Previously on Dragon Ball Z! Our review of Season 5 of the ongoing Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray release showed it’s massive power level to earn a terrifying score of 8.5 Capsules out of 10! After some massive twists and turns, the high quality of the Blu-ray media format prevailed to prove itself as one of the ultimate ways to view Dragon Ball Z yet! Will Season 6 continue this trend or will it end in defeat for this new challenger? Find out, in this review of Dragon Ball Z!
Anyone that read that opening paragraph in the voice of the DBZ narrator, big props to you. Season 6 brings us the epic conclusion of the Cell Games Saga and some other resolutions along with it, most notably the ending to Trunk’s arc from the future and the aftermath of Cell. Whilst Season 5 had a lot of story to tell and focused on character development, the final two thirds of Season 6 is about the action as the Cell Games begins and the Z-Warriors take on Cell to save the Earth from being destroyed. The first third of Season 6 serves to conclude story arcs leftover from Season 5 and cover the setup of the Cell Games. Notable scenes include the conclusion of Goku and Gohan’s training, Cell announcing the Cell Games on TV and preparing the ring as well as the final 10 days before the tournament. These earlier episodes serve as build up to the Cell Games, increasing the tension surrounding it and making clear what will be lost if Cell is successful.
Now onto the fights! The fights here are some of the biggest and best in the series. There’s powering up, huge Kamehameha’s, energy blast volleys, instant transmission and more. This is what people remember Dragon Ball Z for. We have an awesome ‘even terms’ fight between Cell and Goku where both show an array of new techniques after an impressive warm up. Both fighters unleash the full extent of their power as neither holds back in this clash of titans. The fight to’s and throws so you never know who is in the lead at any given moment as you always feel the other will make a comeback. The ending to the match holds yet another surprising twist.
Then we have the moment Gohan enters the fray and steps it up to a whole new level. Gohan steals the show from Goku in an impressive showing of power, but power alone doesn’t always decide the outcome of battles as viewers will find out. All the less powerful characters get a brief chance to shine here and it’s great to see them still contributing to the action even though they have been long surpassed in power by the Saiyans. The fights aren’t all about fist flurry’s and transformations, containing many twists and turns that serve to both keep the narrative unpredictable and break up the action. Obviously I won’t go into any specifics here for spoilers sakes, but trust me you will be in shock by the end of the saga if this is your first viewing.
There are quite a number of full filler episodes present in Season 6 that you could skip over entirely and not miss anything of importance. These fillers aren’t necessarily bad and are generally fun and harmless, some even bringing back past characters like General Tao. The most irritating moments of filler revolves around Hercule and his sidekicks, who are good for some comedic relief but are on screen far too long and quickly become annoying as you wait for them to finish up so Goku can step up to take on Cell. Some of the filler is actually very good, such as everyone helping out Gohan in the final struggle whilst delivering some great developmental exposition.
One problem I have with some of the dub lines is that they often contradict past story elements. This obviously isn’t a fault of the Blu-ray release but the source material. One example is when Tien says that surpassing Goku had been his goal ever since he became a martial artist, however from Dragon Ball we know that is not the case as he had been studying martial arts long before he met Goku. When viewing with the Japanese translated English subtitles, Tien simply says he would not be where he was today without Goku, a much more fitting statement. Unless you are a hardcore Dragon Ball fan though you probably won’t notice these inconsistencies but its not surprising these mistakes come up as the same vocal track that has been used for many years is still being used here.
There is no doubt the quality offered by this Blu-ray collection is margins above its old DVD counterparts. HD does wonders for the series, especially this late into the series where the art style became more consistent and detailed overall. Colours are vibrant and faithful, lines are bold and all the action is crystal clear. You can see a big step up in sharpness from the DVD sets to the Blu-rays and when I was going back to the DVD sets for a comparison it was a large step back. There are some rare moments when the Blu-ray version does seem blurry in parts which does detract from the overall visual quality, however these instances are seldom seen.
Dragon Ball Z has been around for a long time and the anime first broadcasted in the old 4:3 aspect ratio but has been converted to 16:9 widescreen for this release without the option to view it in its original form, resulting in about 20% of the original image being lost. This does look odd in some scenes with the top of character’s heads being cut off, but Funimation have done a fantastic job with Season 6 in cropping these scenes on a frame by frame basis so that important details are not lost.
A great example of this selective cropping is shown above with the DVD image on top and Blu-ray on the bottom, (I apologise for the off screen shots, getting Blu-ray screenshots is incredibly difficult) you see a scene of Tien talking to Yamcha with Trunks lying on the ground. The DVD version has Tien’s head near-completely cut off, where as the Blu-ray opts to show nearly all of it, sacrificing some of Trunk’s screen real estate instead. Obviously this was a hard scene to crop due to both the top and bottom sections being important but the Blu-ray cropping is much better, choosing to focus on the character speaking in the scene whilst still showing Trunks on the ground.
Grain has been nearly completely removed so the picture is much clearer. This has a much more positive effect in Season 6 than in past seasons where some scenes that mostly comprised of background or featured characters at a distance seemed simplified and less detailed due to the grain removal. Colour saturation, whilst a big problem in the Orange Brick DVD releases and, to a much lesser extent, in the former Blu-ray seasons has pretty much been eliminated. Colours now look much more natural and akin to the source material while retaining the correct brightness and contrast. The comparison screens above also serve as a good point of reference to see how much better the colours look in the Blu-ray version, particularly Yamcha’s outfit and Tien’s pants. Also Goku’s skin is no longer pink during the Cell Games Fight as it was in the DVD set!
The original box art (featured at the top of this review) is again awesome and links to up to the former box arts to complete the Cell Arc covers (however doesn’t look like it will link up to the Buu Saga). The only thing I’m not a fan of is the image of Cell on the back cover next to the synopsis. The art style looks strange, his face looks off and he appears to be doing the Can-Can. A much better image could have been used to fill that spot.
The audio options presented here by Funimation are top notch and should not leave anyone disappointed. The default audio is set to the Funimation English dub with the original Japanese Audio track and is presented in True HD Dolby 5.1 surround sound. I took the effort to move my PlayStation 3 and all the cables to the Lounge Room for the surround sound experience and I wasn’t dissapointed. The music, the ambient sound effects such as the wind and energy plus all the voice acting and sound effects came together loud and clear. You have to experience the episode ‘Save the World’ with this setup you will be blown away. The audio seems louder and even clearer than past releases and is miles above the DVD in terms of quality.
The other audio options are original U.S. broadcast which is presented in Dolby True HD 2.0 and finally the full Japanese audio with original music and voice which is presented in True HD Mono. The final option does sound rather old and muffled due to its age but has got a bit of an upgrade thanks to the improvements in Blu-ray sound quality. Bruce Falconer absolutely destroys Season 6 with his dub soundtrack here. Piccolo’s theme, Gohan’s Ascension Theme, when Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2, when we cut to the lookout, when we cut to the final beam clash, etc. All these songs fit the moment so perfectly and go down as classics in anime dub history.
As for the voice acting, you have the choice of the Funimation English dub or the original Japanese vocal track. The Funimation voice cast continues their great work here, Dameon Clarke as Cell gives a fantastic performance as the cocky, perfect Cell while Stephanie Nadolny steps up as Gohan becomes a central character, delivering bad ass lines as a bad ass and making us believe the self doubt Gohan feels through her acting. The Japanese dub is either hate it or love it at this point, and while I am a dub fan I don’t hate listening the original Japanese cast occasionally for a change of pace.
One final note on audio, the menu song has changed for this release and while it still has that same industrial feel to it this one is much more catchy and kind of fits with the action in the background which is a nice touch.
Season 5 packed in a decent amount of special features and Season 6 continues this trend. While the physical episode guide featured in the old orange remastered box sets are completely absent without any sort of replacement outside of an episode list of the inside of the cover, the extras here make up for that loss. Near 20 minute long interviews with Eric Vale (Future Trunks’ English voice actor) and Cynthia Cranz (Chi Chi’s English voice actor) offer great insight into how their roles were cast, inspiration for the voices they perform, how they handled the rapid growth of the show, crazy fan stories and more.
For the first time on the DVD or Blu-ray releases there is also some commentated Dragon Ball Z Trivia. These give you a question and 4 multiple choice answers before quickly playing play some video to explain the answer, so you get like 1 second to answer the question after seeing all the options which forces you to think fast or pause playback. It probably would have been better to let you select an answer first before continuing. The questions are all from the Saiyan Saga and are actually pretty challenging to get right, especially if its been a while since you watched the saga. I hope the trivia keeps up on the upcoming season as it was a fun inclusion.
Apart from the big extras, there is also a short U.S. trailer as well as text less opening and closing songs. The ‘next time on Dragon Ball Z’ segments are missing from this release, however the previous episode recaps are present.
Dragon Ball Z Season 6 on Blu-ray is the best of the Blu-ray sets released so far. Season 6 already had an advantage by featuring one of the most epic and action packed sagas in the Dragon Ball Z story, but the sky high visual and audio quality brings this release to another level. The cropping is much better than before, the colour saturation issues have been fixed and the sound is louder and clearer than ever. Throw in some great extras and you have a must buy for any DBZ fan. Unless you are a true 4:3 presentation purist (and even then I would still recommend giving this set a try), Dragon Ball Z Season 6 on Blu-ray is a true winner.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.