I have already made a review about DBZ where I mention everything I liked and not, so this review is only going to focus on the differences between those shows.
ART SECTION: DBZ: 7/10, DBKai: 7/10 (same as before)
I was really disappointed when I saw the so-called new version of the show. The hype was about Kai being with super new awesome visuals and yet it was the same old stuff with better resolution. So ok, they also fixed some colors; big deal. It is the same old animation from the 90’s with its occasionally lazy drawings and cheesy visual effects. I mean, just look at the new intro. This is how good it COULD have been but all we were offered is the exact same picnic basket but with a ribbon. I refuse to consider the animation better than the original and I don’t care if it looks better on home cinema or if the colors are brighter. I never had home cinema and even if I had I wouldn’t be watching such a show on it. I care more about the artwork than the brightness and to its core it is still the same thing.
SOUND SECTION: DBZ: 7/10, DBKai: 8/10 (more variety)
The sound part is slightly better in overall for the simple reason there is more variety in the BGM. I can’t say if the new songs or the new dub were better; I personally had no problem with the originals. Too bad that eventually took out all the new songs and sold Kai with the old soundtrack. There was a scandal around plagiarism and the copyrights demanded for the official releaces to be even more like the olded version. So kids, go pirate the damn thing.
STORY SECTION: DBZ: 5/10, DBKai: 4/10 (less than before and not better enjoyed)
This is the part that gets most of the attention from me. As we all know, Kai was supposed to be a “better” version because it wouldn’t have filler scenes in it. In theory that is indeed positive but in practice it ain’t. You see, there are good fillers and there are bad fillers and Kai took out both, thus it is not really more enjoyable. I mean if you take out 30 nice scenes along with 30 bad ones, it is still the same thing and it just takes less time to happen.
Some say just because it takes less time automatically means it’s better but I disagree. Some things take time to work and to be completely honest with you, the stretched battles and the constant pausing was what was making the original show so exciting. Your frustration was so high that when the outcome came along after so many episodes, you were finally feeling like it all mattered. Oh sure, that feeling only worked the first time and during the rerun of the show the slow pace would actually work against you because you already knew the outcome. I too was using the fast forward button to get over the boring parts. That doesn’t mean the dragging didn’t have its purpose the FIRST time.
The thing that is in effect the MOST disappointing is none other than the actual cover per cent of the story. In the beginning they claimed that Kai would cover the entire show in just a 100 episodes. And guess what, it lasted 97 and left out the last fourth of the story, which is the entire Buu saga. I don’t care if some claim the Buu saga is bad and that the original should have stopped at Cell and thus Kai is better. Going by this logic, I say the show would be better if it ended in Namek. And it’s not like the manga ends in Cell and Buu is something extra in the anime version only. It is part of the original story as well. Kai was supposed to cover ALL the Z series in a 100 episodes and it didn’t; meaning, they lied to us. Ok, that doesn’t sound like too much of a bad thing but they did prepare us to see the WHOLE story. What are the old fans supposed to do now? Finish Kai and switch back to the old Z? Is that really an answer?
Thus I say the Kai version has LESS story and deserves a lower score. It is that simple.
CHARACTER SECTION: DBZ: 5/10, DBKai: 4/10 (the same but less colorful)
This section would seem like it should get the same score since the characters are the exact same as before. But it’s not true; they are less interesting here. Not because of the new voice over; I don’t care about that at all. It is exactly because they took out all those so-called “useless filler scenes”. Believe it or not, those very boring scenes were the thing that made the characters so likable and colorful. For example, the Kai version took out all the episodes where Gohan trains with Piccolo and Goku runs in the Snake Road. Sure, they were boring and they weren’t in the manga version so why not take them out? Well I’m sorry, in this version Goku crossed the incredibly long road and Gohan turned from a wimp to a warrior in less than an episode. Where is the fun in that? Where is the challenge if the super-long road is crossed in 10 minutes or the poor little kid turns into a macho warrior in 10 minutes? They also took out the Arlia episode where the Saiyans destroy that planet. Where is the lampshade of their cruelty if we don’t see that? See what I mean?
That is the major mistake Kai did. It treated its characters as blunt fighting brutes by taking out those scenes. And I am not saying they are not; I am saying the Z version made them far more humane and likable by exactly adding those scenes. So what if we already have seen the original and probably skip those very scenes in the rerun? They served their purpose, didn’t they?
Thus once more, the characters are dryer in this version and get a lower score.
VALUE SECTION: DBZ: 9/10, DBKai:1/10 (none of its own; it appeals to the old version)
Oh there is value in this show all right. The milking kind. They created a slightly different version and expected from the fans to buy it. It is otherwise dryer and just a rehash of an older famous title. It doesn’t get any value today because it isn’t even a different show or a remake. I am sure it means a lot less to the old fans, since they grew up with the Z version and Kai is just trying to appeal to their Z memories and NOT on its own. As for any new fans who didn’t watch the original and Kai is their first, chances are they won’t like it as much as any current shonen anime because of the visuals. And even if they do like it, they will still have seen only a part of the true joy that is Z. So no value; it is nothing but a crude cashcow.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: DBZ: 5/10, DBKai: 1/10 (watch the original instead)
I would gladly enjoy it if it was a remake, like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, if it was the exact same story but with REALLY remade visuals, or if they had left all the scenes intact and just made them last less time. But this? This is a chicken I liked as a kid, they took it, they plucked it, they painted it red and then gave it back to me. Plus, they chopped off the head because they ran out of red paint before they get to the head. And they dare claim it is the same chicken I liked as a kid… but better???
No it ain’t. It is a beheaded plucked chicken painted red. I liked it when it was … just a chicken.
VERDICT: DBZ: 6.5/10, DBKai: 4/10