Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies is the first film released for the Dragon Ball franchise. The film was directed by Daisuke Nishio, and was released to Japanese theaters on December 20, 1986. The film had several different releases in the United States. The most recent is FUNimation's DVD release of the film on December 28, 2010.
Curse of the Blood Rubies has to basically be looked at as an "alternate timelime" story for the Dragon Ball universe. This 50-minute film modifies the initial story arc from the original television series, and replaces Emperor Pilaf with a character named King Gurumes to serve as the antagonist for the piece. King Gurumes is the king of the Gurumes Kingdom, who became greedy for the Blood Rubies buried in his kingdom, and became a gluttonous monster. In addition to the Blood Rubies, King Gurumes is also wanting to obtain all seven Dragon Balls, so he can satiate his gluttony with the best-tasting food in the world.
In this film, Goku meets Bulma, Oolong, Yamucha, Pur-Eh, Master Roshi, and a new character named Pansy (who is from the Gurumes Kingdom). How Goku meets Bulma in the film is rather similar to the original series. As for the other characters, their introductions are noticeably different. Overall, I thought that the characters of Bulma, Yamucha, and Master Roshi really lose their importance in this re-telling. In the series, Bulma is portrayed as a very gifted inventor and invented the Dragon Radar. However, in this film, King Gurumes' henchmen already have their own Dragon Radar, which means that Bulma's isn't as major of a deal. Bulma's roles in this film are ultimately to provide Goku the initial information on the Dragon Balls, to serve as a chauffeur, and be a foil for Yamucha. Yamucha's character is also diminished quite a bit in this film, and it's hard to find it believable that he follows the other characters to King Gurumes' castle for the climax. Master Roshi's role in this film is almost non-existent. The main purpose for the group to go see him is for Goku to see Roshi perform the Kamehameha and learn it. Outside of that, Roshi really doesn't do anything that's terribly important.
When it comes to the story of the film, I thought the pacing of the film felt a little choppy. In addition, there are times when you question what is going on; the best example of this is when Goku sees Bulma's Dragon Ball and thinks it's his, but Bulma corrects him by saying that his ball has four stars instead of two. I question this, because in the film, Bulma has just met Goku, and has never seen his Dragon Ball before. How would she know what his looks like? In addition, King Gurumes and the whole Blood Ruby storyline doesn't seem to be very well developed, even though the Blood Rubies are in the title of the film.
When I watched this DVD, I saw the film with the Japanese audio and English subtitles. The audio for the Japanese was not mastered very well. When it comes to the picture quality, the opening credits looked incredibly grainy. Outside of that, though, the video looked somewhat decent. As for extras, all that is included are trailers. The trailers included on this disc are for: Fullmetal Alchemist, One Piece, Kaleido Star, Ragnarok, Spice and Wolf, Tsubasa, Black Butler, and Dragon Ball.
Overall, I would much rather watch the initial story arc from the original Dragon Ball anime series. Personally, I can only truly recommend this release for the die-hard Dragon Ball fans that must own everything on DVD. If you're a more casual fan, then I would suggest only picking this up if you really like the film. If you do purchase this film, be sure to look around for it at a relatively cheap price. When my husband purchased it, he found it for $10. Honestly, I would say that somewhere between $10 and $15 is a reasonable price for this release. I would consider anything more than $15 to be a rip-off.
I wrote this review after receiving a copy of this DVD as a gift from my husband.