Director: Tetsuro Kodama
Writer: Akira Toriyama
Stars: Zach Aguilar, Kara Edwards, Toshio Furukawa
Superheroes are not a new concept in Dragon Ball. Notably, Gohan himself spent his high school years as a masked hero. However, this movie is not about him, well, at least not directly. In the years since the Tournament of Power, Gohan has unwittingly imposed his responsibilities on others. He stopped training because he believes that his father and Vegeta will handle any threat that endangers the world. Likewise, he focuses on his work to the detriment of his family, counting on Piccolo to do “small things” like training Pan to fight and picking her up after school. And even when Piccolo calls out Gohan for this nonsense, he is quickly ignored. So when a superhero android shows up to fight “Great Demon King Piccolo”, Piccolo knows that he’s basically on his own and can’t count on Gohan in a real fight. That said, he hasn’t given up on Gohan; Throughout the movie, he is constantly looking for the perfect moment to use this crisis to teach Gohan how to be a better hero and a better father.
Much of the film follows Piccolo acting totally out of his element, going undercover to find out more about the Red Ribbon Army and trying to find a way to empower and keep everyone he cares about safe. He also does a great job of showing the bond between Piccolo and Pan, one that may even be stronger than the one between Piccolo and his father. It’s fantastic character development for a once central character who is too often treated as little more than comic relief.
As for the usual strongest Dragon Ball cast, the movie has a pretty meaty scene showing what makes them out of touch. While it definitely has more than its fair share of typical Toriyama humor, the scene also serves as an epilogue to both the Tournament of Power and the Broly movie, focusing a bit on the aftermath while also showing what everyone has learned. of their experiences. It also serves as a bit of classic fan service as we see Goku and Vegeta pummel each other in a last man standing fight where ki blasts are prohibited.
And that’s far from the only fanservice in the movie. It’s full of references to the previous Dragon Ball series, especially those involving Piccolo as the ever-infamous “clothes bolt” of his. It even has a background cameo that will excite many fans of Dragon Ball spin-off material. We also have Bulma acting as Piccolo’s main avenue of support, which allows for some great scenes between the two. If you’re a longtime Dragon Ball fan, there’s a lot to love here.
That said, the movie does have some problems. The final villain of the film is lackluster, to say the least. He’s basically just a completely forgettable giant raging monster, even with the nostalgic character design of him. Likewise, Pan’s character arc in the film, centered around his inability to fly, feels a bit shoehorned considering that he was able to fly by instinct even before he could walk. Ultimately, the film hits the ever-imminent stumbling block of adding yet more transformations to the series. While a new transformation for Piccolo makes sense (it’s been a long time since he’s had anything like that), the other new transformation seen in the movie feels completely undeserved.
On the visual side of things, Super Hero marks the first time that a Dragon Ball anime has been almost entirely 3DCG rather than traditional 2D animation, and it works hard to show why this decision was made. The movie is absolutely packed with dynamic shots, especially during the fight scenes, which, while possible with traditional animation, hold up just as well in 3D. In addition, the 3D models ensure that the appearance of the characters and the quality of the animation remain consistently good throughout the film. And while you can often tell it’s CG, there are times (particularly in still shots) where it almost succeeds in tricking you into thinking otherwise. Overall, the CG quality is good enough that you won’t notice it once the story starts. Music-wise, it’s perfectly competent but nothing memorable. There are no hits like “Ultimate Battle” or “Unmei no Hi”, but it gets the job done.
When it comes down to it, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is an above average Dragon Ball story. It has strong themes and works as a character study of one of his oldest (and most forgotten) characters.