Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is a bad and confusing name for a movie and without the background and knowledge of the franchise, it’s probably a very confusing movie to watch. Characters that make deep jokes and cut through key plot points have been explored in dozens of episodes of the anime, but for fans – even casual Dragon Ball fans – Super Hero is one A rewarding comedy with impressive action sequences put together is the best Dragon Ball series since the Battle of the Gods in 2013.
After 35+ years of Dragon Ball content, you can just watch your favorite incredibly powerful heroes punch powerful new villains so many times before you roll your eyes and open Twitter on your phone. me. The great thing about the current era of Dragon Ball, and this movie in particular, is that the franchise’s holders (who have now expanded beyond its original creator, Akira Toriyama) understand that. The characters still punch each other very hard and send them hurling themselves to the edges of cliffs and watching for energy blasts, but only spends much of their time on the strange familial dynamics that have developed among the growing cavalry. Rise of the aliens can kill you by giving you a hard slap in the back.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Super Hero is that it’s not the story of Dragon Ball’s protagonist, Goku, and his freest enemy, Vegeta. The two appear in the film, but only to admit why they aren’t around to help tackle the latest threat. Super Hero is primarily a Piccolo movie, which is a welcome breath of fresh air. Piccolo has always been a fan favorite, even in his days as a villain, but in the modern day of Dragon Ball, he has become a favorite as a father figure to his children. Goku’s son, Gohan, and became the grandfather figure for Gohan’s daughter, the lovely Pan. . Watching Piccolo take on roles to train Gohan’s three-year-old daughter and punish Gohan for being too busy picking her daughter up from school is both touching and hilarious.
The main threat in the movie – which the heroes have to punch hard – is the revival of the Red Ribbon Legion, taking care of the evil Dr. Gero’s nephew, Dr. Hedo. The Red Ribbon Army is a fun callback for fans of the original Dragon Ball, and it also offers a rare opportunity to hear what the outside world thinks of the Dragon Ball heroes. Despite their regular attempts to save the world, no one really knows who they are, and it’s always interesting to hear the bad guys hypothesize where they’re from and explain why they feel Heroes need to be defeated.
A lot of fighting happens in Super Hero, but Dragon Ball’s humor and often admittedly weird but well-defined logic is what makes it so enjoyable to watch. Piccolo not eating food, collecting wish-granting Dragon Balls to make petty requests, and trying to figure out if Super Saiyans will correct poor eyesight are all topics of discussion. For longtime fans, it’s fun to dive into those weird ideas, and Super Heroes leaves plenty of room for them.
Aside from the largely Piccolo-focused story, the other big surprise in Superheroes is the new art style. Dragon Ball in all media (except video games) is always hand drawn. Sometimes, and distractingly, during the combat climax in recent movies, characters inexplicably switch to 3D models, and that’s jarring and never seems okay. Always easy to spot and looking out of place, but Super Hero has gone into full 3D for the first time in Dragon Ball history. Longtime fans are probably prepared to fold their arms, pout, and reminisce about the good old days over the updated interface, but the new direction still works. The action feels much more consistent than it has been in recent years, and it’s fun to see the franchise try something different. The classic Dragon Ball’s hand-drawn look is still lovely, but the new interface works just as well. The film thankfully avoids combining the two styles. With that said, not every character works with the new style. Goku and Vegeta don’t translate well to 3D. They end up being just a small part of the new movie so it’s a bit of a distraction that they don’t look as good as Piccolo or Gohan, but it’s odd that Dragon Ball’s arguably most important characters look the roughest.
The battles are flashy and impressive in a new style, but after more than 35 years of fighting, Dragon Ball has reached a point where it is having a hard time getting ahead of itself. The high stakes in battle make it tense, but it hits an abstract color swirl where it’s difficult to keep track of what’s going on. Admittedly it can feel like a step back, but I did find my eyes widening a bit as my hair changed color and reached new anime heights and the screams grew louder. It becomes too much at a certain point, but fortunately, it only really becomes excessive near the end.
Dragon Ball always leaves room for humor between serious fights and real-world endgames, but Super Hero puts his thumbs down on the funny side of the scale and that’s what it’s called. The action battles are impressive and look great in a new style, but it all feels familiar. I’ve seen all of the heroes unleash their energy hundreds of times, but watching Piccolo fumbling around using a cell phone and working with a three-year-old to trick the bad guys feels new and exciting. The combat is a bit overdone in the final third, but the overall emphasis on humor and exploration of Piccolo’s relationship with Goku’s extended family makes Super Hero one of my favorite Dragon Ball movies. I.