A retelling of Dragon Ball’s origins, this is a different version of the meeting of Goku, Bulma, Oolong, and Yamucha. They are all looking for the dragon balls for different reasons when they cross paths with an evil king named Gourmeth, who is also looking for the dragon balls.
So what is the first movie about might you ask? Well this is a retelling of the first thirteen episodes of Dragon Ball. Think something along the lines of the compilation movies from the Gundam franchise. While some aspects of the original thirteen episodes have been retained, a lot what happens during those episodes has either been reworked and streamlined or removed completely. The aspects that were removed did not progress the story and their inclusion in the movie would have been pointless. Not all of the aspects of the streamlining work correctly such as Oolong’s introduction, but considering that this is a fifty-minute movie (less if you do not count the OP and ED) this can be expected. Also considering that, this is a 50-minute movie the movie as a whole feels too short. It feels like another fifteen to twenty minutes should have been added to the movie to flesh things out better and give some character development.
Art and Animation:
Art wise this is similar to the TV series, so if you have seen any of the first series you will know what this will look like. The few action scenes that do occur in the movie are animated similarly to the TV series and are still fun to watch. For those who have not seen the TV series the art is dated by today’s standards, however it is still watchable even if it is not the prettiest looking show around.
Music and Audio
The OP is the same for the TV series. There is both the English version and the Japanese version of the OP. While the Japanese version is hard to understand since the Japanese audio is in mono, it is the better choice between the two. The English version is poorly sung, but since it is 5.1-surround sound you can hear what it being sung and said compared to the Japanese version. The ED is J-popish and like the OP has an English version and a Japanese version. Like the English OP the English ED is badly sung. The Japanese while still hard to understand due to it sounded like it was recorded in a trash can is better sung then the English version. The music is similar to the show so it fits the series but it does sound dated by today’s standards.
The Japanese audio track uses the same Seiyū as the TV series for the cast who appear in the TV series. Even with the audio track in mono, which makes the audio sound bad by today’s standards, it is clearly the better choice between the English and Japanese audio tracks.
Funimation produced a new English dub for this movie. Considering that the Funimation dub for Dragon Ball is not that great overall one can expect a similar quality at least in terms of acting. In some aspects that is true and others it is a bit worse. There are a few returning VA’s from the TV dub such as Chris Sabat who gives Yamcha his voice, and Shen Long the eternal dragon. The returning VA’s do a good job with their roles in the movie. A majority of roles have been replaced with different VA’s and the overall effect of this is negative. Colleen Clinkenbeard does the voice of Goku for this movie her performance is not that good. That is not to say that Stephanie Nadolny did a great job either, but Stephanie was the better Goku. The only real standout performance with the new cast is Monica Rial who also provides Bulma’s voice in Dragon Ball Z Kai. Her take on Bulma is different from Tiffany Vollmer’s take on it, but the change does work.
For those who are interested in getting into the Dragon Ball series or those who are fans of the franchise should give the movie a watch at least once in the life. Even if it is short and has a weak English dub.
Pros: A nicer and shorter way to be introduced to the main cast, animation wise is the same as the TV series.
Cons: Weak English Dub, feels too short and rushed.