When you think of Dragon Ball Z, the abiding image is of characters screaming with rage, summoning balls of energy from their fingertips … And waiting for the hero, Goku, to turn up! The show’s basic formula is to keep its musclebound protagonist out of the way on one pretext or another so as to give the other members of the cast a chance to struggle valiantly and take their lumps against seemingly invincible foes.
Last season, everyone headed off to planet Nemek, home of the dragon balls, and started trashing the place. Everyone, that is, except Goku, who’s lagging behind as usual, although to be fair he’s getting in some solid 100x gravity training in his space ship en route. This leaves pint-sized duo Krillin and Gohan obliged to team up with erstwhile nemesis Vegeta to take on boss villain Frezia and the Ginyu Force, a team of mercenaries so tough they get their own theme song.
The early scuffles are well up to par, with lots of crazy eyes and twitching faces as the tension crackles between combatants, and the surface of Nemek taking one almighty hammering. And things get even better once Goku finally touches down, ushering in a race with Vegeta to become something called a Super Saiyan, the universe’s ultimate warrior.
As for Frezia, he might look like a little purple squirt, but he is reputed to have a power level of 1 million (which really counts for something in a show where characters constantly compare power levels the way teenage boys compare the lengths of their appendages). And there’s one particularly shocking moment where he proves this by wearing Krillin as a hat. Things look set fair, then, for a humongous showdown between Frezia and Goku.
But you can have too much of a good thing, and while the Dragon Ball Z Kai edition has apparently trimmed off a lot of the fat from the show’s original release, the climax of Season 2 still feels more than a little long drawn out. Therefore even diehard fans are likely to get a tad restless as the battle between these two heavyweights goes on forever and a day, culminating in a five minute doomsday countdown which lasts three episodes.
However, this isn’t enough to spoil what is still a very lively and eventful box set. As ever, the old school animation comes up a treat on this new remaster, and while some of the visuals in Season 2 are a little more plain that we’ve seen in previous Dragon Ball arcs, they still have plenty of energy and pop. Roll on Season 3! 7/10
7-min featurette with members of the cast chatting about the show’s characters and explaining how the Z Kai edition tightened up the editing of the original show (which was overloaded with filler in order to meet pressing deadlines).