Episode 69, "I Am Your Brother! The Monster Who Possesses Goku's Ki"
Synopsis: Piccolo encounters an insect-looking man in Gingertown who kills and absorb people's life force and insides. Bizarrely, he has the ki of Freeza, his father, Goku, and others. Piccolo powers up with the power of Kami in him. Artificial Human 16 detects Piccolo and the the creature, but 17 doesn't believe him. Cell uses one of Piccolo's own attacks against him, which Piccolo deflects, and the two engage in close combat. The creature fires a Kamehameha which Piccolo narrowly avoids, only to be grabbed and stuck with Cell's tail, which begins to drain him. The creature reveals that he is called Cell, an Artificial Human created by Dr. Gero.
Cell debuts in this episode, sixty-nine episodes into the show. It's a testament to how fast-paced Kai is in comparison to Z. At first, Cell is this sort of monster, going around, feeding off of people, absorbing them in a way that makes it seem like he's melting their bones and flesh. What the hell is he really doing? He's a monster out of a horror movie. Even the music they use around him makes it seem like that. I remember the music the TV broadcast English dub used, and it was like that, too. Kikuchi, Yamamoto, and Faulconer all agree that he's a movie monster. It is a lot like that in the first few episodes, especially the build up to his first full appearance. The people disappearing, the panicked media, the mystery. It's really pretty remarkable. Toriyama could easily have done a horror manga, if his art style wasn't so exaggerated.
Cell is voiced by the incomparable legend, Norio Wakamoto. His performance in the past as Cell, and any number of other characters is outstanding. In Kai, he's definitely taking a different tactic with first form, or Imperfect Cell. In Z, Imperfect Cell seems to have a more human sound to it, but with additions of the "bweh" sound here and there to accentuate that he's different. In Kai, he sounds more monsterous, but without the "bweh" noises. He's just more gruff and grainy sounding. Some people have pointed to Norio Wakamoto's age as the reason for the change, suggesting that age has weathered Wakamoto's voice. This is probably somewhat true, but I think that he's also trying something a little different with his Cell. Whatever the case, it's not quite as striking as his Z delivery, but it fits the character just as well.
Actually, Wakamoto's Imperfect Cell is not much unlike Dameon Clarke's from the DBZ English dub. However, I find that Clarke's voice doesn't lend any real texture to the character. It's fine at this form, though. It's later forms where I really have trouble accepting Clarke in the role. Travis Willingham will likely be taking over for Clarke for the English dub of Kai, and I'm curious to hear how he handles it.
I feel like Cell doesn't take enough advantage of being able to perfom the various techniques of the other characters. Why not follow up Piccolo's Makankosappo with another one, and another one, followed by a bunch of Kienzans, followed by a Gallic-Ho or two? If he has Freeza's abilities, too, he should be able to do a lot better than here. But to his credit, he does gain the advantage over Piccolo, at least for the time being.
4 out of 5