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"Dragonball Z" Season 8: Boo Gonna Make You Dead! Dead! Dead!

In this season of Dragonball Z: Will the Z Warriors be able to take down the evil wizard Babidi? Will Majin Boo, the creampuff catastrophe in big boy diapers, succeed in destroying the world? And what about Gohan, the once-in-a-while star of the series? Will he get enough screen time? Meanwhile, Goku’s dead, but that doesn’t mean he can’t defend the Earth! Will Vegeta stay true to his evil ways, or can he defeat the forces inside and save the galaxy? Can Mr. Satan retain his status as the World Martial Arts Champion?

Do you know before you read this review whether you’re going to buy this set?

At this point, you should have some opinion about Dragonball Z. Either you watched it years ago on Toonami (or fansubbed) and loved every minute of it; or you saw a little bit and couldn’t stand how it dragged on; or you just know you’re not interested in it all. With a live-action movie coming out this year and a new animated movie out in Japan, interest has been renewed in the series.

But here’s the thing. You can’t hop into Dragonball Z. Its nine seasons (according to the DVD releases this time around) are very continuity heavy; there’s maybe a handful of standalone episodes throughout the entire series. Hell, to understand this box set on it’s own, you have to figure out what a Super Saiyan is, why those two guys are green, why an android is fighting in a world tournament, and so forth. You might get the Bibidi Babidi Boo pun, and that’d be about it.

I know DBZ, but even I’m tired of the series by this point. Creator Akira Toriyama planned to end the series with the first storyline (commonly known as the Freeza Saga), but Japan demanded more. After than, he planned to end it with the second major storyline, the Cell Saga, but Japan demanded more. Finally, Toriyama got his wish and ended the Dragonball Z storyline with the Boo Saga, which this volume covers a third of. Of course, Japan demanded MORE and made a whole ‘nother series without much of his involvement (Dragonball GT). By this time, though, you can see increasing agitation with the show. The concept of “Super Saiyan”, which was supposed to be the pinnacle of fighting power, is easily eclipsed by many more layers. It’s almost explicitly stated that children in these episodes could easily defeat MAJOR villains from earlier ones. Goku, a character who died for the second time in the last arc, still hangs around Earth, with a halo. His son, after repeated tries at becoming the main character, at this point is just laughably known for not finishing things. Sure, he’s had great moments, but he never achieved the status of “starring”.

And then there are the villains. DBZ has had decent villains with great motivation in the past. Vegeta once was a noble prince who was shamed by a lower-class idiot. Freiza was lord over all the galaxy he saw. Cell was the perfect biological weapon, driven by destruction.

The wizard Babidi? He wants revenge for his dad’s defeat—one that we, the viewers, didn’t witness or take part in.

Majin Boo? He’s the definition of “retard strength”. Mentally a simpleton, physically he is silver-age Superman. Absurdly strong (in, like, a week, he reduces Earth’s population by four-fifths), he just has no motivation other than “Babidi told me to do it”. He flies into battle yelling “Kill! Kill! Kill!”, and when he’s free on his own, he turns people into clay using magic and builds him a house, which leads into the worst toilet jokes I’ve ever laughed at. (Imagine seeing someone sitting on a toilet, straining, and then squeezing toothpaste out of a bottle on extreme close up). Boo is such an idiot of a villain, it’s no wonder he just turns out to be misguided.

At least, with this set, for once I’m actually able to focus on the video and audio. FUNimation has remastered the footage and made it widescreen (which people will endlessly debate), cutting off some of the vertical but adding some of the animation on the sides. On a widescreen TV, it looks great, and better than it did on Toonami years ago.

For audio, there are three tracks. One has the English voices and the dub music track, which is pretty much as you saw it on TV, outside of a few possible rewrites or redubs. (FUNimation did replace earlier seasons VAs on occasion, but since at this point the final voice cast was settled, I don’t know if there is anything added or changed). Another track is the straight-out Japanese language track, which is Japanese language with Japanese music, obviously. The audio is pretty weak, almost as if you’re listening to it with earmuffs on, but given its age, that’s sorta understandable. Finally, and exclusive to this set, is the option for English audio with Japanese music. Purists who listen to dubs will love it, while true purists will listen to the Japanese track. And me? Someone who grew up with it on Toonami?

I’ve gotta go with the full English track. The Japanese music, while original, just seems to scream 1970′s martial arts flicks. That’s not horrible, but I grew up with the techno/bass/rock themes, which are admittedly overbearing at times, but just what I’m most comfortable with. All of these tracks can be swapped on the fly, so do give it a chance and flip through the audio tracks for a unique experience.

Extras are barely existent but AWESOME. The sixth disc has credit-free intro and ending, which are, well, possible to view by just watching the DVD. One feature though, on all the discs in the set, is Marathon Play, which cuts out the openings and endings (except at the beginning and end of the disc). This effectively turns the six-disc set into six two-hour episodes. (Sure, you can just ignore the narrator going “Stay tuned for scenes from the next episode…”.) True purists will complain that the discs completely lack the actual previews for the next episodes, but that’s one of those niggling things that really doesn’t effect anything. A 24-page booklet covers some of the characters, along with episode descriptions, which goes beyond some inserts I’ve seen in DVD sets for major TV productions.

I don’t know what to tell you. If you’ve bought seasons one through seven, you’ll buy this. If not, start somewhere else, either season one or a movie or something. My opinion won’t influence you.

Episodes included in this season set
Episode 220-251 (The Babidi/Majin Boo Sagas)

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