Anime: Dragonball Z: Vegeta Saga I Gohan’s Trials

Old Man Kangaroo

Episodes: Volume 4, 10-12
Studio: Funimation

Dragonball Z has been with us for many years and holds a special place in many of our memories. However, sometimes you find you can never go home again. Other times, you go home and find out they’ve renovated it with snazzy new foil cases, uncut footage, and lots of extras. And in the end, home still blows up just as good as it did when we were kids.

If you’re a Dragonball fan and haven’t seen Funimation’s new ‘Ultimate Uncut Special Edition’ release, you’re definitely missing out. Everything about this series is top notch from the shine on the foil cases to the comprehensive extras. Of course, for all the aficionados the real selling point is the completely uncut and unedited original footage from the Japanese series.

In addition to extra footage, Funimation gives us English, Japanese, and Spanish dialogue tracks. Depending on your tastes, there are lots of pros for each option. The Japanese is obviously the original dialogue track. Meanwhile, the English track is a new recording that Funimation made for this release (there are some minor dialogue changes). If you really want to geek out, you can watch with the Spanish dialogue track, which is probably from the original release in Mexico that predated Dragonball’s introduction to the U.S.

The Japanese voice actors tend to be a bit more histrionic than the English actors. However, their voices fit the characters pretty well and do add a different dimension to the characters’ personalities. Even though non-Japanese speakers might not understand the words, the tonalities and delivery still come through. I especially like the voice for young Gohan which has much more of a squeaky kid-like quality than the English version.

Another point the Japanese version offers are the original opening and ending credit sequences. The English version has a new beginning that is really edited and produced but doesn’t really do anything for me. I do like the new English ending song though. The Japanese credit sequences are just plain weird. I find them quite enjoyable and the songs are a lot better. If you read the subtitles, what they’re actually singing is even stranger than what is going on the screen. Of course, you do need to read subtitles in the Japanese version but at this point, anyone who says they are annoyed by reading subtitles deserves to be beaten to death (and only wished back once they’ve learned their lesson).

What the English version has is the voice actors we’ve come to love for the whole series. This time around Chris Sabat is doing Vegeta from the beginning. Both he and Sean Schemmel have really defined Goku and Vegeta. The American voice actors are all top notch and are really the voices I associate with the Dragonball characters at the end of the day.

Episode 10: A New Friend

Gohan is becoming acclimated to his life in the wilderness. He has set up residence in a cave and soon gains a new roommate in the form of an injured brontosaurus (bully for brontosaurus). Gohan decides to care for his new friend and sets about gathering food. As he fantasizes about having a dinosaur for a pet, we get an interesting crayon-style animation sequence. Now after what happened to the robot Gohan befriended in the last episode, after all the progress he’s made, surely this time things will go better.

The tyrannosaurus shows up and eats Gohan’s brontosaurus. Gohan does his best to fight the predator off, and is certainly more effective than in their earlier encounter when he just ran for his life. However, Gohan is eventually knocked unconscious and wakes to find only the skeletal remains (definitely not something you’d see in an American cartoon).

Meanwhile, Bulma and Krillin are gathering the Earth’s fighters. They find Yamcha playing baseball for a living. He is quick to give it up when he finds out Kami has called him for training. Apparently Bulma and him are currently on the outs but there’s obviously still something there. Overall it adds up to a decent episode. Gohan living in the wilderness reminds one of the feeling of the original Dragonball series.

Episode 11: Terror on Arlia

On their way to earth, Vegeta and Napa stop off on planet Arlia to see if they can clear it and sell it off. I smell hijinks. Arlia doesn’t look to be in too good shape and almost immediately they are accosted by two Arlians (who are kind of like giant crickets). Rather than fight, Vegeta decides to let the Arlians arrest them. Oh those wacky Saiyans. Won’t those Arlians be surprised when they flip out and start freakin’ killing everyone.

Vegeta and Napa find out that the present emperor of Arlia has run the planet into the ground. With no respect for the environment, life of apparently any sort, or anything but his own pleasures and agenda (and possibly no-bid contracts with Haliburton), the Arlian emperor has left the once valuable planet a worthless rock. Vegeta and Napa find themselves in the role of heroes as they fight their way through the emperor’s guards, gladiators, and giant bug hidden in the floor, killing anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. Unfortunately, the Arlians could have found better liberators as Vegeta performs a coup de grace and destroys the entire planet.

I’ve always liked this episode. It really established just where on the moral spectrum the coming Saiyans stand and there’s always an amount of pleasure in the unbridled and unconstrained violence of Vegeta. My only problem is that it seems to have so much unrealized potential. Normally the Dragonball story is told at an almost excruciatingly slow pace. However, they rush through this event is a single episode.

Episode 12: Global Training

Krillin and Bulma continue their search for the earth’s strongest fighters. They find Tien and Chaiotzu training in the mountains. Miss Lunch, a character that got a lot of play in Dragonball but doesn’t appear much in Dragonball Z, is trying to seduce Tien into a life of hedonism and bank robbery. She doesn’t seem to be getting far but she is also not a woman who gives up easily. Boy, Tien has Lunch, Yamcha has Bulma, Goku’s got Chi Chi, and Krillin has nobody. Why don’t the ladies like poor Krillin. Don’t worry Krillin; your day will come.

Meanwhile, Piccolo is busy lifting pyramids to train his powers. I must say it doesn’t seem like an easy task. Gohan has become quite the terror, chasing down the tyrannosaurus he previously ran from to cut off slices of its’ tail. I never thought I’d feel sorry for a tyrannosaurus. Piccolo loses control of his power, causing widespread devastation and some cool stuff to happen.

So far not much has gone on with Goku. For the last few episodes he has just been running down Snake Way. However, we’re given a cliff hanger ending to this episode suggesting more action on the way. Goku encounters a street sweeper, hitches a ride, and takes a nap. But while sleeping Goku slides off and falls from snake way, which after the warnings he was given earlier, can’t be a good thing. What’s this our hapless hero hurtling from heaven’s highway? Is this the end for our Saiyan superman? Tune in next week; same dragon time, same dragon channel.

Technical/Extras: 9 Great presentation with nice foil cases, uncut Japanese footage, three language options, and Dolby 5.1 digital surround sound for the English soundtrack. Also trailers and Dragonball trivia for the extra geeky.

Entertainment: 9.5 This volume has one of my favorite episodes, ‘Terror on Arlia,’ though it could be fleshed out better, it offers a quick little ministory. It’s also one of the few times in Dragonball where good doesn’t come out on top. The other episodes are above average as well.

Overall: 9.5

If you are a fan of Dragonball Z, you should be getting this series. The only reason not to would be the hope that Funimation will be releasing a box set once they have gotten done releasing the individual episodes.

Extras: English, Espanol, and Japanese dialogue
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (English only)
Dragonball Trivia
Trailers (Dragonball Z Movie, Dragonball Z, Samurai 7, Baki the Grappler, Galaxy Railways, Lupin the 3rd)

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