Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
Note: I generally do not like to award star ratings to movies. I am adding it here to be within the format. I very humbly request readers and visitors who come to this web page to read my thoughts on this movie in entirety; let’s not limit film criticism to merely giving out stars. I am always in favour of more elaborate discussion on cinema.
The Dragon Ball franchise is widely regarded as one of the most popular anime franchises, world over. I myself have very pleasant memories of it. I remember myself returning home hurriedly from my school on Fridays when I was in 6th standard, just in time to catch up with the new Dragon Ball Z episode. I still carry some of that sentiment. So, whenever a new Dragon Ball movie releases I am usually excited.
I really loved the previous movie from this franchise which came out four years back; Dragon Ball Super: Broly. So I was quiet excited for this one. I hoped this would be a decent follow up to that one. I must say this movie superseded expectations. Dragon Ball Super: Superhero is an absolutely fun, absolutely engaging addition to the franchise which satisfies both the franchise’s hard-core fans as well as audiences new to it. This movie does a good job at balancing elements classically associated with Dragon Ball as well newer elements and constructs a world we are familiar with, but not too much familiar to get bored of. You have epic fights in mid air with characters drawing up all their inner power from within and throwing colourful light beams at each other. You have the typical goofy humour, you have all your favourite characters just being themselves, you have fun watching them do all of the above.
The most unique thing about this movie’s storyline is that it focuses on two Z warrior’s who’ve been more in the background, Piccolo and Gohan. This is a Piccolo and Gohan movie through and through. They both get to shine. Since a lot of Dragon Ball storylines have focused more on Goku and Vegeta, a lot of other Dragon Ball characters have very unfortunately been pushed aside over time. A lot of fans including me were not happy with the way Gohan was put away post the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z. He seemed to be a promising character and then he wasn’t that interesting any more. This movie helps resurrecting Gohan into being what he was meant to be. Piccolo’s foster father relationship with Gohan and foster grandpa relationship with Pan, helps build a rich emotional core to the story. Although Goku is actually Gohan’s dad, and Pan’s grandpa, it’s very well known that he’s hardly been there for any of them, he’s been a terrible family man. Also fans of Goku, Vegeta and Broly be warned, they are in this movie but strictly in extended cameos. Don’t expect them to do much. Also there are two new characters in this movie who are quite interesting. The villains in this movie though are not very remarkable.
There were a few underwhelming aspects I felt in regards to the script. The first being, that the tone in the first 10-15 minutes of the movie is quite off. It doesn’t seem a like a Dragon Ball property at all. It feels like a different movie. Later as more popular characters start turning up the Dragon Ball feel sets in. Another underwhelming aspect is that the stakes in this movie are quite low. Most of the threats presented in the story to the heroes don’t actually seem like real threat at all. But despite these flaws the screenplay is crisp and compact without any dull moments. Also this movie feels more like an American animated feature than a Japanese one. The influence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe especially Avengers: Infinity War is very evident. The climax has several aspects borrowed straight from there. I guess they did it to make the movie more globally acceptable. But all said and done the unique touch of Dragon Ball’s original creator Akira Toriyama is still well much preserved. His involvement shows.
On the technical front, the animation especially the 2D animation is top notch. Well worth the IMAX experience. They have used quite a bit of 3D animation here, which in some scenes doesn’t look as great as it needs to. Certain limitations are evident in some frames, but these are very minimal. The voice acting by the English cast is brilliant. The same artists from the animated series have reprised their roles. Christopher Sabat slays it as both Piccolo and Vegeta. Kyle Hebert is great as Gohan, Sean Schemmel as Goku is good too.
I can confidently say that Dragon Ball Super: Superhero is one of the better Dragon Ball movies. It effectively addresses the issues fans have had with the franchise, corrects some major ones, empowers some underdog protagonists and makes for a fun watch. Though not as epic as it’s predecessor Dragon Ball Super: Broly, this one is a must watch.