Dragonball Z: Lord Slug is the fourth feature length movie in the popular Dragonball Z series. This movie, released in Japan as Super Saiyan Son Goku, marks Funimation’s first entry into handling the full release of movies 4 – 6. (The previous 3 films were released for Funimation by Pioneer.) The majority of Dragonball Z fans consider this movie to be the weakest of the DBZ movies, which only served to enhance the anxiety held about the dub. Most fans cringe at the idea of a dub, more so when Funimation is involved, considering their previous handlings of the DBZ line.
Right from the opening credits, a small shiver could be felt. Funimation leaves the actual images and the original opening credits intact. What is not left intact is any of the original music. With Lord Slug, they've included a more 'rocked out' version of the opening theme that had accompanied previous dubbed releases. This leads to a very jarring, distracting very far from the credits. And it only gets worse.
Following the success of The History of Trunks, Funimation provides a hard rock soundtrack to emphasize the action of Lord Slug. Music is a powerful tool: It can be used to emphasize action and arouse emotions from the audience. All this soundtrack manages to do is distract the viewer from the horrible English dialogue. The music surges and is loud in all the wrong places, often obscuring important plot line dialogue. The music also implies a very dark tone, but refuses to mix with the imagery, which is often very light.
The music itself could work, if the movie and its dialogue were of a more serious nature. Once again, the fans are forced to ask what in the world the scriptwriters were thinking. First off, they don’t seem to like silence that the Japanese scriptwriter obviously left in. The opening sequence with Piccolo and the waterfall is a very peaceful and serene moment, and comes across well enough without Piccolo sharing these feelings in an inner monologue. Useless dialogue is added as well that actually confuses the plot, and a key weakness of the enemy Lord Slug. Jokes that already fell flat in the Japanese dialogue were modified or even played up into even worse jokes. It really comes down to the scriptwriters apparently thinking the audience is a bunch of children that need every little bit of the movie explained to them. What you end up with is a bunch of random lines, which meander in and out of the original Japanese dialogue with no real destination. Mix this with the inappropriate soundtrack and you end up with a dub track that is actually painful to listen to.
So, why bother with this release? There is really only one reason: it contains the original Japanese soundtrack and dialogue with a fairly good set of sub-titles. The Japanese actors do the job right. The characters sound believable and the acting matches the actions on the screen. The music is the original set of music direct from the TV series and doesn’t overpower the action onscreen. The subtitles are accurate, with only a few wording changes to match some English phrases. After watching the Japanese version and the English version, the viewer really would have the impression that she just watched two different movies.
Overall art and character design is another good reason to purchase this movie. Being a movie, the animation is a step above that seen in the TV series at the same time as this was released. Characters designs are pretty much what the viewer is used to seeing in the DBZ world, but looks crisp and clean. Again, the medium of the DVD makes the colors and picture stand out clear. The transfer from the masters to the DVD was done quite well. Some flecks and scratches appear, but are not distracting overall.
Like the majority of the DBZ movies, this story isn’t actually a part of the natural storyline of the TV series. In terms of a timeline, the story takes place around the time of the Namek Saga. It does follow the standard monster of the week formula and the outcome of the movie is pretty obvious from the start. The story, while formulaic, is still good in its own right. The various interactions between the main characters are what the viewer expects and remains entertaining.
Extras are the typical Funimation fare, like previews of other Sagas in the DBZ series. The menus are rather clunky with slow animation between each, but are clearly marked. It is also easy to access the different languages thanks to a one-click choice. This makes it easy to switch between the Japanese and English versions. Be warned though: because of the chapter setup, it is important to use the menus to switch between the versions instead of a DVD players remote. Switching between them with the remote could lead to getting the dub instead of the subtitles.
Ignoring the horrible dub provided by Funimation, the movie remains pretty decent. For fans of the show, the DVD is worth getting thanks to the addition of the original Japanese dialogue. The story isn’t all that thought-provoking, but does a good job of entertaining.