Reviewby Chris Shepard
Dragon Ball Z
The History of Trunks
When the insane Dr. Gero activated the malignant androids, the earth stood no fighting chance against them. Son Goku, the most powerful fighter of Earth, had fallen ill to a fatal virus. Without his help, the rest of the z-team was eliminated in the fight without a chance, one by one. From this, the earth plunged into a deep darkness of nothing but death and despair. However, there is a hope!
Son Gohan, the son of Goku, is now a man and is able to make the transformation into a Super Saiyan. While he's still not quite strong enough to take out the androids himself, he has been training a special young boy to aid him. His name is Trunks, the son of Bulma and Vegeta. Will these two be able to save the Earth by putting an end to these two insane mechanically enhanced killers?
The cover features our two heroes in high resolution (definitely better than the TV episode releases) clashing against a pale color pencil-like sketch in the background. The two just do not mix when put together.
The menu is pretty slick; as dark and moody as the TV special itself is. The extras are pretty interesting as well. We get a cheap set of commercials for the series that were used on the VHS tapes as well as a 20-minute special feature detailing the history of the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z series. It goes over everything from what dragon balls are, the history of the Saiyan race, Goku's first encounter with Bulma, the Saiyan saga, and Namek saga from DBZ. All in pretty good detail. It offers nothing new to the seasoned Dragon Ball fan, but it may be useful to any newbies who are still a little confused as to how everything falls into place in this gargantuan series. For being something original Funimation came up with, I have to say it was done pretty well.
Unlike many other episodes of the Dragonball TV franchise, this special actually has a fairly decent story line that isn't a bad excuse for action scenes. It still isn't cerebral in nature, but it is interesting. Gohan and Trunks are both understandable characters who I was really able to get into and sympathise for during their battles. To fully appreciate this disc, a good understanding of the happenings of the TV series is recommended. Only a short naration at the beginning explains how there was an alternate future that Trunks came from, while you'd already know this if you saw the small Trunks arc in the series.
Except for maybe Trunks himself, we don't get a very huge introduction to all our characters and what their relationship is to each other. However, this isn't a surprise since this is a TV special and, as usual, should be watched at a certain time during the TV series. Just make sure you have a general understanding of the show before you plunge yourself into this.
Being that I knew who everyone was, I'd have to say I really enjoyed this. This is one of those few times when an actual story is present in the DBZ series and it's not just "lets defeat the bad guys over the next 20 episodes". This story is condensed, but to an extent, it almost feels as if a condensed version of Dragon Ball is the most enjoyable version. Things actually get done within a single lifetime. With an actual story line and the characters having more motivation than just testing their power level; it's a lot easier to enjoy. People who find that Dragon Ball drags on too much will be happy to know that the characters don't dilly around, playing with each other through most of their fights.
The action here is great without ever becoming overdone or thrown in just to take up time. Utilizing the better animators who worked on the series, the fights are exciteding and contain some very skillful choreography. Not quite as good as the movies but it's also not on as high of a budget. The change in the accustomed scenery kept things much more interesting than usual. The background doesn't just consist of mountains and plains , but of run down cities with demolished buildings and torn up roads. It was nice to see a different type of battlefield.
On the English track, the Fan favorite, J-pop opener "Cha La Head Cha La" has been replaced with a very bad Nine Inch Nail-esque theme and some guy with a low voice repeating: "Dragonball Z, Dragonball Z" over and over. It's so horrible it's funny. We're very fortunate that the original Japanese track is also present on the disc.
The actual voice acting wasn't too bad. At least compared to some of the stuff I've heard come out of Funimation. Never did I find myself wishing that the characters sounded different. However, the actual dialog being spoken was changed drastically. Rarely does the dub ever come even close to matching the subtitles. All in all though, if I hadn't already seen the Japanese version, I probably wouldn't be complaining nearly as much. The new dialog does work; it's just very different.
Finally, there's the dub music. The Japanese version contains quite a few eminent tracks, very sincere and very powerful. The dub version, although using actual bands this time, still comes off as something that came from a Super Nintendo game. At least most of the time. A few scenes, such as the one that takes place after Gohan's second face off against the androids, was deeper than I expected and actually reached the point of being emotional. Then there are the scenes that contain rap; they didn't belong anywhere.
"Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks" should really hit home with the Dragon Ball Z fans. With more of a story than usual, little dragging, good action, and with the better animators of the series in charge; it's definitely a keeper. It's not entirely inconceivable that a non-fan of the series could enjoy this as well, if they could just accept a few things that happened with little explanation. This TV special is definitely above average and worth looking into if you have any interest in the DBZ series at all.
Overall : B
+ A more interesting than usual plot for DBZ.
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