Dragon Ball Z: Season Six DVD Review
Now, FUNimation only has three more seasons to release to complete the series, and I, for one, can't wait...
Before I get into the Dragon Ball Z Season Six review, I need to admit a mistake I made in the review for season five. I incorrectly stated that Mr. Satan (Hercule to those of us who started with the watered-down American dub on Cartoon Network) made his first appearance during that season. I don't have much of an explanation for the error beyond having seen all these episodes hundreds of times and forgetting what happened when. Mr. Satan, in fact, makes his first appearance in season six, sporting the white guy afro and brown gi (though to me it looks more like a bathrobe) that every fan loves to ridicule and hate. Sorry for the mix-up. Ok, on to the review.
Because season five and six of the show are so closely intertwined, I'm just going to skip the whole introduction business and give you a link to that review. Season six picks up right where five left off, with the Saiyan father and son team of Goku and Gohan training in the Room of Spirit and Time (Hyperbolic Time Chamber for American audiences) and Cell, in his new Perfect form, announcing a new World Martial Arts Tournament where the Z-fighters will all have a chance at bringing down the villain. Exciting stuff.
Season five had it's share of action to be sure, but it also served to give these once-flat, static characters new depth, motivations and human frailties, and every single character benefited from it. Explaining how Trunks, a boy from the war-torn future, strove to match his father's strengths without surpassing him, thus saving his pride, might seem a bit silly on paper. But if you are a fan, you know the emotional struggle behind the events, and more than likely this story arc is a favorite because of them.
Conversely, season six delivers the kind of over-the-top fights that have made Dragon Ball Z famous, though the first few episodes in this season are more in tune with the emotional struggles of season five. Gohan fights with his father's old enemy, General Tao, Goku wanders the Earth searching for the Dragon Balls and Piccolo, Trunks and Vegeta continue training for the upcoming Cell Games. These episodes do drag on a little too long and are obviously filler material, but the flashback episode to Goku's past has a poignant, heart-wrenching story to tell. The episode reveals how Gohan got his name and some of Goku and Chi-Chi's early life together as parents. The end of the episode has Ox King, Goku, Gohan and Chi-Chi celebrating Gohan's 11th birthday, which is both cute and sad - especially if you know what is coming.
Once the Cell Games start, though, all that touchy-feely stuff goes right out the window. From the very second the first challenger steps up to fight Cell, these episodes are action, action, ACTION. The fighting is made more spectacular by the fact that by this point in the series, the animators and Akira Toriyama himself had all but forgotten the cartoon-y look of the original Dragon Ball and early DBZ. The speed, the attacks all are not only beautiful to behold, but they move so quickly that you'll be flabbergasted that animation this detailed can move at that speed. If one were to watch season six and follow up with some of the previous season sets, it'll be tough to imagine why everyone thought the fights with Raditz, Vegeta, Freiza and the Ginyu Force were the best, and best looking, ever. When compared to season six's fights, all past villains seem like a bunch of amateurs. As the epic battle with Cell nears it's last chapters, the animation and design takes another leap forward, as if the people behind it knew that these were the episodes that would keep fans talking years and years later. If you don't believe me, just check out the end of Gohan's fight with Cell. Animation that beautiful was unheard of when it first aired in Japan, and even now, more than 15 years later, it still stands up as some of the best non-CGI animation ever created.
Everyone you talk to about Dragon Ball Z will no doubt place season six's knock-down, drag-out battle as a favorite, but for me personally, the season's, and perhaps the entire series' best moment comes from Vegeta's actions toward the end of the fight with Cell. Since I'd hate to ruin things if you haven't seen the episodes, I'll only say this: Vegeta, once a prideful, uncaring warrior with no regard for anyone or anything but himself, becomes instantly sympathetic, and yes, even heroic. Being that the Saiyan prince has always been my favorite cast member, his breaking character and playing the good guy here feels even more monumental.
Nothing is perfect, though, and Dragon Ball Z is no exception. Three elements found in these episodes serve to grind down the viewer's patience like a blacksmith making a sword. The first (and least annoying) negative is the fact that after we've seen all the fighters train and train to boost their powers, only two Z-fighters ever actually take Cell on head-to-head, and it certainly doesn't help my impression that Vegeta does little more than stand on the sidelines and mutter, "Impossible!" every few minutes. The guy is supposed to be the prince of all Saiyans; it would have been nice to see him at least land a punch or two.
That complaint could be argued as personal bias on Vegeta's behalf, but the other drawback will annoy every viewer, not just Vegeta's fans. As all this battling is going on, Mr. Satan (actually referred to as Mr. Satan - yay for faithful translation!), his protgs and a TV newsman are watching from the sidelines. Obviously they are no match for Cell, but the show keeps cutting away to them, and it's annoying every time. Mr. Satan talks a big game, but when it comes to fighting, he comes down with a "stomachache." The news anchor continues talking in his "broadcaster voice," despite the fact that his camera and microphone are destroyed. If we were only shown these exchanges once or twice, they could have been funny and interesting. Instead, you see these characters at least once per episode, and they are more or less doing and saying the exact same thing every single time. Annoying isn't a strong enough word for these characters - more like putrid, despicable and worthy of whatever Cell could (and should) have done to them.
Lastly, season six, like season four, ends in a very bizarre place. In season four, the last episode had Bulma finding Trunks' time machine, despite the fact that in the future, they only created one. The previous episode, which showed the Z-fighters defeated by the Androids, felt like the season's end, and tacking one more episode onto the end watered-down the tension and the whole concept. Season six's penultimate episode had the remaining characters saying their goodbyes and using the Dragon Balls. Then, for seemingly no reason, the season ends with Trunks returning to the future and defeating the Cell and the Androids of his timeline. Sure, the episode is pretty good, but the people of FUNimation really should have taken into account how many people would be waiting on the next set to see where the series would go. Instead, the season plays like Kill Bill would have if Uma Thurman crossed off every name on her hit list by the end of volume one. But after the credits, a screen would flash "Check out Kill Bill volume two - coming soon" you'd probably be left with only one question: Why? Dragon Ball Z season six feels the same way.
If you are a DBZ fan, you may have already picked this set up. If you're new to the show, seasons five and six bookend the series' highest points. I still recommend going back and watching the seasons in order. If you only care about the action, well have at it. Now, FUNimation only has three more seasons to release to complete the series, and I, for one, can't wait.
Transmitted: 6/7/2020 3:17:07 AM