Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure is the third film released for the Dragon Ball franchise. The film was directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi, and was released to Japanese theaters on July 9, 1988. The film has had a few North American home video releases. As of this writing, the film is currently only available on DVD as part of four disc Dragon Ball movie release.
Just like the previous two Dragon Ball films, Mystical Adventure needs to be seen as an "alternate timeline" story for the Dragon Ball universe. At the beginning of the film, Goku and Kuririn are training under Master Roshi to prepare for the World Martial Arts Tournament that is being held in the country of Mifan. In this film, Chaotzu is recast as the young emperor of Mifan, and he is trying to find his lost "Ran Ran." "Minister" Master Shen, who was originally Tien and Chaotzu's teacher in the original anime series, has Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu build him a Dragon Radar to locate the Dragon Balls. With the help of Shen's brother, the mercenary Tao Pai Pai, they take the Dragon Radar for themselves. The brothers claim they will use the Dragon Balls to ask Shen Long to find the young emperor's lost "Ran Ran." General Blue rushes in and claims that "Ran Ran" is being held in Shen's room, and Blue is killed by Tao Pai Pai.
Meanwhile, in the area of Karin, Bora and his son Upa have located the final Dragon Ball. They take the ball with them to Mifan in the hopes they can use it to demand that Mifan's soldiers leave the land near Karin Tower. Bora is tricked into entering the Tournament, with the prize being that one wish will be granted by the emperor. Bulma, Oolong, Launch, and Pur-eh are trying to locate the other six Dragon Balls. What will happen at the tournament? Will good prevail over evil?
When I was watching Mystical Adventure, I was glad that I already had previous familiarity with the Dragon Ball property through watching the original anime series. If I hadn't, I would have become confused at several points in the film. Not only did this film make some major changes to some of the characters (most noticeably to Chaotzu, Tien, Shen, and Tao Pai Pai), but it took several elements from the Red Ribbon Army storyline and tried to weave them into this retelling of the second Tenkaichi Tournament from the original Dragon Ball anime series. When watching the Dragon Ball films, you have to look at it in such a way that the Dragon Ball anime series follows one continuity, while the Dragon Ball films follow a completely different continuity.
I saw this film on the DVD that is included as part of the Dragon Ball 4-Movie DVD box set. When this disc was included in the set, FUNimation didn't bother to put on any extras at all; they didn't even bother putting any trailers on the disc, either. In addition, this set was supposed to be remastered; however, I thought the video looked rather grainy, and that the audio sounded rather muffled.
Personally, I can only recommend this film for the die-hard Dragon Ball fans that must own everything on DVD, especially since this film is only available as part of a box set.
I wrote this review after giving a copy of the Dragon Ball 4-Movie DVD Box Set as a gift to my husband.