Anime review: Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest

Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest is a classic representation of a 1990s action flick. It's packed with fight scenes the mount the intensity, and the whole reason the Z-fighters rally to the cause of combating the scientific creations of one mad Dr. Wheelo is because they need to save some of their own. The film begins with the simple premise of Oolong and young Gohan looking to gather the Dragon Balls for themselves, but they end up witnessing an elderly scientist named Dr. Kochin asking Shenron to free Dr. Wheelo from his icy prison beneath a mountain range. Knowing that Gohan wasn't supposed to go on any adventures, he and Oolong make a promise not to tell anyone what they saw so that they won't get in trouble. But word of their trip gets out once the two fear for Piccolo's safety (following his disappearance) as well as that of Bulma and Master Roshi (having been kidnapped by Dr. Kochin).

The film focuses on this small group of characters, along with Krillin and Goku, and the story is more directed because of it. Granted, Bulma fits the bill of a typical damsel in distress, having no real use to the doctors other than bait to get the world's strongest warrior to comply with their demands. For Dr. Wheelo no longer has a body, and he wishes to transplant his brain into that of the world's greatest fighter. Unfortunately for him, the data he and Dr. Kochin collected is out-of-date and lists Master Roshi as the strongest fighter on Earth, when in fact everyone else knows that Goku has long-since surpassed him.

Dr. Wheelo sees this as an opportunity to draw out Goku's potential so he can assess the hero's capabilities. He pits Goku against three products of his own scientific genius, uses a mind-control device on Piccolo, and even reveals himself to be housed inside a giant mechanical body which he believes sufficient to pacify Goku long enough to begin the procedure. Because this film is set early in the DBZ timeline, Goku has not yet tapped into his Super Sayin abilities, and the fights are more dynamic as a result. However, there is plenty of time spent on little more than screaming and monologuing.

The World's Strongest is a decent entry into the Dragon Ball Z film series. It's certainly not the best the series has to offer, but it isn't the worst either. The 'mad scientist' routine is underwhelming, but the decision to focus on a small group of characters from the series' larger cast makes it a practical side story.

My rating: 7 (out of 10)

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