Review: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season One (Anime)

Review: Dragon Ball Z Kai – Season One (Anime)

I moved to California during the summer of 1997, the summer immediately prior to my freshman year of high school. My bedroom was pretty awesome back then, with a built in corner desk for my computer, and a great entertainment area for my TV and consoles. Some of my fondest memories in that room happened when everyone else was asleep, and the lights were off. Yes, a young teenager, alone in a dark room with access to the Internet and a TV. It should be obvious that I did what anyone in my situation would have done: watched TV, hung out on IRC, and played video games.

Of all of those fond memories, some stand out more vividly than others. Near the top of that list, you’ll find watching Dragon Ball Z episodes on Toonami. There were other anime series that left their mark on me during this time, but none of them are relevant to this particular piece, so we’re going to go ahead and move on. Our focus here is Dragon Ball Z. Now, even if you’ve never seen any episodes of this classic anime series, you are reading this on the Internet, and as a creature of the Internet, you just know. Dragon Ball Z was full of filler. Powering up could take episodes to complete, the story would take irrelevant tangents that would last multiple episodes, and there were some glaring inconsistencies in the color palette. Dragon Ball Z Kai (“Kai” literally translates to “Revised”) gives you a fixed Dragon Ball Z experience.

The Season One release of Dragon Ball Z Kai covers the first 26 episodes of the revised series. A great deal of filler has been removed from the series, as mentioned earlier. The best example of this is Goku’s trip down Snake Way to receive training from the great King Kai. In the original series, this happened over the course of eight episodes, and included sidetracks like an adventure in “Hell” and in the belly of Princess Snake. In Kai, Goku reaches the end of Snake Way over the course of three episodes, with most of the episode focus on the Z Fighters back on Earth. Ogre challenges and deceptive snake princesses disappear, and Goku’s trip consists of a single, uneventful effort. On the one hand, I’m glad that the series moved forward quite quickly without irrelevance, but I did enjoy Goku’s strength and speed challenges below the clouds of Snake Way.

All in all, these 26 episodes cover, approximately, the content of the first 45 episodes of the original Dragon Ball Z. That’s a filler reduction of over 40%. Paired with the rewritten script, designed to adjust the dialog and plot pacing to work around the newly cut material, Dragon Ball Z Kai is incredibly smooth and fluid in its storytelling. To complement the newly reworked story, the dialog was completely re-recorded with most of the original cast (most of the main characters were able to return), every single frame of retained video was remastered in HD, and new animation was created to fill plot holes and connect previously unconnected scenes.

There’s nothing too exciting about the extras on the disc, but for an MSRP of $49.98, you’re getting 26 episodes of Dragon Ball Z Kai that push the story of Dragon Ball Z all the way to just before the arrival of the Ginyu Force on planet Namek. There’s a great deal of content, presented in a way that is both incredibly nostalgic and vastly improved. For Dragon Ball Z fans that want to revisit the series without sitting through five episodes of Goku powering up an attack, Dragon Ball Z Kai is perfect. For fans who now have kids of their own, Kai is a great way of introducing newer generations’ short attention spans to a classic anime that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Dragon Ball Z Kai Season One will be available this Tuesday.


Filler free DBZ
Remastered and re-recorded
IT'S OVER 8,000!
Disappointing extras
Some missing scenes are sorely missed
90 out of 100

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