The climax that never was.
What They Say:
Humanity nears extinction as Cell achieves his deadly perfect form! Eager to display his new power, the monster proposes a tournament. If Earth produces a worthy challenger, whether it be Goku or Mr. Satan, mankind will be spared. But if not—death comes to all!
There are three audio tracks for this release: Dolby TrueHD English dialogue with Japanese music 5.1; Dolby TrueHD U.S. English broadcast version 2.0; and the original Japanese mono. For this viewing I listened to the English dialogue with Japanese music and it was very good. The sound was clean with no distortions or dropouts. The dialogue did stay centered from what I could tell, but here was some directionality to the sound effects. English subtitles are also provided and they showed up well without blending into the background.
As was the case with the previous season, Funimation went to painstaking lengths to clean up the show to make it HD-worthy. The overall picture quality is fine and you can see the time and care that went into upgrading it, but it also shows its age in ways that can never be addressed with a simple clean up. In terms of character designs, color palette, and just general animation style, it looks like a product of its time. This is not a bad thing in any way, but I do wonder if the hype over the HD upgrade might not set up unrealistic expectations in the fans.
Season Five contains thirty-three episodes spread across four Blu-ray discs. The discs are housed in a standard Blu-ray case with a slipcase that displays the same art and information as on the case proper. The front cover features Cell shooting a Kamehameha wave at a Super Saiyan Gohan with Goku in the background providing support for his son. The spine features the show’s title, season number, and episode numbers. The back cover primarily features Cell in his final form along with some screenshots, show summary, and DVD specs. While the packaging is nice enough, it doesn’t really impress me either. While I do like that Funimation is trying to be consistent with the general design scheme, I do fine the art to be rather simple, and I actually had quite a hard time reading the back due to the small font size. Ultimately, it could have been better.
Season Five continues the general menu concept established in the first three seasons of this set. This time the menu focuses on the Hyperbaric Time Chamber and Goku and Gohan’s training within it. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, it’s a cool design that I quite like.
There are quite a few extras on here that should please DBZ fans, especially the interviews.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
By all rights, this is how Dragon Ball Z should have ended: Gohan lies on his back, hurt but victorious, laughing at the sky. His father looks down from Heaven, happy that his son has reached his full potential, and eager to go off on more adventures, safe in the knowledge that his boy can take care of himself.
Of course, that’s not how it ended, but from a narrative standpoint, Gohan’s victory over Cell stands as a natural climax to the Z story, because the series really hasn’t been about Goku—it’s been about Gohan.
Season Six makes that abundantly clear. Cell, the android created by Dr. Gero, attains his final form thanks to Vegeta’s idiocy, and instead of just using his near Godlike power to obliterate the Earth, he creates a tournament so he can truly test his powers. He announces this on the TV and gives Goku and the other warriors seven days to prepare. Goku takes Gohan into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, where one day equals one year, to train. They return, but even with that year of training, Goku believes that he isn’t strong enough to defeat Cell. Strangely, he remains confident and calm about their impending victory.
His confidence lies in his son and the hidden power that rests in his hybrid Saiyan/Human DNA. Time and again Goku witnessed Gohan’s startling bursts of strength (which we see again thanks to flashbacks) and he knows that if Cell pushes the boy hard enough, Gohan will explode with more power than the android can handle. The question he never considers, though, is if Gohan will be able to handle it.
While the majority of this set takes place during the Cell Games, the season also focuses on Goku’s family and the world’s reaction to Cell. The android’s announcement on the television brings the entire world’s attention on him, and after the military fails to destroy him, the world’s “strongest” man, Hercule Satan, is sent to defeat the android in the tournament.
As much as I hate to say it, and as much as the true-blue DBZ fans will probably want to pillory me over it, I found Hercule one of the best parts of this season. He’s so stupid and boisterous and over-the-top that he’s unwittingly charming and funny. He also calls to mind WWE-style rasslin’, which is something I enjoyed when I was a boy. While I typically dislike the digressions the show indulges in, Hercule stood as a surprising pleasure.
In much the same way, the underlying theme of fathers and sons also worked fairly well in this season. Vegeta’s realization of his love for his son makes for a strong moment, and it contrasts well with Goku’s faith in Gohan, and that brings me back to my original point—that DBZ is actually Gohan’s story and not Goku’s. The flashbacks, the episodes that focus on Gohan’s relationship with his parents, and Goku’s decision to step down to let his son face Cell represent the climax of a narrative journey that began when Raditz kidnapped the boy way back in Season One. One could view DBZ as a bildungsroman: the story of Gohan’s journey from boy to man. His defeating Cell represents the culmination of that journey. It’s the climax where he realizes his full potential.
It’s a shame that the show didn’t end there (and I’m not just saying that because I’m getting tired of watching it). While it does contain several significant problems, concluding the series there would have provided it a sense of poignancy and closure that retroactively would have provided a greater sense of depth and purpose. Alas, the show does go on, and I will be back for Season Seven.
Dragon Ball Z Season Six could—and perhaps should—have been the end of the series. If one were to look at the show as Gohan’s journey, then his defeating Cell represents the culmination of his journey. Obviously, the show continues, but this season does contain some of the strongest themes in the show’s history, and sometimes it does hit genuine emotional chords. It’s not enough to make up for the pacing or the digressions, but it does provide a bit more substance for the viewer.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Eric Vale, Inside Dragon Ball Z: Interview with Cynthia Cranz, Textless Opening and Closing Songs, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: 5 August 2014
Running Time: 685 Minutes
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection