Anime DVD Review: Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One

Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One is a release aimed at Dragon Ball Z collectors, and it contains the first 42 episodes of the series. The episodes are uncut and have been remastered and restored frame by frame. The episodes that are included on this release are presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of the 16:9 cropping that was done for the nine “orange brick” season sets.

Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: November 17, 2009

The episodes in this set cover the entirety of the Vegeta saga and the early episodes of the Namek saga. At the beginning of the series, five years have passed since the end of the first Dragon Ball series. During the intervening time, Goku has married Chi-Chi, and they have a son named Gohan.

An alien from the Saiyan race named Raditz comes to Earth, claiming that Goku’s real name is Kakarrot, and that Goku is his brother. Goku and Piccolo end up teaming up to fight against this new enemy, and in the process learn that two more Saiyans, who are more powerful than Raditz, are on their way. It’s also revealed that Gohan has impressive power.

Goku dies during the battle with Raditz, and Piccolo takes Gohan in order to train him before the arrival of the other two Saiyans. Vegeta, a major character in Dragon Ball Z, is introduced during this arc. This arc climaxes with a battle between Vegeta and a resurrected Goku.

Unfortunately, several of Goku’s friends are killed during Vegeta and Nappa’s invasion, and the Dragon Balls are also gone. During the battle, Vegeta was overheard saying it was a race called the Nameks who created the Dragon Balls. A mission is taken to go to Namek in order to use their Dragon Balls to wish their friends back to life.

These early episodes set the stage for the story and tone for the Dragon Ball Z series. Dragon Ball Z is a much more serious and more sci-fi oriented series in comparison to the original Dragon Ball series. It’s also during the Vegeta saga that the drawn out storylines that this series becomes known for start showing up. Even though there are sections of the story that feel a little stretched out, it’s still rather effective at establishing the new elements of the Dragon Ball universe.

When it comes to this release, the default language for viewing is Japanese audio with English subtitles. If you want to hear the English dub, that option is available in the setup menu. However, it should be pointed out that the music score that was created for the English dub is not included. The Japanese titles for the episodes are used on this release instead of the English titles, and the packaging and booklet uses the original Japanese spelling for the characters’ names.

Each disc in this set includes seven episodes, and there are no on-disc extras. However, Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One comes with a 47-page hardcover book that has a right-to-left orientation. The book begins with a brief overview of the first Dragon Ball series, character profiles, and an “Ultimate Character Relationship Chart.” The bulk of the book, however, is devoted to talking about the episodes that are included in the set. The episode section of the book includes the Japanese titles for the episodes, a description for each episode, the original airdate for each episode, still images from the episodes, trivia, and a brief overview of the story that appears on each disc in the set. The book concludes with a “fashion check” that comments on some of the outfits that are seen in the episodes in this set and line art drawings of some of the characters.

This is actually a rather nice booklet, and it ultimately beats the pants off of any on-disc extras that could have been included. Personally, I’d rather have more episodes per disc and the hardcover book instead of fewer episodes per disc and on-disc bonuses.

Overall, I’m rather happy with how Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One turned out. However, I was disappointed to see that the “Marathon Feature” from the “orange brick” season sets wasn’t included, because it made it easier to watch the episodes back-to-back on each disc.

But it’s interesting to note that if you watch the Japanese language versions of the episodes, you get to see the next episode previews at the end of each episode. These had not been included in the original “orange brick” season box sets that FUNimation Entertainment had released.

I would recommend Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box One to fans of Dragon Ball Z who want to have a better version of the episodes than what appears on the “orange bricks.”

Unfortunately, the Dragon Boxes were produced as limited edition collector’s releases, so some volumes are already completely gone, and others are getting close to being completely gone. While there are third-party sellers selling used copies of these sets on sites such as Amazon, I’ve seen some rather high prices for these sets. If you want to own the Dragon Boxes and haven’t bought them already, I would recommend looking around at various sites that let third-party sellers sell DVDs legally and see if you can find a good deal for these sets.

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