Sprkng! Early Observation of Dragon Ball Kai

I don’t plan on making it a habit of blogging about Dragon Ball Kai, but seeing as I reviewed a very “special” remake yesterday, I felt I should talk a little about how the other, inarguably better remake is doing.

For those of you who don’t know, Dragon Ball Kai is an HD re-mastering of the original Dragon Ball Z with new audio recorded (both music and voices) and, most importantly, all fat trimmed to make the show more streamlined and in-pace with the original Toriyama manga. Three episodes are out so far, and it should give a good indicator as to how the show will fare later on.

Dragon Ball Kai accomplishes in three episodes what took the original anime five, and early Dragon Ball Z wasn’t even that filler-laden! At the pace they’re going, the show may end up feeling it’s never dragging. That is, unless perhaps the manga dragged in certain areas as well. It’s an interesting conflict, being “true to the manga,” because should you be true to it, bad parts and all? Probably the main difference in pacing that will be seen is that in the manga powering up hardly takes any time. It’s the classic cliche of Dragon Ball Z that entire episodes are spent “powering up,” and it’ll be funny to see that stereotype smashed. It’ll be even funnier when the Namek saga takes significantly less time, and the inevitable jokes will occur which go, “Are they still on Nam- oh…I guess not. Carry on!”

Unlike that other thing, there’s really no point to discussing whether or not Dragon Ball Kai is true to the spirit of Dragon Ball. While this is clearly going to make them massive piles of money to roll around (and to sleep on top of with lots and lots of beautiful women), it’s still, I feel, a labor of love to a certain extent, even if it’s simply a repackaging of old material to seem new and fresh. I’m cool with that.

I just have to wonder if this mean that for all the young kids who are watching Kai before Z, will they be unable to ever watch the Z anime when a superior alternative exists?

Dragon Ball Kai over Dragon Ball Z?

Dragon Ball Kai, for those of you who don’t already know, is the remastered, revised new airing of Dragon Ball Z with the filler cut out and the pacing altered to remove the fluff and get closer to the pacing of the original manga. Obviously, this is going to at some point be released on a physical format for purchase. Most likely it’s even going to be on Blu-Ray what with this being a remastering for HD broadcast.

If you enjoyed the series on Cartoon Network or syndication but never purchased any series, is how willing would you be to buy Dragon Ball Kai INSTEAD OF the original Dragon Ball Z anime? If you have the original DBZ anime, would you be willing to sell it in order to get DBKai, or does the original hold too much sentimental value?

It’s supposed to be about half as long with everything improved, so it looks to me like a more enticing purchase, but I just want to get a better idea of what others think. Would DBKai being essentially a condensed DBZ anime be a more attractive product to lay money down on? Is DBKai something only existing DBZ fans will pay attention to? Can it draw in a new audience, one that was born within the past decade and is now just reaching the target age for a classic great shounen series?

Dragon Ball Kai and the “Sacred Original”

Dragon Ball Kai, if you haven’t heard, is the newly redone, newly voiced, high-definition re-airing of the Dragon Ball Z anime starting April 5, 2009. And this time, according to Toei, they’re going to cut out the filler to make it more like the original manga.

There’s a certain level of importance placed on the “original” in anime, manga, and of course art and entertainment in general. Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” discussed the changes mass production could influence upon art and the concept and authenticity of an “original.”Star Wars is already a massed-produced work, but fans cry foul whenever George Lucas decides to revise the original trilogy, whether it’s deciding who shot who first, who appears in the sky as a ghost, or whether the Death Star should meet its end with many tiny explosions or one giant shock wave. Fans will argue that the plastic, rubbery look and the decisions made then, seen perhaps as weaknesses by some, are actually strengths of the movie. Originals, for better or worse, are often considered to be “sacred.” But what does one consider the “original?”

I bet a lot of people are fine with editing down Dragon Ball Z to remove a lot of the filler which bogged down the pacing of the series, and I am among them. In one sense, it is not the “original” because there’s a manga to base it on, a vision of what should have been. But what if Dragon Ball Kai was not a revision of Dragon Ball Z but the entire original manga retraced and made to look better than ever with “unnecessary filler” cut out? We know that Toriyama originally wanted to end the series at multiple junctures: the defeat of Piccolo, Jr. at the Tenkaichi Budokai; the death of Freeza; the death of Cell. Is the original his intended plan which never was carried out due to Shounen Jump editors wanting to keep making money hand over fist? If so, then surely the manga would have a huge chunk of its content cut out.

Now I’m not arguing against the concept of Dragon Ball Kai and its desire to tighten up the anime and remove the excess. I’ve established myself as being in support of the idea. However, when you sit down and try to consider what the “original” could be, it opens up a whole can of worms.

Today’s homework assignment is that I want you to think over the following two things. First, is the idea that the original creator(s) may not necessarily know what’s best for his own story, and that external factors which seem like limitations may sometimes produce better results (see First Gundam). Second, is taking the concept of “cutting out the boring and unncessary” parts and comparing it to dubbing practices of the 80s and 90s.

Have fun, though. That’s what’s most important.