On November 5th, the Dragonball Z 30th anniversary collector’s edition Blu-ray box set arrived on my doorstep. When I opened the box to look at what had arrived, it exceeded my expectations in many ways. With all the extras and the care given in creating this collection, this set is truly a collector’s dream.
The set was available for sale in March, selling for $350 and limited to 6000 sets. The collection includes the original 291 episode Dragonball Z series in its entirety. Extras include an 11-inch exclusive Goku statue, a massive hardcover artbook, and a numbered certificate of authenticity. This collection is so impressive that I had to unpack it and show everyone what’s inside.
The remaster fans wanted all along… or is it?
In 2013, Funimation began releasing all nine seasons of DBZ on Blu-ray. While the idea of remastering the series for modern devices was welcome, the way Funimation went about it wasn’t. The 2013 release of the series is in 16:9 widescreen, which forces significant image cropping to fit the wider format. This left many hardcore fans upset, many voicing their frustrations on social media over the years.
Cropping Dragonball Z's original 4:3 to 16:9 makes it feel so claustrophobic. Similar to the jump in the cinematography between Empire and Jedi.
— Ryan Blackmore (@deathwombat) July 20, 2018
Damn STOP with that Freaking 16:9, DragonBall Z is in 4:3 , no more crop in our faborite Anime, STOP IT , ok movie are in 16:9 but NOT TV Show !!
— MrJericho's TV (@Jericho_Stream) March 5, 2019
In an effort to appease those fans, Funimation announced that the Dragonball Z 30th anniversary release will be in the 4:3 aspect ratio. Undoubtedly, this is the selling point that allowed them to convince 6000 people to put down $350 to buy this collection. However, this alone was not enough to satisfy everyone, with many still protesting the release and investment required to buy the new set. Youtuber AnimeAjay is one of the many having issues with this particular remaster.
In their defense, Funimation explains the challenges they faced in remastering the series in a blog post on their website. In the post, they provide a video comparing the old broadcast version to the new 4:3 remaster. Several comparison stills are also provided in the post.
Unfortunately, the explanation did not satisfy AnimeAjay, and he expands on his criticisms in a follow-up video done after the Funimation rebuttal.
Both sides have valid points. Funimation has hard decisions to make in order to provide the best product possible. On the other hand, it seems like they are ignoring the feedback of the most hardcore fans. The very fans Funimation claims to cater to with this release. I have yet to watch any of the episodes, so I’ll reserve personal judgment until I do. Expect a followup post when I get around to it.
Great presentation, but not perfect
Remaster issues aside, the presentation is where this collection shines. Packaged in a simple black box, Shenron engraved in holofoil on the front. Four sets of discs fit snugly inside. The disc sets represent the major story arcs of the series— The Saiyan, Frieza, Cell, and Buu sagas. The major antagonists of each arc grace the cover of the book-like volumes, with numbered episode lists for each disc as you flip through the pages.
My only complaint with these sets is the disc sleeves themselves. As expensive as the collection is, I wash Funimation would take greater care with how the discs are stored. Eventually, sliding the discs in and out of cardboard sleeves is going to damage the disc surface. Anyone who has this set might consider getting better disc holders if you plan on watching them regularly. If the collection is mainly for show and occasional viewing, the sleeve board is smooth. That should limit damage as long as you don’t take them out too often.
The extras in the collector’s edition include a 12″ statue of Goku by Banpresto, as well as a large art book, and a numbered certificate of authenticity. The figure features Goku in his base form, sporting his traditional gi, which looks slightly battle damaged. He grasps the four-star dragon ball in his left hand. The amount of detail and care is impressive, along with great texture and a good, hefty weight to it. I feel like it’s a piece that could have sold north of $100 on its own.
The artbook is my favorite item in the whole set. Dozens of pages of character sketches, panoramas, and stills taken from the anime fill the book. The cover and bindings are of high quality, and the pages are bright and glossy. The holofoil print on the covers and binding stand out against a black matte finish. This artbook is something anyone can be proud of displaying in their home for friends and guests to browse through.
Was it worth the investment?
After looking at everything in the set, I think it is well worth the price of admission. If you are looking to get one of these sets for yourself, you’re too late. The Dragonball Z 30th anniversary sets exist only as a result of a crowdfunding campaign that concluded months ago. However, if you have deep pockets and an unquenchable desire to add this to your collection, there are a few for sale on eBay. Although, you might pass out after you see how much the few offering theirs up want.
If paying north of $1000 isn’t for you, feel free to live vicariously through the photo gallery below, and let us know what you think in the comments!