Dragon Ball Z is back! In its remastered filler-free edition called Kai. Dragon Ball Z Kai brings us the beginnings of the Saiyan saga all the way through to the end of the Cell saga, in a filler-free Toei Animation remaster that follows the manga more closely from Manga Entertainment. If you’re an old fan of the series or a newcomer, Dragon Ball Z Kai is a great starting point and is easily the definitive version.
“Goku, Earth’s greatest champion, bravely defends humanity against an invading race of warriors known as the Saiyans. When the mighty hero falls, his young son Gohan rises up to face the very villains who murdered his father. The battle rages through space to Planet Namek, where Gohan and his overmatched allies risk their lives to defeat the Saiyan warlord Vegeta – and the monster known as Frieza!” – Manga Entertainment.
Season one spans across 26 episodes and begins by recapping the story of Dragon Ball and even throws in some previously unseen footage; footage only available in the Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku, a television special that has never seen a UK release. Once the story gets going, we are treated to the arrival of Raditz, Goku’s brother, who comes looking to add Goku to the ranks of Saiyan warriors, of which only four still exist. Upon Goku’s refusal, Raditz kidnaps Goku’s son Gohan in an attempt to convince Goku to join him, Goku, however, has other plans and joins forces with former rival Piccolo to take down this new threat. With the pending arrival of two more Saiyans, even more, powerful than Raditz, Earth’s future, as well as many of its strongest fighters, is uncertain. Season one sees us travel across the universe to the planet Namek, Piccolo and Kami’s homeworld, in a struggle to save their friends and defeat an evil being called Frieza!
Dragon Ball Z Kai features an all-new remaster from Toei Animation, including visuals, sound and special effects, the series also boasts brand new opening and ending animations. The series uses the original footage from Dragon Ball Z for the most part in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, cut together in a more faithful way to the original source material than DBZ was. With so much material cut from the original, there were bound to be instances where scenes don’t quite match; this is more noticeable in some areas than others, especially to those who are familiar with the original Dragon Ball Z. To newcomers, this will be largely unnoticeable and ultimately does not detract from the story.
Discs one and two of the DVD set did suffer from an aliasing issue affecting the mid-episode graphic and ending graphic, but this did not affect discs three and four.
This release includes both the original Japanese audio track in 2.0 stereo and the FUNimation English dub track in 5.1 surround sound. The Japanese audio is largely re-recorded using most of the original cast, and the FUNimation dub features a more faithful adaption of the Japanese dialogue, using the majority of the original cast with a few recasts. Japanese singer Takayoshi Tanimoto provides both the opening and ending themes for the series, titled ‘Dragon Soul’ and ‘Yeah! Break! Care! Break!’ respectively; in the FUNimation dub track an English version sung by various voice actors is used.
Clean opening and textless ending animations are included, as standard, and a huge number of trailers for old FUNimation titles; this includes Evangelion: 1.11, Soul Eater Part 3 and many more.
If you’re an old fan of the series or a newcomer, Dragon Ball Z Kai is a great starting point and is easily the definitive version. Remastered and filler-free, Kai condenses the original material into a more faithful and enjoyable experience, featuring new visuals, audio and special effects. It’s great to see a classic anime such as this receive the treatment it has; even better is the chance to own it on Blu-ray.