(Editor’s Note: This review was originally published on Daizenshuu EX, one of the two sites later incorporated into Kanzenshuu, back in 2001. It has been reprinted verbatim. The author was only 18 years old at the time. Please be kind in retrospect.)
I’ve waited years upon years upon years… upon years… and the day has finally come. I’m watching a commercially subtitled, in Japanese, “DragonBall Z” episode in my own room… and to top it off, it’s on DVD.
I’m going to say what’s on my mind. I’m not “kissing FUNi’s ass,” nor am I “bashing FUNi.” I’m gonna tell you what I think about the DVD. Which DVD is this, might you ask? Well, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months, it’s “Captain Ginyu: Assault” on DVD, which includes not only the “uncut” [insert laughing sound here] English dubbed audio, but also a fully translated and subtitled Japanese language audio track, voices and music complete.
And FUNimation Productions, Inc. produced it.
Well I’ll be damned.
To start off, I’ll simply tell you how it’s presented. The cover art is exactly the same (disturbingly ridiculous) cover art as found on the corresponding English dubbed videos (you can click on the small image to the left to view a larger scan of it and the back). I was actually talking to the nice people at Suncoast about how much FUNi’s box art is utterly stupid. Both folks agreed with me that Pioneer’s art was the better of the two.
I was very pleased to see the bottom of the cover say, “Includes….” blah blah blah, “Original Japanese Version Subtitled in English.”
The main menu, while very “dubbish,” is clean and easy to use. However, it gives you a false sense that there’s more to the DVD than there actually is. There are seven options; one links you into the opening sequence, three link you into the separate episodes, one links you into the closing sequence, and one lets you select either the English or Japanese version. All the while, the stupid 3rd season guitar thingie that every single damn dubbed thing is based around plays.
What is interesting (and could only be done in such a way) is that there are actually two separate video tracks on this disc. Most hybrid DVDs simply use one video track, and allow you to switch back and forth between audio tracks. However, as I’m sure you know, the episodes in the third season don’t get in sync with the Japanese episodes for quite a while, so there would be some differences in the video stream which would really mess up with the switches. To fix this, as stated, there are two separate video tracks. In addition to this, when switching to the Japanese track, you get “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” and “Detekoi Tobikiri ZENKAI Power!” linked as the openings and closings, and “Rock the Dragon” and the “Rock the Dragon” instrumental linked as the opening and closing sequences, respectively, if you choose the English version. Very good idea. One thing that seemed odd is that the animation for “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” used is the early Saiya-jin saga version (the one where we don’t see the shadows of Nappa and Vegeta walking in the fire). This is odd because, obviously, the second animation for the song was used at this point in the series when played in Japan. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s there. Also, there are no subtitles for the songs. Again, not a big deal, but they’re not there.
While on the subject on subtitles… like MrE and I have been telling you for months upon months, they’re absolutely perfect subtitles. There are absolutely *no* “dubtitles” on this disc. Every single line of dialogue in Japanese was fully and greatly translated into English by Steven J. Simmons, better known to most of you as “Daimao” of toriyama.org. Also, like we try and tell you, there is no real cursing in “DragonBall Z.” “Chikusho,” “kuso,” and the like are translated as “heck,” “crud,” and such, which is how they’re *supposed* to be translated in such a program. Don’t believe everything your handy little pocket dictionary tells you, or what your “claims – to – be – fluent – in – Japanese” friend tells you. The characters simply *do not* say “shit” and “fuck” in “DragonBall Z.”
Then there’s the video. My god, there’s not a single fansub in existence that can beat this. It’s absolutely perfect. I got the same feeling I did when I first got the “Dead Zone” DVD. With such superb picture quality, I was unconsciously waiting to hear dubbed voices and dubbed music. Trust me, you expect to hear good voices and good music when you’re used to watching shitty quality videos for years upon years.. heh (not that my fansubs are bad quality; just compared to the new generation of DVD and LaserDisc mastered fansubs, the TV mastered fansubs for DBZ just don’t look that great).
And then there’s the audio. It’s mono, just as it was aired originally in Japanese. You really don’t even notice this unless you’re hooked up with a nice stereo system, so unless you are, don’t even let that bother you. However, it would be *really* nice if FUNimation would take the time and re-master the Japanese audio track into a stereo sound. It just has such a richer sound when it’s coming from two channels instead of just one. And when you’ve got surround sound… oh my…… just a suggestion, guys ^^;;
Now it’s on to the nitpicks.
The first one is FUNi’s fault, and cannot be blamed on anyone else. When you first boot up the disc, FUNi’s little animated logo plays. However, you can see, paused for a split second, the last frame of animation from the “Rock the Dragon” instrumental closing animation before FUNi’s animated logo. That’s just sloppy editing, if you ask me.
Another nitpick is actually no-one’s fault but TOEI’s for being sloppy, themselves. When the title screen (the Japanese one, mind you) pops up, you can hear the last split second of sound from the recap music playing before the announcer kicks in and reads the title of the episode. The same thing occurs when the episode goes over where the commercial break would have been; you can hear the last split second of the little jingle playing before the episode’s regular audio starts.
Speaking of episode recaps, as I’m sure you’ve heard, there aren’t any. I mean, they’re not really *needed* but they were always really nice. The music played during them always set the mood for the episode perfectly, and it was kinda disappointing not to see them. But again, with everything else that there is, it’s just a nitpick.
The dub is on this disc, but with the Japanese version available, again, it’s just a nitpick.
No on to some of the things I was really impressed with.
First off, Daimao’s translations. Damn man… great job. While the dub names are still used (“King Kai,” “Burter,” “Frieza,” etc), everything else is exactly how I would have done it, had I been in charge and had a degree in Japanese 😛
Like I said before, there are two separate video tracks on the disc. I don’t know how FUNimation plans to handle it in the future when the episodes are exactly in sync with each other, but on *this* disc, each version had its own separate episode title card. Yep, the fully Japanese, “written – in – kanji – and – kana” titles, read by the announcer, and subbed at the bottom by FUNi, are here. And the stupid dub ones with their stupid music are there, too, if you really want to watch that garbage.
Freezer’s voice in Japanese. ‘Nuff said.
The transition time between stuff is very nice. I’ve heard conflicting reports on this, but I don’t exactly have the highest quality DVD player, and the load time on this disc was much nicer than what I’ve experienced on some other stuff.
While I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I felt stupid and embarrassed when I was checking out the English dubbed track. I mean, when put right next to the Japanese version, it’s just *terrible*. You don’t even realize how much of the dialogue was simply made up until you’re watching them side by side, one after the other. Sure, we have our subbed DBZ, but what about a dub? Don’t think that just because you’ve given us a perfect JAPANESE product that we don’t want to see a *better* *English* product. Even if you keep the boring, monotonous, and insulting dub music, at least have an option to play the dub with the original Japanese score, too. This’ll be much easier in future discs when the episodes are in sync, so there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t be done. While we’re at it, let’s actually use somewhat of a translated script with the dub, huh?
“I eat really healthy foods!”
[smacks himself in the face]
In the end, I can’t recommend this disc any more than I already am. It can only get better, from here… the Japanese part of it, that is. I dunno about the dub. That’s probably a lost cause, by now.
Damn, man… it’s subtitled DBZ on DVD. The pros way outweigh the cons. Buy this fucking DVD this instant.