Directed by: Tetsurô Kodama
Distributed by: Crunchyroll
Written by Patrick Hao
For a generation of Toonami-heads, “Dragon Ball Z” was an exciting mix of action, comedy, and adventure. The popular anime was able to use its video game-like set up of various opponents fighting each other to create a crossover success stateside. In recent years, to continue the legacy of the series, “Dragon Ball Super”, set between the events of “Z” and “GT” (the timeline is too much to explain) has allowed the series to go on further adventures with Goku and the gang, including several feature-length films of in canon sidequests, keeping its Shonen Jump comic origins alive and well.
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is the latest of these films, and it is a nice refreshing one-off entry, filled with light-hearted humor and dynamic fight scenes. It is nice that this time it does not follow the usual main character of Goku or Vegeta, who are off training somewhere. Rather, the film follows everyone’s favorite cranky green Namekan, Piccolo and his disappointment in the unfulfilled potential of his apprentice and Goku’s son, Gohan, who would rather study than become the greatest fighter he can be. Instead, Piccolo has found a new apprentice in Gohan’s daughter, Pan.
Meanwhile, the main source of conflict comes when an offshoot of the Red Ribbon Army (whose origins are thankfully explained in a much-needed recap at the beginning of the film) pops up. When the descendant of Dr. Gerro, the previous leader of the Red Ribbon Army, is propositioned by the evil Magenta with funding to build heroes against an “alien race”, the diminutive and oreo loving Dr. Hedo takes the bait. He creates superhero androids Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 to take on Piccolo and the gang thinking they are set to conquer the earth, while also creating a new version of Cell.
All of this is convoluted and might be confusing to audiences with no familiarity with the anime series at all. Then again, it is clear from the get-go that this film is not necessary for novice fans. With callbacks and references to many of the series’ hallmarks and moments, this film is refreshing in its unabashedness of being for its loyal following.
That is not to say that the film could not be enjoyable. Once you get past all the lore, it is easy to see that at its core, this movie is light-hearted fun. The anime has always featured some ingenious character design. Dr. Gerro is fashioned as if the Boss Baby was played by Danny de Vito, while Magenta is just as diminutive as if you stuck shrunk Luke Evans’ body but missed his head. This sight gag is never not funny. The Gammas are fashioned like two man-sized Ultraman’s and are given fun voice performances by Aleks Le and Zeno Robinson in the dubbed version.
It is nice that the usual crew of the English dubbed are back. As someone who watched the old “Z” and “GT” series, it definitely hits the nostalgic feel. And the director, Tetsurô Kodama, really had a keen sense with this entry in making the film evoke the feeling of taking old toys out for a brand new adventure.
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” Trailer