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Dragon Ball Z Kai — Part Three 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-14
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 14, 2010
  • List Price: $54.98

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Purchase Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season One — Part Three on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

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:4.5/5]

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.

Part Three of Dragon Ball Z Kai contains episodes 27 – 39 of the series and continues from Part Two’s cliffhanger. Goku is once again away, this time strengthening his body to handle his new found power, while Vegeta is still trying to gather the Dragon Balls in an effort to gain immortality and rule over mankind.  But Part Three adds in a new threat — a powerful force of warriors heading to Earth to battle, and the only hope is for Goku’s friends to take up an uneasy alliance with Vegeta to fend them off until Goku can return to battle them.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

It struck me while watching this that, while this may be one of the few recent crop of Funimation releases that is natively HD (in actuality, sourced from film) and not upscaled from SD, that with all the money that has been made off of this franchise, perhaps a little more effort could have been put into bringing this series to Blu-ray? I see what Disney does with much older animated masters and in comparison Dragon Ball Z Kai is a disaster. The image is soft, colors don’t quite pop, and there is a lot of source damage that can still be seen. Still, just as on Part One and Part Two, the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is maintained in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding of Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part Three. Toei Animation Co’s. hard work in going back to the original drawings and restoring Dragon Ball Z has paid off nonetheless.. The picture still shows some inconsistencies in color reproduction and fills with a little noise, as I’ve pointed out, but this native HD transfer is still one of the better transfers from Funimation. 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 much less edginess to the high frequencies than is normally found in Funimation soundtracks. The recording levels are still pushed a bit, requiring me to listen a full 5db lower than normal, but dynamic range is still good. Low frequencies are deep and tight if not resounding. 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 not much here worth watching outside of the brief featurette featuring interview segments with the U.S. voice cast.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • U.S. Cast Interview (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:07.26)
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers:
    • Trigun
    • Sands of Destruction
    • Tower of Druaga
    • Dragon Ball
    • OnePiece
    • Initial D
    • S.A.V.E.
    • Dragon Ball Z Kai

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Part Three of Dragon Ball Z Kai pays off with an energetic series of episodes that trims the fat and gets right down to the meat. Fans of the series will not be disappointed with any of the parts released so far, but some may want to hold off on a purchase for what is bound to be a forthcoming, “complete series” collection.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right”]B0043988HG[/amazon-product]

Purchase Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season One — Part Three on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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