The third volume of the Dragon Box edition of Dragonball Z contains the action-packed conclusion to the Namek Saga in which Goku battles the evil Frieza for the fate of the alien planet, his friends and the universe. Before the dust can settle, the series wastes no time in leading our heroes to their next challenge in the Garlic Junior mini-series, after the hateful progeny of Goku’s former enemy collects the Dragonballs and is ready to make his wish.
The first set of discs in the collection features the ongoing battle against Frieza, the deadly alien who has subjugated the planet Namek after learning about the existence of the Dragonballs. The mystical objects found on Namek are different from those on Earth, as the Namekian Dragon grants three wishes instead of one. With visions of eternal life dancing in his mind, Frieza unleashes a destructive search, crushing those who stand in his way. Volume three picks up after Krillin, Gohan and Piccolo have made an uneasy alliance with Vegeta after rescuing Goku from his fight with the Ginyu Force. Determined to stall for time while Goku heals, the four confront Frieza, who has shifted into his most deadliest form and manages to ruthlessly beat Vegeta to death (there is quite a bit of bloody violence in this set of episodes). When Goku finally arrives, the two battle it out with such violent ferocity that not even Namek will survive unscathed.
If you’ve read previous reviews for the Dragonball series on this site, you may recall that the biggest criticism levied against the show is the large number of filler episodes that grinds the narrative to a halt. The episodes in this set present the largest case against filler because out of the six discs in the set, four and a half are dedicated to the Frieza/Goku fight. That’s almost seven hours! This volume is completely bloated with empty calories. It isn’t until about the five hour mark that things begin to pick up when Goku becomes a Super Saiyan and Frieza attempts to blow up the planet. Frieza’s constant countdown to destruction quickly becomes infuriating, as he boasts that the planet will die in five minutes but in real time, that equates to about three and a half hours. Because of this, the repeated frames of animation are considerably more noticeable, making the experience feel stale, boring and difficult to sit through for long periods of time. Thankfully, the Garlic Junior episodes are not nearly as bad, considering that it is a much shorter story arc and with Goku out of the picture, the struggle is a bit more meaningful (if Goku were around, the arc would only have lasted two or three episodes).
The Dragon Box comes off as being the definitive collection for rabid Dragonball Z fans, as it includes the original Japanese music and voice overs as well as the FUNimation English voice cast. If you enjoyed watching the show when it aired as part of Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming block, this is the version you’ll get the most out of. Just bear in mind, you’re going to be in for the long haul.