Anime Review: Dragon Ball Kai: The Final Chapters Part 1

By Drew Hurley 29.10.2018

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Dragon Ball Kai: The Final Chapters Part 1 (UK Rating: 12)

While Dragon Ball fans have been rather spoilt in recent months, with the regular releases of the classic films and now finally receiving the regular Dragon Ball Super volumes, Manga Entertainment has decided to keep that train going, by giving them the chance to relive the classic series in its best possible version. Dragon Ball Kai, for those unaware, is a remastered and re-cut version of Dragon Ball Z that ran in Japan between 2009 and 2011, then with these "Final Chapters" episodes being released between 2014 and 2015. This first collection is available now courtesy of Manga Entertainment and contains episodes 99 - 121.

After a lengthy recap that showcases the Dragon Ball Kai series up to this point, the series shows what could have been had Toriyama actually stuck with Gohan as the hero of the story… Basically, not a great series! Picking up seven years after the conclusion of the Cell Games, Goku is off in the Other World and the story is focusing on Gohan starting at Orange Star High School, and cleaning up crime in the city while he's at it. Also in his class is Videl, daughter of the now "saviour of the world," Mr. Satan, who is credited with the defeat of Cell. Videl is no dummy and figures out that the new kid in school and the superhero who is suddenly in town may be related. After all, who would be confused by a simple disguise like different hair and some glasses? What follows is a bunch of episodes with Gohan dressing up like a hardcore Kamen Rider cosplayer, then when Videl unsurprisingly uncovers the truth to Gohan's identity the series switches to him training her.

This makes up almost the entire first disc. Around the first eight episodes and, honestly, even with this version that cuts out tons of content, it still feels there's a ton of unnecessary content. Much can be skipped, to be honest. What's important is there's going to be a new Budokai Tenkai World Martial Arts Tournament; Videl talks Gohan into defending, so the child of the current champ can face off against the child of the previous champ. When Mufasa-style Goku hears, he decides to get a one-day pass back to the world of the living to take part, too, and this prompts a reunion of the Z fighters as Krillin, Piccolo, and Vegeta decide to take part, not to mention Krillin's new wife, Android 18, along with the next generation of Z fighters with Kid Trunks and Goku's youngest, Goten.

The remainder of the first disc is spent with the beginning of the kids' version of the tournament and this is where it gets good. Every Shonen fan loves a tournament arc and while the kids' battles are more of a montage, there are plenty of laughs, along with a great final bout. The main tournament is where things really kick up a notch. Of course, the tournament is going to go to plan and play out as a normal martial arts showdown. There are some mysterious looking attendees who just happen to be some of the most important people in the universe, not to mention two roided up guys with the letter 'M' tattooed on their foreheads.

The creepy muscle heads are here to steal someone's power and to use it to awaken an ancient evil that could destroy all life in the universe. The tournament continues but without its strongest contenders as the majority of the Z fighters head off with the mysterious mohawk'd stranger to try and stop the awakening of Majin Buu… all leading to a showdown with an old enemy, with some surprising new power.

Episodes 99 - 121 make up the majority of the World Tournament Saga Arc. Like the regular Dragon Ball Super releases, it annoyingly leaves a single episode missing to be compiled into the next release. Dragon Ball always loved a cliffhanger, but this is just annoying. The regular end to this arc is a much more fitting cliffhanger, anyway!

This international version is actually quite different from the original Japanese, although not necessarily in the usual, expected (bad) ways. The original release had a set amount of episodes it had to be squeezed into - 61 - but there were actually 69 episodes produced and voiced by the Japanese cast; there just wasn't room to fit them in. This international version contains all 69, although whether that's a good thing or not is down to the viewers. Most of these changes are here in the first collection where there is more time spent on the Great Saiyaman episodes. It's not the only change, either, as the Japanese intro isn't an option here, along with the numerous outros.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Definitely the best way to re-experience the classic Dragon Ball Z, it looks great and the re-cut episodes deliver far more succinct and enjoyable pacing. That being said, this first part of the final chapters of Dragon Ball Kai spends a little too long on the Great Saiyaman episodes, making this whole collection weaker. Next time on Dragon Ball Kai, the Majin Buu saga begins.

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