Over the years, Dragon Ball Z has had many re-releases, both on VHS, and DVD, with Blu-ray dropping into the scene more recently. Most of those releases featured the same content repackaged again and again, but Dragon Ball Z: Kai is unique, presenting the entire DBZ series remastered and re-edited to exclude any filler. Although this filler made the original DBZ memorable and fleshed out the characters, it bloated the series to a staggering 291 episodes, which can turn away many casual viewers.
FUNimation’s Dragon Ball Z: Kai Part Eight collects the final nine episodes of the series, which wraps up with the “Cell Games Saga,” an arc which many argue is the best in the series. Here we see Z Fighter Gohan at his best. Not only must he fight an extremely powerful foe, but he also battles his own reluctance to give in to the anger that gives him power. In this, he contrasts his father, Goku, who has always enjoyed fighting. Only after seeing his friends defeated by Cell’s minions does Gohan learn that there are some foes who just cannot be reasoned with and that its okay to fight for justice.
With much provocation by Cell, Gohan explodes with rage and awakens within him a new level of Super Saiyan power. Throughout the course of the battle, and even more so during the final four episodes, there are hints that this may have been intended to be the final arc in the series. Although it’s still just a rumor, many fans within the DBZ fan community have argued that Akira Toriyama originally intended the series to end with the Cell Games. The characters’ inability to revive Goku coupled with the final farewells of all the Z fighters makes it hard to think otherwise. Personally, I’m glad that Dragon Ball Z: Kai ends with the Cell Games, and, from what I’ve read, the creators of Kai have no future plans to incorporate the rest of the series.
Visually, DBZ: Kai looks great, with a few exceptions. There were a few scenes, for example, that strangely looked as if they had been cut out of a flash animation. For fans who have seen Dragon Ball Z: Kai air on television, all the censored material has been restored for the Blu-ray release, which means no dots where halos should be and Mr. Popo is back to his original color. While FUNimation’s release of Part Eight is lacking in special features, there’s an interesting web interview with director Christopher Sabat, also known for voicing both Piccolo and Vegeta, and Sean Schemmel, the voice of adult Goku. Both men express their love of the DBZ series as a whole and their enjoyment of DBZ: Kai.
Dragon Ball Z Kai is an amazing addition to the DBZ re-releases but it’s clearly meant for those who are new to the series, and only newcomers or diehard DBZ collectors should consider making this purchase. Everyone else will be better off purchasing the FUNimation Remastered Box Sets or waiting until the Blu-ray releases of the unedited DBZ are taken off FUNimation’s back burner.