(It's been a long time since I've had the time to post here, but I hope to back regularly now.)
Dragon Ball Z has been a best seller for Funimation ever since it started releasing the singles in 2003 and since then has re-released at least the first 34 episodes of the series 5 times through box sets of various qualities. Fan outrage over an Amazon listing and subsequent trailer sparked on twitter over yet another re-release of the first set of DBZ episodes, their second this year alone. The set seeks a second attempt at putting the series out on Blu-ray after the first set of releases were canceled in 2011 with only 2 sets released after reportedly low sales; while 2 more sets were planned and have product pages. The failure of the first set of releases can be attributed to being released around the same time as the Dragon Ball Z Kai Blu-rays and the still high selling DBZ dvd season box sets, commonly referred to as the “orange bricks”.
The trailer has since been taken down but has been captured and uploaded to YouTube. The problems with these new Blu-rays start with the aspect ratio. The show which originally was produced in 4:3 has been “remastered” to 16:9 widescreen for the orange bricks. This led to a major loss of picture with a very noticeable portion of the top and bottom of the screen being cropped out, after the failure of the first Blu-rays Funimation is going back to this style for the new releases.
The picture quality of this release is also a concern as the picture has been smoothed out so not to look as grainy. This problem may go over many casual fans as the technique puts the show close to par with the clean look of newer released anime at the loss of major detail. The reason the orange bricks sold so well comes from the misconception that widescreen is better quality no matter the circumstances, which can be seen from taking a look at the various one-star reviews on the Amazon page for the first Blu-rays. A long with this comes the lowest price point I have seen for an anime release, with 30+ episodes for around $20 a piece. You can still see today the misunderstanding of the anime home video market with recent Aniplex of America complete shows that go for hundreds of dollars, which is still less than the Japanese market price. So with prices so low casual fans are happy to buy no matter the quality as long as it is cheap, leading to this being the base quality of release for the show.
In the end though, all of this would not be as big of a problem if the hardcore fan base had a release that fits their needs, but this is not the case as of now. Arguably the best release of the show by Funimation comes from the Dragon Boxes, a premium limited edition release of the show in its original 4:3 aspect ratio taken from the Japanese release. This release was limited in Japan and so had to be similarly limited in its region one release with no repressing in site. This leaves the boxes out of print with most now sold out including box two which goes for $600+ new on Amazon.
This article was originally posted on my blog at realjpoe.com