Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks / Bardock the Father of Goku is a two-disc DVD set with these two Dragon Ball Z television specials included in it. This release is in a "steelbook" packaging, and the best way to describe it is that it's a DVD box that feels a lot like tin.
The History of Trunks first aired on Japanese television on February 24, 1993, and the special is based on an extra chapter in the Dragon Ball manga series. This tells the story of the alternate future that Trunks come from in the main Dragon Ball Z series, which we see some of in Trunks' flashbacks. In this alternate future, Goku has died from a viral heart disease, and the Dragon Balls have become useless due to Piccolo being killed by Androids #17 and #18. Many of the other Z-Fighters are also killed in battles with the Super Androids. Gohan, the only Z-Fighter still alive, is joined by a teenage Trunks in trying to stop the Super Androids.
Bardock the Father of Goku first aired on Japanese television on October 17, 1990. This special tells about a low-level Saiyan warrior named Bardock, whose son Kakarrot (who we know as Goku) has just been born. Kakarrot has been deemed a worthless warrior, and will be sent to Earth. Bardock, meanwhile, is with his comrades on a mission on the Planet Kanassa. After seeming to destroy all the lifeforms on the planet, they are attacked by a Kanassan warrior. This warrior uses an attack to give Bardock the ability to see the future of his home planet and of the Saiyan race. Can Bardock figure out what will happen before its too late?
On the packaging for this release, it prominently displays that it is "digitally remastered." While the picture quality looked decent, I have to complain about the audio. Admittedly, I was watching with the Japanese language track and English subtitles, so this may explain it; while the English audio is in Dolby Surround or Stereo, the Japanese audio is in mono.
My other complaint with this release has to do with the aspect ratio used. The specials were released in this set at a 16:9 aspect ratio, but they were originally produced and shown at a 4:3 aspect ratio. This change in aspect ratio was very obvious when I saw shots that were cut off and cropped strangely; these issues with the visuals did affect my overall enjoyment of both of these specials.
As for the specials themselves, they were interesting to watch in order to get more background on some of the characters. While I pretty much knew what would happen in The History of Trunks from watching the Dragon Ball Z series, I though the special helped to fill in some of the information that we didn't see in Trunks' flashbacks.
As for Bardock the Father of Goku, some of this special was included at the beginning of the first episode of the Dragon Ball Z Kai anime series. However, there was obviously a quite a bit that wasn't included; there's some scenes of a young Vegeta that I had never seen before, as well as some of Bardock's story. At the time this special was originally released in Japan, it definitely would have answered some questions and would have given some backstory for some of the information that came out very early in the Dragon Ball Z anime series.
When it comes to special features, all that is included on both discs are trailers. On The History of Trunks disc, there are trailers for Fullmetal Alchemist, Glass Fleet, Origin, and Ragnarok. On the Bardock the Father of Goku disc, there are trailers for One Piece, The Slayers, Dragon Ball Z, and the Z-Store.
If you're a fan of the Dragon Ball franchise and want to own everything on DVD, this would be a good release to add to your collection. As of this writing, these specials have been released as part of this "steelbook" double feature, on individual discs, as well as in a Blu-ray double feature release. However, as far as I am aware, all of these releases have these specials at the 16:9 aspect ratio. Hopefully at some point in the future, FUNimation will release these specials again, but this time, releasing them in their original 4:3 aspect ratio.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD set that my husband purchased for me as a gift.