"Dragonball Z Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound": Twice the Movie, Half the Plot
Dragonball Z is a franchise so popular that it seems to churn out DVD after DVD. Originally it started as the anime Dragonball, but has since grown to include three television series, several movies, and even a few video games. With a huge cast and a lengthy history, you’d expect the series to be layered with continuity and far-reaching plots. In actuality, Dragonball Z, a cartoon famous for burly men training to better pound each other’s heads in, is fairly accessible. It’s an action-based, super-power marital arts cartoon whose sole purpose is to fuel adrenaline rushes. Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound, feature films that originally hit the US about five years ago, now come together in a digitally remastered two-disc set that gives DBZ fans exactly what they expect.
Super Android 13, which is chronologically first, is easily the weaker one. Taking place sometime before Gohan gets toughened by fighting Cell, and after Vegeta has been somewhat reformed, it has Goku as the main character. One of his oldest and most persistent foes, Dr. Gero, strikes at him once again with his Red Ribbon army. After an unfortunate encounter with Androids 17 and 18, Dr. Gero manages to send out Androids 13, 14, and 15, whose carnage draws the attention of their intended victim, Goku.
What follows is an incredibly paint-by-numbers plot, even if it follows one of DBZ’s favorite formulas. There is a team of two bad guys, a big guy and a little guy. The big one does all the damage, so the good guys fight him first only to be shocked when they discover the little one is even more dangerous. Then things seem dire until help arrives. One side gets an advantage over the other side until that side gets a bigger advantage. Super Android 13 goes on like this for 50 minutes.
Although the fight is tedious to watch taken as a whole, it is fun to see Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Trunks in action. (Krillin and Gohan, clearly outclassed, observe the battle from the sidelines.) Don’t expect to see anything new from Super Android 13, but for fans of DBZ-style fights, there’s plenty of rewatchability potential in it, even if it feels like you’re rewatching it the first time you see it.
Bojack Unbound is more satisfying. It has an actual plot, for one thing. Taking place after the Cell Saga, it has a dead Goku, along with King Kai, watching a World Martial Arts Tournament from the afterlife. Gohan, Krillin, Trunks, Tien, and Piccolo all sign up for the tournament and face fighters from around the world. Trouble begins when Bojack, an ancient evil the four Kais sealed away long ago, crashes the tournament with allies of his own and declares that he’s going to conquer the universe. The Z-Fighters take on the team Bojack has assembled.
Bojack Unbound offers more variety than Super Android 13. Various characters get to fight each other one-on-one rather than being in one huge brawl. There are a few good character moments here and there, and Gohan really shines. It’s even funny in some parts. Super Android 13 begins with somewhat dirty jokes that could only come from an old man and a pig. Bojack Unboundhas that as well, but it includes the always ridiculous Mr. Satan (referred to as that and not “Hercule”, the moniker he was stuck with while Dragonball Z was airing in the US). There’s also a great bit where Chi-Chi and Bulma watch the fight together until pride for their sons overwhelms them and they snap at each other.
With as many Dragonball Z features as there are, Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound are hardly unique. The show itself is composed of long arcs that establish the threat of a powerful villain who forces the heroes to train hard and then rally together to face off against the enemy. The ensuing fight goes on for several episodes on end. Dragonball Z is very much an arc-based show, and unfortunately, condensing a plot that could last scores of episodes into a 50-minute movie takes away some of the rising tension, and there aren’t as many skill hurdles for characters to jump. These two movies come across like the Cliff Notes version of any longer arc from the series, with Super Android 13 being Goku’s movie and Bojack Unbound Gohan’s.
The metal case packaging for this double feature is pretty sharp, and the cover art with Super Saiyan Vegeta in front of a black background with some of the other characters blended in behind him looks nice. Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound give you what you’d expect from a Dragonball Z movie. Great fight scenes and action, some humorous moments, but nothing you can’t get more of from the main series.