Starring: Masako Nozawa, Sean Schemmel, Daisuke Gouri, Stephanie Nadolny, Naoko Watanabe, Eric Vale, Miki Itou, Christopher R. Sabat, Ryo Horikawa, Dameon Clarke, Takeshi Kusao, Kyle Hebert, Toshio Furukawa, Sonny Strait, Jeremy Inman, Chuck Huber, Mike McFarland, Tiffany Volmer, Cynthia Cranz,
Running Time: 625 minutes
Picking up where Season 7 left off, Season 8 really should begin to crack under the pressure of continuing a fairly simplistic series for so long. In actual fact, this is one of the best seasons the show has to offer thanks to some amazing character development, interesting and meaningful fight sequences, and even sections of heartfelt emotion. It all begins with the regular gang of heroes travelling to take on the evil wizard Babidi, son of Bibidi, and yes there is also a Buu. Babidi wishes to awaken the ultimate fighter, Buu, in order to take over the word.
The lead up to Buu’s reveal is dragged out at points, but it does allow for a classic showdown between Goku and Vegeta, who is ‘turned’ evil by Babidi’s magic. This is an outpouring of tension that has been present from the very beginning. As the last survivors of their race, you feel Vegeta’s hatred at no longer being the warrior prince, and also his resentment at becoming a family man. It’s a powerful showdown as it looks at the regret of giving up who we were when we were younger. Vegeta’s antagonism is understandable, making the fight even more involving.
Once Buu awakens, it throws a curveball as he is simply a bright pink baby. What starts out as a rather annoying joke soon reveals itself to be a rather terrifying and threatening villain. Buu certainly is a baby, but one with immense power, thus making him a horrifying rival. He kills for fun, because that’s what he has been told to do. It makes it difficult to feel any anger towards him because he simply doesn’t know any better. In the latter half of the series the show explores Buu and looks at him as a classical monster. He begins to form relationships and take on a different understanding of the world in much the same way as Frankenstein’s monster did. There are a number of truly heartbreaking scenes. Buu’s arc also manages to give comical punching bag Hercule Satan a surprising amount of depth and understanding.
With all this going on and some excellent character designs, it’s easy to forgive the use of the Dragon Balls themselves as convenient plot devices that bring people back from the dead. DRAGON BALL Z Season 8 manages to add unexpected layers of emotional and moral complexity, without having to jeopardise its tried and trusted formula. You’ll still be getting extended training sequences that seem to have no end in sight, broad comedy that raises a few chuckles, lengthy action sequences and enough twists to keep the story moving at a blistering pace. It may work better spread out over a long period of time, but it’s easy to see why DRAGON BALL Z remains a fan favourite.