(Editor’s Note: This review was originally published on Daizenshuu EX, one of the two sites later incorporated into Kanzenshuu. The review was later picked up by Anime on DVD, itself later merged into Mania, where the review can still be found. The author was a mere 19 years old at the time. Again, please be kind in retrospect.)
Let me tell you that it took me nearly one month and two states to actually find a place with this disc in stock. Everywhere I went was either “sold out” or “hadn’t gotten it yet.” I finally ended up picking it up on the sixth of January (2001) in Suncoast at my local mall. Argh.
The first thing you’ll notice about this particular DVD is the cover. For the first time, FUNimation used an image that was not simply a screen shot from the contained video footage for their cover. The image used is a classic picture of Mirai no Gohan and Trunks, overlapping a backdrop of a destroyed city, presumably by the Jinzoningen. FUNimation’s new “logo” (so to speak) for the contents is the one used on the two “Trunks” volumes of TV episodes, which specifies, “Includes 2 Versions / English Uncut Version / & Original Japanese Version / Subtitled in English”. Basically, it’s the exact same as the dub VHS release, but with the language logo, and the DVD video logo in the bottom right hand corner.
The back cover is exactly the same as the dub VHS version, as well, with the added addition of the now standard black bar towards the bottom which explains some basic facts about the contents of the DVD (English/Japanese dialogue – 48 Min. – Not Rated – Color – Stereo/Mono).
FUNimation once more loses a point or two for not including any kind of insert what-so-ever. I mean, the least they could do is put in some kind of black-and-white “Add me to your mailing list!” kinda thing. Most companies are kind enough to include a nice color image insert that lists the different chapters included on the disc, and sometimes even more (“Gundam Wing” and their trading cards, “Cardcaptor Sakura” and their postcards, etc). FUNimation and the DBZ DVDs? Zilch.
>From here on out, all comments will refer to the Japanese version watched / listened to, unless otherwise noted.
With a DVD, you’d expect perfect video quality. Once more, we’re not let down. In fact, I’d say this DVD has the best quality video FUNimation has put out, so far. There’s absolutely NO trace of flickering or rainbows what-so-ever in ANY portion of the video. This is impressive, seeing as how even some more popular titles (“Trigun” for example) have had a problem with this, in the past. However, the video does show its age, and just simply LOOKS old, I guess. Other than that, it’s wonderful. My fansub is pretty good quality (well, it was when I first got it a few years ago.. heh..), but it can’t even begin to compare to the commercial release. The colors are bright when they need to be bright, and more often, dark when they need to be dark.
The audio shows no flaws at all, either. Even in the original mono sound, the Japanese audio track is booming, and sounds wonderful. Even on my 270 watt, 7 speaker, Sony system set-up.. if I wasn’t paying that much attention, I’d have thought it was in stereo. There are no crackling noises no break-up, or anything. Superb.
Now for the fun stuff. The nit-picks.
A problem similar to the original release of the first volume of “Rurouni Kenshin” discs pops up in this one: there’s no timer on the DVD player when the video track is playing. I’m not quite sure, but I attribute this to the fact that there is a lot of switching back and forth between different video tracks. Yes, folks. Remember how on the first “Ginyu” disc, there were separate video tracks (one for the dub, and one for the Japanese version)? Well, something sorta similar is done here. There is one video track for the English dub which covers from the opening theme up through the intro into the title card, and there’s one of the same for the Japanese version (each version has a different title card.. the dub is the “History of Trunks” in English one, and the Japanese is the original, in-Japanese, one). From there, you switch to a video track that is used for both the dub AND the Japanese version. This takes you to the end of the feature, right before the ending theme. In THIS video track, you CAN switch languages at will with the “Audio” button. >From there, it switches over to ANOTHER one of two video tracks used for the ending theme. One is the dub one, containing all English text (which plays if the dub is playing right before this), and the other is the original Japanese one (yes, with the credits still in Japanese, un-translated) which will play if the Japanese audio track is playing right before the switch. With all of these video switches, there is a very brief (one second) stall, which really ruins the flow of things.
People buying the DVDs aren’t looking for the English stuff. Just keep one big video track, like all other DVDs, and keep the original Japanese stuff on there. Another option is to put the original Japanese closing as an “extra” on the disc, such as in one of the latest “Rurouni Kenshin” volumes. This will allow for none of the problematic stalls in the video. Why FUNimation (or probably more specifically, the DVD mastering studio) continues to be so unprofessional about it will continue to mystify me.
Another nitpick is the lack of eye-catches, once more. And again in this disc, you can hear the very last half-second of the eye-catch music in the audio track when the video begins right where the commercial and eye-catch have left off. Solution? PUT THE EYE-CATCHES BACK IN. THEY’RE CUTE. WE LIKE THEM.
There’s also just one minor video edit on the disc, which was also present in the dub VHS release. Right where the second commercial and eye-catch would have been (directly after Trunks’ Super Saiya-jin explosion) there is an odd sort of circular fade-in to the next part. I didn’t care for it, but it did manage to tune out that little eye-catch music that would have been there. Plus or minus, you decide.
Next comes Steven J. Simmons and his incredible translations. Never have I seen such insanely accurate subtitles in any release, fansub or commercial. For example, take the word “itadakimasu,” which is the word said at the dinner table before eating. Most translators use something like “Thank you!” or “Let’s dig in!” for their translation, but this doesn’t quite capture the meaning. Along comes Steve with his translation of “I humbly accept!” which is probably the closest you’re going to get to the word in English. More cute perks include the word “Gi” in the dialogue, “Jinzoningen” translated correctly as “Artificial Humans” and not “Androids,” and fun with Gyuu-Maou’s accent (“Sounds as though he’s partnerin’ up with Trunks an’ fightin’ the Artificial Humans”). And then there’s the subtitles, themselves. At first, I wasn’t so sure if I liked FUNimation’s choice of a font. However, after watching a few dozen DVDs, lately, I’ve decided that FUNimation has actually come up with the best choice for subtitles. They’re kinda small, but they’re white, and have a very thick black background. Why is this great? No matter what the backdrop, there’s absolutely NO problem reading the subtitles. DVD releases such as “Trigun” have a moderate yellow subtitle with a very thin black border. At points in the show where the background animation is bright, the subtitles are nearly impossible to read. With FUNimation’s subtitles, you’ll never find yourself wondering what in the heck was just on the screen. Also, the positioning of the subtitles has been corrected from the previous two discs. The two “Trunks” volumes had the subtitles move up on the screen a half-inch, which was not only annoying to look at, but resulted in at least one major problem. The subs on this disc have been moved back down to their proper position, and look great, at the same time.
Oh, and there’s an English dubbed audio track on here, as well. Uhh.. I don’t like it. The music used definitely has no place in DBZ, and the narrator once more leaves much to be desired. The only good stuff about the dub is probably Eric Johnson’s impressive voicing of Trunks, and Dameon Clark’s decent performance of Mirai no Gohan. The dialogue is alright, but takes quite a few liberties. If only you could pick an option of the dub voices with the Japanese soundtrack…
The extras on the disc are rather boring, and quite limited. The same “World of DragonBall” feature that was on the driving episodes’ VHS release and both “Trunks” DVD volumes is present here, again. Commercials for Trunks, Androids, and Cell dub VHS releases are included, as well as the DBZ store commercial (note that all of these are included on all dub VHS releases). A credit-less opening would have been a nice addition. Speaking of the opening, it includes the lyrics (writtin in hiragana) on the bottom of the screen, just like as shown on television. And yes, this opening IS the specific one from the TV special, made obvious by the crediting of the song “Aoi Kaze no HOPE,” which is the ending theme song, performed by Kageyama Hironobu.
For a DBZ release, it’s extremely nice. Everything you could want is here, minus the eye-catches, but that was to be expected. For an over-all anime DVD release.. ehh… there’s quite a bit to be desired. Let’s start slapping some inserts and promotions in the cases, get rid of those damn stalls, and find some decent extras (there’s gotta be SOMETHING cool that could be included; I’d really like to see some liner notes by Steve).
DBZ fan? Purchase.
Anime fan? Steal from a friend for a while.
Emerson DVD player, Radio Shack gold-plated audio cables, Sony MHC-BX6AV stereo system with additional two Scott speakers, Zenith TV model # A27A11D