Dragonball Z Kai: Season Two covers one of the series’ strongest arcs, the Frieza arc, which is a welcome change to what Season One covered, the Saiyan arc, which is arguably the worst.
Frieza has had many resurrections recently with both the new film and season two of the anime releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD, and this is easily one of the most memorable arcs of DBZ even if it isn’t my personal favourite (which probably belongs to the Buu saga). The Ginyu Squad square off against the Z Warriors with Vegeta, the antagonist of season one, helping the Z warriors out as he wants to destroy Frieza who destroyed Planet Vegeta – his home planet. With Frieza proving to be the strongest foe that any of them have fought, Goku struggles to try and achieve the legendary Super Saiyan form that’ll grant him the power to defeat Frieza.
Kai is an edited version of the original anime that aims to remove filler and present a condensed, better paced version of Dragonball Z and it definitely succeeds in doing so! Admittedly things still feel as if they move along relatively slowly, especially when it comes to battles, but that’s part of DBZ’s charm at this point – long, seemingly never-ending battles with plenty of transformations, powering up and screaming. It isn’t Dragonball Z if fights don’t take thrice as long as a villain claims it to last.
I’ve reviewed the DVD copy but it’s clear that due to its age, DBZ will struggle to look particularly outstanding on either format – it wasn’t made for HD and it shows but Manga UK have done a great job working with what’s available to them, and it’s the best way you’re going to be able to experience DBZ despite the 4:3 ratio (black bars on both sides of the screen).I’m not sure I can claim that it’s worth upgrading if you already own the original sets, especially as most of the animation is left untouched with only a few scenes being updated, but Kai is the best place for beginners and those wanting to relive the series.
The actual animation itself holds up though with the fight scenes still being some of the best around, particularly Goku vs Frieza, and it’s still enough to get me on the edge of my seat despite knowing full well how things will pan out. Toriyama’s unique vision for the future of Earth in the DBZ world has become classic in its own right, and his creativity in creating other planet such as Namek is noteworthy although they sometimes come across as pretty barren because, other than Frieza having his way with Namek, all planets suffer from ’empty landscape syndrome’ where there’s a lack of environment so there’s enough room to battle in.
I’ll forever defend the DBZ dub although it’s a popular opinion that it’s on par, if not better, than the original Japanese voiceover. The dub just fits perfectly whereas I’m not a huge fan of the Japanese voice-over, and although the voice talent are best and mostly only known for their work on DBZ, they’ve really taken the characters and made them their own – it’s definitely an example of some of the best casting around! The OST brings back nostalgia too and whilst some fans will be upset with the lack of the ‘Rock the Dragon’ OP but I vastly prefer new OP ‘Dragon Soul’ which has several voice-actors and actresses from the show singing it, including Goku, Raditz, Broly and Krillin – it’s so addicting and upbeat, you can’t help but love it.
It’s always nice revisiting DBZ even if it isn’t my favourite shonen show (which is One Piece) but the amount of nostalgia, the voice-acting and the battles always get me excited. The latest DBZ movies have mostly featured an unstoppable Goku whilst the other Z Fighters watch on and can’t do a whole lot as he’s so vastly stronger than everybody else, but the series gives screentime to the other heroes and lets them play their part too. The Frieza arc is one of the strongest and with Ressurection of F doing so well in cinemas, there’s probably a lot of people wanting to revisit this arc, and the release of Kai is the best way to do it.
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