Reviewby Sam Leach,
Dragon Ball Super
Part Two Blu-ray
As Goku's fight with Beerus concludes, he and Vegeta begin training for the day they might actually be able to defeat the God of Destruction—with assistance from Beerus's own attendant, Whis! Meanwhile, Frieza has been resurrected by the Dragon Balls and wants nothing more than revenge on the Saiyans who caused his demise. Can Goku's friends back on earth fend off the familiar foe, or is the earth doomed once and for all?!
With the Japanese broadcast of Dragon Ball Super nearing its finale, there's some new perspective to be had from revisiting its early days. I remember when these initial movie remake arcs were airing, and it felt like we'd never see the show survive its troubled production values and story quality. I went into these episodes cautiously because I wasn't a huge fan of the original movie, and the thought of watching Resurrection ‘F’ at twice the length with worse animation sounded exhausting.
The final product, much like the Battle of Gods arc before it, is fundamentally benign. In fact, the smaller scale nature of television curbs many of the high expectations that failed me when it was a movie. I don't think Resurrection ‘F’ is a strong story in either form, but when you enter this set to be greeted with the more casual sitcom material, it's hard to imagine that pulse-pounding stakes were ever what these episodes had to offer.
The choice to bring back Frieza as a primary antagonist only made sense in terms of using his popularity to bring fans back into the fold. He's resurrected by his minions with the intention of ruling the universe like they used to, but after years of living in “hell” (which has been catered to his personality, driving him insane with happy fairies and teddy bears and the like), the only thing on Frieza's mind is revenge. I think the former tyrant was at his most compelling when he was “The Man”, the head honcho in charge for the scrappy Saiyans to overcome, so I still don't know what to make of this scenario where he's the underdog. On its own, that could have been a interesting spin for the show, but Super opts for an unsatisfying middle ground instead, with Frieza undergoing training and unlocking a new golden transformation to compensate for the difference in strength after all these years.
This set moves along with Goku and Vegeta missing in action, so it's up to the rest of the gang to hold off Frieza's grunts. I know that fans like it when supporting characters are finally given something to do instead of waiting around during the Goku and Vegeta show all the time, but the ensuing action is generic and unmemorable, and the attempts at finding drama within it feel hollow. It's a big battle in broad daylight that comes across like our heroes are pretending to be in trouble against nameless CGI henchmen. I didn't find it satisfying.
One embellishment to the TV version that I did enjoy was the focus on one of the new characters in Frieza's army, Tagoma. It's explained that Tagoma was Frieza's punching bag during his four months of training, and as a result he's grown significantly stronger than the other grunts. This kills two birds with one stone in that we get one more threatening villain, and it offers some insight into what kind of training Frieza underwent. He didn't just do a bunch of push-ups or something. Sadly, even Tagoma gets uprooted once it's time for Captain Ginyu to show up and steal his body, as one of the few things that I liked in this batch of episodes gets swapped out for a shallow callback to DBZ. I'm trying to find nice things to say, but this arc makes it difficult.
Once Goku and Vegeta do show up, it's a game of getting all the characters to reveal the new transformations they've discovered off-screen. Frieza has his aforementioned golden form, and the Saiyans have unlocked an alternative to Super Saiyan God called Super Saiyan Blue (which thankfully has an efficient name in the TV version, as opposed to the nonsense of “Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan” from the movie). Having these transformations be secrets that the characters hide from the audience is not an inherently bad angle, but the battles themselves lack the intensity or emotion required to make anything out of the reveal. I didn't feel like the course of battle changed with each new form because the whole thing felt like a mock fight to begin with.
These episodes remain from the infamous era of Super that was plagued with garish production values, though nothing jumped out at me as exceptionally bad overall. Even the first set, which I enjoyed more overall, looked pretty rough in places, but it's hard to keep track of all the significant production differences between the early stuff, the newer simulcast material, and what's been re-drawn for these home video releases. It's obviously not going to look as good as the movie, but if animation quality weren't such a hot topic for this show, my mind wouldn't have been on it this time.
This Blu-ray contains the usual features like textless openings and trailers, as well as a little featurette in the spirit of the first set where we sit down with Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair (Beerus and Whis, respectively) as they watch the show together with Douglas's children. The “let's talk about Dragon Ball with our kids” theme continues to be a cute idea. Speaking of the English voice cast, if there's one universally positive thing about remaking Resurrection ‘F’, it's that we get some more time with Chris Ayres's performance as Frieza, who continues to be a delight.
I didn't like Resurrection ‘F’ as a movie, and I don't like it as a TV anime arc either. This story is easily my least favorite of any major Dragon Ball story, whether we're comparing it to the original Dragon Ball, DBZ, or just Super itself. Its greatest contribution to the franchise was getting Frieza back into the public consciousness for when he becomes important at a later date. The TV version benefits from treating this incursion like a mild distraction from the Beerus and Champa arcs flanking it on both sides (this set ends just before the Frieza fight ends while still managing to tease the follow-up story), but it's still far too long for its own good. Overall, I wouldn't recommend it.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : B-
+ Sitcom and training episodes can be comforting and entertaining, some improvements on the movie version
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