One of Japan’s biggest pop media franchises, Dragon Ball is synonymous with explosive brawls and over-the-top action sequences, with splashes of comedy interspersed with hilarity. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero delivers these signature elements in spades in a story that celebrates how the green alien warrior Piccolo was Dragon Ball’s long-time best father.
Super Hero – directed by Tetsuro Kodama – boasts the involvement of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama in its original story, screenplay and character design, and revolves around heroes and villains, each dealing with the legacy and… deal with the ambitions of their (absent) fathers and grandfathers. It’s a nuance that’s addressed in the film’s exposure-heavy introduction, but is best understood by those familiar with the Dragon Ball franchise, which launched in 1984 with Toriyama’s manga series.
For the uninitiated, “Dragon Ball” primarily follows Goku, an orphaned invader turned fugitive from a powerful alien warrior race who grew up on Earth and his constant quest to become stronger as he takes on humans, other aliens, Androids and others even represents different levels of gods. Between training, various tournaments and battles over the fate of the universe, Goku has made friends and enemies, got married and had a few children (who, unlike their father, have interests other than becoming the mightiest warrior of all time). .
Super Hero shakes things up by turning its spotlight on a couple of Dragon Ball’s popular but often underutilized supporting characters: Goku’s eldest son Gohan (Masako Nozawa in Japanese, Kyle Hebert in English) and Gohan’s mentor Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa, Christopher Sabat), who shines particularly as the centerpiece of the film.
As explained in the film, Gohan has long shown that he has the potential to be an even greater warrior than Goku (Nozawa, Sean Schemmel). But the kind-hearted demi-human is more concerned with his scientific pursuits than keeping up with his education, especially since Gohan knows his father will always spring up to deal with any powerful threats.
It’s a fair expectation on Gohan’s part – Goku was always a bit more focused on becoming the best fighter he could be rather than being the best father. But Gohan can always count on Piccolo, his intimidating, grumpy mentor to not only push him to reach his full potential as a warrior, but also to teach him lessons on how to be a good father. Piccolo’s heartwarming dynamic with Gohan’s 3-year-old daughter Pan (Yūko Minaguchi, Jeannie Tirado) is among the “superhero” highlights.
Anime fans who have kept up with Dragon Ball through the recent Dragon Ball Super series will likely make up the bulk of Super Hero’s US audience. But aside from a mostly inconsequential guest-star scene, even a casual fan who just watched Dragon Ball Z — the second Dragon Ball anime series to air in the US in the 1990s — is in for a treat keep up with the film’s main story and will likely appreciate this focus on Piccolo’s bond with Gohan and his family.
The film’s main antagonists are the next generation of the Red Ribbon Army, an evil organization first foiled by Goku as a child. Although the Red Ribbon Army’s new leader, Magenta, and hired chief scientist, Dr. As Hedo struggles with the shadows cast by her father and grandfather, respectively, the setup is more of a cute novelty than a commentary on family heritage. Her story eventually takes a back seat to spectacular action sequences that lead to various powerful transformations.
As the title suggests, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero delves a little into what it actually means to be a hero, beyond flashy poses and weird sound effects. It also touches on timely themes involving the power of misinformation and lies to portray heroes as villains (and vice versa) to manipulate others. But the main priority of “Super Hero” is bringing Gohan and Piccolo together in a glorious battle against a pair of adorable villains – Gamma 1 (Hiroshi Kamiya, Aleks Le) and Gamma 2 (Mamoru Miyano, Zeno Robinson) – and then an even more powerful one to blind, if familiar, enemy. The film’s stylish 3D computer animation also lends itself perfectly to these action sequences.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is a fan must-read that celebrates one of the series’ finest relationships, but newcomers interested in more than the fun of an action-packed visual spectacle might want to check out some of the TV series first.
‘Dragonball Super: Superhero’
In Japanese with English subtitles and dubbed English versions
Rated: PG-13 for some action/violence and smoking
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
To play: Share generally
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-08-18/dragon-ball-super-super-hero-review-gohan-piccolo ‘Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero’ review: Why Piccolo is best dad