Why Dragon Ball’s Episode of Bardock OVA Is Only On Xbox

It has never been easier to watch anime than it is today. Most of the time, viewers simply need to log on to their favorite streaming service, search the show’s name and hit play to dive right into the action. However, it hasn’t always been this way — anime history is littered with shows that got distributed in weird or unusual ways. One of the most bizarre has to be Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardockwhich can only be viewed with an Xbox 360 and the infamous Kinect peripheral.

Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock began life as a short manga in the pages of V-Jump Magazinewith the first chapter launching in 2011. It was a spin-off of the popular Dragon Ball Heroes arcade game and acted as a sequel to the 1990 TV special Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku, the special that made Bardock into a popular character. However, the manga was not written by dragon ball creator Akira Toriyama but Naho Ooishi. It also got an OVA anime adaptation in 2011, made by Toei Animation as part of the Dragon Ball SSSS project. This project aimed to promote new spin-offs and projects based on the dragon ball franchise.

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The Plot of Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock

Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock is a “what-if” story that asks what would have happened if Bardock had survived his encounter with Frieza at the end of Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku. This OVA starts with Bardock waking up on Planet Plant, the world that became Planet Vegeta after the Saiyans conquered it. Bardock is confused, realizing he has somehow ended up in the past. However, he is soon forced to fight the space pirate minions of Chilled, one of Frieza’s ancestors.

Bardock dispatches them and goes away to recover, and in the meantime he befriends Berry, a young child from Planet Plant. However, when Chilled arrives and starts attacking the village, Bardock decides to help, especially as he believes Chilled to be Frieza. When Chilled fires at Berry, Bardock enters Super Saiyan form and kills Chilled easily. In his final moments, Chilled tells his underlings to warn his family about Super Saiyans, creating the Saiyan legend that is mentioned several times throughout the dragon ball franchise.

Related: The Real Reason So Many Dragon Ball Z Movies Contradict the Canon

Why Episode of Bardock Is So Difficult to Access in North America

the Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock OVA was shown at Jump Festa 2012 and was made available to stream online until late December 2011. After this, the only way to get it was to buy the March 2012 issue of Saikyō Jumpwhich came with a special DVD containing the OVA and Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans. However, Saikyō Jump was never brought to America and the streamed version was region locked, stopping American fans from watching it.

The only way to watch the OVA in America was to buy a copy of the critically panned Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect. Not only was Super Saiyan Bardock one of the playable characters, but a subtitled version of the OVA was included on the disk. To this day, this is the only way for North American fans to watch Episode of Bardock. This is made even more interesting as Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect is one of the few dragon ball games that was never released in Japan, being made specifically for North American and European fans of the franchise.

Episode of Bardock is a fascinating bit of dragon ball history, showing one of many times Shueisha and other companies have tried to expand the franchise in new directions. It is also funny to think there exists a dragon ball OVA that is only available via a video game — and that, despite this era of mass streaming, it hasn’t ever left that medium. Especially as the game in question is linked to one of the videogame industry’s most notorious and panned peripherals.

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