Episode 1, "The curtain opens on battle! Son Goku's back"
Synopsis: A man named Son Goku, a young hero who was born "Kakkarot" on the planet Vegeta, home of the Saiyans, and was sent to Earth, visits his old friends on Kame Island. Along with him is his son, Son Gohan, named after the man who raised him. However, an armored man from space lands, looking for "Kakkarot", scaring even the demon Piccolo, and showing up before Goku and his friends.
For those of you uninitiated to the world of Dragon Ball, this would probably come off as a pretty dizzying first episode, since they cram so much into it. There are appearances of characters that didn't appear in the manga for several chapters in, or even in the first animated series for a few episodes. Still, it establishes some of what the world has to offer, in terms of the main characters and that Goku turns out to be an alien.
For those of you who are manga faithfuls, you might be divided by this episode. After all, the manga doesn't show Freeza until several chapters in, but this one has both Freeza and Goku's father early on. I don't even remember Goku's father from the manga. Sort of weird that a low-level Saiyan like him would be trying to defeat Freeza, but I won't spoil too much.
What did I think? For a purely introduction episode, it was exactly what I thought it would be. Pure fanservice! In other words, awesome. It was truly a visual feast. It was good to see Son Goku again after all these years, and he even has a son! Gohan suddenly being on the high branch without us seeing how he got there was a pretty good forshadowing. That bit with Raditz hitting Kururin with his tail and him veering off into the Kame House was pretty humorous.
My only problem with introducing some of the characters sooner than expected is that some of the reveals from the manga go spoiled. I do appreciate Freeza coming in early, though. I think this will give what occurs later on a deeper impact. I chuckled at Bulma asking Goku if anything strange happens to Gohan on a night of a full moon and him saying that they all go to bed early. It's weird that Chi Chi would become such a mother hen after being so gung-ho before!
I think I'll get used to Masako Nozawa continuing to be Goku even in his adulthood, since Goku is a very carefree, child-like guy. I think she voiced Goku's father, too, and even his son! I think Kamesennin has a new voice, though, but he fits. So glad that the voices of Kuririn, Piccolo, and Bulma haven't been changed, and are still as good as ever. Toshio Furukawa is such an excellent Piccolo. They could never do a dub of this show, because the Japanese voices are just too good.
The next episode looks to go into Raditz's (that's the guy in the armor) revelation, and his kidnapping of Gohan, if I'm not mistaken. Oh, and Piccolo will be showing up there!
I still wonder about this "Z". They could have just continued calling it plain "Dragon Ball". And what's with this "Kai"?
Overall Score: 4 out of 5