Dragon Ball Z has been a part of my life since I was a young child. It was there through my awkward adolescence, through my middle and high school love affair with Vegeta, and through my parents’ subsequent annoyance with my fictional crush. And though it’s been years since I’ve sat down and marathoned the series like I would in my youth, I still feel those familiar pangs of nostalgia, where I’m moved to dust off season 1, jump right back in, and re-watch the magical moments that accompanied my childhood. But alas, I’m an adult now, and this means I have to spend much less time sitting in front of the TV geeking out with Goku and the gang.
Enter Dragon Ball Z Kai Parts 1 + 2, the first selections in FUNimation’s “official” abridged version of the series now available on Blu-ray, minus the hilarious commentary and re-written scripts by the fantastic Team Four Star – Dragon Ball Z with considerably fewer filler episodes. Kai boasts improved opening animation, a completely altered and re-recorded script, and a shorter set of episodes that get straight to the point rather than dawdling around with one-sided tirades and extended scenes of both parties “powering up” (read: screaming). In short, it’s a leaner, more succinct release of DBZ than the youth of my generation is used to. And it’s possibly one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to Akira Toriyama’s epic martial arts saga.
FUNimation’s release of parts 1 and 2 of Dragon Ball Z Kai are a godsend for those of us looking to revisit the series without investing four hours of our life each day to get caught up or to get through our favorite showdown, because let’s face it – it’s a long-winded show that wastes more time than a 14-year-old adds ‘Friends’ on Facebook. Kai is a cavalcade of trimmed down segments, sped up story arcs, and changes that fans of the complete original story should enjoy.
The first two parts of Dragon Ball Z Kai breeze through the arrival of Raditz and the entire matchup between Nappa, Vegeta, and even Frieza’s arrival. While it would have previously taken nearly double the amount of episodes to reach this point, Dragon Ball Z Kai smartly accomplishes that and more in a much smaller amount of time. The package is an update as far as I’m concerned when it comes to content, scripting, and presentations. Kai is completely uncut in terms of violence and the “adult” material that would have been kept from TV, and that’s fantastic. In addition, the original Japanese music tracks are available, replacing the horrendous (yet familiar due to my childhood) original soundtrack that that accompanied the Cartoon Network run. The Home For Infinite Losers is Hell, like it should have always been. And Master Roshi isn’t reduced to sipping frothy water.
Both parts 1 and 2 are clad in attractive packaging with crisp new animation for the opening song, which is my only gripe. It just doesn’t have the same oomph as “Cha-La Head Cha-La” and though I loved seeing my favorite characters all shiny and new, it doesn’t work for me. I would have preferred the entire series get a makeover than this tiny segment with a horrible new opening, but you can’t win them all and revisiting the whole show to reanimate every single scene wouldn’t have been practical.
Akira Toriyama’s long-running series is still dear to me, though, and it’s clear that a lot of love went into these ‘true to the manga’ releases. Both longtime fans and newbies should find plenty to love here. If in your adult life you find yourself pressed for time and unable to veg out at the TV for hours like you used to, Dragon Ball Kai Parts 1 + 2 may well be your answer – unless you’re for some reason against cutting the fat. And if you’re anything like me, you revel in getting straight to the point: pick up these first two parts of Kai on Blu-ray now. You won’t regret it.