brother Raditz. Raditz tells Goku that they are from a powerful alien race known as the Saiyans and they are meant to destroy everyone on Earth. Goku and his one-time nemesis Piccolo fight off Raditz with aid of Goku’s son Gohan, but Goku dies in the process, going to the afterlife where he must seek the aid of King Kai to train him.

Meanwhile, it is up to Goku’s friends to stand against the remaining two Saiyan’s making their way to Earth, including the powerful Prince Vegeta, until Goku can complete his training and be wished back to life with the Dragon Balls. In Part Two, Goku makes it back to battle Vegeta, but overwhelms his body with the strength he must summon in order to fend off the powerful nemesis.

In Part Three of Dragon Ball Z Kai Goku was once again away strengthening his body to handle his newfound power, while Vegeta was still trying to gather the Dragon Balls in an effort to gain immortality and rule over mankind. But Part Three added in a new threat — a powerful force of warriors heading to Earth to do battle, and the only hope was for Goku’s friends to take up an uneasy alliance with Vegeta to fend them off until Goku could return to battle them. That force also consisted of one purple monster, Frieza.

Part Four picks up, again, with Goku away, a familiar pattern, regenerating his powers, as Picolo and crew try to fend off the monster Frieza, who Goku has found out is the one responsible for killing his father and destroying his home planet. Part Four of the Dragon Ball Z saga contains episodes 40 through 52 of the series and is one long arc of battle between Goku and Frieza. The action is explosive, but the monotonous plot of one fight after another does tend to get a little boring after a while.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Part Four of Dragon Ball Z Kai is consistent with previous releases of the series on Blu-ray. It is a native HD transfer (sourced from film). The image is soft, colors don’t quite pop, and there is a lot of source damage that can still be seen. The original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is maintained in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding of Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part Four. Toei Animation Co’s. hard work in going back to the original drawings and restoring Dragon Ball Z has paid off nonetheless. There are some inconsistencies in color reproduction and fills with a little noise, as I’ve pointed out, but t transfer is still one of the better ones from Funimation showing no aliasing, video noise, or compression artifacts. Film grain is present, although there is some softness to the overall picture and line art. Some areas of black fill look a little faded and greyish. The colors don’t necessarily leap out at you in this presentation, but I believe that is the intent of the animators rather than a result of this transfer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Both the re-recorded English soundtrack in 5.1 and Japanese soundtrack in 2.0 are provided in lossless Dolby TrueHD. The English soundtrack is a good one with smooth high frequencies and deeply extended lows. The recording levels are still pushed a bit, requiring me to listen a full 5db lower than normal, but dynamic range is still good. There is some use of the surrounds for discrete sound effects and dialogue is clear, especially the narrator’s voice in the centre channel.

The Japanese 2.0 mix will still be the go-to program for the true enthusiast, however, and it does deliver with a wide soundstage across the stereo field and clean dialogue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0.5/5]

There’s nothing here worthwhile. Funimation have only given textless opening and closing songs plus some Funimation trailers as supplements.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

While Dragon Ball Z Kai – Part Four continues what is certainly an energetic series, fifty-two episodes in, it is obvious that Kai never goes beyond its basic “beat down of the week” formula, with hardly any character development. It may be okay in small doses, and possibly great if you’re twelve, but I can’t see going back to this series very often. Still, I’m sure Dragon Ball has its many fans, and this Blu-ray will be a satisfying, if imperfect, release for those who love the Dragon Ball universe.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004FOPFIE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season One Part Four (2 Disc) -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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