Reviewby Sam Leach,
Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters
Blu-Ray - Part 2
The Final Chapters continue as Goku and Vegeta hash out their long awaited rematch and the evil Majin Buu awakens from his slumber to seal the Earth's doom. Gohan's missing in action, Goku may be holding back his true strength, and the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a pair of precocious children, assuming they can even get their new Fusion technique to work. What could possibly stop the planet's most threatening foe yet?
The further along we get into the Buu saga of DBZ Kai, the more it amazes me. I had unending enthusiasm for Part One of The Final Chapters—I found the tournament and early Babidi stuff to be a fun ride—but this second set might have the best content on offer yet. We explode into these episodes with the famous Goku vs. Majin Vegeta fight.
The Saiyan prince has submitted himself to Babidi's curse, yearning for the the days when he had an edge. Since any damage done to or dealt by one of Babidi's henchmen aids Majin Buu's eventual revival, Goku probably shouldn't be indulging Vegeta's demands for a final one-on-one fight, but he does anyway. Is he fighting Vegeta as a concerned friend? Or is his Saiyan thirst for battle coming to the forefront? Both possibilities seem equally likely.
It's here where the Kai project feels like it was just meant to exist, if only so we can have this updated dub. We're getting some career best work coming from both Sean Schemmel and Chris Sabat, and you know it would never have been possible if they didn't have old performances they were improving on, or if they weren't fully aware of the massive audience who cares very deeply about these characters. There's a palpable respect for the material in this fight, let alone the rest of the show.
It sounds like a such an obvious story; the anti-hero goes full evil in a moment of self-doubt, but Vegeta's wounded ego is sold incredibly well as his frustration is given some of the most compelling pathos in anything Dragon Ball related. Vegeta's gone through numerous character arcs where he ends up not quite as bad as he started, but this is the strongest one of them all, as well as an example of a story that Akira Toriyama must have planned out more thoroughly than people give him credit for. At least that's how it reads to me.
The Buu arc is going to continue to divide people, especially once Vegeta's most iconic moment is out of the way, but as usual I can't help but love the big pink guy. I keep expecting Josh Martin's performance as Majin Buu to be too shrill for my taste, yet it echoes in my subconscious with some pretty fierce nostalgia. The Buu shenanigans make for some great connective tissue between Vegeta's farewell, Goku's Super Saiyan 3, Mr. Satan, and the eventual Goten/Trunks fusion.
Speaking of Super Saiyan 3, I absolutely adore Goku's role in this arc as the super powerful parent who probably could step in and end the fight for everybody if he tried, but he feels like its his responsibility to rely on the living to help themselves. It just so happens that the remaining mortals capable of standing up to Buu are some of the most arrogant and prideful characters in the cast (like Vegeta and Mr. Satan), but they do still have good in them and that's ultimately what's going to make the difference.
Once the focus shifts more towards Goten and Trunks perfecting their fusion, we reach the biggest lull of the saga. However, the number of moving pieces still at play help to keep things interesting. Gohan's other world training promises interesting developments, and even Majin Buu, who has momentary turn to the good side, has a whole new evil within him, waiting to be exploited. The consequences that this new Buu bring are some of the most dramatic stuff we've ever gotten in this franchise. Lots of people die.
This Blu-ray release continues to offer the same features as the last. The remaster still looks great, and it offers another video commentary, this time starring Monica Rial (Bulma), Rawley Pickens (audio engineer), Duncan Brannan (Babidi), and Kent Williams (Supreme Kai). The usual trailers and textless openings/endings are there as well.
Sadly, the next batch of great content for this saga is saved for the next set, but the highlights here in Part Two are genuinely some of my favorite stuff in the series. Never am I bored watching this show, and I think there's a craft to making a great rollercoaster, even for something as pulpy as Dragon Ball. There's a momentum and shape to good shonen storytelling, and this is some fantastic material.
Overall (dub) : A+
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : C+
+ Goku vs. Vegeta has some real narrative chops, the best that Dragon Ball's dub has ever sounded, Buu is a delight
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