Anime DVD Review: Dragon Ball: Complete Collection Movie 4 Pack

Dragon Ball: Complete Collection Movie 4 Pack was released by FUNimation Entertainment on February 8, 2011. This four-disc set includes Curse of the Blood Rubies, Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle, Mystical Adventure, and The Path to Power. Each disc is packaged in an individual slimline box, and the four slimline boxes are in a cardboard slipcover.

Dragon Ball: Complete Collection Movie 4 Pack
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: February 8, 2011

Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies was the first film released for the Dragon Ball franchise. The film was directed by Daisuke Nishio, and was released to Japanese theaters on December 20, 1986.

Curse of the Blood Rubies has to basically be looked at as an “alternate timeline” story for the Dragon Ball universe. This 50-minute film modifies the initial story arc from the television series, and replaces Emperor Pilaf with a character named King Gurumes to serve as the antagonist for this film. King Gurumes is the king of the Gurumes Kingdom, and he becomes greedy for the Blood Rubies buried in his kingdom. He also becomes a gluttonous monster. He wants to obtain all seven Dragon Balls in order to satiate his gluttony with the best-tasting food in the world.

During this film, Goku meets Bulma, Oolong, Yamucha, Pur-Eh, Master Roshi, and a new character named Pansy (who is from the Gurumes Kingdom). Pansy bears a striking resemblance to Suno, a girl Goku meets in the series while he’s fighting with the Red Ribbon Army. How Goku meets Bulma in the film is rather similar to the original series. As for the other characters who are from the television series, their introductions are noticeably different.

Overall, I thought the characters of Bulma, Yamucha, and Master Roshi really lose their importance in this re-telling. In the series, Bulma is portrayed as a very gifted inventor and invented the Dragon Radar. However, in this film, King Gurumes’ henchmen already have their own Dragon Radar, which means that Bulma’s Dragon Radar isn’t as big of a deal. Bulma’s roles in this film are ultimately to provide Goku the initial information on the Dragon Balls, to serve as a chauffeur, and be a foil for Yamucha.

Yamucha’s character is also diminished quite a bit in this film, and it’s hard for me to find it believable that he follows the other characters to King Gurumes’ castle for the climax. Master Roshi’s role in this film is almost non-existent. The main purpose for the group to go see him is for Goku to see Roshi perform and Kamehameha and learn it. Outside of that, Roshi really doesn’t do anything that’s terribly important.

When it comes to the story of the film, I thought the pacing of the film felt a little choppy. In addition, there are times when you question what is going on. The best example of this is when Goku sees Bulma’s Dragon Ball and thinks it’s his, but Bulma corrects him by saying that his ball has four stars instead of two. I question this, because in the film, Bulma has just met Goku, and has never seen his Dragon Ball before. How would she know what his looks like? In addition, King Gurumes and the whole Blood Ruby storyline doesn’t seem to be very well developed, even though the Blood Rubies are in the title of the film.

Since I was already familiar with the Dragon Ball series before watching Curse of the Blood Rubies, I found that I had a hard time enjoying it. I’m not necessarily against re-telling a story and making it a little different, but I think the execution of this film was a little on the lacking side. If some more effort had been taken with this re-telling, then perhaps I might have enjoyed it a little better.

Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle was the second film released for Dragon Ball. The film was directed by Daisuke Nishio, and it was released to Japanese theaters on July 18, 1987.

This film also needs to be seen as an “alternate timeline” story for the Dragon Ball universe. This film is a retelling of the portion of the series where Kuririn comes to train with Master Roshi and Goku. The film starts with Kuririn’s arrival at Kame House and asking to train with Roshi. Roshi sends Goku and Kuririn to find a “pichi pichi girl.” However, instead of sending them out willy-nilly, Roshi gives them a specific girl to find. The girl in question is a sleeping princess rumored to be held captive in the castle of a devil. Roshi tells them that whoever brings the sleeping princess back will become his student. Meanwhile, we see that Launch, in her blond-hair “bad” persona, is also interested in locating the sleeping princess.

After Goku and Kuririn leave, Bulma, Yamucha, Oolong, and Pur-eh arrive at the Kame House, wanting to catch up with Goku. Roshi tells the group that he just headed out on a quest that is taking him far to the west, where “five mountains stand, called the Devil’s Hand.” Goku’s friends get into Bulma’s Capsule jet to locate Goku. As they travel, they are attacked by demons, and Bulma is taken to the castle. When Bulma awakes, the owner of the castle, who is named Lucifer, treats her as a guest. But what are Lucifer’s true intentions? Do Goku and Kuririn find the sleeping princess? And how does Launch get mixed up in the action?

While Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle is a re-telling, I thought this film worked better overall in comparison to Curse of the Blood Rubies. It also didn’t feel nearly as choppy as the first film did. However, if you already have familiarity with the Dragon Ball anime series, then the story of this film just feels rather awkward. For me, this awkwardness made it a little hard to watch the film and enjoy it. I think that when it comes to watching the Dragon Ball films, you have to look at it in such a way that the Dragon Ball anime series follows one continuity, while the Dragon Ball films follow a completely different continuity.

Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure was the third film released for the Dragon Ball franchise. It was directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi, and was released to Japanese theaters on July 9, 1988.

Again, this film needs to be seen as an “alternate timeline” story for the Dragon Ball universe. This film retells the portion of the series that covers the second Tenkaichi Tournament. At the beginning of the film, Goku and Kuririn are training under Master Roshi to prepare for the World Martial Arts Tournament that is being held in the country of Mifan. In this film, Chaotzu is recast as the young emperor of Mifan, and he is trying to find his lost “Ran Ran.” “Minister” Master Shen (who was originally Tien and Chaotzu’s teacher in the original anime series) has Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu build him a Dragon Radar to locate the Dragon Balls. With the help of Shen’s brother, the mercenary Tao Pai Pai, they take the Dragon Radar for themselves. The brothers claim they will use the Dragon Balls to ask Shen Long to find the young emperor’s lost “Ran Ran.” General Blue rushes in and claims that “Ran Ran” is being held in Shen’s room, and Blue is killed by Tao Pai Pai.

Meanwhile, in the area of Karin, Bora and his son Upa have located the final Dragon Ball. They take the ball with them to Mifan in the hopes they can use it to demand that Mifan’s soldiers leave the land near Karin Tower. Bora is tricked into entering the Tournament, with the prize being that one wish will be granted by the emperor. Bulma, Oolong, Launch, and Pur-eh are trying to locate the other six Dragon Balls. What will happen at the tournament? Will good prevail over evil?

When I was watching Mystical Adventure, I was glad that I already had previous familiarity with the Dragon Ball property through watching the original anime series. If I hadn’t, I would have become confused at several points in the film. Not only did this film make some major changes to some of the characters (most noticeably to Chaotzu, Tien, Shen, and Tao Pai Pai), but it took several elements from the Red Ribbon Army storyline and tried to weave them into this retelling of the second Tenkaichi Tournament from the original Dragon Ball anime series. In the end, I didn’t think this was a very good re-telling for the Dragon Ball story, and it’s not a film that I would rush to watch again anytime in the near future.

Dragon Ball: The Path to Power is actually the 17th film to be released that is based on the Dragon Ball manga series. The film was directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi, and it was originally released in Japan on March 4, 1996 at the Toei Anime Fair. This film was produced to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Dragon Ball franchise.

The Path to Power has to be looked at as yet another “alternate timeline.” However, not only is it an alternate timeline to the anime series, it is also an alternate timeline to the three Dragon Ball films. This 80-minute film is yet another retelling of Dragon Ball. In this film, not only does Goku go through some of the events of the original 13 episodes (meeting Bulma, Oolong, Yamucha, and Pur-eh), he also encounters the Red Ribbon Army and goes through Muscle Tower. However, he doesn’t befriend Sunono or the scientist, and he doesn’t have to fight Murasaki.

Overall, I felt that the storytelling in this film was rather choppy, which turned the film into a complete mess. If this film is someone’s first introduction to the Dragon Ball franchise, it would more than likely turn them off from the property, because it would be hard to follow. I really got the impression from the film that the director expected viewers to already have familiarity with the Dragon Ball franchise through the anime series.

As for the animation, it was obviously made during a time when CG animation hadn’t been refined yet. A number of the shots almost literally scream, “Look at me! I was animated with a computer!” I didn’t like the “texture” of the characters when compared to the original anime. Looking at the characters, they almost looked plastic. It was also rather obvious that the animators had become too accustomed to working on Dragon Ball Z by this point, because Yamucha’s facial expressions were drawn in such a way that he looked more like Vegeta instead of Yamucha, especially when Yamucha would have a smug grin on his face. I was also a little annoyed that a decision was made to change Bulma’s hair from blue to purple.

Each film in this set is included on a separate disc. At first, this may seem impressive, but when you realize that most of films aren’t even an hour long (the first three run for about 50 minutes, while the fourth has a runtime of 80 minutes), it feels like a waste. In my opinion this really could have been condensed down to a two-disc set. This is especially true when you realize that the disc for Curse of the Blood Rubies only has trailers on it, and the remaining three discs contain absolutely no special features at all. Also, it should be noted that the disc for Curse of the Blood Rubies that’s included in this set is exactly the same as the disc that was released individually.

One of the things that FUNimation plays up with this set is the fact that the films have been remastered. However, when I watched all of the discs on this set, I noticed that the video looked rather grainy. The Japanese audio sounded rather muffled, but this audio track may not have been remastered. The English dub track does have an overall better audio quality, so I can believe that the English audio was remastered.

Personally, I can only truly recommend this box set for the die-hard Dragon Ball fans that must own everything on DVD, and want to purchase this set as an easy way to acquire all four Dragon Ball films for their collection. However, I would only recommend it if you can find it for $20 or less. Anything more than $20 is too much for what you get in this set.

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