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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dragon Ball Z Season Four

Finished watching Funimation's "orange brick" as the fandom likes to call it of Dragon Ball Z Season Four. It did not disappoint. This release contains 32 episodes on six discs. Sagas included here are the Garlic Jr., Trunks and Android Sagas. Season four is one of my favorite seasons of DBZ and it's great to have it all in one box set. However, it isn't without fault.

Let me get the bad out of the way first. It's no secret that the first anime version of DBZ was stretched out to absurdly long length. The Z portion of the manga series was originally 26 graphic novels. So how does a series spanning 26 books get turned into a 291 episode series? Padding and filler. Lots of filler. Now I'm actually one of those guys that doesn't mind filler when it's good and DBZ does have some good filler. This season set actually has one of my all-time favorite filler episodes, which I'll get to in a moment. But DBZ also has bad filler and in my mind, the king of bad filler in DBZ is none other than the Garlic Jr. Saga, the only fault of this season set as far as quality episodes go. Consisting of 10 episodes, the Garlic Jr. Saga sees the return of Garlic Jr., a villain from the Dead Zone movie/TV special. So yes, he's a filler character, but like I said, I don't mind filler as long as it's good but Garlic Jr. is crap. Not only is he awful, so are his forgettable band of thugs known as the Spice Boys. Garlic Jr. is the only foe in this series that gained his wish of immortality from the Dragon Balls so no matter how hard the heroes hit him, he just won't die. They can, however, send him into a void, which is what they did in the Dead Zone movie, from what I hear. Yes, I never did see that movie, but if this 10 episode saga is any indication, I'm not sure I want to.

An attack this awesome is merely to distract
Freeza from...
This. The "Oh crap!" look on Freeza's face before
Trunks slices him in half is PRICELESS.

One of the few good bits from Garlic Jr. is Chi-Chi getting so angry at Maron's insults that it looks like she learned Goku's Kaio-Ken attack. Who's Maron? Another filler character that's Krillin's first girlfriend for the anime. Maron has the looks of super model and the intelligence of a brick.  In episode 117 (episode 10) of the Garlic Jr. Saga, Krillin question's proposing to her, but in feeling that she's way out of his league, he breaks up with her. It was some nice character development for Krillin as he's always wanted a girlfriend but deep down, he probably knew how shallow she was and that she wasn't the girl for him, something Master Roshi states later on in this season. The final episode in the Garlic Jr. Saga ended up being the only one I really liked as I just couldn't get into the Z Fighters struggle against such lame villains.

Now concerning the rest of this season four set, it's awesome. We see the arrival of Future Trunks, my favorite version of the character and the Androids, a fantastic bunch of not quite villains but not quite heroes either. Let's go back to Future Trunks. Goku still hasn't come back to Earth yet and a year and a half has passed since Freeza was killed. Or was he? Freeza somehow managed to survive an epic beat down by Goku and having a planet blow up in his face. The most powerful force in the universe is now a cyborg and as a result, he's much stronger than he was before. As payback for such a humiliating defeat, Freeza is headed to earth with daddy, King Cold, in tow and plans to make the Saiyan pay by wiping out all live on Earth. As the Z Fighters prepare to make a hopeless last stand, a mysterious youth appears of nowhere and says he's going to kill Freeza. Said mysterious youth is of course, Future Trunks. Freeza, unimpressed, blows him off but when he transforms into a Super Saiyan, he starts freaking out. Future Trunks effortlessly knocks back everything Freeza throws at him and finally finishes him off by slice him in half. King Cold doesn't fare any better and he's quickly disposed off. In a series where such spectacular displays of power happen so many times, Future Trunks killing Freeza and King Cold with ease is still a sight to behold. We don't get to see Future Trunks look this awesome in battle again until the last episode of season six.

Vegeta puts up a good fight against Android 18.
But in the end, even his Super Saiyan powers
aren't enough to win this fight.

As the old saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire. The deaths of Freeza and King Cold only temporarily leave the world at peace. Future Trunks arrived to warn Goku and company about a pair of Androids that have made the future world a bleak existence. How bad is the world Future Trunks comes from? Well all the Z Fighters are dead, killed by the Androids and Goku met his end by a heart virus months before the Androids even appeared. Trunks is the only one left to fight and even that's a struggle due to the overwhelming strength of the Andorids. With the knowledge of where and when the Androids will arrive as well as an antidote for Goku's heart disease, Future Trunks traveled to the past in hopes to prevent history from repeating itself. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen reasons, events unfold radically different from what Trunks knew. Goku's heart virus didn't strike him until he was in the middle of a battle with Android 19 and it turns out that the Androids that the Z Fighters were fighting, were not the Androids Trunks spoke of. To complicate things even further, when the heroes do face the Androids Trunks was talking about, Androids 17 and 18, not only is there an additional metal man in the form of Android 16, 17 and 18 are much stronger than the 17 and 18 from Trunks' timeline. This greatly mystifies Trunks and the other Z Fighters. In the Dragon Ball world, even if one does not directly interfere with the timeline, things can still be altered. In other words, merely traveling to the past can alter how events in that timeline play out. Trying to change the past, however, will not change the future. Despite everything Trunks does, we find out that Goku and the other Z Fighters will still be dead when he returns to his own time.

As I said earlier, one of my favorite filler episodes in this season is Goku's Ordeal, the last episode in the Trunks Saga. This episode is about Goku and Piccolo trying to get their driver's license. As you can probably guess, much hilarity ensues. The humor in this episode is very reminiscent of that found in the original Dragon Ball. It made me laugh out loud when it saw it years ago and it still does today.

Piccolo curb stomping Android 20.
Krillin getting a smooch from his future wife.

The fights in this set are actually pretty brief. Vegeta makes short work of Android 19, showing of his new Super Saiyan abilities. Piccolo pays back Android 20 for stealing some of his energy in a nice curb stomp battle. Vegeta puts up a good fight against Android 18 but in the end, he's no much for her, but then, none of the Z Fighters are a match for 17 and 18 as they are quickly tossed aside with little to no effort.

Some nice breaks from the fighting involve episodes where the Z Fighters are assessing their options. Piccolo makes the difficult decision to fuse with Kami, the god of Earth to become the single Namekian he once was. Kami, however, feels that there's a greater threat walking the Earth than the Androids Piccolo and company just got their insides kicking out by. Krillin and the remaining fighters decide to move the ailing Goku to Master Roshi's place to keep him safe from the approaching Androids. While all this is happening, Trunks tries to sort out just why things are panning out the way they are. Things get even more complicated when Bulma faxes them a photo of a second time machine that appears aged with tons of moss sticking to it. Looks like Trunks was not the only time traveler.

I could make the obvious bad pun here, but I'll pass.
This fight starts off well, but Goku's heart virus
picks the wrong time to show up.

The fourth season of Funimation's orange bricks, this sports wide screen format from the original full screen presentation. If you can't handle that, you may want to pass on this one. It also has the infamous blurred line that appears during some rumbling and flashing scenes. Doesn't happen often but when it does, it sticks out like a sore thumb. You can watch with the Japanese score with the Japanese dialogue subtitled, though it isn't the best audio quality. There's also the option to view it with English voices and the Japanese soundtrack or with English voices and the American score. Some very nice options to have.

All told, Funimation's Dragon Ball Z Season Four is one of my favorite season sets. Once you get past the Garlic Jr. Saga, you're in for a terrific thrill ride. You get some awesome fights that don't drag on and the season ends with an intriguing mystery. This set can be bought for chump change either online or in stores. If you don't mind the wide screen format, this is an exceptional way to view some awesome DBZ sagas.

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