Five years after the events of Dragon Ball, martial arts expert Gokuu is now a grown man married to his wife Chi-Chi, with a four-year old son named Gohan. While attending a reunion on Turtle Island with his old friends Master Roshi, Krillin, Bulma and others, the festivities are interrupted when a humanoid alien named Raditz not only reveals the truth behind Gokuu's past, but kidnaps Gohan as well.
With Raditz displaying power beyond anything Gokuu has seen before, he is forced to team up with his old nemesis, Piccolo, in order to rescue his son. But when Gokuu and Piccolo reveal the secret of the seven mystical wish-granting Dragon Balls to Raditz, he informs the duo that there is more of his race, the Saiyans, and they won’t pass up an opportunity to seize the power of the Dragon Balls for themselves.
These events begin the saga of Dragon Ball Kai, a story that finds Gokuu and his friends and family constantly defending the galaxy from increasingly more powerful threats. Bizarre, comical, heartwarming and threatening characters come together in a series of battles that push the powers and abilities of Gokuu and his friends beyond anything they have ever experienced.
Dragon Ball Kai is an edited and condensed version of Dragon Ball Z produced and released in 2009 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the original series. In addition to its new music tracks and re-recorded voice acting, Toei Animation updated the series' visuals to take advantage of high-definition televisions. The series concluded after 98 episodes, whereas the original Dragon Ball Z took 194 episodes to reach the same point. Kai was continued in 2014 with what is considered its own series, Dragon Ball Kai (2014).
Many like me who have seen the original and yet have seen this and thought well Kai is obviously the same isn't it?
Well Yeah thats because it is But there are differences here and there to mention but it isn't as major as a lot of people like to assume so I will be making some comparisons here that you'll expect to see in this review since this is based on my analysis of this show from watching it twice alongside Dragon ball Z.
Story - 9
The story is sped up much more better compared to the original
for obvious reasons of course, It sticks to major characters along with the main plot, less over the top screaming (Though there is that occasionally at times) and less deviating to different locations with little going on in them. better direction of how the pacing is handled within the story to how it is in the manga though I would argue that some certain moments in this version like the original happened quite differently in the manga.
The short prologue to the beginning of what happened to Goku's father Bardock was a nice touch compared to how the original started off. It sets the story very nicely by showing bardock's assault on frieza's army and also the major difference was a removal of the fillers from the original which I like a lot about this.
Now for me I enjoyed some of the fillers from the original anime such as Gohan surviving out in the wilderness as part of his training or Goku and Piccolo amusing test driving episode or even seeing some of the characters trying to find the dragon balls or just randomly seeing some of the supporting characters in their own segments like Tien, Krillin, Yamcha, Chichi etc.
The fillers were also placed in some of the right spots in the story to give some fun easy going highlights towards characters and even progression for example gohan on his adventure out in the wilderness by piccolo to adapt to his surroundings and to not be afraid had a nice throwback to the original dragonball that in a way keeps it connected.
To me, Some of the Fillers like these are still a joy to watch personally unlike some certain animes that just shoehorn filler episodes to disrupt the flow of their story and action badly
(cough cough Bleach and Naruto)
The Filler from the original offered a nice casual distraction away from the main plot but also kept up in the right places as well as still offering the action, drama and humour to the show as a whole, I mean sure the negative to that is filler episode could tend to drag but they were also placed in convenient places that to me made sense and I wish a lot of shonen animes would do this. (I could go, But moving on)
But to note I also know from the original anime you have fillers that are just too slow and time wasting, For the love of god I totally did not like the whole fake Planet Namek filler and Goku when he fell off snake way when he met those 2 annoying Orges, including the fillers that stretch the length of certain episodes or just random added silly moments which I also wasn't a fan of.
Now with Kai most of these fillers are pretty much gone which really helps viewers to stick with the main plot which in term keeps it more direct and maintains that balance of content and at least help it to not completely drag on for very long which is a major improvement.
Art/Animation - 6
Honestly I am however disappointed with Toei animation.
A series that finished a long time ago, that was beloved by loads of fans all round the world gets this reboot in 2009 and did they improve on art and animation? honestly.. Not that much at all.
This very much annoys me to say this but Dbz kai in terms of its animation capturing the same dated 4:3 ratio like the original did with certain colour correction and contrast but with the very same style of animation which in today standards of art and animation is undeniably lazy from Toei Animation standards considering this reboot came out in 2009!! Just unacceptable.
I have no problem with the art/animation with the original series since it came out in the late 80s/Early 90s, but Come On Now!.. this is practically the same with little certain things that they kinda enhanced which look like anybody could do on PowerPoint!
What seems very good from the very opening of truly great animation that would of suited the series as whole for it in this era of animation only comes to slap people in the face when they see this and say where is the improvement on the animation?? (No way only in the opening!?....Really? Surely they had a lot more time right?)
The original recycled animation has been limited but still not showing enough of that change that should of been implemented with better quality in the first place and some of the uncut blood and violence is replace by bruises which looks silly and yes even though the manga isn't too violent it still looses some of its believability at times when something violent occurs
which does make me sympathies with those that did not warm up towards this series but again another thing is at least its not bad compared with the original in terms of missing features to the characters and what not.
As a really good example look at original JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders reboot. It got an updated look of the animation as well as other features in their new series to bring its source material of the manga to life so why not Dragon ball kai??
I get that the studio works on other different shows in Japan now and then but Is it really that much of a chore for them to do so for their most profitable franchise besides just animating the opening? They might as well just get Madhouse to work on it like they did for Hunter X Hunter 2011 if they aren't really up to the task.
Music - 6
Right Okay..I honestly feel pretty mixed about this one.
While Kenji Yamamoto was originally the music composer behind The music of this series but had to be replace because of some corporate music scandal he had done.
before this show was release on DVD/bluray to the public they had the music to be replace with the former composer from the original series in 2009 which yet again is a problem, like the animation the music score sounds too dated like I'm watching an old detective show that sounds like 1966 The Green Hornet, The Hell!? seriously its Dragon ball Z!!!
So Understand that the mixes of genres of this show falls under Battle Shounen, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts,
Sci Fi, Super Power which adds a lot of variety for this show so It should feel and sound like it has its own uniqueness here especially to other music soundtracks nowadays but it unfortunately doesn't since this anime has more of an out of date feel to it now which does not make me feel invested towards the episodes as much at times.
I LOVE the music composer Kikuchi Shunsuke from the original series I've nothing against him, but his soundtracks for a reboot version/ Remastering of this series up to this point just doesn't really make me feel excited or engage to whats happening on scene especially since certain Iconic soundtracks are not present there like the original show and with this issue I feel, It just doesn't really resonate with me when something is taking place.
Of course I am aware that Kai added a few new music scores in place of the show and they sound good but are only once during different characters moments which makes it pretty pointless honestly.
It was more better in the original because it was more authentic and done so well for particularly in that time period of anime back then.
The Opening Is okay, not really topping the original in anyway since the original Opening sounded so Iconic and with this opening I just felt it was played too much that but could've added more instead of hearing the same opening song throughout 97 episodes and again In no way competes with the opening of Dragon ball Z CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA since its so Iconic from the previous installment.
Voice Acting - 9
The dub and sub on the other hand are probably the highlight of Kai itself especially the dub as it is well handled by funimation.
It adds a lot more verbal curses than the original from previous works of there own, Good thing about this show its that it sticks closer to the Japanese dialogue of its source material.
For me the stand out performance from the dub easily was Chris Ayres as Frieza, Sean Schemmel as Goku, Dameon Clarke as Cell and Chris Sabat as Vegeta and Piccolo. I was also very happy that I heard other different voices for a change too, Though I do however miss Kyle Hebert as the narrator for his charismatic energy for the intro but doc Morgan does do a good job also.
Other voices like Colleen Clinkenbeard as Gohan in english is sort of okay but not that good, It can sometimes sound a little jarring and irritating at times especially when she forces her vocals too hard along with the screaming and I preferred her less as gohan as the show went on and I'm not a fan of when she has to voice Kid Goku since its basically the same as another character that she voices such as Luffy and to me it just does not fit for kid goku or gohan since all I'm hearing from her is her performance as luffy.
Not to mention she voices 18 who doesn't even sound like she's related to 17 as his twin sister who I felt the original sounded more close to it even in the Japanese, though her little kid version of gohan isn't too bad. There was also a few annoying script changes as well in certain scenes too. But overall a great dub.
Now also, to be fair In comparison to Nozawa's performance as Goku and Gohan I do think it would be unfair to compare voice performance here as some of the Japanese voice actors i feel don't always sound as right in their roles regardless if Akira had a hand in picking certain individuals, but that isn't my place to say because I do at times like their performance.
(P.s I'm Not trying to start a Dub Vs Sub debate here folks)
Also I like to mention the opening and closings is quite upbeat and laughably offer the best animation of the show by leaps and bounds.
but yet again, only having 1 opening can be repetitive for 97 episodes, honestly it would of been nice if they had done a few more openings each with a different song but Alas! Its only a minor nitpick.
As for the characters - 8
As Similar to the original, Cool heroes, Wicked villains, Memorable action, Plot as well as a great build up that follows through different stages of the narrative just like the manga counterpart now that the dialogue in this series expresses the show more better. Its demonstrates pretty much the same cast of colourful characters that still represents themselves in their colourful own way the more you watch you start to feel some sort of connection to one of these characters that define a lot of fun traits within the shonen genre and it's easy to see why.
The characters have their own drive about them that strive to be the best of themselves despite their flaws which will resonate sharply with the viewer but it also gives interesting context to prior events that happens within each Arc which becomes clearer even through my 2nd rewatch.
Personal Enjoyment - 8
I have to admit the first half I really enjoyed a lot but I felt by the second half it felt like it got a little bit tedious going into Cell's Arc even towards the final third of the show, it weirdly enough ends at Trunks going back to his own timeline to end the chaos without finishing off the rest of the series but It was pretty much a simple yet a decent conclusion until Dragon ball Kai 2014 pretty much wraps up the original series.
Final Verdict - 8
Now there could of been a much more improved version of this no doubt about that, but I feel Dbz kai did a decent job on its reboot to the original despite falling short in places where its production was very lazy which earns this series this rating
Its still a great series for anyone who want an introduction to watching battle shounen anime or just want to check out what the original series of Dragon Ball Z is.
It sticks close at hand to its source material even if you don't want to fully watch the original at least this is a more condense way to get through with ease and not too long to feel drawn out. Sorry if my review came off being serious but that is how I properly critic and say what I say with honesty.
Also PLEASE watch Dragon ball if you can, Its basically The prequel of Both Dragon ball Kai & Z since that doesn't get as much love as the sequel does in general. Or if it's not your thing than the Manga would likely be a better option. Until then Thanks for reading. ; )
I won't waste time reviewing Dragonball because it think that by now most people know it and already have their own opinion about it.
I'll just focus on Kai and the changes it has
Ok, so the story in dragonball has never been really complex or deep, but it's still fun to watch.
In my opinion, the biggest improovement Kai has over DBZ is that all the anoying fillers are gone and now the story goes, mostly, acording to the manga. No more eternal power charging, no more eternal "he is so strong" internal monologues a no more feeling that nothing really happened in the last 10
chapters. Yeah there are some fun filler missing, like when goku and picolo go to the driving school, but in the end what is gained with the exclusion of the filler is far more than what is lost.
I've read here that the story got cut out, that's not true, they just cut out all the filler that made the original Dragonball anime a pain to whatch for the poeple that have read the original manga.
The art in dragonball has allways been decent considering the times when it was released. But just as the new opening makes you believe at first, this could have been a real remake but the only thing we get here are the exact same animation but on a higher resolution, that's all.
The audio has been remade and sounds great. After finishing KAI I watched some episodes of the original anime and the difference was clear.
I also liked some of the aditions to the soundtrack, though not all of them.
At least to this date, this is the best way to watch dragonball.
If you are a newcomer to the world of dragonball you will be able to see the story and fights just as Toriyama made them in the original manga.
If you already saw the original anime or manga you will be able to go throught this all time classic once again without having to be tortured by the neverending fillers.
It's good, but it could have been so much more.
I really would have loved to see a real remake with the kind of animation that we get in the opening of kai.
I should have trusted my instincts when I decided to give Dragonball Kai a watch. It does sound quite intriguing to watch Dragonball Z again, only this time minus the filler episodes that really didn't add much or anything to the storyline; but with one change though, must come many, because for some reason writers always must omit something else that can feel almost equally important as the thing they wanted changed originally. I guess this is just one of those cases where you simply can't satisfy everyone, because DB Kai left me with a very bitter taste, and I actually prefer the original series
by Funimation than this.
The story to DB Kai is no different from the original series. The Earth is paid a visit by a being named Raditz whom claims to be Goku's brother; Raditz reveals to him that he's not even of Earth, instead he comes from a different race called the Saiyians whom lived on Planet Vegeta. They eventually battle, and Goku as well as his allies learn that Raditz isn't the only one out there from that race, nor is he even close to the strongest. They then prepare themselves to battle against the last two warriors of the Saiyan race.
I will mention now that the removal of various filler such as Snake Way, Garlic Jr., and various other things was definitely a plus. The show moves quite better without the constant distractions; but the truth is, even without the filler, DB Kai can still be a chore at times with situations dragging along for too much time, and the outcome simply not being a good enough pay off for some of the waiting. In any case, the overall story is fun, and DB Kai works its way up to the final battle against Cell.
DB Kai manages to keep the action well paced enough, and character personalities are fleshed out. However, things could have been so much better had the only change to the show been the various filler. One thing DBZ did well was its voice acting for the English dub and character interactions. Some serious fans will catch the removal of some dialog and it may bother them, it sure as hell bothered me because Vegeta especially had some good lines, like his threat to beat on Yamcha for practically no reason. The changing of voice actors got on my nerves as well; Colleen Clinkenbeard is annoying as hell as Gohan, and had I never seen this before I would have been wishing for his brutal death at the hands of Frieza. Now speaking of Frieza, they have Chris Ayres playing him. I hate everyone Ayres, Chris and Greg Ayres have a very annoying, whining, saccharine feel that gets on my nerves quick. Colleen Clinkenbeard also voices Android 18, and she just feels all types of wrong here. Meredith McCoy is by far the best to play her; she brought a sinister yet sexy appeal to 18 that carried over to her facial expressions and even fighting.
Another thing DBZ always did amazingly well was introduce intense music scores. Funimation's BGM is probably this anime's best quality and they know it, yet for some reason they use boring elevator music, with no variation or anything new through out the entire duration of the show. Vegeta and Piccolo's addictive themes that described their characters so well? Gone. The terrifying BGM of death when Frieza goes off to kill Vegeta while King Kai narrates this is the evil Prince's last stand? Jettisoned... for some irritating trash that doesn't enhance the scene at all. I can list plenty more examples, but this proves to me that not everyone understands the effect music can have during some scenes.
The animation and artwork appears to be remastered, but the only thing actually new is the opening. I don't have much of a problem with this, still this could have been better updated. At least DB Kai delivers the action well enough and there's plenty going on that can turn a new comer into a fan. There's loads of fisticuffs and brutal beatings to go around.
As I look around there are plenty of people that really enjoyed Kai more than DBZ. I can honestly say that I understand that because it does trim a lot of the fat and focuses more on character and story development, along with action which is the main selling point. Unfortunately for me, I look for other things in my anime and music means a lot to me; a great soundtrack can actually mask flaws in a work, and DBZ was full of them yet the BGM smoothed things out making it more tolerable. In addition, there are things that seems changed for the sake of it. None of the voice actors from the original died while this was in production, so I see no reason for the change in cast, nor the removal of some lines.
Despite my dislike for this remake, if that's what it is, I still recommend it to fans so they can see it for themselves; but I highly advise to be prepared for these various changes. I already know plenty of individuals who had the same issues with this as I did.
Highs: Some of the removal of filler does work, enjoyable action
Lows: Altering of cast and BGM is a huge blow for me
I mentioned in my review of DBZ that the series had some serious flaws and wasn't a perfect adaptation of Toriyama's original manga. Today I look at Dragon Ball Kai, which actually tries to be much closer to the source material. Does it do well or did DBZ classic do it better? Let's analyze further.
Story and Characters: 8/10
I already reviewed the story of DBZ, so this will largely focus on the differences between Kai and the original DBZ. A massive improvement is the removal of the obnoxious filler that bogged down DBZ. How much filler was in DBZ? An illustrative example would be that 7
of the first 16 episodes were entirely filler and not part of the official canon. In Kai it no longer takes 20 episodes for a planet to explode in supposedly 5 minutes. There are no episodes where characters power up pointlessly for nearly the entire episode. The use of recycled animation simply to take up time is also mercifully decreased. Kai cut out the fat while leaving in all the action, character development, and everything that made the story great in the first place! Other than that, no substantial changes were made to story and characters.
Art and animation: 5/10
Unfortunately the entire series didn't look like the opening theme animation like many fans hoped it would. The art is slightly improved from DBZ in terms of definition and quality, but the animation is still that classic, cheap and sloppy animation that we saw in the early 1990s. The art obviously looks much worse relative to other popular series in the 2010s than it did in the early 1990s when it was being compared against Yu Yu Hakusho and Sailor Moon. One major complaint from some fans was Kai's removal of much of the grit and gore from the original series. Although I also feel it is missing in some scenes, the original manga was NOT a bloodbath and this was in fact more faithful to the original.
The original OST from DBZ (Japanese version anyways) was great and didn't really need much improvement. Having said that, Kai added some nice tracks of its own and did a good job in the music department.
Dragonall Kai is indeed more faithful to Toriyama's manga and is in my opinion an improvement. Why it is rated an 8.0 on MAL compared to DBZ's 8.3 is honestly a bit confusing to me. Maybe hours of filler is acceptable as long as a tiny bit more blood is added? I have no idea what our voters were thinking. Obviously this new generation of kids didn't embrace Dragonball to the degree that my generation did, but I don't blame Kai for that. Anime is no longer an oddity and something that kids will watch just because it looks different. Very little anime is currently on American TV and young anime fans watch entirely online, which wasn't an option when I was growing up. If the internet existed in 1998 with the speed to stream videos rather than take 15 minutes of loud dial up sounds just to get on the internet, my 10 year old self probably would have watched something darker and more violent to make myself feel like a badass. I watched DBZ and enjoyed it at least partially because it was the best thing available at that timeslot for a 10 year old boy. Everyone got out of school and rushed home to watch DBZ, because honestly there was nothing better on. I didn't have the option of watching Black Lagoon on my laptop. If I did, than I likely would have made the same choice that the 10 year old punks of 2014 are making.
Get ready to relive your childhood. Come explore the very best DBZ AMVs that celebrate this world-renowned series by paying tribute to the blood-pumping action we all love or going to the very core of the more complex characters.
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