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
It’s been a long and winding road for the characters of DRAGON BALL Z, but this is the final season. DRAGON BALL Z is a show that I first approached with resistance, unwilling to accept that 5+ hour long fights could be anything but repetitive and dull. But it has gradually become more hospitable, if only for the fact that the show is demonstrably addictive. Set aside the fact that reviewing anime is one of the things I do for the site, this show would have sunk its claws into me and refused to let go no matter what. This final season is arguably the best season available, and not just because of the epic storyline, but also because it leaves the show at a wonderful and fulfilling place.
Season 8 saw the arrival of Majin Buu, a character that splits the DRAGON BALL Z fanbase, mostly because he is considered as almost too powerful, or just a gigantic walking baby. The best thing about Buu is that he is both of these things. He’s clearly a huge danger because he has no concept about the world around him. He can’t be expected to have empathy or morals because he is all about present gratification. The beginning of Season 9 sees Buu taken in by DRAGON BALL Z’s most annoying character, Hercule Satan. The huge difference now, is that Buu and Satan make a brilliant and caring team. Realising he can’t fight Buu, Satan decides to reach out to him, and a wonderful friendship is born that carries through to the final episodes. In many ways it’s a tragedy, but one that explores these characters in new ways. Satan shows the importance in nurturing when dealing with perceived evil. It’s the harder route to take, instead of just punching your way through the problems, and shows a level of maturity that the show really benefits from.
The inevitable storm is obvious, which makes it even more tragic. Buu soon splits between a good and evil version of himself as he tries to understand the ways of the world. This leads to a series of epic battles that results in the most destruction ever seen in DRAGON BALL Z, but constantly refers back to the characters and their emotions and beliefs. Turning Buu from a childlike comedic character into an all powerful villain makes him even more dangerous. Buu takes on a number of our protagonists, and although the battle could be said to last all 10 hours of this collection, it never becomes boring. Using the marathon feature on the DVDs can be tiring, but also reflects what the fighters themselves must feel.
The final episodes serve as a decent farewell to the entire series, and leave it in a place where future adventures are perfectly feasible. Any issues that the series has as a whole are still present, and so it all depends on the individual viewer and whether or not they’ve come around to the formula off DRAGON BALL Z. With epic battle sequences, strong voice work, and even some fist pumping music, it’s a series that knows what it’s good at and takes those plusses to the absolute extreme. The humour is well placed throughout the episodes, and any show that can make a viewer root for previously hated characters shows a great deal of thought has gone into the writing. It was a (very) long road, but DRAGON BALL Z stayed true to what it was, a blisteringly fast paced action show with unforgettable characters.