TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Four.

I tried something a bit different this time. I wrote and added to the review as I finished each disc of the season, so that when it came time to write the review, I wouldn't forget stuff. This is especially helpful if, like has already happened, Netflix gets screwy and new DVDs for the show don't come for nearly two weeks. Anyway, I finished this last week but have either been lazy or putting it off in favor of other reviews. Let me know if you prefer this format of review.


With Goku still MIA, the season picks up not too long after the last... and picks up with a bang. Though that's not necessarily a good thing. You see, DBZ, every now and then, has what are called "mini-sagas." These are tiny sagas of filler that mainly conflict with the rest of the series, as they weren't from the original source material. The Garlic Jr. Saga is basically the first, as it originally aired between the third and fourth seasons. But for this DVD collection, it is under the fourth season. And I didn't remember much of anything about this mini-saga, so I went in rather cold.

The Garlic Jr. Saga ties back to one of the many DBZ animated films, The Dead Zone, which occurs prior to the beginning of the series (so before Raditz shows up). And that's where my biggest issue spawned from. Up until the last episode of the first disc, Garlic Jr. and his crew are beating the crap out of everybody. But that means that they're all more powerful than the Ginyu Force, possibly closer to lower-to-mid-level Frieza. Then that means that Yamcha, Tien, and (heaven help up) Chaotzu are much stronger than Gohan, Piccolo, and Krillin. I find that hard to believe, especially with Gohan and Piccolo (Krillin I could understand). And herein lies another problem: Gohan defeated Garlic Jr. before Raditz even showed up, and he's become infinitely stronger since then. So why are he and Piccolo (who has also become infinitely stronger) having so much trouble? Like I said, up until the last episode of the first disc, we have no idea (it turns out that this star is making him super powerful).

So up until that point, I couldn't take any of it seriously. And that was a shame, because it had a great concept and was incredibly dark. Not to mention it had a heavy focus on Gohan (and Piccolo and Krillin). Although it's mostly Gohan getting the crap beat out of him, he does stand his own a couple times. In fact, toward the end of it, Gohan becomes a right little badass. There's also an interesting little fight between Gohan and Chi-Chi, finally giving Chi-Chi some fighting scenes.

Krillin also introduces us to his first ever girlfriend, Maron. She's a sexy little thing who all the guys are smitten after, but only up until she starts to reveal her incredibly ditzy and idiotic personality. Though she does bring out a lot of the pervert in Roshi, which is all quite funny (there's a moment between Roshi and Chi-Chi, as well).

But to add another non-sense bit to the mini-saga, though, Kami and Mr. Popo have to travel through the realm where all the previous guardians of Earth rest. But the guardians attack them and refuse to let them save the Earth. It makes no sense whatsoever. How could any guardian of Earth be such an ass, and then not care that the very planet they protected for so many years is being destroyed because they refuse to let Kami through? I personally feel it was done purely for tension and without really thinking it through.

To bring it a little closer to the main storyline, it interjects scenes of Vegeta traveling the universe searching for Goku, needing to know how he attained his Super Saiyan ability. Though these scenes aren't anything special except to show the greatness that is Vegeta (he really is one of the better written characters on the show).

Once the Garlic Jr. stuff is over, it picks back up with the main storyline, starting with the return of Frieza (who has been rebuilt as mostly robotic by his father). He travels to Earth to get his revenge and destroy the planet. And all seems to be going well... until a strange young man shows up and destroys them all with ease.

Enter Trunks (as pictured on the DVD box cover), a super saiyan from the future. They handle the time travel well, avoiding paradoxes by going with the 'alternate timeline' thing instead. Even better is when it's revealed who Trunks is--the son of a very unique couple that, well, hasn't really even become a couple yet. Though this season really starts up that relationship. But he has to keep his identity a secret from them out of fear that they'll not get together and have him.

So why is Trunks really there? It wasn't for Frieza, that's for sure. He's there to warn everybody that Dr. Gero, a man who used to work for the Red Ribbon Army (enemies from the original Dragonball series), has created two very powerful Androids that are going to destroy the planet. Normally, Goku would have handled them nicely, but he suffered from a fatal heart condition. So Trunks has traveled into the past to warn everybody and save Goku before it's too late. Unfortunately, things don't happen exactly as they had in Trunks' timeline...

But that's getting a bit ahead. What happens from here is some great stuff. We see (Future) Trunks as the badass he is. But then we're left back with the others. And then what happens next is what should have happened in the first season when preparing for Vegeta and Nappa: About one and a half episodes showing training before skipping ahead in time. And the training episode is great, especially the scenes between Piccolo, Goku, and Gohan, as well as more toward the eventual relationship between Vegeta and Bulma (though poor Yamcha being pushed aside). Though we're not without filler. The infamous 'driver's liscense' episode occurs here, before the three-year jump, showing Chi-Chi forcing Goku and Piccolo to get their driver's liscenses. It's overall a pointless episode, though it does have some funny moments (though why it takes both Goku and Piccolo to hold a bus is beyond me. You'd think Goku could do it with his pinky toe at ease). And I still haven't mentioned the unexplained introduction of Gohan's pet dragon Icarus (I believe he's introduced in one of the side-movies).

Anyway, the Androids show up, though I'd completely forgotten about Androids 19 and 20 (I always remembered 16, 17, and 18). I particularly love some of the music that comes along with them. Of note is that Vegeta gets some more screen time, and it's all particularly awesome. But we're also given one very annoying episode before that. Randomly, Maron decides to show back up at Master Roshi's searching for Krillin (and even after they tell her he's gone, she proceeds to do strange things... like look in the refrigerator and ask a potted plant where he is). So then Roshi has to tell her all about Goku's history with the Red Ribbon Army and what's up with the Androids... which ends in a bit of a mess, because Roshi ends in an explanation of information he can't possibly know, as even Goku just learned it himself minutes before, very far away from them. There's also a weird dubbing issue where Goku is fighting Android 19 and there's a close-up shot of Piccolo's face... but you hear Gohan say something like "All right, daddy!" The strangest thing is... Gohan's not even in the same vicinity yet.

Eventually we do get to Androids 16, 17, and 18, and it starts being a heck of a lot more interesting. I also particularly enjoyed a fight scene in the middle of traffic. For the majority of the show thus far, most fights have been in the middle of nowhere, away from people (unless cities were just being destroyed blandly). Sure, there are lots of broken rocks and crashing mountains, but that gets old after a while. So to see the fight in the middle of a busy highway was a great breath of fresh air, however short the sequence might have been.

I'm know there's more I haven't discussed (I don't wanna talk about everything here). But overall, besides random and utterly pointless intervals with Maron at Roshi's, the last 10 or so episodes of the season are pretty good. There's good action and fun music to go with it. It ends how any normal season finale would end, with a good hint at what's to come... though like the rest of the seasons, it happens at a weird time. It's as if it's ending mid-season. The plot of the season is still going on. Nothing's been resolved. In fact, this season is much like Season Two (The Ginyu Season). Outside of the Garlic Jr. stuff, it's just a setup for what's coming--Cell. Also, much like Season Two, it's a mostly useless season outside of the setup. All the Trunks stuff is really cool, and the Androids are cool once they're finally introduced toward the end. But everything else... not too necessary. This wasn't my favorite season by a long shot. But the next one is. I really love the Cell stuff, mostly because it's finally Gohan's time to shine. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

If you're watching the show, this season is a necessary speed bump to get over. Just don't expect too much from it.

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