“Dragon Ball Z: Season 1” Blu-ray Set Coming, In Widescreen
Published by 17 September 2013, 10:43 PM EDT

Listings for a “Dragon Ball Z: Season 1” Blu-ray release, now officially scheduled for 31 December 2013, have begun popping up online. So far most listings contain only basic product information: $44.98 MSRP, 925 minute running time, and 4 discs. However, a recent product listing shared by WTK has really grabbed some attention among fans across most social media outlets.

According to this product listing, the upcoming Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray “Season” sets will indeed be presented in a 16:9 cropped widescreen format. You may recall that FUNimation conducted an online survey this last June asking fans to weigh in on a possible, now confirmed, Blu-ray release for the company’s flagship series. One of the survey questions specifically asked about aspect ratio preferences, providing options for both 4:3 (“Original Production Release”) and 16:9 (“Crop of Original Production Release”) aspect ratios. At this point it appears that a majority of fans were in favor of a cropped release, however we have reached out to FUNimation for further clarification on this actually being the case.

While the orange brick sets were cropped to 16:9 — removing approximately 20% of the original picture — FUNimation’s “Level” Blu-ray sets had remained in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. However, with the increased price point for the “Level” Blu-ray sets due to production costs of remastering the scanned footage “frame-by-frickin’-frame”, FUNimation canceled their production in pursuit of a more cost effective remastering method after releasing only the first 34 episodes. The first new Blu-ray “Season” set appears to contain 39 episodes, based on the listed running time of 925 minutes, which lines up with the episode count seen on the first orange brick set.

The listing also notes that the cropping of these new sets will be achieved by using “pan & scan technology” to ensure an “optimal viewing experience”. This does imply that the cropping of the footage will be more selective than that seen on the orange brick sets, which were auto-cropped to the center of the frame. This is likely intended to reduce the number of instances where important visual information (i.e. character’s heads, mouths, etc.) is unnecessarily cut out of the frame, similar to what was done by Toei Animation for the Japanese television broadcast of Dragon Ball Kai.

All indications at this point lean toward FUNimation’s cost effective solution being a somewhat similar release to the orange bricks, although this time in an actual high-definition format with a little more care taken in cropping the footage. At the moment there has been no confirmation as what film master this release will be based on — an entirely new scan performed specifically for this release, a possible scan previously done for the “Level” sets, or the original scan for the orange brick sets. No matter which film master is used this release, with a less intense remastering process, it is nearly guaranteed to be sub-par to the “Level” sets.

However, on a positive note, this release will have a much more affordable price point in comparison to the “Level” sets, which had an MSRP of $34.98, and thus be more appealing to the mass market. The new set breaks down to roughly $1.15 per episode, as opposed to the $2.06 per episode cost on the “Level” sets. That is not too shabby, but for some of us it is not quite worth reliving 2007 all over again.

Update: Amazon Canada has posted a listing for the new “Dragon Ball Z: Season 1” Blu-ray, which includes an updated product description.

The Saiyans are coming! These ruthless, intergalactic villains carved a path of destruction across the galaxy, and now they’re headed for Earth! The evil Saiyan warlord Vegeta will not rest until he’s seized the wish-granting powers of the Dragon Balls for himself! For the first time ever, the Dragon Ball Z season sets are available on Blu-ray! This epic collection presents the first thirty-nine episodes of the legendary series in remastered, high definition quality and 16:9 aspect ratio using frame by frame, pan and scan technology. An elite team of Capsule Corp. scientists worked around the clock to put the greatest anime in history on the cutting edge of modern technology. You may think you’ve seen all there is to see in the DBZ universe, but you’re wrong. Take home this thirty-nine episode collection today, and fire your next Kamehameha in the brilliance of Blu-ray!

Thanks to Super Sayian Prime for the heads up!

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