films seen
average score
Japan - 65 years old
Alive and kicking
more info

Not the most familiar name, but his work on the Dragon Ball (Z) franchise can't be underestimated. I prefer the films and shorts he did on the side, but if you care about anime, it's a director whose oeuvre you simply cannot ignore.


3x3 Eyes

Sazan Aizu
1991 / 110m - Japan
Fantasy, Horror - Animation
3x3 Eyes poster

I used to own this series on VHS, needless to say it's been a while since I last watched it. 3x3 Eyes remains a fun blend of fantasy and horror elements, but it's clear that the animation has lost a lot of its shine. The level of detail is disappointing and the animation itself is extremely low-budget. But whenever demons are allowed to go bonkers it's still a lot of fun.

Dragon Ball: Sleeping Beauty in Devil Castle

Doragon Bôru: Majinjô no Nemuri Hime
1987 / 45m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
Dragon Ball: Sleeping Beauty in Devil Castle poster

The second of the Dragon Ball films pretty much delivered what I expected from it. It has that cute retro 80s anime charm, making it a rather simplistic but entertaining mid-length feature. My expectations were pretty limited when I started my recent Dragon Ball journey, but these older films at least turn out to be pretty light and fun.

Read all

Goku and Krillin want Roshi as their sensei, but before he accepts them as apprentices, he has a little mission they need to complete. They are to retrieve the Sleeping Princess and bring her to Roshi. The princess is locked up in a rather perilous castle, and the two will have to learn to work together if they want to get out of there alive.

The art style is basic (but recognizable), and the animation is above-average. There's plenty of comedy and action to keep you distracted from the rudimentary plot, and with only 45 minutes to wrap everything up, you can be sure the pacing is nothing but slick. It's far from an absolute classic, but more than capable filler.

Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies

Doragon Bôru: Shenron no Densetsu
1986 / 50m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies poster

I'm not a very big Dragon Ball fan. Not that I've watched or read a lot, it's just that it never really appealed to me, and what I've seen never pushed me enough to dig deeper. It is one of anime's biggest franchises ever though, so I figured I might as well watch the films. They are pretty short too, so there's that at least. Turns out this first one was actually pretty amusing.

Read all

The plot isn't anything special. Apparently, it's an alternative retelling of the series, but being blissfully unaware of how everything is supposed to fit together, I can't really comment on that. What you get is several remarkable characters chasing the 7 dragon balls, as collecting them all will grant them a wish. There's nothing more to it I'm afraid.

The nice thing about this first film is that it still has that cute 80s comedy art style. The animation is actually quite good too. The action and comedy are pretty generic, but the short runtime, the slick pacing, and the quirky characters make up for that. Hardly the most notable anime I've ever seen, but not the crap I was expecting (mostly based on my experience with DBZ I guess). Onto the next!

Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler

Doragon Boru Z: Gekitotsu!! 100-oku Power no Senshi-tachi
1992 / 46m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler poster

The title says it all. If you're just watching the films and neglecting the series, things move pretty fast though. From picnics and Earthly abductions to space travel and planetary destruction in just 10 films is quite the leap. At least Nishio returned for this installment, which improves things ever so slightly.

Read all

No time for goofy fun or lengthy introductions this time around. Cooler is returning (as a robot) and targets the people of New Namek. Son Goku and his gang travel to this distant planet to prevent Cooler from doing any harm. What follows is a lengthy battle that takes up most of the film's runtime.

The animation quality is a step up again from earlier films, which makes the action scenes a tad more attractive. That's pretty nice, as that's about all there is. The fight itself isn't all that interesting though, as the powers are random and the outcome is predetermined. It's not the worst, but it's still lacking the charm of the original Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest

Doragon Boru Z: Konoyo de Ichiban Tsuyoi Yatsu
1990 / 59m - Japan
Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest poster

Slightly better than the first Dragon Ball Z film, but not by a lot. I can't quite get a feel for the mood they're gunning for here. On the one hand, there's still a lot of goofiness, on the other, it's a lot more serious than its non-Z predecessor. I'm okay with the silly bits, but not so much with the parts that are supposed to be flashy and cool, which present the majority of the film.

Read all

The plot is as simple as can be. Two genius scientists gather the 7 Dragon Balls and wish to face the strongest man on Earth. One of the scientists wants to put his brain inside this vessel to become the most feared person on the planet. Roshi and Son Goku turn out to be the chosen ones, and they'll have to fight some pretty tough opponents to keep the Earth a safe place to live.

The first half of the film is spent on the setup, after that it's mostly just big fights without any clear sense or narrative. As there is no doubt who will come out as the winner, it's just not very tense or exciting. The animation is basic, the art style rather crude. It's a bit of a mystery to me why this series became so popular, but if it keeps the lighter mood then I might just get through it.

Dragon Ball Z: Tree of Might

Doragon Bōru Z: Chikyū Marugoto Chōkessen
1990 / 61m - Japan
Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: Tree of Might poster

I have only seen a handful of Dragon Ball Z films so far, but the structure is already becoming glaringly obvious. A lighter first half is followed by a quick introduction of the episode's evil, after which an epic battle ensues. Or, at least, a battle that is supposed to be epic, as I consistently find these the most boring parts to sit through. Tree of Might is no exception.

Read all

The Dragon Ball crew is enjoying some off-time, having a little camping trip in the woods. Little do they know an alien gang is targeting the Earth. They send a small seed our way, which quickly turns into a malicious tree that saps all the life force out of our precious planet. It's up to Gohan and friends to make sure the aliens don't win.

Though I clearly prefer the lighter side of Dragon Ball, it is mostly just by comparison, as watching some weirdo fighters camping in the woods isn't all that interesting either. Compared to the endless battles (now I'm mortally hurt, the next moment I'm even stronger than before, ad infinitum) it's not too bad though. The only really sad thing is that the animation quality is taking a small but definite dip with each new film. Still not great, but not quite as bad as I'd feared it would be.

Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13

Doragon Boru Z: Kyokugen Batoru!! San Dai Sûpâ Saiyajin
1992 / 46m - Japan
Sci-fi, Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13 poster

Just more of the same. The only reason I'm sticking with these films now is that they are short and that there's still a regular Dragon Ball movie up ahead. Other than that, there's no real reason to keep watching them. Each film is a carbon copy of the previous one, which is fine if you actually like the DBZ franchise. I do not.

Read all

A new film, a new supervillain. This time the crew is battling androids 13 to 15. Which each new film, more and more people are needed to kill the villains, and fights get bigger and grander, but the result is always the same. For some reason or other (often ill-explained or completely random), the good guys win.

The art style and animation are crummy, the villains are dull, the destruction grand but still unimpressive. The short intros are the best part of these films, but they seem to shrink with each new entry. Considering the popularity of the series I'm sure they made good money with them, but these films are clearly fans-only stuff.

Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone

Doragon Bôru Z: Ora no Gohan wo Kaese
1989 / 41m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone poster

And this is where it all went southward. The first three Dragon Ball films were surprisingly fun, but they were all part of the old series. This fourth film is linked to the Z series, which is a very different beast. Gone is the lightness, replaced by more action and a stronger dedication to the plot and characters. Both are incredibly dumb and uninteresting, especially when forced to take them seriously.

Read all

The plot is as basic as can be. Young Gohan is kidnapped because of the dragon ball he wears on his head. Garlic Jr is behind the plot, as he needs all the dragon balls to wish for control over the entire universe. Garlic gets what he wants, but Son Goku and his friends band together to stop him in his tracks. It turns out that Gohan himself isn't exactly powerless either.

The art style is a big step down from the original. The animation isn't quite as good either, but still better than many similar projects of its era. The film itself is little more than a single, big fight, interrupted by uninteresting dialogue. Not my kind of anime, and I'm not sure if I'll get very far with the coming films.