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A Welcome Change: Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review

A trip through nostalgia.

One of the big four is back in theaters with a new film and a title that proves Akira Toriyama is as silly as ever. Fortunately, Dende did not become a child again by keeping his adult appearance this time. Apparently, Toriyama forgot the anime name had changed to Dragon Ball Super, just like he forgot Launch existed, and decided to call the movie “Dragon Ball: Super Hero,” which Toei corrected to make the final title. The title reflects the inspiration the movie takes from superhero flicks.

Super Hero is the twenty-first movie in the Dragon Ball franchise. It is the first to use computer animation in conjunction with some 2D elements for less important characters. This results in a loss of the realistic facial expressions and gestures that the series is known for from secondary characters. I noticed this particularly when Carmine passed by a driver that was going very slowly and did nothing after Camine’s maneuvers almost made her crash the car.

Apparently, Doctor Hedo watches too much My Hero Academia and does Power Rangers poses like the Ginyu forces.

This was the fourth time in a row that I dragged my friends and girlfriend to watch something related to Dragon Ball. Someone uploaded the film 27 hours after the Japanese cinematic release on June 11, but that treasure in the digital seas did not tempt me.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero offers a plot that apparently develops after the “Survivor Arc”, where Piccolo and Gohan will switch places with Goku and Vegeta. This is a welcomed change to see these beloved characters in the spotlight. The interactions Piccolo has with most characters are wonderful, especially those he has with Gohan as a substitute father figure, Shenron as a Namekian getting preferential treatment, Korin as a previous Earth-God, and Pam as her martial arts teacher.

Classic onomatopoeias used in comics and a certain Batman show from the 60's.

The Red Ribbon Army reappears for another rematch, the third time in a Dragon Ball movie. Magenta, the son of Commander Red (interpreted by Charles Martinet in the English dub), and Carmine recruit Doctor Hedo to revive the research done by his grandfather, Doctor Gero, to create a third generation of androids called Gamma 1 and 2 and conquer the world.

The mere existence of Magenta raised a controversy within the fandom because he should not be alive. At the end of the Kidd Boo Arc, the Z warriors asked Shenron to resurrect all humans except for those who were evil. However, this just means Magenta was not evil when he died and resurrected.

Villains that look like tokusatsu heroes.

Another controversy revolved around the implication that Gohan already knew the importance of training to protect those he loves after Universe 7 won the Tournament of Power. However, we do not have enough elements to create a timeline of the events of this movie because the project concluded in 2019, and it is not impossible that sometimes characters commit the same mistakes again. The movie does not just retread old ground; it also explores Gohan’s familial issues, which have often gone ignored in other arcs. Gohan realizes that he needs to spend more time with his daughter and wife to take care of them to prevent his own history with Goku from repeating itself . Even further, the underlying lesson of the movie is that everybody has an ulterior motive and you should not believe everything they say. Instead, you should judge their actions.

Similar to all Dragon Ball movies since Battle of the Gods, Piccolo and Gohan have new transformations in Super Hero. After Shenron unlocks Piccolo’s hidden potential, the color of the newly-awakened Piccolo’s skin changes to a golden yellow. From that point, he is able to unlock a second phase where his skin changes again to orange with a symbol on his back that represents the Ajissa trees from Namek. Meanwhile, Gohan gets a beast form, which is a second phase of his mystic state induced by the fear of losing Piccolo during his fight with Cell Max.

From fan fiction to reality.

Gohan’s use of Makankosappo to finish up Cell Max instead of the classic Kamehameha is a great demonstration of the evolving relationship between Gohan and Piccolo, as well as an alternative to differentiate this film from others that end the same way.

The sound effects of the rain, punches and kicks hitting metal components are cleverly coordinated with the background music to build tension in the fight scenes. The fighting choreographies add wrestling moves to the martial arts techniques used by the characters during the sequences. Super Hero also has many references from manga, doujinshi, anime, and videogames of the same franchise, as well as other popular media like Marvel movies and comics, which may be indicative of the movie’s focus on a western audience.

This has written “doujinshi” all over.

Overall, the movie demonstrates that Piccolo and Gohan are great characters that can grow on their own and are capable of providing us with great stories because they actually have room for growth and every change has a proper explanation within the canonical nonsense dynamic of the original work itself. While some dialogues feel off the fact that the original cast of the Spanish Dub from my childhood returned, adding a newcomer that did a great job as Gohan, and Vegeta finally winning a fight against Goku is all I ever wanted. Personally, I cannot wait to see how the anime develops the stories provided in the last two movies and the two arcs the manga has developed after the Universal Survival Arc.

The movie succeeds to attract a wide audience to obtain new fans while keeping the fan base satisfied and that is the greatest achievement this production will have considering Dragon Ball Super is meant for children.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (ドラゴンボール スーパーヒーロー)

Director: Tetsuro Kodama
Writer: Akira Toriyama
Based on: Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

Production company: Toei Animation.
MX cinematic release: August 18th, 2022



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Alistair Hyde

Alistair Hyde

Anime fan that loves writting about it.