I recently found out that Funimation is starting yet another DBZ rerelease this November. Fans of the series shouldn’t find this particularly surprising because Funi does this every couple of years. That doesn’t stop me from being pissed off, though. If there’s one thing the guys at Funimation know how to do, it’s make money. I have many friends who fell for buying the 3-4 episode releases way back when. They’re playing the game more fairly now, giving you upwards of 20 episodes for the price you used to pay for just three, but that doesn’t change the fact that they keep steadily releasing better or more attractive versions of DBZ.
Since obtaining the DBZ license for distribution in North America, Funimation has released episodes of DBZ in at least this many different ways:
- Standalone VHS tapes with 3-4 episodes each.
- 3-4 episode tapes boxed together by saga.
- Standalone DVDs with 3-4 episodes starting with Namek.
- 3-4 episode DVDs boxed together by saga.
- “Ultimate uncut” standalone DVDs of episodes Funi never dubbed before. Collectors of these should be really pissed because production was stopped halfway through in favor of new season sets.
- Nine “season” box sets with as many as 40 episodes each.
- Seven “Dragon Boxes” with over 40 episodes each.
- DBZ Kai released in eight box sets with around 11 episodes each.
- DBZ “level” sets on BRD.
A friend of mine actually owns most of these, which just goes to prove that hardcore fans will buy them. I personally only own the “remastered” box sets because I was smart enough to realize they’d be released someday. Funimation, obviously, has to change something from release to release for fans to have an incentive to buy them. I think they’re intentionally not putting as much into these as they could so people buy the new version.
Take the remastered sets I have for example. For one, they’re remastered. By this they mean, they’ve re-dubbed some dialog, cleaned up the picture, converted it to HD, and cropped it to be in widescreen. The cropping obviously pissed a lot of people off. What pissed me off more was not having the original intro and outro that aired with the show when I used to watch it on Toonami. The Dragon Boxes I suppose please the true diehards, as they’re the original Japanese broadcast episodes in the original 4:3 aspect. The Funi dub with Japanese music is included here, but isn’t the default. Then there’s Kai, a failure in it’s own right because it doesn’t even properly end the series. As a fan of the US broadcast, Kai does not interest me.
What does interest me, however, are these new “level” sets Funimation is putting out. This time, the original US broadcast in an uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio remastered (again) in HD. This, apparently, was a much more thorough remastering than the last time. I must admit, it looks damn great if that trailer is anything to go by. They even stuck in some bonus features this time. I’d jump on this immediately, but there’s one thing that’s holding me back. When this set releases November 8th, it’ll go for $30. It only has 17 episodes. Comparatively, the first remastered box release on DVD was about the same price and contained 39 episodes. That set can now be had for $20 or less. And it concerns me that the next box, 1.2, is releasing only a month later at the same price with another 16 episodes. At the very least, these two should be combined into one set which would make it more appealing at the $30 price range. Judging from the box, it looks as though there will be 18 of these released. Holy fuck! They expect me to pay $540 to buy the whole series again? Oh, I’m sure some people will do it, but I won’t. I’ll be waiting for these to go on sale, drop permanently in price, or (inevitably) be re-released in less sets. In fact, I’d bet money that Funimation will combine the .1 and .2 boxes together into just nine sets after these all release.
I won’t lie, I do want them. The Toonami-esque trailer they threw together makes this release seem even more appealing. But I must not give in. I must wait it out like I did before. But then the question arises: what do I do with my old sets once I get these? And who’s going to buy those sets then?