Cast: Vic Mignogna, Sean Schemmel, Kara Edwards
"Dragon Ball Z", the beloved Anime series created by Akira Toriyama, originally aired in Japan in 1989 and an English dubbed and edited for violence version on the WB network in 1996. But the series didn't become popular in the U.S. until airing on The Cartoon Network as part of Toonami's lineup in 1998. In 1999, Funimation began dubbing their own version with slight changes to the characters and storyline, used their own voice actors and musical score, and left in most of the violence; adding to the appeal for U.S. viewers. What we have here are two of the most popular "Dragon Ball Z" movies on one Blu-ray Disc: The eighth Dragon Ball Z movie: "Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan"(1 hour 11 minutes) and the tenth Dragon Ball Z movie: "Broly: Second Coming" (52 minutes and 13 seconds).
The first movie, "Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan" begins with many of the Dragon Ball Z characters, Vegeta, Trunks, Gohan, Krillin, Master Roshi, and Oolong having a picnic and singing Karaoke. Three of them are Saiyans: Vegeta (the former Saiyan Prince), Trunks (his son, though this older version is actually his son from the future), and Gohan (son of Goku, the original character that the entire series is based on). A Saiyan is a super-powerful being which looks like a human, but is born with a monkey tail. If there is a full-moon, the Saiyan transforms into a gigantic and powerful ape which is no longer in control of itself and will destroy everything in its path. The only way to avoid this is to have its tail cut off, which will avoid it turning into an ape. All of the Saiyans in this story have no tails, so no need to worry about that. Most Saiyans are extinct, there are very few left.
A Saiyan named Paragus shows up out of the blue and tells Vegeta that there is a legendary Super Saiyan wreaking havoc somewhere in the galaxy, and that he has recreated their home planet (also called Vegeta) for Prince Vegeta to return to rule. This appeals to Vegeta's vanity and he accepts the offer, even as his son Trunks begs him to use common sense and not go with the stranger, but Vegeta does not listen. A Super Saiyan is a Saiyan who has powered up past a certain level. The hair turns gold and the eyes turn green with a golden aura glowing around them. At this point all of our Saiyans can transform into a Super Saiyan except Gohan, who is too young yet. But this Super Saiyan is legendary, so it poses a challenge to Vegeta, and he must go find it.
Meanwhile Goku is being confined by his wife Chi Chi at a very good school in which she would like Gohan to attend, but before that is possible, she must train Goku to say that his hobbies are "Reading and sports". By the time they finally make it into the office for the interview, King Kai summons Goku through his mind and tells him that there is a grave danger and something super-powerful is out there. Goku can't wait to get out of his stuffy suit and go fight this threat, so he teleports himself out of the office and to King Kai's home planet to get more instructions from the wise alien, to the awe of the school officials.
When all of our characters arrive on planet Vegeta, they meet Paragus' son Broly, a tall, thin Saiyan of little words. Vegeta orders him to accompany him to find the legendary Super Saiyan while Trunks, Gohan and Krillin go to investigate the planet, only to find a slave race being used to mine the planet for energy to run the palace. They fight off all of the slave-drivers and at then Goku arrives, via teleportation and claims he is following an energy vibration through the universe and that it lead him to that planet. He is later introduced to Broly by Paragus as Kakarot, Bardock's son (his and his father's names from the original planet Vegeta before Goku came to Earth). Broly gets extremely angry, and his father uses a device to control his anger, but finds it unusually difficult to do so. It seems his control over his son cannot be contained around Goku. We then learn that Goku and Broly were born on the same day and that Goku cried and cried keeping Broly awake and suffering for days, and so he will forever hold a grudge for 'Kakarot'.
After they have all gone to bed, Broly mounts a surprise attack on Goku while he is sleeping, but Goku wakes up in a hurry and realizes that Broly's energy signature is the same one he has been following through the universe. When Vegeta realizes this, he becomes paralyzed with fear and all he can say is "We're all going to die". Goku can't wait for the fight, but at the same time must make sure that all the less powerful life forms, his friends included, make it off the planet in a space ship, so as not to be harmed by Broly, who could very well destroy the planet. Piccolo (Gohan's trainer and a fellow fighter) shows up to lend a hand when Gohan is down. It is a good, but short battle mainly between Goku and Broly (short in comparison to the battles in the series, which could last many episodes), but Goku finally defeats Broly with the energy lent from all of his comrades.
The second movie, "Broly: Second Coming" takes place seven years after the first in the world of DBZ. A spaceship crash lands on Earth and out crawls Broly, but he is weak and as the temperature decreases he becomes frozen in the crater. At this time future Trunks has gone back to the future and now we have the actual Trunks (son of Vegeta and Bulma) who is a bit younger, Goten (second son of Goku and Chi Chi), and Videl (who will become the wife of Gohan in later episodes) on a hunt for dragon balls because Videl wants to see the Eternal Dragon. If seven dragon balls are brought together, they can summon the Eternal Dragon, Shenron, who has the ability to grant the summoner one wish.
The three characters stumble upon a village where the villagers are offering a little blonde girl as a sacrifice. The three do not like the fact that anyone should have to be sacrificed, so they go to investigate the reason for the fear among the villagers and put themselves in the pot on the sacrificial spot. Next to the pot are some side dishes, including apples. Trunks grabs an apple, and eats it, but when Goten grabs one, Videl slaps his hand and refuses to let him eat it, so he starts crying very loud. Videl tell him to stop crying and finally gives in and lets him have an apple, but not before the crying sound has reached Broly underneath the ice in the crater. It reminds him of the crying Kakarot (Goku) and so his rage flares up and he busts out of the ice. As for the villagers' problem, it turns out to be a dinosaur, and so they kill it and bring it back to the village for the villagers to eat.
Later that night they hear an explosion in the distance and go to investigate. Broly attacks Videl, but when he sees Goten, he mistakes the boy for Goku and his rage explodes. At the same time, Goten and Trunks spot the final seventh dragon ball so Trunks teases Broly while Goten tries to summon the eternal dragon, which is unsuccessful. Gohan shows up just in the nick of time, saves the boys and explains to them who Broly is. And from then on it is a battle to defeat Broly yet again.
These movies look quite good in 1080p. The digital restoration process these films had to go through is amazing to say the least. It is obvious they went through much trouble to make these features stand out, and they look better than they ever have. For fans of the series this is a must have. You can tell that this was a frame by frame restoration and it is amazing to see it in widescreen. The colors are faithfully reproduced. Although it can be a little inconsistent at times, and perhaps certain film and cell animation limitations can be painfully evident at times due to the increased resolution, this transfer is still very impressive for this type of feature and actually looked quite a bit better than I thought it would. In other words, these films look just as they were originally intended to look, not like a Pixar release. The films both fill the screen at a nice 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and that is taken from the original Japanese film masters.
The two films contain three different soundtracks. I opted for the English 5.1 dubbed track, but it does include the original Japanese track in stereo. The English 5.1 and English Stereo tracks both sound as good as I expected, perhaps a bit better, although some of the music placement during fight scenes can be a little hard to get used to, at least to those of us who are not hardcore fans of the series. Every song has lyrics, making it so that the singers' words compete with the characters' voices. Some of the sound editing is questionably chosen but then again the cheesy nature of it has a certain appeal. The action scenes are rendered nicely across a fairly limited sound field and the surrounds are fairly subtle and not overused. Most of the action takes place in the front two speakers and this is actually a very effective mix, at least in the sense that the original sound design has been faithfully rendered. Also the music is some really hardcore rock and roll and some speed metal, so fans of that type of music will get a kick out of that. Mostly the dialogue is captured effectively and the characters are easy to understand, although the exaggerated dubbing can be laughably over the top at times, you get used to it quickly. Some of the sound effects are also very over the top but that is the nature of the series.
There are two special features on this disc, which are short, but very interesting. The first, 'Dragon Ball Z: A New Look' describes the restoration process that Funimation put the original Japanese film through, making it now widescreen and in high definition with the originally intended colors. This is a very enthusiastic feature that actually makes you want to own the whole series and it is very interesting the amount of time and care involved in the process. Fascinating, but a little short clocking in at 3 minutes 13 seconds. And the second, 'Dragon Ball Z Season Sets' is a 1 minute 50 second feature all about the recent remastering for all 291 episodes of the complete, uncut Dragon Ball Z.
While I am not exactly a fan of the series I do have respect for it, and I'm sure fans will be pleased with this release, since the series has never looked better than it does on Blu-ray. Although it has few special features, the ones it does have really get you excited about the series as a whole, especially in high definition.