Dragon Ball

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” Gives Longtime Fans Everything They Want

On August 19, I went to see “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.” This is the latest installment in an anime/manga franchise that spans multiple decades. If you are like me, you watched or read Dragon Ball at a young age. Akira Toriyama wrote and illustrated Dragon Ball in 1984, published by Weekly Shonen Jump. The story follows Son Goku, an alien who crash lands on Earth and embarks on a journey as a martial artist. Throughout the decades, the Dragon Ball franchise expanded past the simple story of a boy learning martial arts. Today, Dragon Ball is one of the largest media franchises in the world. It serves as an inspiration to many anime and manga produced today. For many, their love of anime and manga started with Dragon Ball.

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” follows the events of the 2018 “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” film. After the conclusion of the DBS series, many fans felt that Dragon Ball finally reached its close. However, Toriyama assured fans that while the series is over, the story of Son Goku and the Z-Fighters is not. Broly served as a revamp of the character introduced in the 1993 “Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan.” This new storyline humanized Broly, rather than antagonizing him. The ending saw Goku taking Broly under his wing to guide him in controlling his power. Ultimately, this allows for more Broly development in the series. But, this new movie is not about Broly at all. Actually, this is the first Dragon Ball film that is not centered on Goku. Let’s dive into what became Japan’s fourth highest-grossing film in 2022.

Spoilers are imminent.

A New Look With Old Vibes

This movie is the first film in the Dragon Ball franchise to be produced mainly in computer-generated imagery or CGI. When I saw the trailer for the film at Comic-Con 2022, I was not fond of the move to CGI. I felt that it would take away from the feel that was familiar to me after watching it for so long. My attitude changed when I saw the film in theaters. The CGI production reminded me of the production used for the Dragon Ball video games. This form of production also helped in creating crisp fight scenes and higher attention to cinematography.

The movie follows Magenta, the CEO of Red Pharmaceuticals. This company was formally the Red Ribbon Army, a long-standing foe to Son Goku. The Army and its leader Dr. Gero were ultimately defeated by the Z Fighters. Magenta enlists the help of Dr. Gero’s surviving grandson, Dr. Hedo, in reviving the Red Ribbon Army. As a result, Dr. Hedo builds Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 to take on the Z Fighters.

This literal blast from the past is both refreshing for fans while not feeling forced in its execution. Goku and his friends are always proving their strength against those who seek to crush them and Earth. This sometimes results in those fallen foes harboring resentment and later plotting revenge.

Assuming Responsibility

As mentioned earlier, this is the first movie in the franchise to not be centered on Goku. It actually follows the development of Gohan and the evolution of his relationship with his longtime mentor, Piccolo. Fans loved Gohan since the Cell Saga in “Dragon Ball Z.” At the time, he was the youngest member of the Z Fighters and Goku’s first son. After watching the many triumphs of Goku, this stellar showcase of Gohan’s potential awed fans. Unfortunately, Gohan’s character did not develop much past this point. Goku defeated many threats to Earth and made several connections to maintain its safety. Goku, at this time, is training off-world. Living in an era of peace allowed Gohan to focus his attention on his scholastic pursuits. Piccolo does not approve of this.

Goku’s efforts to bring about peace to the universe inadvertently allowed Gohan to slack in his own martial arts training. It is noted throughout the series that Gohan has the potential to obtain greater strength than Goku. We as fans never see that potential fully realized. Now that Goku is off-world, Piccolo urges Gohan to finally take up the mantle as the defender of Earth.

Fanservice “Dragon Ball” Style

Honestly, the best thing about Dragon Ball projects is the fanservice. The flashbacks to earlier DBS moments evoked a great sense of nostalgia. As I said, Dragon Ball was the franchise that introduced a lot of people to anime.

There are great comedic scenes from Shenron, Bulma, Trunks, and Goten. We see a toddler Pan training in martial arts with Piccolo. We even get two new transformations for Gohan and Piccolo. This movie is like a candy store for Dragon Ball fans. As a fan, I definitely appreciate the original storytelling and the connections made for long-time viewers.

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is now playing exclusively in theaters in both English Dubbed and Japanese with English Subtitles formats.

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