The world of Dragon Ball is quite vast, and spans multiple series like Dragon Ball, Dragonball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super, as well as a lot of movies (including one that we never talk about…you know the one I’m talking about). Unfortunately, a large majority of these movies aren’t canon, which means there’s really no point in watching a lot of them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch them if you want to. One of these movies is Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone. Released in 1989, Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone was the very first movie based on the Dragon Ball Z series (but not the first Dragon Ball movie), but is it even worth watching now? Before you read any further, it’s important for you to know that there will be spoilers for Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone ahead, so if you want to skip those spoilers, I would go right to the end of the article.
So, what’s Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone all about, you ask? Well, there’s a Makyan named “Garlic Jr,” the son of an ancient Makyan named “Garlic.” Garlic Jr. wants nothing but to gain immortality and vengeance for his father, so he goes about collecting the dragon balls to summon Shenron and claim his wish. In doing so, he requires the four-star dragon ball that rests atop Gohan’s hat, so Garlic Jr. ends up having his goonies kidnap Gohan, so that he can collect all of the dragon balls. After doing so, he summons Shenron and is successfully granted immortality. Goku, Kami, Piccolo, and Krillin are then forced to intervene and rescue Gohan to save the world from being sucked into a dead zone created by Garlic Jr. In all honesty, I didn’t hate the plot to this movie, but it also wasn’t phenomenal. I feel like the most important part of the movie comes at the end, when Goku, Krillin, Kami, and Piccolo are all about to be sucked into the Dead Zone, and Gohan ends up attacking Garlic Jr.’s hulking monster form, sending him into the same dead zone that he created himself. Ultimately, I feel like this movie was a means to demonstrate just how powerful Gohan is, and will become later on in the show, but that’s about it.
If you waited until after you finished Dragon Ball Z to start watching the Dragon Ball Z movies (like I did), then you’re going to notice that the animation is much different than it was circa the end of Dragon Ball Z. It’s significantly less smooth, there’s a few frame anomalies here and there, and in all honesty, it’s pretty dated. I mean, the movie was released over 30 years ago, so it makes sense why it isn’t up to today’s standards, because the technology that we have now wasn’t anywhere close to being around back then, we’ve only just begun to see some of the best animation of our time in the last few years or so, so in another 30 years, something like Demon Slayer will probably look dated as well. Although Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone is a pretty old movie by now, I do still think that it holds up; it’s nowhere near being poorly animated, especially for 1989. Obviously, it’s not going to be Battle of Gods or Demon Slayer: Mugen Train level of animation, but it’s not bad.
Fights are some of the most important parts about Dragon Ball Z. Without good fights, then you’ve pretty much lost half of your audience. Luckily, there are a lot of fights in Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone, and a lot of them are pretty good too! There’s a couple of quick ones here and there, but ultimately, the fights have a pretty decent length, and are interesting to watch. Plus, there’s a pretty cool – albeit short – fight between Goku and Piccolo too!
Is it Worth Watching
So, the question is now: is Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone worth watching? Well, that depends on how much you like Dragon Ball Z. If you absolutely can’t get enough of the show, then yeah, you should watch it. If you just want to say that you’ve watched it all, then yeah, you should watch it. If you just want to know what’s going on in the Dragon Ball Z canon, then no, you can probably skip out on this one, because nothing in this movie actually happens in the continuity of the show. It’s not bad, but you could definitely skip it and not miss out on anything.