Dragon Ball is one of the biggest and most popular anime franchises of all time and one that is many fans’ gateway anime, the one that turned them from normies into weebs. It tells a vast, intergalactic story spanning hundreds of episodes across three canon series (and GT, but we don’t talk about GT, no, no, no…), and no fewer than 21 movies, with Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero the latest addition to that list. But is it a welcome one, or is the seemingly unstoppable DB franchise running out of steam?
As its title suggests, Super Hero takes place in the Dragon Ball Super universe, and it goes without saying that if you’re not au fait with the world of DB, you’re going to be hopelessly lost diving in at this point. But that’s all the more reason to binge everything that’s come before because Super Hero is definitely deserving of your time.
The Red Ribbon Army, one of the oldest antagonists in DB, is back again, under new management and with a new front for its operations. This time around, it’s recruited Dr Hedo, grandson of the evil genius Dr Gero, under false pretences to have him create powerful androids, and anyone familiar with Dragon Ball will know just how dangerous these things are.
The movie begins with a sequence that recounts the evil-doings of the Red Ribbon Army, all the way back to its beginnings in the OG Dragon Ball. It’s a nice touch that will bring everyone up to speed because it’s surely been a hot minute since anyone has watched the original series. With DB regulars Goku and Vegeta off-planet, it’s up to Piccolo and Gohan to step up and enjoy the limelight in this adventure, teaming up to take down this new threat and save the day.
The plot of Super Hero is standard shounen fare, but no one really watches Dragon Ball for the story – we’re here for the fights, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the movie really delivers on that front. Once the action gets started, it really doesn’t want to stop, and it felt like two-thirds of Super Hero’s runtime was just super-powered people pummelling each other: in other words, pretty much a perfect Dragon Ball movie. And the fights are spectacular, with landscapes and backgrounds regularly obliterated in classic DB fashion as energy attacks shoot across the screen, lighting-fast blows are exchanged, and bodies go flying. The eye-popping action barely gives your retinas a moment’s rest – this is Dragon Ball at its finest.
We must address the elephant in that room, that being the fact that this is the first Dragon Ball movie to be produced almost entirely using CGI. And you know what? We didn’t care one bit. You might notice it in the first few minutes of the movie, but CGI suits Dragon Ball so well, and Super Hero looks great. The battles and blows don’t lose any impact, and the characters feel weighty when you’re watching them fight.
Beyond that, the story is well-paced, and it’s packed full of the cheesy dialogue and terrible jokes you expect from Dragon Ball, and that’s what fans want. Above all else, Super Hero is just so much fun.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero knows what it’s doing and gives DB fans exactly what they want – awesome action, full-on fights, and a healthy helping of humour. And, as only the second canon Dragon Ball movie, there’s even more reason for fans of the franchise to give it watch – you’ll have a (ki) blast.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is out in cinemas now. Read more reviews here.