"Dragonball Z: Dragon Box 3" Third Time's a Charmer
Goku must finish his fight with Freeza. Gohan must return to his fight with Garlic Jr. Trunks must start the fight with the Androids. That’s a lot of fighting. Does Dragon Ball Z hit its stride in the third Dragon Box without dragging on, or do the plots fly by too fast to have any real importance?
Thankfully, the over-extended Freeza Saga finally wraps up in this set. It’s an arc that has too many episodes that don’t advance the plot, but it also introduces something that will end up defining the rest of Dragonball Z and its sequel series: the chase for Super Saiyan status. Goku, notably, reaches this superpowered state first, and for the rest of the franchise everyone who can will chase after this power or its subsequent levels, seeing it as both a right and as a trump card to be pulled out in battle.
The set also includes the entirety of the short Garlic Jr. Saga, which introduces a villain from the first Dragonball Z movie into the series plot. This creates some plot holes, to be honest, but it’s not a bad story. Sure, the fact that it’s not in the comic book means that nothing of importance can really happen, but it’s nice to see a chunk of episodes focusing on Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo, characters who at their best took a temporary spotlight in the series, and commonly fell by the wayside in the continuing battle of Goku and Vegeta for dominance and power.
Lastly, the set starts the Android saga, with the still-incredible first appearance of Trunks. Sure, the arrival of a force from the future isn’t as surprising the second time around, but seeing a character show up and destroy a threat that was the focus of a good 40-episode fight in a matter of seconds is still awesome. Additionally, it takes a lesson from the previous, draggy sagas and speeds things up a bit. Outside of a few filler episodes as the heroes train (but which are pretty entertaining, especially when the superpowered heroes try to get their driver’s licenses), we quickly go from the notice of the upcoming threat to the actual fight with said threat.
The biggest deal with the Dragon Box, as mentioned in previous reviews, is the Dragon Book. This hardcover, included in each volume of the Dragon Box, includes expansive episode descriptions, nice character descriptions, art designs, comparisons of the real world timeline with the episode’s original air date, and other items of note. While the box set is a great deal for 42 episodes, this book is what really makes the set shine, and it proves that it was worth skipping the previous season sets in anticipation for the Dragon Box. The true collector’s wish has been granted.
The third Dragon Box is almost where the series hits its stride. It fixes the story problems of the previous two sets, continues the same level of extras excellence, and still manages to keep things fresh. Problem is, it builds too much on previous sets, so it’s hard to recommend this set if you haven’t at least seen the others. It’s not like The Simpsons, where one can recommend one season over another; it’s like “I like this kid Gohan, but I only like him between the ages of five and eight.” Previous fans know already if they’re picking this up or not.