Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Whilst I really enjoyed school, which was atypical among my peers, I often rushed home to watch Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network. In the last three years, Toei Animation and Funimation released the famous series onto the Blu-ray format, bringing Akira Toriyama’s creation into the beaming glory of high definition. A frame-by-frame restoration process sought to remove blemishes, tape marks and other distractions. The audio tracks were also remastered, to upgrade the viewing experience.
The first season begins five years after the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, and the end of the original Dragon Ball series. The protagonist Goku, and his wife Chi-Chi, have a son Gohan. Gohan wanders, and has his hat — which has the Four Star Dragon Ball attached to it — stolen by a tiger. Meanwhile, an alien lands on Earth and looks for a man named Kakarrot, using a scouting device to find fighters with high power levels. This stranger finds Piccolo, who cannot land an effective attack against the mysterious foe.
This alien then meets Goku, and launches what can only be described as an expositional onslaught: he is a Saiyan warrior called Raditz, Goku’s older brother, and Goku’s original name is Kakarrot. Goku was meant to destroy all life on Earth, so the planet could be sold for its resources. Raditz wants his brother to rejoin him in this endeavour, and kidnaps Gohan. After Goku and Piccolo, who were arch enemies, team up to defeat Raditz, the Saiyan finds out about the powerful Dragon Balls, Gohan unleashes suprising strength and Goku dies. Piccolo learns that two more Saiyan warriors, who vastly outstrip Raditz in strength, are now heading to Earth to use the Dragon Balls.
These events occur within the first five episodes, greatly expanding the universe in which the characters live. From the tale of the monkey-tailed boy comes a grand space adventure. Goku, now in the Other World, must run along Snake Way to receive King Kai’s training, whilst Gohan trains with Piccolo, in order to prepare for the two Saiyan’s arrival.
(Video: Super Saiyan HD)
Let’s talk about filler. Filler is when new stories are added to an anime that were not present in the original manga, usually to allow the creator to write more books. Whilst some of the filler is fun, such as the episode where Gohan meets a lonely robot, it has the effect of elongating Goku’s run on Snake Way. Goku remains on that winding path for thirteen episodes, which is a third of the entire season.
The series retains its enjoyable sense of adventure, but the Blu-ray discs only have the English audio either backed by the Japanese soundtrack or the original U.S. soundtrack. This is before Bruce Faulconer and his team began composing for the series. Also, the ‘Rock the Dragon’ introduction is simply unavailable on these discs.
The first season is a good beginning to the expanded universe of Dragon Ball Z, with the next seasons taking place on the planet Namek. The epic fights have only just started.