Review

by Mike LaBrie

Dragon Ball Z

Bardock: The Father of Goku

Synopsis:
DBZ: Bardock The Father of Goku
"When a low-class Saiyan solider named Bardock unexpectedly inherits the ability to see into the future, his life takes a dramatic turn for the worse! Haunted by visions of his own end as well as the destruction of his entire planet, Bardock sets off on a nightmarish race with fate to advert the impending disaster.

"But Bardock seems to be stumbling along in a maze of hopeless dispair [sic] until a vision of his baby son, Kakarot, as a grown man inspires him to make a change and confront his destiny head on!...

"This is the story of Bardock, the father of Goku!..."
Review:
I may like the Trunks special, but I love the Bardock special. The first of two "Dragon Ball Z" TV specials (aired 17 October 1990 in Japan), it tells the tale of Gokuu's father, Bardock, and his ultimate showdown with Freezer. It truly sets up the mood for the remainder of the Freezer era, if you watch it where it was meant to be seen, shortly after Freezer's final transformation, during the TV series.

The cover image remains the same as the dubbed VHS version, with a few enhancements. The title is written in the same font as was done on the Trunks special DVD, rather than the bland, simple red font used on the VHS release. It's a nice touch. The one problem I really have with the cover is the placement of the "Includes 2 Versions" logo: it covers up several faces of the characters. While it immediately brings your attention to Bardock, himself, it is somewhat distracting. I would have moved it up higher, or used a different image than the one used (not to say it's not pretty). The image that is used is actually an image that appeared as a commercial eye-catch in the show, plastered over a background of Planet Vegeta about to explode.

Not much to say about the back cover. Same as the dub VHS release, with the inclusion of the DVD-standard black box that lists the basic info about the disc (English/Japanese dialogue, 48 min., Not Rated, Color, Stereo/Mono). It's also got a typo on it. Heh. "Dispair" is spelled "despair."

Again, there's no insert with the disc. While in the end, it really doesn't matter, it's always a really nice touch to open up that case and see some colorful piece of paper shining back at you. It just gives that that final "Umph!"

From here on out, all comments will refer to the Japanese version watched / listened to, unless otherwise noted.

FUNimation continues the recent trend of absolutely stunning video transfers. I noticed absolutely no break-up, rainbows, etc. While this may be attributed to fact that lots of dark colors are used (rather than bright ones), it's still an excellent looking disc, in terms of animation. Good job, FUNimation, for taking that extra step in making it look as it should.

One animation perk you'll notice is that before the opening theme ("Cha-La Head-Cha-La") begins, a little intro (as shown on Japanese television when it aired) plays out, saying "Dragon Ball Z Special." It's just a really neat touch, and another bone thrown to us Japanese fans. If it wasn't there, most people wouldn't have noticed the difference, but the fact that it IS in there shows us that FUNimation is trying to appease us in the little ways they can.

The audio track is another fine transfer. No static or anything. While of course it sounds dated (well.. it *is* dated..) in its mono sound, it's leaps and bounds above any fansubbed copy of this special you could ever find. The closing theme, "Hikari no Tabi" ("Journey of Light") is beautiful, with Kageyama Hironobu's and Kuko's voices perfectly blending together in what might be the greatest "Dragon Ball Z" song ever used.

Now for the fun stuff. The nit-picks.

We knew it would happen, again, with this disc: FUNimation and their multiple video tracks. There are three sets of video tracks, once more, on this disc (similar to the Trunks special disc).

The first video track takes you from the opening theme (or from the special intro and THEN the opening theme, if you choose the wonderful Japanese version), up to the title screen. Note that the Japanese "Head-Cha-La" is the correct animation, while the dub animation uses the same as the Trunks special one (Jinzoningen-era animation). Depending upon which version you choose, you'll get the corresponding title screen. The Japanese version will give you the original kana/kanji title on a black background. The dubbed version gives you an equally bland (yet, somehow, not as "fun" as the Japanese) title stating, "BARDOCK: The Father of Goku."

From here, the disc pauses for a quick moment, and switches over to another video track. The only problem with this is on the Japanese version. Why is this a problem? Background music plays into the title card, and into the next scene. When on the Japanese version, this pause causes the screen to stand still for a moment, and the music pauses as well. It kinda throws you off. Figures that FUNimation would make the dubbed version switch flawlessly (the title screen fades to black, music stops playing, and then switches to the next video track). This next video track takes us all the way to the ending theme, and at this point, you are free to switch between languages at will.

The next pause comes at where the ending theme plays. In the Japanese version, "Hikari no Tabi" begins as Son Gohan (Gokuu's grandfather) picks him up, and it soon switches to the credits. Just as in the opening theme, there is a brief pause in the animation and music as the player decides which ending to play (Japanese or dub). Fortunately (or unfortunately if you're a dub fan), the English track suffers the same fate, as Sum 41's "Makes no Difference" gets a brief pause as it switches into FUNimation's own English-text ending theme.

Of course, I've come up with a solution for it all. It easily appeases both audiences, as well. Why FUNimation never considered it, I'll never know.

We're going to have one big video track, with individual chapters. Nothing extraordinary. It begins with the neat little "Dragon Ball Z Special" intro, and moves into the "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" animation. Here, we could have the original Japanese version, with the hiragana lyrics written at the bottom, and Japanese credits. Similar to the TV episode discs, alternate angles could be used for the title screens, so that there would be no pause in the animation, since there would be no real switching of video tracks. This would take us up until the end of the special, in which we would use FUNimation's English credits.

Here's where we can have some fun with extras: put the original Japanese version of the ending theme (that being the credits written in Japanese) as an "Extra" on the disc, as seen with many movies (such as the "Sailor Moon" movie DVDs). We could also possibly have a credit-less opening, as well. Not only would they be welcome additions, but they would give us some actual extras, as opposed to the ridiculous commercials, and the "World of Dragon Ball" for the fourth time in a row.

Eye-catches were once more left out. While it really doesn't effect the overall presentation, something interesting was done. A minor edit was made. Just before an eye-catch, we see Bardock charge forward to fight some villains. In the original airing of the special, this occurred, then an eye-catch, a return to an eye-catch, and we see Bardock ONCE MORE charging forward. In the DVD, only ONE scene of him charging forward is made. It's actually done quite flawlessly, and you wouldn't notice otherwise if you hadn't seen it as it originally aired on television. Not that big of an issue, but interesting, none-the-less.

Steve Simmons is back, once more, with his faithful Japanese translation. While it was interesting to see his use of "Burdock" for the character's name, and I do understand his reasoning.. I still would have preferred "Bardock," myself. Maybe it's just because it's what I've grown used to over the last few years. One minor problem with the script, and I'm not sure who's fault it is, is that for about half of the special, "Kakarrot" is used, and then it changes to a spelling of "Kakarot." While neither is more correct than the other, it was just odd to see such a thing occur. Other than this, the translations were dead-on in every aspect. The ending theme, "Hikari no Tabi," is as beautiful of a translation as I've been hyping for several months, now, ever since I scanned the original Japanese lyrics for Steve.

"There is one ocean in the galaxy, / where light is born, / And continues on its distant journey, / until now it arrives to shine above me. / The light that shines in the darkness, / twinkles like the wink of a dream. / Please let me hear the hopes and memories / which have come to us from so long ago. / The unchanging dreams and everlasting love, / which shined even before we were born."

The subtitles have a minor change made to them. The black border around the white text is one pixel less than on the last five discs. Still incredibly easy to read.

The menu system works nicely, and loads quickly. I was somewhat disappointed not to see animation menus like on the last three discs, but they still look wonderful, and have some of the dub's music playing on them. The music isn't intrusive (as it was on the first two "Ginyu" volumes), and works fine for me.

The extras are the same as always. Commercials for the videos, and the "World of Dragon Ball." Blah.

I had watched the English dub of this special back when the VHS was released, and I had absolutely no intention of watching it again. It was quite bad, and I'd rather not embellish upon that. Sonny Strait (Kuririn's dub voice actor) did the voice of Bardock, and it was a shame to see such otherwise bad dubbing, as he played the role assigned to him rather well. A deeper version of his own natural speaking voice was used, and it sounded very nice. No other voices stuck out, and the music was quite bad, as well. The only track I enjoyed on the dub version is, in fact, the only song I have EVER *really* liked from dubbed DBZ. "Makes no Difference" by pop-punk band Sum 41 is the first closing theme. I actually picked up their EP, "Half Hour of Power," after hearing the song. It's a good album, too ^^

Over-all, it's a continuing step up for FUNimation. While it's obviously not on-par with such discs as "Rurouni Kenshin" and "Trigun," it's definitely a step in the right direction for a company with absolutely no real prior experience in anime, nevermind DVD production.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B-

+ An excellent feature with a wonderful video and audio transfer. Excellent voice acting and musical score (original Japanese version)
Tried TOO hard to appease fans from every faction. Extremely poor dub, stall times between video tracks, may turn you off if you're not already a DBZ fan

Director:Daisuke Nishio
Screenplay:
Takao Koyama
Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Music:Shunsuke Kikuchi
Original Manga:Akira Toriyama
Character Design:
Minoru Maeda
Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru
Animation Director:Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru

Full encyclopedia details about
Dragon Ball Z Special 1: Bardock, The Father of Goku (special)

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