Dragonball (Z) Kai [Review]
Ah, Dragonball Kai. I have not forgotten about this series as it was one of the highly anticipated series of Spring 2009 along with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood that is soon to be concluded. I checked out a few episodes to see if it’s worth the trip down memory lane. I said to myself that it wasn’t worth the hype since I knew what was going to happen… just that it is going to be 100-ish episodes shorter.
Now that FUNimation is releasing Dragonball Kai (or Z Kai to avoid confusion of it being an entirely new series), I decided to give it another chance-more so that I recently won a copy of Dragonball Z Kai Part One on Blu-ray from the guys at Con-News.com (Thanks x9,000!!). In Japan, they are at the beginning of the Android Saga, one of my favorite arcs in the series. In the US, it is currently airing on Nicktoons TV and the Vegeta Saga just wrapped up (that’s only 15 episodes, folks!).
Just like Spring ’09′s favorite FMA: Brotherhood, Dragonball Kai is a complete remastered version of the original Dragonball Z in High Definition: keep in mind that this is not a new series. Not only is it remastered, but as mentioned, it is shorter than the original 291 episode run from 1989 to 1995, with original cast of Dragonball Z reprising their roles as well. In the first episode, there is an introduction that was never seen before (but not new) in the original of the origin of Son Goku: the destruction of Planet Vegeta, Bardock, and Freeza; in 1989, all we see is a space capsule heading to earth in the very first shot after the opening song.
If you’re a DBZ fanatic as I am, you know where the first few episodes lead to: Raditz’s Arrival, Goku and Piccolo vs. Raditz, training to fight Vegeta and Nappa, and the epic Goku vs. Vegeta fight. In Kai, the encounter with Raditz takes three episodes compared to five in 1989. In fact, the entire Vegeta arc in ’89 took 36 episodes compared to 17 in Kai: this took out a huge chunk of filler episodes involving Gohan after the Raditz fight.
In other words: it’s an abridged version of Dragonball Z for people that despised anything relating to the series as it’s nothing but a shouting match. Airing on Nicktoons, it’s also a chance for younger fans to experience the excitement as their older brother and/or sister watched on Toonami 10 years ago. Watching the Dragon Boxes, it’s easy to see what was removed or simplified: power-ups, unnecessary drama, repetitive speeches of why this or that happened, etc. Being a remastered series for HD, some scenes are replaced that were too muddled from Z. I noticed slight difference in the picture on the Blu-ray from the TV version, but I think the series speaks for itself when they mean “remastered”!
Back in the day, Dragonball Z had a total of 2 OP and 2 ED themes: “CHA-LA-HEAD-CHA-LA”, “WE GOTTA POWER”, “Zenkai Power!”, and “We Were Angels”, respectively. As of Dragonball Kai, Episode 61, the opening is Dragon Sou, with the newest ED theme “Kokoro no Hane” by AKB48. Thanks to current on-going series like, One Piece, Bleach and Naruto, we may see more music choices later in the series. With the exception of the opening theme, while it’s the same song, the animation changes reflecting a certain point of the series: Vegeta Saga = Goku vs. Vegeta; Trunks/Android Saga = Z Fighters vs. Androids #17 and #18.
I would stick to the original Dragonball Z, but if you’re like me and have a any interest in Kai at all, it can be fun to see what was changed from the original: and it’s a plus if you have the Blu-ray version (and we don’t have to see the awful Garlic Jr. filler, yay!). Like Z, going up to the Android Saga, it picks up steam.
As to whether if Dragonball Kai is worth watching: if you had trouble understanding the plot under all the screaming, plot holes,
and glowing, shiny aliens, then this is the chance to watch the series once more before writing it off as a “kiddie” Anime (if you’re curious about the editing on Nicktoons, yeah… It’s butchered a bit).