Though I grew up when DRAGON BALL Z was an integral part of early ‘90s kid culture, I’ve never watched a full episode. Sure, I’d seen it on in the background at play dates, and my little brother later consumed episodes at a breakneck speed, but other than knowing its general place in anime history, I haven’t fully explored the universe. Until now.
I did a quick read up on the events of DBZ Season 1 before jumping into Season 2. In the first season, Son Goku, returns as an adult and father. His son, Gohan, at first lack’s Gokus adventurous spirit, preferring to stay inside and study. Everything is turned upside down when an Saiyan alien named Raditz arrives on Earth. He claims that he’s Goku’s long-lost brother, that Goku was sent to earth to wipe out humanity, and that he’s come back to finish the game.
Goku joins forces with his former enemy, Piccolo, to take down his brother and protect Earth. Along the ay Goku dies, Piccolo trains Gohan in the ways of the warrior, and Goku is finally brought back to life as the Saiyans arrive on Earth. A massive battle ensues, and, though there are casualties, the gang mostly survives.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off, with Goku severely injured in the hospital and Piccolo near death. Of course, a far-off collection of Dragon Balls from Piccolo’s home planet, Namek, are the only thing that can save Piccolo! While Gohan, and the other “Z Warriors” set off for Namek to search for the Dragon Balls, Goku’s nemesis Vegeta is preparing for revenge…
...but not against whom you’d expect.
This season mostly focuses on a new baddie, an alien named Frieza known for conquering and destroying worlds. Frieza is also after those Namekian Dragon Balls, so much of the show becomes about the back and forth between good and evil.
It turns out that not only does Frieza have some seriously devastating powers and a seemingly never-ending supply of henchmen; he also destroyed the Saiyan home world. This pits Vegeta against Frieza, creating a three-way war between the villains and the Z Warriors.
Though the story continues as much of the same for a large chunk of the season, the pacing is quick and there’s plenty of backstory, lore, and mystery to keep my interest. I also worried that it’d be difficult to keep track of the characters, but they each solidify themselves early on. The potential for betrayal and shifting alliances is great, always an excellent quality in multi-episode arcs like this.
As for the Blu-Ray release itself, it’s hard to believe this show came out in 1989. The picture quality is impeccable, and the entire thing has been converted to a widescreen transfer. The Blu-Ray also includes the original Japanese Mono track as well as an English dub. And lastly, these are the uncut episodes, so if you grew up watching the censored American version of DBZ, this is a must-see.
Rachel Heine is a pop culture junkie, amateur food blogger, and cat nap aficionado. She also regularly contributes to Nerdist and Static Beach. Check out her blog — popandsizzle.com — and follow her on Twitter: @RachelHeine