Dragonball Z: Volume 2 Piccolo’s Plan

Old Man Kangaroo

Episodes: 4, 5, and 6
Publisher: Funimation
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: 6/13/05

imageMy friends, we do truly live in august times. For years we have been denied the chance to see Dragonball Z in its entirety. The more enterprising could hunt down the Japanese DVDs but then faced potential compatibility problems in their American players. Finally, Funimation has deemed us ready to see Dragonball Z in its true glory, with all the blood, violence, and children urinating the Japanese intended.

For many of us, Dragonball Z was the first anime series we really had a chance to watch. Along with Sailor Moon, it was one of the first series picked up by Cartoon Network and disseminated to a mass American audience. Even in Japan, it is one of the seminal series and it still remains one of the best. It is really amazing how many different ways they find to blow stuff up.

imageThe “Ultimate Uncut Special Edition” series of Dragonball Z DVDs, which Funimation Entertainment is now putting out, is the best Dragonball release to date. Firstly, the DVD comes in a case with cool looking foil graphics. On the DVD you will find English, Japanese, and even Spanish dialogue with Dolby 5.1 surround sound for the English version (sorry Espanol). The menu system is well-presented and easy to navigate. Everything about this DVD speaks of the love which Funimation too must feel for the import that practically founded the studio.

Episode 4: Piccolo’s Plan
I never would have thought Piccolo had red blood. Goku and Piccolo have teamed up in an attempt to defeat Goku’s evil brother Raditz. Raditz kidnapped Gohan in order to force Goku to join him. Though Piccolo was one of Goku’s most dangerous enemies from the original Dragonball series, since Raditz plans to take over the earth as well, Piccolo is willing to help Goku in this fight. We join the two after some preliminary fighting in the previous episode. Now the weighted training clothes are off and Goku and Piccolo are ready to go at the fight seriously.

The fighting in this episode is good, displaying the fighters’ speed and power in an interesting fashion. Raditz easily outclasses the earth warriors but soon realizes he may have underestimated them as Piccolo charges a special attack too powerful for him to block. Goku misses an opportunity to end the fight, getting Raditz by the tail but then releasing him when he begs for mercy and promises to leave the planet. Being a good guy can sometimes come back and bite you. This is however, one of the chief themes of the Dragonball series. Goku is always merciful to a defenseless opponent, sometimes he is wrong, but other times his most bitter enemies eventually become his strongest allies.

imageAs the episode comes to an end, Piccolo’s attack is wasted and Goku is in serious trouble. Things look grim until Raditz suddenly detects a third power level. Spurred by his father’s cries for help, baby Gohan bursts from Raditz’s space pod.

Episode 5: Gohan’s Rage
With Gohan’s power skyrocketing beyond either Goku’s or Piccolo’s, Raditz has a new threat to worry about. Gohan’s attack amounts to a single blow which sends his uncle reeling. Afterwards, Gohan’s rage is spent and he returns to being a helpless child.

Raditz forgets Goku and prepares to deal with Gohan, giving Goku a chance to catch him off guard again and grab him from behind. There isn’t a lot of grappling in Dragonball Z. What we see in this episode is pretty accurate to an actual fight. As Raditz tries to escape Goku’s hold, Piccolo has the time he needs to recharge his special beam cannon. The result is one of the largest omitted moments from the earlier Dragonball Z release and illustrates why this new special edition is so important to hardcore fans. This time we actually see the beam pierce Goku and Raditz. As they fall apart, blood trails from their wounds and Raditz spits blood from his mouth. There is a much greater emotive effect in witnessing Goku’s sacrifice when you actually see the physical result.

imageRaditz is amazed Goku would give his own life to protect the earth. However, Piccolo tells him about the Dragonballs which will allow Goku to be wished back to life. Unfortunately, Piccolo chose a really bad time to gloat as that bit of information, transmitted via Raditz’s scouter, is what will bring two even more powerful Saiyans to earth in a year. Raditz thinks he will be resurrected but, as we cut to Vegeta and Napa, we find they don’t consider him worth the bother. You have to admit Vegeta has a point. Raditz did let himself get caught off guard an awful lot.

Episode 6: No Time Like the Present
Krillin, Master Roshi, and Bulma arrive to hear Goku’s last words. Piccolo regrows the arm he lost fighting Raditz. It looks like a painful process but is, to my knowledge, the best method of regrowing limbs available. Once that is dealt with, he announces his intention to take Gohan and train him until the two other Saiyans arrive. The three don’t like the idea but aren’t in a position to argue and leave after Goku’s corpse pulls an Obi Wan Kenobi and vanishes.

In this episode we are given the first look at the spirit world of Dragonball Z. Kami takes Goku to see King Yema, ruler of the dead, and gets him permission to travel down the Snake Way and try to get training from King Kai. I think this is the only point in the series where we see Kami being contrite, stumbling over his words in an attempt not to offend Yema.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Piccolo begins training Gohan. He hurls Gohan at a mountain which the child must destroy to protect himself, finally convincing him that he does have some hidden power. This moment is about the only cool, explodey part in this episode. Master Roshi and Bulma decide they had better find Yamcha and Tien to warn them about the coming Saiyans. Krillin, getting the short end of the stick, is chosen to break the news to Chi Chi that her husband has been killed and her son has been taken by their previously most feared enemy.

Technical/Extras: 9.5
Funimation puts in just about everything you could ask for. The dialogue is offered in three languages. The only real problem I found is that there are no Spanish subtitles for the original Japanese dialogue. Of course, having a Spanish option at all is more than you get with most Animes. All told this DVD is pretty well packed to the gills.

Entertainment: 9.0
This installment has a pretty good fight. It is not one of the best fights of the series but it is still quite entertaining. The characters need to get a little more powerful before they can really start to bring it.

Overall: 9.5

If you wanted a Dragonball Z collection but haven’t bought one yet, this is probably the best series of DVD’s Funimation is going to release. Though Dragonball does have the theme of always finding a new level beyond the previous ultimate, I think when Funimation labeled this series ‘ultimate’ they meant it. If you got the previous, edited Dragonball episodes, you should still give serious though to buying this series. Of course, if you’re a bit cheap and can handle missing out on the extras, you can catch these uncut episodes on Cartoon Network.

Extras: English, Espanol, and Japanese dialogue
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (English only)
Dragonball Trivia
Trailers (Dragonball Z, Kodocha, Burst Angle, Baki the Grappler, Shonen Jump)

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