Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero explores Dragon Ball’s potential and reminds the world why so many can trace their love of anime to this franchise.
Dragon Ball has been around for almost 38 years, and honestly shows no signs of slowing down. Dragon Ball Super has been off the air for over four years, yet the love of the franchise continues to grow. There’s the spin-off series, the games, the manga, and now the 21st theatrical film, not including the atrocious Dragon Ball Evolution that is the epitome of whitewashing bull$#!+. Dragon Ball looked to be done for a moment, until Battle of the Gods released and inspired a new series, And now, after Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, the franchise is once again at an all-time high with its true potential finally being realized.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Taps into the Franchise’s Potential
One of Dragon Ball’s most debated characters is Gohan. Gohan is unquestionably the character with the greatest potential in terms of power. Vegeta, who refuses to be outdone by Goku, freely admits Gohan is capable of being the most powerful. However, in Dragon Ball Super, Gohan’s fighting ability is pathetic in comparison to where he was in Z. He even loses the ability to reach his Ultimate/Mystic form. He does regain it in the final arc and even keeps up with super saiyan blue. But his lacking performance throughout the series has left many disappointed, to say the least. Thankfully Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is here to redeem him.
Super Hero picks up after the previous film, Broly. We are introduced to the remnants of the Red Ribbon Army and their new plan to take revenge on the Z-Fighters. Piccolo is the first target and after escaping, uncovers the villainous plot. Unfortunately, Goku and Vegeta are off-world training, so it is up to Piccolo to save the day. The only other person on the planet who could possibly help is Gohan, but Gohan has fallen off his training quite a bit and is very reliant on Goku and Vegetables to handle the situations. Luckily, Piccolo knows Gohan and knows what he needs to snap Gohan back into the warrior that he is.
Like Gohan, Dragon Ball has a lot of untapped potentials. The franchise is nearing 40 years, and despite its global fandom, isn’t quite as widespread as it often feels as it should be. Largely, I feel it is because the focus has shifted mainly on the powers of Goku and Vegeta and not the universe the story takes place in. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero does that. While it remains on Earth, it reintroduces elements from the past as well as explores them deeper than ever before. While the series still is not clear or consistent with power levels, they’ve gotten to the point where it’s more on the characters themselves.
Vegeta talks about it with Goku, talking about how their power compared to Jiren’s was not all that different, but it was a matter of how Jiren was efficient. This semi-removal of the power scale in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero sets the franchise up to focus more on technique and strategy. Combined with the incredible new animation style, the art in the martial art of the series has reached all-time peaks. Being able to see the incredibly scaled power, but also fully follow and observe the fight choreography has elevated the action to incredible levels. The only other works that come close this year are Rise of the TMNT and Jujitsu Kaisen 0.
The grounded god-tier fighting plus the deeper exploration and showcasing of a wonderfully rich and populated world in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has recreated the grandeur and excitement that has been underutilized since Dragon Ball and not satisfyingly recaptured in Dragon Ball GT. The world/universe of Dragon Ball is once again primed for exploration and adventure, plus the action is poised to revolutionize anime once again. It is apt, that the franchise is doing so with the hero they’ve sidelined for so long, Gohan. Toriyama’s intended heir is finally leading the charge and taking a big step forward as the future of the franchise.
Why We Love Anime
Where Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero really shines is being the shining example of why so many of us fell in love with anime. The film allows the audience to get lost and fully immersed in this universe, and for many, it feels familiar and new again. Dragon Ball has been with us for decades, and now it feels like coming home to a newly renovated home and city. Everything is where you remember it, but not necessarily how you remember it. And also, the people are changing for the better. It’s the same thing you love, but now it’s better than ever. The world is screaming to be explored, and the characters are ready for the next adventure.
Piccolo, portrayed by Christoper R. Sabat, carries the bulk of the movie in my opinion. And he does so magnificently. Piccolo is sort of the driving force of the movie. Support him is Kyle Herbert as Gohan, who also gets plenty of time to shine, and Jeannie Tirado’s Pan, who is easily the most supportive of Piccolo. Playing opposite of our heroes are Aleks Le, Zeno Robinson, and Zach Aguilar, as the Gammas and Dr. Hedo. Everyone brings their characters to life and fully commits to the big emotions of anime, while also delivering on the quiet emotional moments that sneak up and pluck our heartstrings. It’s a perfect cast with stellar performances.
Heightening the cinematic experience is the new CGI animation. Combined with the sound design, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero fully immerses the audience with a next-level audio-visual anime experience. It seems 2D, but feels 3D. It’s hard to explain, but long story short, it is the good version of taking old cartoons and turning them into CGI. Many 90’s cartoons are attempting this to rather ugly results.
Where the new animation really shines is the fight choreography. A big thing about Dragon Ball since Dragon Ball Z is that it often portrays the beyond-human speed and power of the characters by simply drawing effects that symbolize superhuman feats. Luckily in Dragon Ball Super, especially towards the end and in Broly, the fights are fully rendered and we actually get to see the action instead of blurs or sparkles. In Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero the best of both are fully utilized, giving us the cleanest and most intricate fight choreography the franchise has to offer. Seeing the art in the martial arts at the god-level power is absolutely gorgeous!
Akira Toriyama is King
Lastly, series creator Akira Toriyama’s love and passion for the franchise fully radiates from every cel of this movie. The story is fun and fantastical, perfectly balancing heart, humor, and heart-pumping action. Even knowing the good guys are going to win, and that lives can be restored with the Dragon Balls, the stakes feel real. It’s a linear story, but even without any major twists, it thoroughly entertains. The best part about Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero‘s story though is the answering of lingering fan questions and explanations of plotholes that have plagued Dragon Ball fans since the days of PlanetNamek.com.
There are a lot of things in Dragon Ball that aren’t explained. Series creator Akira Toriyama has admitted to forgetting aspects of the lore. For example Launch. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have answers. A big thing in Dragon Ball Super is Goten and Trunks’ age. While time has progressed since the end of Dragon Ball Z, Goten and Trunks still seem to be the same age. A similar phenomenon was experienced by Goku in Dragon Ball. However, Gohan explains it in a single sentence, and though rather convenient, perfectly explains it. No spoilers, but if you’re not paying attention in the movie you might miss it.
There’s also the thing about Gohan’s glasses, that is hilariously addressed. It just goes to show Akira Toriyama’s creative brilliance and his willingness to fully take advantage of the creative medium and his power as a creator. What he says is. He doesn’t have to give a long explanation, it just is that way. Honestly, the only other simplistically brilliant explanation is how mutants have powers. It doesn’t have to be complex, it just needs to be.
Also, there’s a sight gag that gets pointed out and is subtly addressed later with another sight gag. The layers of brilliance, detail, and world-building this film sets up is astoudindg
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Sets Up the Future
Honestly, I have no critique of the movie. It is what I have been waiting for since Gohan got absorbed by Skinny Majin Buu. A chance for Gohan to shine, and my god did he. But even more so than finally redeeming the prodigal son, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero sets up the future of the franchise. Dragon Ball is nearly 40 years old, and should honestly be among the global franchises like Pokemon, Naruto, My Hero Academia. It has the depth of lore, characters, and fandom to be a much larger franchise than it is. And I believe this movie is a prime example and the beginning of it.
The franchise can continue to appeal to the masses with stories focused on Goku and Vegeta just continuously becoming more and more powerful. But then we can have adventure and stakes with the Z-Fighters on Earth. There are also the other universes, and not to mention the universes based on games. The franchise has so much it can do and I think we are finally going to start tapping into the franchise’s full potential.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero reminds the world why so many anime fans can trace their love of the medium to Dragon Ball. It is the quintessential anime that has something for everyone. It began walking in North America with 5 poorly dubbed and localized episodes in 1989-1990 so animes like Naruto could run in the early 2000s. It is the defining anime of numerous generations and the epitome of breaking barriers. It delivers audibly, visually, and emotionally. Plus according to the reports, it is delivering financially as well. This means we can expect a lot more Dragon Ball in the future. Personally, I’d put money the next film focuses on Goten and Trunks.
I give Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero a 5/5
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is now playing in theaters and has one post-credit scene. Get your tickets now. Also Gamma 1 & Gamma 2 S.H. Figuarts are available to pre-order on Premium Bandai for only a little while longer, and after seeing the movie you definitely won’t want to miss out.
ABOUT DRAGON BALL SUPER: SUPER HERO
Release: August 19, 2022, in North America, U.K. Ireland, South Africa, Zambia, and Vietnam
Based on: Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama
Director: Tetsuro Kodama
Production Studio: Toei Animation
Distributed: Crunchyroll (North America), Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures Entertainment (International)
Cast (Dub): Kyle Herbert, Sean Schemmel, Robert McCollum, Christopher R. Sabat, Monica Rial, Sonny Strait, Eric Vale, Kara Edwards, Jeannie Tirado, Aleks Le, Zach Aguilar, Zeno Robinson, Charles Martinet, Jason Marnocha
The Red Ribbon Army was once destroyed by Son Goku. Individuals, who carry on its spirit, have created the ultimate Androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. These two Androids call themselves “Super Heroes”. They start attacking Piccolo and Gohan… What is the New Red Ribbon Army’s objective? In the face of approaching danger, it is time to awaken, Super Hero!
Do you already have your tickets for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero? Are you watching it dubbed or subbed? How many times have you watched it? Let us know what you think and share your reactions with us on Twitter!