TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Five.

As usual at the start of any major battle on this show, Goku is out of it for some reason. This time, he's still under the effects of the fatal heart disease. But different than other seasons, this show starts off full-out and doesn't look back.
The season starts off brilliantly. The first few episodes play out like some horror movie mystery. Something has come back in time in Trunks' time capsule, even though he has the only time capsule in existence with him. And not long after that discovery, something is going on in a nearby town, where all the people have mysteriously disappeared, leaving only their clothes behind. It's all very intriguing and suspenseful (even though I know what's going on from seeing it already).

To counter this new threat, Piccolo finally merges back with Kami, being a Super Namek--apparently even more powerful than a Super Saiyan. And I must say, the animation around this point is pretty cool. And I'm thankful that his reaction to his new power wasn't as silly as it was when he merged with Nail a few seasons ago.

But even when everyone start sensing this strange creature, the questions continue. Why does it feel like Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo, among others--including even Frieza and his father--are all together... fighting Piccolo (You heard me right)? Turns out, Dr. Gero wasn't all about creating Androids 17 and 18. 

He wanted to create the ultimate weapon, a being so powerful that it is actually made up of the cells of the greatest fighters Earth has ever witnessed. This creature's name? Appropriately, Cell. And Cell is on a mission, to absorb the powers of Androids 17 and 18, as doing so will make him complete--perfect. And he'll also absorb the powers of anybody who gets in his way. But this is not the Cell from their current time, rather the Cell from an alternate future, having come back in time to absorb the Androids, as Trunks had already found a way to defeat them in his own timeline.

So now the fighters must decide whether they must go after Cell, who is much more dangerous than the Androids, or go after the Androids and destroy them before Cell can absorb them and become nearly impossible to defeat. And the Androids themselves are no easy task. But meanwhile, the Androids--16, 17, and 18--are still on their search for Goku, who is still incapacitated from his heart virus, and destroy him as Dr. Gero programmed them (or at least Android 16) to do. But Vegeta, the next most powerful after Piccolo and Goku (as far as we know at this point, anyway), refuses to do anything until he can train enough to transcend the power of a Super Saiyan. And (Future) Trunks must find a way to talk Vegeta into letting him train along side him. Not to mention Gohan, who is stuck at Master Roshi's with everybody else (including his mother), has to train in private, as Chi-Chi refuses to let him do anything but study his academics. Still following?

And then comes the episode where Goku wakes up. It's not the greatest episode in the world (there's some horribly cheesy voice-overs and a really pointless flashback sequence from Trunks). And it takes a bit to get rolling again from that point. Goku realizes they'll all need more training if they want to beat Cell, so he gathers up Gohan, Vegeta, and Trunks to take them to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber at the lookout tower. The chamber allows for anybody inside to experience an entire year in only a day... so everyone can get in a year's worth of training in no time at all. Unfortunately, only two can go in at a time, and Vegeta (of course) demands first entrance with Trunks tagging along. So we have an excuse for Goku (and Gohan) to basically sit around doing nothing.

Meanwhile, Cell is still terrorizing the world, and there's not much anyone can do to stop him. There's trying, of course, including a cool fight sequence at an empty airport and on an airplane (as I've said before, it's always refreshing to see fighting in places other than large expanses of nothing).

Piccolo eventually fights with some Androids while Cell finally catches up to them. Piccolo is thus forced to fight alongside the Androids. I particularly like this bit because it's like a merging of two completely separate yet parallel storylines for the first time. Though the fighting does return to the 'large expanses of nothing' at this point. I can't comment much on this, as I watched it during some pretty rough personal-life issues that were going on, so my head wasn't fully in the show. However, I can say that if you've enjoyed the action of the show thus far, there's nothing to disappoint here.

Two things that never disappoints no matter what, though? First, any time the show likes to experiment with its animation style. Every now and then, the animation will do something totally different than it usually does (usually in action scenes), and it looks really awesome. I can't really explain it, but you'll recognize what I mean if you've watched the show. Second, any time Vegeta fights... his music is awesome. There's just something about any of Vegeta's music that I love. And once he starts fighting here, he gets some new music (along with the classic stuff) that's really fun to listen to.

One thing that's getting a bit on the annoying side, though, is scene changing from episode to episode. It's happened in the past from time to time, but now it's nearly every episode. What I mean is that an episode will end one way, but then the next episode begins with the ending of the previous episode... and it changes it almost completely. The dialogue is different, and even reactions to things are different. I complained about this once before at the end of Season 3 with Vegeta starting crap and then flying away at the end of one episode, but then being perfectly fine and with the others the next. One particularly jarring (and recent) case I can give an example for would be after Gohan and Goku enter the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. At the end of that episode, Gohan sees the expanse of nothingness and gets excited, and Goku plays along. But at the beginning of the next episode, everything is super serious and Goku tells Gohan to go check out the nothingness for the first time (which didn't happen before... Gohan called Goku over before). And this time when Gohan sees it, he freaks out. In other words, I wish it would just go one direction and stick with it, instead of continually doing things twice and with opposite actions.

But to counter that, you have incredibly awesome things like Ascended Trunks (well, at least he's awesome in looks). Though Trunks, while cool, comes with his annoyances. For instance, almost any time he talks, he has to reference what happened in the future. We get it. The Androids destroyed it. You're vengeful. You don't have to tell the story over and over and over again. But then there's the Hyperbolic Time Chamber training with Goku and Gohan, which is always fun.

On a more physical level (I suppose), the DVDs themselves do something... strange. About halfway into the season, the discs go from having about 6 episodes per disc to 3. And that's a total waste. The reason they did this is so they could give the Cell Games (probably the best thing in DBZ) it's own season... at least, that's what I'm assuming. We'll see when I watch Season 6, which starts with the Cell Games stuff.

Overall, despite its faults, I'd say this is the best season yet, probably only to be overtaken by next season, because the Cell Games (from what I remember) are awesome. Unfortunately, the Dragonball universe is like one super-long story, so you can't just pick up here and expect to understand everything. Basically every season requires that you have the knowledge of at least the season before it. And many things in DBZ recommend knowledge of the original series, Dragonball. Though at least with that, there are plenty of flashbacks and explanations so that if you don't have pre-existing knowledge of the original show, it fills in the blanks for you. So what I'm getting at is, although this is a really good season, you really can't start here and expect to understand the characters or what is going on (at least to the capacity that you should).

So I guess I'll leave it at that. Until the next season!

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