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Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5(TV) (2010)
The epic showdown between Goku and Frieza reaches its climax as planet Namek crumbles beneath their feet! In the aftermath of battle, neither fighter is anywhere to be found, but Earthĺs few remaining heroes have much bigger problems. A mysterious and powerful stranger known only as Trunks arrives from the future with a warning: the Androids are coming, they take no prisoners, and even Goku ľ wherever he may be ľ is no match for their kind!
For more about Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 and the Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray release, see Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 25, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Yasuhiro Nowatari
Starring: Masako Nozawa, Ryō Horikawa, Toshio Furukawa, Mayumi Tanaka, Hiromi Tsuru, Tōru Furuya
» See full cast & crew
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray Review
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 25, 2011
My kids are old enough now that I can trace various timelines of their development by what shows they were watching. Sometime between their toddler love of Pokemon and their young adolescent love of Yu-Gi-Oh came a rather transitory fascination with Dragon Ball Z. My older son even went so far as to get some Dragon Ball action figures, something he wasn't regularly fond of doing. Interestingly, this watching phase passed a lot more quickly than did either Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh, though my eldest son can still recite large swaths of Dragon Ball Z's labyrinthine plot points and, perhaps even more incredibly, dialogue. That quick diminution in interest evidently wasn't unique to my son, as Z was a revision of the original Dragon Ball and Kai is a revision of Z, and the first to really make any waves in terms of mass market sensational appeal. This fifth edition of the redone Dragon Ball Z Kai finds us joining the goings-on at episode 53, so any chance of detailing the various interrelationships can't easily be summed up in a brief line or two. Suffice it to say Dragon Ball in any of its incarnations, Z or Z Kai included, has always reminded me of a rather bizarre combination of elements of Superman and (no, I'm not joking) Flash Gordon. The Superman elements are perhaps a bit more recognizable, as Dragon Ball Z Kai's hero, Goku, is, like Superman, an alien from another planet left on Earth to fend for himself. Of course Goku's original mission was to conquer Earth, something he forgot about after a serious head injury. That injury seemed to also alter his personality, minimizing his native species' bloodlust and making him more of a pacifist. The Flash Gordon connection is perhaps more tangential, and is more tonal than content driven. Dragon Ball Z Kai is one of the more kitsch-filled camptastic animes, one with a definite sense of humor, but one with such a deliberately outrÚ approach and decidedly retro feel that for better or worse it reminds me of Buster Crabbe running around in jodhpurs trying to defeat the ruthless Emperor Ming.
My colleague Dustin Somner has done an exceptional job detailing the previous four volumes of Dragon Ball Z Kai on Blu-ray. You can find coverage of those previous releases here:
Episode 53: "Goku's Final Attack! Countdown to Planet Namek's Destruction!" Goku and Frieza finish their epic battle, but does Goku survive Frieza's last minute attack?
Episode 54: "Goku Vanishes Into Space! Welcome Home, Super Warriors!" Kai lets everyone know Goku may be dead, and the Namekian Dragon Balls allow for three wishes which may be utilized to resurrect some characters.
Episode 55: "There Is Planet Earth, Father! Frieza and King Cold Strike Back!" Goku may be nowhere to be found, but Frieza's back in the picture, bigger, badder and more evil than ever. But who's this mysterious new guy with a sword? Episode 56: "I Will Defeat Frieza! Another Super Saiyan!" The kid with the sword turns out to be a rather badass Super Saiyan and helps the Z force to take care of Frieza, at least for a little while.
Episode 57: "Welcome Back, Goku! Confessions of the Mysterious Youth, Trunks!" Goku returns just in time (pun intended) to find out our "mysterious youth" is a time traveler himself, here from the future to warn about impending disaster.
Episode 58: "Goku's New Move, Instant Transmission! The Three-Year Training Session Begins!" Goku explains where he's been, what he's been up to, and an exciting new power he's developed.
Episode 59: "Undetectable Monsters! The Androids Appear!" The deadly androids whom Trunks, the sword wielding teen from the future, had warned Goku about enter the picture and one of our heroes may have met their demise.
Episode 60: "The Unbeatable Enemy Within! Goku vs. Android 19!" Goku and the Androids engage in an epic battle. Goku discovers the Androids were built especially to fight him, but will he be able to outsmart them?
Episode 61: "No Victory for Android 19! Enter Super Vegeta!" Vegeta takes over for an injured Goku and reveals a rather surprising secret.
Episode 62: "Piccolo's Assault! Android 20 and the Twisted Future!" Android 20 turns out to be a formidable nemesis and it takes combined efforts from the Z Force fighters to even locate the dastardly machine.
Episode 63: "The Hunt for Doctor Gero! Discover the Hidden Laboratory!" Could Android 20 actually be the mad scientist Doctor Gero in a transformed state?
Episode 64: "Number 17 and Number 18! The Androids Awaken!!" Dr. Gero discovers that good androids are hard to find nowadays.
Episode 65: "A Sweet Face and Super Power?! Android 18 vs Vegeta!" As this episode comes to a close, it appears the evil androids have the decided upper hand.
As is probably pretty evident from those quick episode summaries, Dragon Ball Z Kai spends a lot of timeŚperhaps too muchŚin supposedly "epic" battles, all of which have supposed cliffhanger endings and all of which, just like Flash Gordon episodes of yesteryear, manage to resolve themselves at the beginning of the next episode, usually fairly improbably. If you can put aside that qualm, which has followed Dragon Ball in virtually all of its incarnations, there's actually quite a bit to enjoy in this set of episodes. The best element of this series, as it usually has been, is its goofy sense of humor which might for example have a character wondering why they didn't have milk and cookies before they got involved in a knock down, drag out battle. Despite being incredibly foreshortened from its previous version in this new Kai incarnation, there are undoubtedly long, drawn out sequences here that aren't especially well paced and which deprive the series of forward momentum, at least at times.
We're only about two thirds of the way through this Kai reinterpretation of the original Dragon Ball Z, and perhaps it's to be expected that things drag down for a while as we prepare for what will hopefully be a blistering final act. If you take this set of episodes as that necessary pause to catch breath, it may make everything a bit easier to tolerate. One way or the other, there's enough epic battling and silly humor here to delight most any Dragon Ball Z Kai fan.
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray, Video Quality
As Dustin Somner has mentioned in all of his reviews of the previous volumes in this series, Dragon Ball Z Kai's 1080p AVC encoded 1.33:1 transfer isn't just a typical remaster, it's an actual "re-engineering," for wont of a better word. Many of the original source elements of Dragon Ball Z were evidently destroyed or badly damaged, requiring the series' creators to literally go back to the drawing board in many instances. What is presented in Kai is a frame by frame reconstruction and at times revision of elements, resulting in a new version which is blemish free. While the actual animation is not going to set anyone's heart on fire, it's solid and extremely colorful, with exceptional saturation and pleasing line detail. This "new, improved" version is dirt and scratch free and presents Dragon Ball Z in about as spiffed up a look as it's ever likely to have.
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Accompanying the upgraded visuals are two newly recorded lossless audio tracks utilizing most of the original voice actors, a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 mix in the original Japanese, and a nice English surround dub in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The English mix is the clear winner for those wanting surround activity, and it really is rather surprisingly spacious and well rendered, with a fair degree of sound effects populating the side and rear channels, especially in any of the many battle sequences. Fidelity in both tracks is superb, with crystal clarity and excellent dynamic range, though as seems to be the case, I could hear a noticeable, if negligible, compressed sound in terms of extreme highs and lows in the Japanese 2.0 offering. Otherwise there are two excellent choices here, one for original language aficionados and the other for those who want a bit of surround activity.
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 5 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Watching these episodes again after so long (albeit in their altered Kai form) instantly took me back to my sons' relative youth and their love of anime. The truth is Dragon Ball Z is a fairly cheesy series, and its elevated kitsch and camp levels may not be to everyone's taste. I personally love its bizarre group of characters and most of all its crazy quilt humor which regularly populates any given episode with unexpected moments of semi-hilarity, intentional or otherwise. This fifth volume sees the momentum slowing considerably, but it still has a lot to offer Z fans, old and young. Recommended.
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