Dragon Ball Z Season 7 advances the story by seven years from when we last saw our heroes after the defeat of the evil Android Cell. This is the biggest time skip in Dragon Ball Z and it brings some pretty big changes as well. Gohan is at high school struggling with both the ladies and hiding his Saiyan powers, new characters Goten and Videl are training hard for the World Martial Arts Tournament and all the while, more sinister events are transpiring in the background. Weighing in at the smallest of all the Blu-ray releases with only 25 episodes, does Season 7 hold up in quality to its Season 6 predecessor which scored a massive 9.5 out of 10? Read on to find out.
Dragon Ball Z Season 7 actually begins immediately after the end of Season 6 where all the focus is on Goku participating in The Other World Tournament which is basically the World Martial Arts Tournament except with fighters who have been dead for thousands of years and have been training that entire time. The Other World arc is surprisingly entirely filler, but you wouldn’t know it as it stands up well next to the main content. In this mini saga we are introduced to many interesting and funny characters and also learn a bit more about the Dragon Ball Universe as King Kai explains how the world is split up into quadrants with Kai’s who rule over them. The Kai’s are all unique characters and some of the fighters present in the tournament use interesting techniques, such as Caterpy’s Chico Torture attack where he tickles his enemies or Aqua’s ability to turn the stage into water.
The Other World Tournament also introduces us to one of my favourite characters in Pikkon who is kind of like the Goku of the West Quadrant. He displays power on par with Goku taking out Cell and Frieza in an instant, uses great techniques and is just an all round likable fighter, not to mention he has an epic match against Goku in The Other World Tournament Final. Apart from all the notable warriors and fights there is some great humour here, such as Goku running back and forth on Snake Way due to his impatience, King Kai forgetting he can fly and Goku wanting to ride the big fancy plane. There is heaps of humour to be found throughout the rest of the season as well, such as Vegeta wanting to destroy any journalist that bother him or everyone holding back on the punching machine (except for Vegeta who decides to not hold back).
After the five episode long Other World saga is over the main series begins again jumping forward seven years into the future. Gohan is now 16 and attending Orange Star High School. Season 7 takes a very different pace here as the focus is moved away from fights and on to Gohan as he struggles to fit in at school while keeping his powers hidden and dealing with troublesome girls. Taking on the alter ego of The Great Saiyaman, while providing plenty of laughs, doesn’t help his cause either as he constantly cuts class to save people in need raising more questions. If you’re here for the fights then you will probably want to skip all these episodes but there is some light hearted fun to be had here such as watching everyone stare in awe as Gohan jumps 20ft to catch a stray baseball or seeing Gohan try to perfect his Great Saiyaman pose and speech.
Season 7 introduces Videl, Goten and Trunks to the main cast and they are all welcome additions. Videl is the daughter of the bumbling Hercule but is nothing like her father. She is full of attitude, serious about her martial arts and police work and acts as both a love interest to Gohan as well as his foe as she tries to unravel The Great Saiyaman’s identity. Dragon Ball Z is not really known for it’s strong female characters so it is very refreshing to see Videl added to the mix here, even if her limited power forces her to the bench as the Season continues. Goten is like a re-imagining of Goku as a kid, all about having a great time and getting into trouble while the slightly older Trunks is very much the same except a little more devious. The duo’s match in the junior division of The World Martial Arts Tournament is another season highlight, mixing both intense action and the childish roughhousing you would expect from these two boys.
Speaking of The World Martial Arts Tournament, it is great to see it return here from the original Dragon Ball series and the bright and colourful island setting acts as a great backdrop for the entire cast to reunite. Even though you might be watching this season back to back from Season 6, it still feels like you’re reuniting with all your old friends and it’s heartwarming to see Goku meet up with Gohan and Krillin again, as well as meet Goten for the first time. Season Seven may not pack in as much action as past sets, but it has a lot of laughs, great characters and enough heart to keep you interested.
There is no doubt the quality offered by this Blu-ray collection is margins above its old DVD counterparts. The most noticeable difference in the remaster is the sharpness which has improved three fold thanks to the high definition offered by the Blu-ray format. The Majin Buu Saga has always looked better than past sagas of the show thanks to simply being newer and that has aided in the better image quality present here.
I’ve mentioned this in all my prior reviews but it is important to a lot of fans so I will mention it again here. Dragon Ball recently celebrated its 30th year anniversary so as you can imagine the anime is quite old. It was 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. The good thing is that Funimation have selectively cropped each scene in these new Blu-ray releases instead of leaving the crop confined to one spot for the entire run of the show. The result being an image where important details are rarely lost and we get a widescreen picture instead of an image with black bars on the side.
Grain has been nearly completely removed to provide a clearer picture and the touch up doesn’t go unnoticed in Season 7. The colours, brightness and contrast here are perfect. The new release does not suffer from any type of over saturation like the DVD releases but colours still manage to pop on screen. The colour adjustment allows more details of the images to stand out such as shadows on clothing and highlights on characters hair. The example above with the DVD on top and Blu-ray on the bottom showcases this perfectly. Lines are sharper and cleaner, colours are not over saturated and light and shadows are visible where they previously were not. The tint on Gohan’s glasses on the Blu-ray for example show a great improvement in this area.
However not everything is perfect for this release, partially due to the old age of the anime. Sometimes when characters are drawn at a distance their details are completely absent, with the worst examples showing characters without any facial details at all. While this may have been a non issue in the past with standard definition, it really stands out now and just looks wrong. The remastering quality while great over 90% of the time, sometimes seem to miss parts of the image, leaving a noticeable blur that is normally present in the center of the screen.
The original box art (featured at the top of this review) manages to cover the events of Season 7 well as past seasons have done before it and looks great with bright colour palette. Like the previous sagas, the next two covers will link up to form a sort of mural that covers the entire saga.
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. While there isn’t as much chance for the music or surround sound to shine here as there was with all the massive battles in Season 6, it still sounds crystal clear and caters to fans of all audio options. While the volume seemed low in the first season sets, you can rest assured any volume related problems have been fixed here.
The Japanese and English music track both have some great highlights here and I really recommend watching the Season twice with both soundtracks just to see the best of both worlds. On the English side you have tracks such as Pikkon’s Theme and Supreme Kai’s theme which fits perfectly with the air of mystery the character gives off when he is first introduced. On the Japanese side you have a soundtrack that fits every piece of the action. It makes you feel unsettled when a fight is turning for the worst and can also pick you up when a character you’re rooting for is gaining the upper hand.
As for the voice acting, you again have the choice of the Funimation English dub or the original Japanese vocal track. The new English cast voices are all very fitting for their character, from the playful and carefree tone in Goten’s voice to the teenage attitude and sweetness that Videl’s voice actor helps convey. Kid Trunks voice sounds perfect for him later on, but suffers from an early inconsistency when we first meet him where he sounds like he is talking with his mouth full. Gohan’s voice actor has changed due to his coming of age but portrays the smart yet clueless Gohan very well. The old voice actors also deserve some praise here, showcasing the experience they have gained over the shows run. I can’t really comment on the Japanese vocal track here as I just leave the audio in English, but I have no complaints about what I have heard of those performances.
One final note on audio, just like how Season 6 changed up the menu song from past releases for the better, Season 7 also brings in a new menu track and it’s just as catchy as the one on Season 6 and syncs up well to the events in the background. I even found myself letting the menu loop a few times just to hear the song.
Season 6 had some excellent special features with voice cast interviews and some special trivia and Season 7 continues the excellent offering with the most bonus footage present so far on a DBZ season set with over an hour and 20 minutes of new content. The first interview with Justin Cook who is the voice of Raditz, Dende and Super Boo as well as Director of Production offers some great insight into the shows legendary status, the grandness of the story and characters and production insights from all-nighters to how the show came to America.
The other interview on the extras disc is with Nathaniel Harrison who is the Senior Mixing Engineer and Audio Manager for Funimation. Nathaniel goes into how the sound process has evolved from old Sony tape decks to fully digital as well as how the different audio options came to be from the Japanese music to Bruce Faulconers track.
The final extra is a feature on the DBZ Collectible Card Game which will really intrigue those who have invested time into the card game or are looking to collect them. The feature really goes in depth into the game and features many people who worked directly on the card game. There are some really rare items presented here that have never been seen before such as the original proxy plastic cards that include elements of the card game that never made it out of play testing. There is also a world champion rematch and a roundtable about the renewed release of the card game under Panini.
Apart from the big extras, there is a short U.S. trailer and a text less opening and closing segment. The ‘next time on Dragon Ball Z’ segments are missing from this release, however the previous episode recaps are present. The one negative with the extras is that there is no physical episode guide such as the one featured in the old orange remastered DVD box sets but the extras here make up for that absence with really intriguing, informative and nostalgic features. One other small annoyance I will quickly mention here, the trailer before the main menu appears still can’t be skipped with using the ‘top menu’ button.
Dragon Ball Z Season 7 on Blu-ray is another winner. This season might have had most of the fight scenes we are used to replaced with humour and light hearted scenarios but that isn’t a bad thing and the fights that are here are just as intense as the series best. The visual quality stands up to offerings from past seasons and is surpassed in many ways thanks to the better animation that was present in the Buu Saga. The audio keeps up the sky high standard Funimation has set from Season 1 with fantastic sound in all categories and origins. Aside from oddities such as some rare visual issues and Kid Trunks’ voice sounding strange in his earliest episodes, there really isn’t much you can fault here. The excellent extras on offer add to an already strong package to make this another fantastic release from Madman.
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