What is the best way to watch the entirety of Dragon Ball (DB, DBZ, & DB:GT) in North America?

Protoman200X

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,382
N. Vancouver, BC, Canada


After finishing a marathon of Dragon Ball Super (topping it off with the excellent Dragon Ball Super: Broly), I'm in a mood to go and re-watch the entirety of Dragon Ball (skipping most of the Buu Saga and only watching select episodes of GT). I was impressed with Funimation's Yu Yu Hakusho & Cowboy Bebop Blu-Ray releases, so I was hoping I could buy and collect the complete series of Dragon Ball to watch at my own pleasure.

....Unfortunately, I've been hit with a roadblock of a multitude of DVD and Blu-Ray releases, most of which either have awkward aspect ratio cropping, heavy use of DMR, edge enhancement, the resolution is locked at 480p for most of the sets, lack of broadcast audio, and the original Japanese Dub has audio cracking issues when set at a specific volume setting (when experimenting with a copy of the first DBZ Orange Box box set, my theatre system produces an ear wrenching pitch when the volume goes above medium-high settings and this ONLY happens when I select the Japanese Audio track). Even something like the super expensive Dragon Box series isn't perfect (they don't have the original Japanese broadcast audio), & not only are they out of print, only the DBZ Dragon Boxes were released in NA. Streaming isn't a better option, as Funimation's streaming service only has these disjointed transfers and look horrible.

So, I'm stumped. I want to give Funimation my cold hard cash, but I don't want to when every subsequent release of this material has been handled with the amount of care & respect as a drunk driver aimlessly piloting a wrecking ball crane through a hospital zone. What are my options?​
 

Anth0ny

Member
Oct 25, 2017
19,096
Dragon Ball: Blue Season Sets
GT: Green Season Sets

Dragon Ball Z:




Short answer: There's no best way because Funimation and Toei both suck shit.

If you can afford it, track down the long out of print Dragon Box DVD sets on ebay. That's going to set you back about $1000.

The alternative is the Orange Bricks and Blu Ray season sets, which are super easy to find and super cheap, but horribly cropped and DVNR'd to hell and back. I personally find them unwatchable, but it seems to be the way most actually watch and enjoy the show. So your mileage may vary.

There has never been an official release that used the original broadcast audio, so that's out of the question unless you go out and find the bootlegs yourself.
 
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Protoman200X

Protoman200X

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,382
N. Vancouver, BC, Canada
The best way to watch GT is not to watch it at all.
Your option for GT is to skip it and save your time
Perhaps I failed to mention this, but I DID watch GT when it aired on YTV a bazillion years ago. I know the majority of it is wonky as hell, but there are snippets of it that I generally like. The ending was a nice send off to the series, and much better than how DBZ concluded

Dragon Ball: Blue Season Sets
GT: Green Season Sets

Dragon Ball Z:




Short answer: There's no best way because Funimation and Toei both suck shit.

If you can afford it, track down the long out of print Dragon Box DVD sets on ebay. That's going to set you back about $1000.

The alternative is the Orange Bricks and Blu Ray season sets, which are super easy to find and super cheap, but horribly cropped and DVNR'd to hell and back. I personally find them unwatchable, but it seems to be the way most actually watch and enjoy the show. So your mileage may vary.

There has never been an official release that used the original broadcast audio, so that's out of the question unless you go out and find the bootlegs yourself.
So I basically have to go & track down the Dragon Box box sets (either through legitimate or "unsavoury" means) if I want the best experience? I was afraid of that. :(
 
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Anth0ny

Member
Oct 25, 2017
19,096
So I basically have to go & track down the Dragon Box box sets (either through legitimate or "unsavoury" means) if I want the best experience? I was afraid of that. :(
I'm afraid so. The fact that fans have to jump through so many hoops like this to watch one of the most popular shows of all time totally baffles me, but it is what it is.

The 30th anniversary blu ray released last year could have fixed all of this, but instead it was just another cropped, DVNR'd shit fest. They just don't learn, it seems.

In case it isn't clear, I think about this way too much. I even made a big dumb video on the entire subject of DBZ's poor home releases last year, and unfortunately nothing has changed since:

 

Wishbone Ash

The Fallen
Oct 29, 2017
1,003
Michigan
I bought a few different versions of DBZ, and I've got the blue DVD volumes of Dragon Ball and the green-colored DVDcollection for GT.

Honestly I gave up halfway through the first set and just watched DB on Hulu recently. I think the entire series is on there, idk if it's much worse than the stuff you can buy.
 

HazySaiyan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,296
West Yorkshire, UK
I'm afraid so. The fact that fans have to jump through so many hoops like this to watch one of the most popular shows of all time totally baffles me, but it is what it is.

The 30th anniversary blu ray released last year could have fixed all of this, but instead it was just another cropped, DVNR'd shit fest. They just don't learn, it seems.

In case it isn't clear, I think about this way too much. I even made a big dumb video on the entire subject of DBZ's poor home releases last year, and unfortunately nothing has changed since:

Nah it pisses me off too, one of the most popular and important anime of all time and they refuse to treat it with any sort of respect
 
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Protoman200X

Protoman200X

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,382
N. Vancouver, BC, Canada
I'm afraid so. The fact that fans have to jump through so many hoops like this to watch one of the most popular shows of all time totally baffles me, but it is what it is.

The 30th anniversary blu ray released last year could have fixed all of this, but instead it was just another cropped, DVNR'd shit fest. They just don't learn, it seems.

In case it isn't clear, I think about this way too much. I even made a big dumb video on the entire subject of DBZ's poor home releases last year, and unfortunately nothing has changed since:

I didn't realize you were the dude who created that video. I used it (along with other sources) as a guide to help me try to find the best way to watch the series pre-Super.

Also, you did a grand job of calling out on Funimation for how much they have half-assed that 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray box set. Really, they should learn by now that people are getting fed up.
 

Anth0ny

Member
Oct 25, 2017
19,096
I didn't realize you were the dude who created that video. I used (along with other sources) as a guide to help me try to find the best way to watch the series and movies pre-Super.

Also, you did a grand job of calling out on Funimation for how much they have half-assed that 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray box set. Really, they should learn by now that people are getting fed up.
Oh wow, glad to hear it helped! :)

And yeah, Funimation is just out to lunch on this stuff. Maybe we'll get something approximating an ideal release for the 40th anniversary...
 

sir_crocodile

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,369
I don't think there is any way to pay money for decent releases of DB in english anymore, unless you go to the extortionate second hand market for dragon boxes, which are not perfect.

The best option unfortunately is...well I'm sure you know.
 
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Protoman200X

Protoman200X

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,382
N. Vancouver, BC, Canada
I don't think there is any way to pay money for decent releases of DB in english anymore, unless you go to the extortionate second hand market for dragon boxes, which are not perfect.

The best option unfortunately is...well I'm sure you know.
Trust me, I really don't want to go that route. I try to keep my media purchases as pure (or whatever concept you may come think as "pure") as I possibly can, usually going to the official avenues that are easy to obtain and also help the official distributor. Unlike in my younger days, where I would mindlessly trust every company under the sun that they would do a home video release right, I only buy DVD and Blu-Ray's IF the license holder hasn't fucked it up for everyone. I have to do research and look at forums to see how a new release would compare with an older one, etc.

Which is why I'm baffled with how Funimation did the Blu-Ray release of Yu Yu Hakusho and Cowboy Bebop, which are a complete 180 from the various Dragon Ball DVD/Blu-Ray box sets they've created. Unless Funimation IS known for fucking up Home Media releases of the other older anime series they have licensed for NA distribution, of course.
 

sir_crocodile

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,369
Trust me, I really don't want to go that route. I try to keep my media purchases as pure (or whatever concept you may come think as "pure") as I possibly can, usually going to the official avenues that are easy to obtain and also help the official distributor. Unlike in my younger days, where I would mindlessly trust every company under the sun that they would do a home video release right, I only buy DVD and Blu-Ray's IF the license holder hasn't fucked it up for everyone. I have to do research and look at forums to see how a new release would compare with an older one, etc.

Which is why I'm baffled with how Funimation did the Blu-Ray release of Yu Yu Hakusho and Cowboy Bebop, which are a complete 180 from the various Dragon Ball DVD/Blu-Ray box sets they've created. Unless Funimation IS known for fucking up Home Media releases of the other older anime series they have licensed for NA distribution, of course.
I think with those sets Funi is just following what has been released in Japan.
Unfortunately Toei have not really shown any care whatsoever to the DB franchise legacy. If they did, you'd be able to buy 4:3 BD's with broadcast audio in Japan, and you can't. :( And so Funi just goes its own way. Which would have been fine if they'd continued the level sets, but everything since they were cancelled has been turd after turd because they think people want widescreen, dnr etc.
 

Scotia

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,464
UK
I've made the expensive decision to just buy the DVDs off Amazon whenever I can afford it. Currently have the first 3 seasons of Dragon Ball and the first season of Dragon Ball Z. I intend to eventually get every season of DB, DBZ and GT because there's no other way for me watch them outside of piracy and that's honestly too much of a hassle for me.

Also while I'm here, wtf is wrong with Commander Red's voice in Dragon Ball? It sounds like someone trying to do an Irish, Scottish and Geordie accent all at once lmao.
 

Funkybee

Member
Feb 20, 2019
514
As a true DB fan, I'd watch and enjoy anything Dragon Ball, GT included which I truly enjoyed. I love everything DB. Even if the plot was bad, even just HEARING the original cast voice acting is worth it for me.
 
Oct 25, 2017
17,132
I think with those sets Funi is just following what has been released in Japan.
Unfortunately Toei have not really shown any care whatsoever to the DB franchise legacy. If they did, you'd be able to buy 4:3 BD's with broadcast audio in Japan, and you can't. :( And so Funi just goes its own way. Which would have been fine if they'd continued the level sets, but everything since they were cancelled has been turd after turd because they think people want widescreen, dnr etc.
Didn't Chris Sabat even offer to have Funimation restore the series with the broadcast audio, and Toei outright refused?
It really is an issue. Visual wise the best course is Dragon Box but those are stupid expensive. Audio wise you lose either way. The original dub is trash, so you go with Japanese, but the audio quality isn't very good due to Toei's refusal to restore it. I know they don't have the original master tapes (otherwise they would alter Episode 120 to remove Battle Point Unlimited) but at least go with the cleaner audio.
Kai also has its own issues. Whether it's The Final Chapters having a weird green tint over it, or the sloppy use of Kikuchi's music in place of Yamamoto's after he got caught plagiarizing.
 
Oct 29, 2017
2,746
Dragon Ball: Blue Season Sets
GT: Green Season Sets

Dragon Ball Z:




Short answer: There's no best way because Funimation and Toei both suck shit.

If you can afford it, track down the long out of print Dragon Box DVD sets on ebay. That's going to set you back about $1000.

The alternative is the Orange Bricks and Blu Ray season sets, which are super easy to find and super cheap, but horribly cropped and DVNR'd to hell and back. I personally find them unwatchable, but it seems to be the way most actually watch and enjoy the show. So your mileage may vary.

There has never been an official release that used the original broadcast audio, so that's out of the question unless you go out and find the bootlegs yourself.
I know dragonball fans never shut up complaining about this set but surely the new 30th anniversary blu rays are preferable to the Blu Ray Season sets?
 

Anth0ny

Member
Oct 25, 2017
19,096
I know dragonball fans never shut up complaining about this set but surely the new 30th anniversary blu rays are preferable to the Blu Ray Season sets?
ehhh

That's not exactly saying much. The cropping is less severe and the DVNR is less harsh on the image... but the fact that there is any cropping or DVNR at all is a big fucking problem. Not to mention the 30th anniversary set was limited to, like, 6000 in total. So for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist, or at least it's not easy to recommend to anyone looking to watch the show.
 
Oct 29, 2017
2,746
ehhh

That's not exactly saying much. The cropping is less severe and the DVNR is less harsh on the image... but the fact that there is any cropping or DVNR at all is a big fucking problem. Not to mention the 30th anniversary set was limited to, like, 6000 in total. So for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist, or at least it's not easy to recommend to anyone looking to watch the show.
Oh aye yeah I realise I'm comparing shitty apples to other, shittier apples but I think I'd take them over the blu ray seasons.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,636
The 30th anniversary set is the only one of dbz I can recommend and even so it’s with caveats. It’s definitely dnr’d but the cropping is actually better than every release outside the Legends set. It also doesn’t suffer from the green tint of the dragon boxes either.

Dragon ball on dvd is also dnr’d by the way with the same audio issues that exist with dbz.

until Toei steps up and gives good video/audio versions of db/dbz you’re probably never gonna have a perfect version.