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The Anime Blog features Anime and Manga News and Reviews, Japanese Culture Articles, Japanese Recipes, Lolita Fashion and more.Thu, 16 Dec 2010 14:24:25 +0000Englishhourly1 watch it so you don’t have to: Dragonball Evolution Review, 14 Apr 2009 13:37:49 +0000Narcolepsy

When I think back to the halcyon days of my youth, I can’t help but feel like a complete hypocrite. Despite my present railing and rebelling against everything Dragonball: Evolution represents, I distinctly remember a ten-year-old Narcolepsy agreeing with his friends that a live action Goku adventure would be “totally boss”.

My bad.

Plot Summary

The world of Dragonball: Evolution is not what you’d expect. Fighters compete for world championships and the laws of physics are made to be broken. Leaps become short flights, balls of energy fly about, and futuristic technology gets a strong dose of old eastern mysticism. In the middle of it all is a spiky-haired protagonist with a great destiny.

Super Action Pose Time is Go!

Goku, is a high school outcast that can’t talk to girls or stand up to bullies. Fortunately for him, his grandfather has trained him in the art of kicking butts and collecting names. On his eighteenth birthday, things hit the proverbial fan and Goku is tasked with collecting seven magical dragonballs that are scattered around the planet. If he fails, the diabolical alien Piccolo will resurrect the demon Oozaru and make our pretty blue planet a heap of smoldering space rubble. Along the way he finds help from his friends Bulma, Yamcha, Chi Chi, and the lecherous Master Roshi.


Dragonball: Evolution tries to play it straight and pass itself off as an actual film that people over fifteen will enjoy. Despite good intentions and a few inventive fight scenes, the movie misses the mark in every category.


Character Development Icon Character Development

The hallmark of a bad film is when the characters refuse to change over the course of the picture. Other than the cursory “learning to believe

in themselves” lesson that all of one the characters learn, everyone is the same at the end as they were at the start.

I know the word cookie-cu

tter is thrown around a lot these days, but my thesaurus is in my other critic’s pants, so it will have to do. There is no depth to these characters. None. Whatsoever.

Anime Character Design Icon Character Design

When it comes to the character design, it’s all in the hair. Goku’s hair is a nod to fans of the original, and it leads to a terrible gag involving hair gel. Bulma is without her blue hair, save for a lone streak in her hair. Piccolo looks less like a menacing space demon and more like the great Gazoo. Oozaru looks less like a ten-story gorilla and more like Teen Wolf. You know character design has failed when the audience breaks into chuckles upon first sight of a world-destroying demon. Seriously, somebody owes Michael J. Fox royalties.

Animation Icon Cinematography

Did they leave the special effects and cinematography to the interns? The film opens with unique and engaging camera placement and passable visuals, but devolves to an overblown mess by the second act. The energy balls being thrown about lack the pulsating power of the anime and resemble something a hobbyist would put on Youtube in some shots.

Voice Acting Icon Acting

The acting is decent from Chatwin (Goku) and Yun-Fat(Master Roshi), but Emmy Rossum and Joon Park turn in some of the worst performances of the year. Park ‘s portrayal of Yamcha is over-done, under-thought, and all around terrible. His voice gave me visions of early days of anime dubbing. Rossum’s Bulma is even worse. While not a bad actress, the way she handled the incorrigible Dragonball hunter was more fit for middle of a Fox Saturday morning lineup than the big screen.

To their credit, the actors did not have much to work with. Ben Ramsey took Toriyama’s work and converted it to a clichéd screenplay that lacks substance or motivation. Everything, from the characters to the plot, are just going through the motions. Dragonball wasn’t all about fighting.

Sure, there was a great deal of fisticuffs, but the show had a great sense of humor about itself. Dragonball: Evolution forgoes the charm of the source material and ends up feeling like action scene after action scene being packed in without pacing or reason. The friendly nature of the screenplay is also a huge problem. No matter what is thrown at our heroic crew, the story gets in the way of itself and makes the whole affair easy to figure out. Piccolo’s reasoning for wanting to jump into our bases and kill all of our men is never fleshed out, and the dialogue uses such original lines as, “Get ready to eat dirt!” As charming as some of Roshi’s lines are, the rest of the dialog will induce heavy groans.

To the film’s credit, it never became boring, like many failed action films over the years. Stupid, redundant, and sometimes unbearable? Yes. Boring? No.

Music Icon Music

Brian Tyler has created a competent score to go along with the film. Some sections seemed a tad generic, but it matched the overall sense of what was happening on screen. He wont be winning any awards for his work, but I wouldn’t be upset to see him compose for more movies.


All things considered, Dragonball: Evolution really misses the mark. The original fans of the Dragonball are going to be turned off by the lack of acting, amateurish visuals, and the blatant disregard for the source material. Sure, the kids will like it, but with a vapid plot and lack of any substance or message, do you really want your kids to watch it? I suspect the money this film brings in will not warrant a sequel, which makes the “surprise” in the credits more than unnecessary. Not giving anything away, but don’t leave the theater early.

On second though, maybe you should.

Rating Icon Rating

The Anime Blog Whole RatingThe Anime Blog Whole RatingThe Anime Blog Zero RatingThe Anime Blog Zero RatingThe Anime Blog Zero Rating

Dragonball: Evolution gets 2 outta 5 Hammies!

Film Info

  • Director:James Wong
  • Author: Ben Ramsey
  • Distributor:20th Century Fox
  • Number of discs:
  • Running Time: 84 Minutes
  • Rating: Rated PG for intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language.

Death NoteDEATH NOTE AND DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME Based On Popular Anime And Manga Series That Have Taken Japan And North America By Storm

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced that it has licensed from Nippon Television (NTV) the North American theatrical and DVD distribution rights to the live-action feature film DEATH NOTE and its sequel, DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME, based on the DEATH NOTE anime and manga series which have gained massive followings in Japan and North America. VIZ Media is the exclusive North American publisher and distributor of the DEATH NOTE anime and manga series.

VIZ Pictures will open DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME in a series of special screenings at Austin’s Fantastic Fest 2007, September 20-27, and at the 2007 Vancouver Asian Film Festival, November 1-4. Theater information follows at the end of this release and future screenings will continue throughout 2008. VIZ Pictures also plans to release DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME on DVD in the summer of 2008.

“We are extremely proud to announce the license of DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME,” says Seiji Horibuchi President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “Both films were smash hits in Japan upon their initial release and the established popularity of the manga in the United States, combined with the highly anticipated debut of the anime series, will prime audiences for the excitement and tension that the live feature films bring to the story.”

Death NoteDEATH NOTE is based on the hit supernatural action mystery manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The live-action film, directed by Shusuke Kaneko, known as a director of popular monster film “Gamera” series, was released in 2006 and mirrors the manga’s story of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue
Shinigami death god named Ryuk. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Both Light and L believe themselves to be on the side of justice, and the two match wits trying to show exactly which of them is “good” and which of them is “evil.”

The film’s sequel, DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME, was a hit in Japan, staying #1 for four straight weeks. While it closely followed major plot elements from the original manga series, several new key story differences were also introduced. Both films star Takeshi Kaga, who is widely known by North American audiences as the flamboyant host of TV’s Iron Chef.

Sept. 20-27: Austin, TX, Fantastic Fest 2007
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
1120 South Lamar, Austin, TX
For show times and tickets, go to

*DEATH NOTE will screen at:
Nov. 1-4: Vancouver, BC, Vancouver Asian Film Festival
For show times and tickets, go to
*Note this will only be a screening of DEATH NOTE

About VIZ Pictures, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Pictures, Inc. distributes Japanese live-action films and DVDs, with particular focus on Japanese “kawaii (cute) and cool” pop culture. VIZ Pictures approaches each film release from a J-pop fan’s point of view. HULA GIRLS is the fifth VIZ Pictures title following TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO, LINDA LINDA LINDA, THE TASTE OF TEA, and PING PONG. The company will continue to offer the most entertaining live action motion pictures straight from the “Kingdom of Pop” for audiences of all ages in North America. VIZ Pictures, Inc. is an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC, the San Francisco-based leading U.S. publisher of Japanese manga (comics) and merchandise licensor of Japanese animation such as the popular “NARUTO” animated TV series.
© 2006 VIZ Pictures, Inc

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including, magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs, audio soundtracks and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at