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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dragon Ball Z Season Three

Dragon Ball Z, as repetitive and padded out as it can be is one of my favorite anime series to watch. There's just something about aliens with spiky hair duking it out with other aliens, androids and magically created beings that catches my fancy. I finished watching the third season of Dragon Ball Z a few nights ago. Season three collects all 33 episodes of the Freeza Saga on six discs. I greatly enjoyed the first two seasons of DBZ. Season three, not so much.

Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible or anything. When I saw all these episodes years ago, I enjoyed them but still thought I'd seen better DBZ episodes. Up to this point in the series Freeza was the most powerful adversary we'd seen. Way more powerful than the Saiyans and the Ginyu Force. Freeza really was the most powerful being in the universe. As hopeless as the fight against Nappa and Vegeta was in the Vegeta Saga, here, its a thousand times worse. No matter what the heroes do, they just can't defeat this guy yet they have to because if they don't once he's done killing them, the rest of the universe is screwed. That's the stuff that good action anime is made of.

Can any of these fighters defeat Freeza?
Spoiler Alert: No.

Scenes like this one happen a lot during this saga.

So why didn't I dig this season as much as I have previous and later seasons? I think it may have to do with Freeza not being my fav DBZ big bad. That may be blasphemous to say but as powerful and sinister as he was, he didn't grab me the way Cell or Majin Buu did. We never got a good deal of back story on Freeza. Why is he so powerful anyway? We don't know, he just is. I guess some of the blame can be place on the author of DBZ, Akira Toriyama because in the manga, Freeza has no back story either, yet I really love the manga version of the Freeza Saga. In the anime, I find it decent. This isn't to say Freeza himself is a bad character. He's actually got some interesting character traits. Despite all the power he holds, he's usually calm and treats his subordinates with respect. Cross him, though, or in the case of the heroes, dash his hopes of gaining immortality, and he won't hesitate to show you his ruthless side.

By far, the highlight of this set is when Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan. To this day, it is still one of the greatest moments in the series and turns the tide in the heroes favor after getting beaten up for so many episodes. Seeing Goku mop the floor with Freeza after everything he did (especially killing Krillin) is long overdue justice. Its not a bad fight either, if a bit one-sided once Goku goes blonde.

Catch that Spirit Bomb, Freeza!
I'm sensing some hostility here.

Many fans like to give the first incarnation of the anime flack because it takes Namek so long to blow up after Freeza detonates the planet's core. Yeah, it does take the planet a long time to go boom, but to be fair, it's the same case with the manga. In the manga, it's a good chunk of pages before Namek is destroyed. In the anime things were padded out a lot so this could be the reason for the planet's increased time of expiration. There's a rumor that has circulated for years that Toriyama planned to end the manga with Goku beating Freeze but dying in the explosion. This could have had an affect on the anime as well, but I don't know if said rumor is true or not. Either way, the reality is that Namek takes forever to go bye-bye in both the anime and the manga. It always bugged me that the manga saw no blame for what was also an absurdly dragged out event.

Someone is about to get hurt.

Being Funimation's orange box set, this doesn't have the same picture quality of the Dragon Boxes or Kai. What's here, however, does look nice, but it isn't without it's flaws. During a few rumblings, lines on the characters faces will disappear. It doesn't happen too often but when it does, its very noticeable. The picture is presented in wide screen not full screen like Kai and the Dragon Boxes. Unless you need every ounce of detail to be shown on screen at all times like hair, it isn't that big a loss.

Not all of the English dialogue has been revised. If all or nearly all of Vegeta's dubbing was going to be done over, why not do the same for Piccolo or Gohan? Christopher Sabat's Vegeta sounds much like the Vegeta we here today while his Piccolo sounds just as he did in 1999. Stephanie Nadolny as Gohan sounds great in the first few episodes of this season but quickly reverts back to the old dub. Goku's infamous "Ally to good, nightmare to you!" line is still present in this dub. It was cringe worthy all those years ago and it continues to be today.

Doesn't look like it hurt that much.

All of Funimation's orange season box sets have both Japanese and English audio with subtitles for both, which is sure to please fans of both sides of the camp. Also nice is the ability to watch with English voices but with Japanese music or with Japanese voices and English music, something you cannot do with the Dragon Boxes. I like DBZ's Japanese vocal tracks but I've never been a huge fan of the normal background music. I much prefer Kai's new score and Bruce Falconer's music. But that's just me.

If you're looking for an affordable way to watch one of the most highly touted sagas of Dragon Ball Z, this is a very nice option. It isn't perfect but it isn't as bad as some DBZ purists would have you believe. It'll also save you shelf space and is cost-friendly. I got mine used at fye for $17.99 but this set is also dirt cheap at Best Buy for $24.99 and on Amazon, you'll pay around the same price. Not a superb season of DBZ but not a terrible one. I'm ready for Trunks and the Androids.

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