For the review of the eighth season of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, I'm actually
going to quote myself. I'm breaking just about every rule in the book with this
one, but there is just no better way to begin. This comes directly from my
review for the seventh season of DBZ:
"Season seven of DBZ has "filler material" written all over it, but if you
are a fan, you'll probably take solace in the fact that, yeah, this set is kind
of blah, but the next one you'll get will be freaking awesome."
Well, here it is - "the next one." And it's every bit as awesome as I
Season eight of Dragon Ball Z, of course, picks up where season seven so
awkwardly left off. Vegeta, Goku, Shin, Krillin and the rest have left the
Tenkaichi Budokai tournament after an attack on Gohan by Spopovich and Yamu, two
previously unspectacular fighters who seem to have gained superhuman strength
overnight. Considering these happenings are a necessary set up for the events
that close out the entire series, it was very weird to see the exposition broken
right in half between sets seven and eight. That bizarre split also ensures that
season eight starts with a whimper rather than a bang; the first disc has very
little action outside of Vegeta and Goku fighting with the newly introduced
villain, Babidi, and his less-than-memorable underlings. Get through that first
disc, though, and you'll be assailed with some of the series' best moments, one
right after another.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Chances are that most who will read this aren't
veritable encyclopedias of Dragon Ball knowledge (i.e. total nerds) like me, so
lets take a step back. Not too far back, mind you - for brevity's sake, I'll
only play catch up as far back as the last DVD set. In season seven, the cast of
characters had aged somewhat. Goku is still dead, Gohan is in high school and
Goten and Trunks, Goku and Vegeta's youngest, respectively, are just coming into
their own as fighters. A new Tenkaichi Budokai (Strongest Under the Heavens)
tournament is announced, and Goku is granted one day back on Earth to compete
alongside his family and friends. Things take a turn for the worst when Shin and
Kibit, two otherworldly contestants, show up and explain what has been happening
on our planet under everyone's noses.
According to these two, there was once a wizard named Bibidi who conjured a
horrible creature, Majin Boo, solely for the destruction of the universe. Bibidi
was defeated long ago and Boo was sealed away safely, until the wizard's son,
Babidi, emerged and began preparing to bring his father's monster back to life.
No, you aren't losing your mind; the villains here are Bibidi, Babidi and Boo, a
reference to Disney's Sleeping Beauty and the Fairy Godmother's magic words.
Even Babidi's sidekick, the king of the Demon Realm -Dabura - has a name that is
also a magic pun, being the second half of the phrase "Abra Kadabra." Longtime
fans know that name puns are the order of the day in the Dragon Ball universe,
but these are among the most instantly recognizable to Western audiences.
Anyway, that's where season eight picks up.
Considering the manga and anime are pushing 20 years old, I'm not sure if
this needs a spoiler alert, but if you don't yet know what happens, skip this
Most of season eight is centered on Vegeta's possession by Babidi and Boo's
release from his ages-long slumber. After the slow pacing of first disc in the
set, the events come quickly, and barely give the viewer time to regroup. The
evil in Vegeta's heart (he used to be a bad guy, remember?) is exploited by
Babidi, and Vegeta becomes a super-powered version of himself - Majin Vegeta.
But the power comes with a price:, he is more or less controlled by the wizard
Babidi (for a while anyway). Majin Vegeta kills half the spectators at the
Tenkaichi Budokai tournament, and demands Goku fight him again to settle the
score - or else. Their eventual battle gives Boo the power he needs to awaken,
and it all goes downhill from there. As an amusing side-story, Android 18
continues the fight in the tournament and is pitted against "Mighty Mask," who
is really Goten and Trunks in a rather lame disguise. The plot ends with 18 and
Mr. Satan (Hercule) working out a deal that lets him keep the championship belt.
It is filler material, but it is among the more enjoyable bits of DBZ filler.
Season eight refuses to make the mistake season seven made, which was the
cutting of the plot and episodes at a very inconvenient time. Being that the
Majin Boo story arc really has no breaks, they chose a rather important, yet
completely appropriate, place to finish out the set. I won't say where, but if
you're excited to see another of Boo's transformations beyond his original look,
you'll be disappointed. You'll have to wait until May for season nine, the
series' last, to see the villain change his appearance more often than any other
character in the series.
And since season nine does contain the very last episodes, you've probably
already figured out that it will contain the most action. You'd be right, but
season eight's battles have more emotional gravity than the ones that follow.
The series' end is like most battles in Dragon Ball Z; the field of challengers
is whittled way down, and the remaining warrior (or warriors) stand firm against
the most powerful itineration of whatever villain it might be. In season eight,
much like in season five, we get a closer look at the character's motivations
and personalities. Vegeta is the standout here; in only a few episodes, we see
"new" Vegeta (more or less a good guy), "old" Vegeta (a self-centered, ego
driven fighter) and best of all, "Father Vegeta." Vegeta's path through these
episodes is every bit as engaging and heartbreaking as Goku's final moments with
Cell or Gohan losing his father because of his own actions. As a dynamic
character, the Saiyan prince comes full circle and shows more humanity than most
During the time I spent watching these episodes, some amazing news broke in
Japan. It seems the series is being remastered/reanimated for HD, and will be
broadcast once a week in the series' homeland. There are rumors that the filler
material will be cut entirely, shortening the episode count from 291 to about
100. But even with the "new" Dragon Ball Z slated for April, the season is still
a must buy for fans.
See you back here in May for the ninth and final season's review!