Released in 1992 and ‘93 respectively, the latest in FUNimation’s Dragon Ball Z movie remasters brings together Super Android 13 and Bojack Unbound – a title harder to take seriously since a certain Netflix series. Although both movies, clocking in at under 50 minutes each, have been digitally restored with all the blood intact, its poppy colours, stylised fights and iconic animation can’t help but evoke your childhood. It’s this same nostalgia that left me watching both in the English dub, although I appreciated having the option of the original Japanese, or the English language track with Japanese music.
Super Android 13 looks every one of its 25 years, restoration notwithstanding, but there’s a certain kind of magic in the big shapes and scruffy line art that made the series so special. This sixth movie in the franchise follows in the wake of Android Saga, with Dr. Gero – Geppetto to the androids’ Pinocchio – getting decapitated by Android 17. No longer necessary, the good doctor’s consciousness has been placed into a machine which can churn out more androids, with 14 and 15 sent out hellbent on the death of a certain Saiyan.
All the while Goku and Gohan are living a domestic daydream shopping with Chi-Chi, as Krillin, Trunks, Master Roshi and Oolong wait in line for a beauty pageant like the perverts they are. This bliss is quickly deflated once the android duo arrives turning West City into a warzone. To save the crumbling infrastructure, Goku takes the battle to a barren arctic zone, where the reflections and underwater scenes make for a compelling arena. Here, 13 joins the fight and the gloves come off.
With liberal use of that one punching animation, and the usual beat downs, the fight follows the typical structure one would expect of Dragon Ball, albeit on a much quicker timeframe, and with enough testosterone to make JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure blush. Things go up a gear when Vegeta, determined to protect Goku so he can have him for himself, and then Piccolo turn up. But it’s Goku who gets to shine here, conjuring a spirit bomb in a fraction of the time it took in the Frieza Saga. Now that’s what I call character development.
Bojack Unbound is set later in the timeline with a dead Goku peering down from King Kai’s digs after that nasty business with Cell. This entry is far more combat focused, beginning with the world’s first intergalactic martial arts championship. 200 fighters compete for a chance to take down the reigning champ and closet coward, Mr Satan. Three guesses who makes it through to the last round of this freestyle battle royal: Future Trunks, Krillin, Gohan and some red shirt sumo wrestler. They’re supposed to go up against fake aliens, but a bunch of real intergalactic nasties take their place led by Bojack himself.
If the previous film was a chance for Goku to show off, then this one is all about Gohan, whose skills here surpass even his dad’s when we first meet him. Although Goku does break the rules and give the baddies a bash in the chops, the day is saved by the Saiyan’s heir. The science behind going Super Saiyan may have been revealed, but it doesn’t make watching them transform any less impressive, and you always know some spectacle is in store.
Like the previous instalment, the main villain suffers from being underdeveloped and, frankly, forgettable. It’s to be expected, with only three quarters of an hour to develop compared to the protracted arcs that are Dragon Ball’s stock and trade. Structurally, Bojack Unbound is a better entry, though the fighting is more satisfying in 13 and that’s the real reason we’re watching, right? In any case, this duo will certainly satisfy the seasoned fan, and tide you over between new episodes of Super.
English dub with choice of Japanese music