Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review

The Dragon Ball franchise has captivated audiences worldwide, whether it’s through the manga or the anime series. Whenever something new releases that are connected with Dragon Ball, it comes with huge expectations from fans hoping that it will be a great addition to the series. After the success of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, series creator Akira Toriyama and his team return with a follow-up, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. Even though the animation style comes off as different from the series, the new film offers the same action-packed sequences that the series is known for, along with some new developments that may surprise long-time fans and deepen the lore of Dragon Ball.

After the events of Broly, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero finds our characters facing off against an old criminal organization known as the Red Ribbon Army. This group was previously introduced in Dragon Ball and made a prominent appearance during the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z. We find this group on the verge of a comeback with CEO Magenta and Dr. Gero’s grandson Hedo. Much like those storylines, Gohan becomes one of the main focuses of the new film as he and his surrogate father figure Piccolo take on this new iteration of the Red Ribbon Army. We also see Piccolo now training Gohan’s daughter Pan to become a fighter, similar to when he was training Gohan during his youth. What we get here is a revisit to the relationship between Piccolo and Gohan, which was something that lacked during the show’s original run after the successful Android Saga in Dragon Ball Z. In a way, this is a film that puts a lot of emphasis on the other parts of the franchise that was significant other than the storylines that revolved around our main hero Goku.

We do get a lot of connections to the first two shows in the Dragon Ball franchise, which should satisfy fans who grew up watching them. This feels a lot like an extension of those storylines revolving around the Red Ribbon Army and seeing what remains of this mysterious organization all these years later. Audiences can expect to see lots of Easter eggs also from other Dragon Ball media, especially from video games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and Kakarot. Despite these old callbacks, we are introduced to some new faces, like the child genius Dr. Hedo, who is carrying on the legacy of his grandfather and has a love for superheroes. He comes under the influence of the organization’s leader Magenta, a short-stature of a man who crosses off all the checkmarks of a classic villain. We are also introduced to Hedo’s two creations, Gamma 1 and 2, who are androids but dressed up with the persona of superheroes. 

For those who have stuck by both series, fans will be familiar with the story behind these new villains and their connections with the infamous Red Ribbon Army. What is great about this is that even those who have either forgotten about them or are unfamiliar with the story will be able to access the film’s plot without being lost. It completely brings a much more grounded story than what we’ve seen in Dragon Ball Super: Broly dealing with cosmic threats. It is why characters like Goku and Vegeta are in the backseat of this story as it mostly focuses on an old adversary that predates the arrival of the Saiyans. For a film that has brought back villains that everyone knows, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero still feels like a new story putting on a new spin on old enemies. The movie does a really good job incorporating iconic moments from the franchise to tell this new story. It shows how much time has passed since we’ve seen the Red Ribbon Army, seeing how much they’ve changed over the years.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero puts in some work to mix in the past and future of the franchise by bringing some old storylines while introducing something completely new. Perhaps one of the biggest changes we see is the use of 3D animation instead of the traditional 2D art style that the franchise is known for. With this new animation, it feels like the same show fans are accustomed to, adding a fresh coat of paint to the animation. It is incredible how much work was put into this to transition from an animation style that everyone is familiar with to a new visual technique. It may take a little getting used to this new 3D animation, but it does make the action pop and come alive on screen. A lot of camera movement is involved when we see these epic battles take place, creating a new way to put fans into the action. 

Despite the uncertainty with the future of the series, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero brings in a lot of what we love about the series thanks to the characters we know and love. The personalities of characters like Gohan and Piccolo remain unchanged, which should please a lot of fans. There’s also that nice balance of action and humor that is the trademark of the Dragon Ball franchise. It is great to see that both Gohan and Piccolo get their time to shine in the movie because we don’t get to see a lot of them in the series since the shows always have revolved around Goku. It is great to see that father-son dynamic between them with Piccolo constantly pushing Gohan to be the best fighter he can be.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero delves into familiar territory to tell a new story and does it well. The film balances the old and new by focusing on some key characters and giving them a new journey to walk on. This unique art style the team is utilizing puts the franchise in a bold new direction that works in some aspects. Even though the story can be somewhat bogged down by these new visuals, fans can still appreciate just how well done the final product is with the incredible action sequences. 

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is now playing in theaters.

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