The evil Majin Buu is the epitome of terror. With most of the Z Warriors turned to candy and the rest of humanity killed on attack, the scant few remaining heroes must scrounge together enough of a fight to justify one last stand. Will the final hero be Gohan, newly powered by the gods? Can the merged form of Goten and Trunks triumph where neither could before? How about the dead Saiyans of Goku and Vegeta? With humanity on the ropes and the Earth near its end, the battle will escalate to the afterlife, where no souls are safe! Does the end of Dragonball Z do right by the franchise?
One consistent problem with the story of the franchise is that it never goes where it seems to want to. Buu himself has multiple forms over this box set, and three heroes are all proposed as legitimate endings to his meanness. Goten and Trunks, in their combined form of Gotenks, could defeat the monster … but they’re a little too cocky in the gestalt. Gohan, powered up by the mystical energies of the Old Kai, seems to be set up as a the revived hero the series has always set him up to be, but more episodes are spent building him up than actually having him fight. Goku and Vegeta seem to be set up for the final battle by sacrificing their individuality, but the fight goes too soon, and the team decides to vow to never permanently merge again. This is a recurring trend throughout the franchise, as Toriyama’s original plans always were skewed by Toei and the fans.
The best episodes in this set are the ones set beyond the actual Buu fight. The final three episodes skip a large amount of time, showing the heroes where they are in the future. Goten and Trunks are teenagers, Gohan has married Videl, with the pair both having a daughter and defending the earth as costumed adventurers, and other natural evolutions in their makeshift family dynamics of the Z Warriors. It’s these rare peeks at the world at peace that remind the viewers just what in fact the heroes are fighting for.
For the series finale, things are wrapped up tight enough. The short Uub arc basically sets the characters in a place that would be fine enough for a happy ending, which is only humorously dashed by the last episode ending with a promo for Dragonball GT‘s first episode. Still, these final episodes are the last story lines mastered and largely drafted by Akira Toriyama, who only contributed in part to Dragonball GT (character designs, pitches, etc.), and did not form any sort of manga to base the sequel series off of. The storyline has to leave things open enough for the sequel, but with the last scenes having Goku fly off from his family to train a new hero, it’s fitting for the character, and almost expected that he’d abandon his home life just for a good fight with someone who could be the hero of the universe in the future.
The only glitches come from the translation from Japanese to English, and one of them is a style choice. The villainous pink-puffball is named “Buu”, and his heroic revival is “Uub”. The dub spells it out as such, but the subtitles spell it as “Boo” and “Oob”. While that oddity is a style choice, the repeated and random lack of audio during certain “Next Episode” previews in the Japanese track is likely a technical error of omission (given the location of the error, it wouldn’t be surprising if the audio was lost during promotional events or such). Once again, these minor glitches are largely ignorable and do not damper the excellence that is this set.
For the final time, the legendary Dragonbook is released in America (unless Dragonball GT gets the treatment in America, which FUNimation has remained mute on). It continues the trend of episode-by-episode breakdowns, relationship charts, character bios, and new design guides, this time for the final episode’s time jump. The unique parts to this are focusing on the couples in the series and Goku’s ever increasing power, and beyond a few Honneamise BluRay releases, is the height of pack-in extras for Japanese animation in America.
The Dragon Boxes have been the definitive release of the series in America, and will likely remain that way. While FUNimation might find profit and advantage by rereleasing the series in high def, recut, remixed, or rewhatever, the Dragon Boxes are the purest and, honestly, fanciest release this series will get. As they’re price appropriate for the content, fans of Dragonball Z can consider them definitive.