"Dragonball Z Kai: Part 2" Fast Forward Through the Slow Parts
As the battle with Vegeta nears an end, a greater threat lies on the horizon: Frieza, the intergalactic planet broker, has his eyes set on the Dragonballs of Namek, the home planet of Piccolo and the wish-granting orbs. It’s a race to an alien planet, to determine the fate of the universe. Dragonball Z Kai makes it an even faster race by trimming out all the fat.
Dragonball Z Kai compresses the 250+ episodes of Dragonball Z into 100. For this set, which covers Goku’s fight with Vegeta and the battles on planet Namek, that means 20 or 30 episodes are whittled down to the 13 episodes, and a good amount of excess is notably trimmed. For example, while Krillin, Bulma, and Gohan’s trip to Namek took a few episodes in the original series, complete with run-ins with alien children and a stop on a fake planet, the trip now only takes about an episode or two now, with no diversions. Akira Toriyama’s original vision is notably treated more clearly here.
Speaking of clarity, the animation has been upped. The new intro, ending, and bumpers have great animation, which makes the age of the series footage even more evident. They’ve done the best they can to clean it up and modernize it, but I don’t think anything has been reanimated. The new audio track also stays more accurate, with better translation of dialogue (although names stay true to the Americanized versions, without honorifics and some spellings/pronunciations).
My only complaint about Dragonball Z Kai is that, even when it is speedy, it has to spend time a few episodes setting up the plot. So, this set starts off with the Vegeta fight and ends with the fights, but then it has to spend time tying up loose ends and setting up chess pieces for later.
The Kai sets are FUNimation at its most minimalistic. At least thirteen episodes on two discs is common for a modern release, and it’s a grand step up from the three episode on one disc that used to be the standard. There is a collection of the opening songs, with the two aired so far (each with a different singer) alongside the broadcast intro for American television.
Dragonball Z Kai is a great way to check the series for the first time, but you might as well start with the first set. The action has somewhat mellowed in the second set, and if you’re this close to the beginning, you might as well start there. If you bought the first set, though, go ahead and get this one: it continues the sped-up adventures of the Z Warriors.