Manga Review: Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Seven

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Seven collects the 19th, 20th, and 21st volumes of the manga that chronicle the Dragon Ball Z portion of the franchise.

Dragon Ball Z VIZBIG Volume Seven
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 20, 2010

The first twelve chapters in this omnibus (which is the entirety of Volume 19) finishes off the “Cell Saga” portion of Dragon Ball Z. This includes both the conclusion of the Cell Games, as well as Future Trunks returning to his time and putting an end to the androids and Cell in his timeline.  In the Cell Games, Goku dies (again). Unfortunately, with the Dragon Balls that Dende created, you can’t be brought back to life again if you were already brought back to life with Earth’s original Dragon Balls. So we now have a situation where our original lead character is dead, but the reader can still see what he’s up to in the afterlife.

At the beginning of Volume 20, there’s a timeskip, and Gohan is now a teenager. He’s done as much for his education as he can living out in the country, so he is now going to high school in the town of Herculopolis (which was named after Hercule, who everyone believes saved the Earth from Cell). At this point, Gohan becomes the main character of the series, and we see that he’s secretly taking on the criminals who are popping up in town. He turns Super Saiyan when he takes on criminals, and this has gained him the nickname of the Golden Warrior.

In school, one his classmates is Videl, who is the daughter of Hercule. She’s strong and takes on criminals, and she becomes determined to discover who the Golden Warrior really is. Gohan, meanwhile, enlists Bulma’s help to create a disguise to make it easier for him to hide his true identity now that he’s a student at the high school.

This part of the story also introduces Gohan’s little brother, Goten. He looks so much like Goku did when he was a little kid, and he just looks so stinking cute. Trunks, who is a year older than Goten, is Goten’s best friend.

Videl becomes a rival for Gohan (who, in his disguise, goes by the name of the Great Saiyaman). But I think Gohan was around the Ginyu Force too much as a child, because he’s adopted their posing for his Great Saiyaman persona. For whatever reason, Gohan thinks this is cool, but it’s just so facepalm inducing. But the rivalry and Videl’s trying to figure out the true identity of the Great Saiyaman doesn’t last long, because Gohan manages to stupidly admit to being the Great Saiyaman to her. Oops!

But from this initial animosity, a friendship starts developing. He even teaches Videl how to fly. Videl convinces Gohan to enter the next Tenkaichi tournament, which her father won the last time it was held. Several of the Z Warriors, in addition to Android 18, also decide to enter. And to everyone’s surprise, Goku is given a day to return to Earth so he can participate in the tournament as well. One of the memorable parts before the tournament begins is seeing Goten and Goku meeting for the first time (since Goku died before Goten was born).

The Tenkaichi tournament has been split into a children’s division and a regular division. We get to see Trunks and Goten fight in the children’s division, and their initial fights are amusing, especially since they take on boys from the same family. Their mother is a horrible person, and I think the jesting she gets from both Bulma and Chichi is deserved. The inevitable fight between Trunks and Goten is a wonderful read. As a prize, the winner gets to take on Hercule… and this is rather amusing.

To determine who the fifteen people who will be part of the adult division in addition to Hercule, it is decide to use a punch machine to register each entrant’s strength. The Z Fighters have to try to tone to down, but Vegeta decides to use his full power… and destroys the punch machine in the process. The Z Fighters using the punch machine is hilarious, but Vegeta’s destruction of it is the icing on the cake. Before the adult division gets underway, the Z Fighters and the reader are introduced to two new characters.

The adult division gets underway, and when it’s Piccolo’s turn to go against one of the new characters, we senses how strong this guy is and forfeits. It’s revealed that his character is the Lord of Lords, which in the world of Dragon Ball Z is known as a Kaio-Shin. But things take a turn when the Kaio-Shin’s assistant begins his fight with Gohan, and two of the other fighters take some of Gohan’s energy after he’s powered up. By the end of this volume, the stage is set to introduce new villains to the franchise, as well as what Kaio-Shin intends to do to stop the new enemy.

A lot of changes come for the characters, especially with that timeskip in there. But from watching the anime, I know that the end of this series is getting ever closer. As far as I know, the anime at this point didn’t include any fillers, so it’ll be interesting to read the remaining VIZBig volumes to determine whether or not this assumption is correct.

Manga Review: Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Six

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Six collects the 16th, 17th, and 18th volumes of the manga that chronicle the Dragon Ball Z portion of the franchise.

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Six
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 9, 2010

This volume focuses exclusively on what’s known in the anime as the “Cell Saga.” It starts with Goku meeting Cell for the first time, and letting Cell know that while he’s not strong enough to defeat him now, he will be the next day. Of course, Cell laughs at this, because it sounds so absurd that any major changes can happen to Goku in one day. Goku and Gohan then spend time training in the Room of Spirit and Time, while a powered up Vegeta and Trunks go to face off against Cell.

Meanwhile Kuririn is given a task by Bulma: use the remote she worked on in order to stop Android 18 to prevent Cell from achieving his perfect form. Kuririn, you only had one job… and you blew it. Unfortunately, this means that Cell is able to power up into his perfect form, and the only person happy about this is Vegeta. I mean, Vegeta thinks that he can prove how great he is if he defeats Cell in his perfect form. But as we see in the volume, it turns out that Trunks is stronger than Vegeta, although he tries to hide this fact from his prideful father. But it turns out that the power that Trunks has isn’t enough to take down Cell in his perfect form.

After learning that Goku is training to get stronger, and that there’s a chance that Vegeta and Trunks could also get stronger, Cell decides to propose the Cell Games. This would be a tournament in ten days’ time, which is modeled after the Tenkaichi Tournaments that we had seen in the original Dragon Ball series. The only difference is that Cell is the only person that participants would fight.

The Z Warriors realize they need a way to bring back the Dragon Balls, since they were turned to stone after Kami merged with Piccolo. Goku comes up with the idea of using his instantaneous movement to go to the new Planet Namek to find a new Namekian to serve as Kami for Earth. Dende, who Gohan and Kruririn befriended on the original Planet Namek, is chosen for the job by the Namekians’ leader. He has the necessary knowledge for creating Dragon Balls, plus his friendship with Gohan and Kuririn has made him interested in going to Earth. Dende agrees and becomes the new Kami. While Dende does create new Dragon Balls, their power is little more limited than the Dragon Balls that are on Planet Namek. The biggest of these being the fact that anyone who has been revived by the Dragon Balls cannot be brought back to life again. This affects several of the potential Z Fighters participating in the upcoming Cell Games.

As the Cell Games approach, a new character is introduced: a combatant named Hercule (who was a wrestler formerly known as Mr. Satan). Heh. I found this attempt at covering up the name  change between the Japanese and English version of the series to be rather amusing. They acknowledge the original name just long enough to say that it existed, and then use the excuse that he changed his name when he quit being a wrestler and became a professional combatant. Hercule comes off as an egotistical, but he’s a clueless, bumbling idiot. He has no idea what he’s walked into and keeps brushing off the weird things he sees as tricks. But because he has no clue of what’s going on, he gets a ringout very quickly. Then, it’s Goku’s turn to face off against Cell.

Several chapters are devoted to Goku and Cell fighting it out, but after a while, Goku concedes defeat. However, he says that there’s someone even stronger than him who can take down Cell. He then points out Gohan. At the same time, Goku gives Cell a senzu bean. Oh, Goku, if you hadn’t done that, Gohan could have beaten Cell easily. Of course, this wouldn’t be a shonen series without long fights and power ups! Most of the rest of the volume is on Gohan’s fight with Cell, but a repaired Android 16 also plays an important part in this section of the story.

Right at the end of the volume, there is a side story labeled as “Trunks: The Lone Warrior.” This is a story that takes place in Future Trunks’ timeline, from the future that he knows from when he traveled back in time in order to save Goku’s life. As I recall, this story was animated to be part of The History of Trunks anime special.

Once again, it was interesting to see how the story played in the original manga, without the filler stories and characters that appeared in this portion of the Dragon Ball Z anime. This felt like a more natural pacing for the story, and I appreciated being able to see this section of the series without being bogged down by the filler elements.

Manga Review: Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume One

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume One collects the first three volumes of the manga that chronicle the story of the Dragon Ball Z portion of the franchise.

Dragon Ball Z VIZBIG Volume One
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 3, 2008

This volume begins with the arrival of an alien named Raditz, and he’s looking for his brother, Kakarrot. He tracks down his brother, who turns out to be Goku, at Roshi’s place. Also introduced early on in this volume is Gohan, Goku’s young son. Yes, it turns out Goku had a tail in the first series because he wasn’t an Earthling… he’s from a race known as the Saiyans. When Goku refuses to go with Raditz, his older brother defeats him and kidnaps Gohan.

For those who are familiar with the Dragon Ball Z franchise know that this is the beginning of this portion of this franchise. The story continues in this volume with the death of Goku, Gohan displaying that he has latent powers that he’s unaware of, and Piccolo training Gohan. Goku may be dead, but he’s training in the afterworld with Kaio-sama. Goku, Gohan, and the other Z-Fighters are preparing for the arrival of two other Saiyans who will come in one year.

This three-in-one also gets to the arrival of Vegeta and Nappa, the two Saiyans, and the various fights they have with the Z-Fighters. We even see Goku return from the afterworld to start battling the Saiyans. This omnibus volume ends in the middle of Goku’s battle with Vegeta.

Since I saw the anime well before I ever began reading the manga, I was pleasantly surprised by how much quicker the story progresses in this omnibus edition. It really made it clear just how much filler was included, as well as how much some of the scenes were stretched out, in the anime adaptation of this first arc of Dragon Ball Z. As I recall from seeing the early episodes of Dragon Ball Z Kai, the remake anime follows the manga much more closely, so has a similar pacing to what you see when you read these first three volumes of the series.

The manga telling of this story, especially when you look at this omnibus volume, has a good mixture of character building, dialogue, and action that keeps the reader wanting to read more in order to find out what happens next. Even though I was already familiar with the story from watching the anime, I still found myself engrossed while reading this first omnibus edition of Dragon Ball Z. And the deaths of certain characters hit me just as hard as they did when I first saw this story when watching the anime for the first time a little over a decade ago. Oh, and I can’t neglect to mention just how cute and little Gohan was in this early arc of the series.

This omnibus release is worth it for fans of Dragon Ball Z that want to own the manga but don’t want to spend the time or money to chase down the original individual volumes of the series.

FUNimation Entertainment Reveals Plans for New Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray Disc Collector’s Edition if it Receives 2,500 Pre-Orders

FUNimation Entertainment and Toei Animation US have announced that FUNimation plans to release a new Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray Disc collector’s edition set in commemoration for the show’s 30th anniversary.

FUNimation stated that the company will need to have 2,500 copies of the set pre-ordered in order to manufacture the set. The company explained that it will host a reservation campaign for the new set later, and that if the set does not receive 2,500 pre-orders, FUNimation will not create the set. The company added that 2,500 units are the minimum build order for sets from its printers.

FUNimation explained that it is not looking to crowdfund the set on sites like Kickstarter as those crowdfunding platforms “are typically asking fans to fund the creation of new content, not something like a collector’s edition which may be cool but isn’t quite the same as new content.”

The company has so far announced that the set will include the complete Dragon Ball Z anime series on Blu-ray Disc with new bonus content, an exclusive collectible figure, and “North America’s first-ever full-sized hardback artbook” for the series. FUNimation said it will reveal more information about the set at a later date.

FUNimation has not officially confirmed what aspect ratio the release will have. The company’s announcement image uses the Dragon Balls “Four” and “Three.”

Source: ANN

FunimationNow to Add 10 Dragon Ball Z Movies and Specials

FUNimation Entertainment has announced that it will add 10 Dragon Ball Z movies and specials to its FunimationNow streaming service in the United States and Canada on November 21, 2018. The following titles will be available:

  • Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone
  • Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might
  • Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug
  • Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler
  • Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13!
  • Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound
  • Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon
  • Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks

The streaming service currently offers Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super, but not Dragon Ball Z Kai or any of the franchise’s movies or specials.

Source: ANN

List: My Favorite Anime from the 1990s

About a year or so ago, I posted a list of my favorite anime from the 1970s and 1980s. Today, I have decided to post my personal five favorite anime from the 1990s. There are two titles on this list that technically began airing in 1989, but the majority of their run on Japanese television was during the 1990s, so I am including them on this list. But as is usual with my lists, it is being presented in alphabetical order rather than being a Top 5 list.

Cowboy Bebop

I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that Cowboy Bebop made the list, since it’s considered to be such a classic now. It really has withstood the test of time, because the creators of the show made sure not to utilize elements that would have made it feel dated years later. This is especially true when it comes to the music. Yoko Kanno’s score is brilliant, and it still sounds just as fresh now as it did when the series first premiered around 20 years ago.

Cowboy Bebop really stands out from a lot of its contemporaries, due to how it was able to combine several different influences viewers wouldn’t normally expect to see together. But the writing is so well done that these disparate influences work well together.

Dragon Ball Z

After the Dragon Ball series, Dragon Ball Z took the franchise to a whole new level. There’s more sci-fi elements involved, and the addition of the Saiyans to Goku’s back story really changed the tone and storytelling for the franchise. There’s still plenty of fights, though, so it doesn’t lose its roots as a fighting anime.

Admittedly, as the series goes on, the power ups and fights can get a little ridiculous at times. However, many of the characters in the franchise, whether we first met them in the original Dragon Ball series or in Dragon Ball Z, are fun and interesting enough that it helps the viewer overlook some of the absurdity and ridiculousness of the power ups.

The Dragon Ball franchise is still going now, thanks to Dragon Ball Super, which is a testament as to how much of a classic this anime has become over the years.

Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday is a Studio Ghibli film directed by the now late Isao Takahata, and it was released in Japanese theaters in 1991. It may have been a Studio Ghibli film, but it’s not what one would now consider a “typical” film for the studio.

The main protagonist is an unmarried 27-year-old office lady named Taeko, who has lived her whole life in Tokyo and works at a company in the city. At the beginning of the film, she decides to take a trip into the country to help her elder sister’s husband with the safflower harvest.

While traveling on the train, she recalls memories of when she was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in 1966.  When she reaches her destination, she meets and is picked up by her brother-in-law’s second cousin, Toshio. The film shows Taeko learning about harvesting safflowers, getting to know the family she’s staying with, and the time she spends with Toshio. Taeko’s memories of her 10-year-old self are intertwined with what’s happening to Taeko in Yamagata, and Taeko finds herself questioning her feelings and what she wants in life.

I really enjoyed Only Yesterday, and thought it was a very well-done film. It probably helped that I was in my later thirties when I saw the film for the first time, so I was able to understand where Taeko is coming from.

Ranma 1/2

This anime has become quite the classic, with its quirky humor, martial arts mayhem, and romantic comedy. Ranma and his father, Genma, fell into the cursed springs at Jusenkyo, and Ranma now turns into a girl and his father into a panda when they come in contact with cold water… and hot water returns them to normal. Genma and his old friend, Soun Tendo, arrange an engagement between Ranma and Soun’s tomboyish daughter, Akane. These two really hate each other at first, but seem to grow closer as the series progresses. But as new potential love interests for both characters enter the scene, some very strange love triangles (or whatever shapes they end up making) develop.

The series is definitely at its strongest in the earlier episodes of the series. By the end of the series, though, the stories are nowhere near as strong. Unfortunately, since the manga was still ongoing when the anime was being produced, there was never a true ending for the series. However, as readers of the manga know, there still wasn’t a true ending in that version, either. But even with some of its weaknesses, Ranma 1/2 is still an enjoyable comedy series and deserves being called a classic anime.

The Vision of Escaflowne

The Vision of Escaflowne follows a 15-year-old girl named Hitomi Kanzaki, and she’s a runner for her school’s track team. She has a fascination with tarot cards and fortune-telling, which ties in with a pack of tarot cards and a mysterious pink pendant that her grandmother gave her when she was a little girl. Hitomi learns that Amano Susumu, a boy on the track team that she has a crush on, will be leaving her school. Hitomi asks Amano to watch her do a practice run; if she beats her time, she wants Amano to kiss her. While in the middle of her run, a boy about Hitomi’s age named Van Fanel suddenly appears on the track; the boy is wielding a sword. A dragon appears, and together, Van and Hitomi defeat it. After Van claims a stone from the dragon, both he and Hitomi are taken a planet called Gaea.

Hitomi and Van find themselves having to fight the Zaibach Empire, and are aided by a steampunk mecha called Escaflowne. Other characters join their party, and the story really takes off.

As the relationship between Hitmoi and Van develops over the course of the series, I found myself wanting to see the two of them somehow be able to remain a couple if Hitomi finds out how to return to her world. Without providing spoilers, all I will say is that even though the series may not have ended with the “happy ever after” ending I was hoping for, it still ends in a realistic and satisfactory manner.

The Vision of Escaflowne mixes fantasy, steampunk, mecha, and romance to create an interesting and compelling story, and the animation really complements the story. Many of the protagonists in the series are characters that the audience can relate to and care about.

Even though I’m heaping all this praise of the anime series, I would highly recommend avoiding Escaflowne: The Movie. It’s a re-telling of the anime series, and for me, it just wasn’t very enjoyable.

Toei and Fathom Events to Screen Three Remastered Dragon Ball Z Films in Fall 2018

Toei Animation and Fathom Events have announced that they will screen remastered versions of three Dragon Ball Z films in Fall 2018. All screenings will feature an English dub. Tickets will go on sale on June 27, 2018.

Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan will screen on September 15 and 17, 2018.

Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku and Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn will screen as a double feature on November 3 and 5, 2018.

Those attending the screenings will “view exclusive content and receive an exclusive trading card” while supplies last.

Source: ANN

30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 26 – Best Anime Fight

Not surprisingly, my choice for the best anime fight comes from the anime I chose as my favorite fighter anime back on Day 10.

I chose Goku and Vegeta’s first fight in Dragon Ball Z. While this battle may not have all the insane power ups of later fights in the series, I still hold this one in high regard. It was exciting, and I think it’s actually more enjoyable because neither Goku nor Vegeta had gone through their various power ups yet, so they had to rely on what powers they possessed at that time. And I liked how the battle increased in its intensity until it reached its crescendo. I also appreciate how Goku decides not to kill Vegeta at the end of it, even though Kuririn and others in the cast thought he should have. While it may not have been one of the flashier battles of the franchise, to me, it’s still very memorable and very well done.

30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 19 – Most Epic Scene Ever

It wasn’t easy trying to decide on the most epic scene ever. I had to spend some time racking my brain on this one, until one scene finally kept popping into my head over and over.

I ended up choosing a scene from the Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods anime film. It’s a now infamous scene at Bulma’s birthday party, when Beerus slaps Bulma in retaliation for her slapping him. Vegeta becomes so angry, that he exclaims, “That’s my Bulma!,” and then powers up immensely… and appears to surpass Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 level. With this power level, Vegeta can actually get some good hits in on Beerus.

When I first saw this scene, it came across as humorous. But as I thought about it, I realized it was epic for more than just the humor that derives from it. This creates a great action moment, and it also shows the audience that Vegeta really does care about Bulma, even if he doesn’t usually show this outright to others. Let’s be honest, when Vegeta is first introduced in Dragon Ball Z, no one could have guessed that he would have evolved into this kind of a character. This mix of action and character development help to make this an epic scene in anime.

30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 10 – Favorite Fighter Anime

It’s time to unveil my favorite fighter anime, and I found myself trying to decide which series in a particular franchise should get the nod.

I was debating between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Z ultimately won out. Yes, there’s fighting and good stories in the first Dragon Ball series, but Dragon Ball Z kicks things up a few notches to make it even more of a fighter anime.

Introducing the sci-fi element of the Saiyans and the Nameks was a nice touch. This installment also introduced the world to Vegeta, who has become such an important and iconic character of the franchise. Young Gohan was great… but don’t get me started on Teen Gohan. Videl was great, because we got to see a female become a fighter. Chi-Chi may have fought when she was younger, but marriage and motherhood basically brought that to a halt. Goku’s new power ups were also fascinating to see, and I also always liked Goku’s sense of justice and looking out for others during his battles (such as insisting fights be taken as far away from cities as he can in order to minimize any needless destruction and death).

While Dragon Ball Z is primarily a shonen fighting anime, there’s also other elements, such as humor, that make it seem like more than just a fighting anime.