Goku and friends team up for more exciting and life changing adventures on Earth and beyond! While Dragonball focused primarily on Goku’s childhood, Dragonball Z represents a darker, more violent turn in his life as the past catches up with him in many different ways.
Set some years after the events of the Dragonball series, we find Goku living in peace with his wife Chi Chi and their son, Gohan, who is a very timid and shy child. Goku and Gohan meet at Master Roshi’s for a reunion with Tien, Yamcha, Bulma and the rest of the gang. Suddenly, a humanoid alien named Raditz appears and presents some startling revelations. Not only is Goku from another planet, he is also Raditz’s brother. The evil warrior issues Goku an ultimatum: kill one hundred humans and rejoin the Saiyans or Gohan dies.
In Part Two, Goku’s ultimate sacrifice allows Piccolo to defeat Raditz and free Gohan from his clutches. In his final moments, Raditz informs the group that two more Saiyans are on their way to Earth. To prepare for their arrival, Piccolo takes Gohan as his apprentice while Krillin, Yamcha, Chiaotzu and Tien train with Master Roshi. Meanwhile, Goku awaits judgement in Heaven until Kami guides him to Snake Way, a million mile path that will lead him to King Kai, one of the great martial arts masters. This story arc is notable because it establishes one of anime’s biggest character rivalries: Goku versus Vegeta.
Dragonball Z Kai is an interesting beast. Despite being re-released throughout the years, this version of the show is considerably different from its forebears because it has been edited to follow the original manga much more closely. To do so, many of the filler episodes have been cut down or removed completely, resulting in considerably better pacing. It is amazing to see how quickly the series moves without interruptions by needless exposition and side stories. To accommodate these cuts, the dialog had to be rewritten and re-recorded with a small number of voice actors reprising their roles. How you feel about the new voice actors will depend on whether or not you’ve been following the series since it was originally dubbed. I’ve grown attached to the post-Pioneer English voice cast and I find their absence to be distracting.
The animation has been cleaned up considerably for this new edition, making it THE best version to watch – if that sort of thing is important to you. The frames look as if they’ve been put through the wash half a dozen times, resulting in a clear, clean picture with vibrant, vivid colors. This is the first time that the show has truly looked digitally remastered. Despite all the changes, trimming and cleanliness, ultimately it is still the same old Dragonball Z and if you’ve purchased the series already, there really is no significant reason to pick up another version of it. Granted, having the fat trimmed is a plus and the script changes warrant a viewing for the curious, but in the end, Dragonball Z Kai is a story you’ve already seen before.