This is not an episodic review. I really just need to get this post out of my system. I had finally seen the highly anticipated Dragon Ball Kai series, which is a remastered version of Dragon Ball Z trimmed of most of the filler. This is good news for fans of the franchise, or guys like me who suffered through the show way back in high school.
The good news from this first episode:
The story is very compressed. This bodes well as the filler and the never-ending staring in between never-ending power-up sequences will be removed.
The bad news:
The uneven animation: the OP and ED look very much in high definition, but the whole ep hardly looks remastered. This and several other apparent gaffes are documented here.
According to Toei personnel when they first told me about the project, they were remastering by drawing over screen captured images from the original shows. The original cels are already lost, and they also weren’t drawing new frames per se. One thing’ is for sure, Dragon Ball Kai translates well into the HD screen aspect ratio. Most remastered works, even on blu-ray format retain the original aspect ratio (i.e. Mobile Suit Z Gundam). Some new drawing work and some image editing had to be done to make this aspect ratio possible.
The episode moved at a very brisk pace. The origin stories, not only Goku’s but also the destruction of the planet Vegeta were there; setting up Frieza as the big bad almost immediately. Son Gohan benefited from the attention, and the whole reunion of the old friends set up how the rest of the series will go on pretty much.
Processing all this information took me back in time. While Dragon Ball Z isn’t one of my favorite shows/franchises, it influenced me a lot back in the early ’90s when we didn’t even have cable TV. DBZ actually showed, while the only other choices were Sailor Moon and Robotech (I watched a whole lot of Robotech). DBZ was superb figtan animu. The power and violence was spectacular. It really made western superheroes (I had collected comics too) seem pedestrian. Furthermore, in the early 90s it would have been over half a decade since I got to hear an OP in Japanese. And my goodness: CHA LA HEAD CHA LA! Fun times. But also, the pain:
Dragon Ball Z – Totally ruined by local tv who for years only showed the Raditz arc up until the Snake Road arc. I would dutifully watch the re-runs every week only to find after a few months that Goku was at the start of the Snake Road. I never saw the whole series to this day, but my goodness – the dutiful following I gave this series was considerable.
-From my post on the shows that made me the otaku that I am
What we didn’t expect was how long, drawn-out and dragging each story arc would be. We’d be teased with awesome violence only that it’d be 3-5 episodes down the line, and in the mean time there would just be a truckload of staring, grunting, powering up, and shitty dialogue. Every episode felt like Waiting for Godot.
It was watching the DBZ movies that got me to appreciate the franchise more, though there were a lot of awful ones too. But I have a lot of fond memories playing the Dragon Ball Z fighting games on the Super Famicom console with my brothers, and man those were good times. I’m not expecting Dragon Ball Kai to suddenly transform the series into a really good show, but the very idea that I can actually complete it is of significant service. It really is a pain how I ended up dropping a lot of the shows I tried to watch back when I was younger due to limitations of TV broadcasts (including Mazinger Z and UFO Grendizer). I will look out for the episodes every week, just like 16 years ago.