Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review: A satisfying slice of Dragon Ball goodness
After lighting up the big screen and the box-office back in 2019 with Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the franchise returns with another cinema-calibur adventure with Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.
Rather than be a simple sequel that continues Broly’s storyline, Super Hero actually follows Piccolo (voiced by Toshio Furukawa/Christopher Sabat) back on Earth as Goku (voiced by Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel) and Vegeta (voiced by Ryo Horikawa/Christopher Sabat) are off training Broly (voiced by Bin Shimada/Johnny Yong Bosch) on a distant planet. While Broly might be contained, Piccolo is forced to go into action as an old threat reemerges in the form of the Red Ribbon Army. While the original leader might be gone, his successor Magenta (voiced by Volcano Ota/Charles Martinet) looks to make Red Ribbon strong again with the help of masterful scientist Dr. Hedo (voiced by Miyu Irino/Zach Aguilar). With Hedo’s help, Magenta gets two incredibly strong, superhero themed androids as well as a secret revival project that forces Piccolo to stop them with the help of an older Gohan (voiced by Masako Nozawa/Kyle Herbert).
With Red Ribbon and truthfully, the entire Dragon Ball cast having so much history leading up to this film’s story, Super Hero makes the very wise choice of adding in some impactful exposition. While the brush-ups on the past can overload viewers with information at times and offer a little too much handholding, it’s never boring. For long-time fans, it acts as a very enjoyable trip down memory lane that touches on some big moments in the long-running franchise through some awesome flashbacks. As for newbies, you can feel right at home with the flashbacks as you get a very engaging glimpse at this franchise. It’s a great way to bring audiences together and is a big reason why the more recent films like Broly and Super Hero have done such a great job at pulling in and hooking wider audiences.
Plus, these flashbacks end up being a great way to show off the old animation style that’s traded out for Super Hero. The film utilizes a more colorful and 3D looking cell-shaded animation style that makes a big difference for the viewing experience. Character movement feels faster and there are a lot more stylistic choices that reflects the film’s comic book inspirations. The action text, identifying name slates, and specific character designs for the Gamma android twins gives Super Hero more of a comic book feel and it makes the film instantly unique visually. It’s not necessarily how I would want Dragon Ball to look from here on out, but it’s a refreshing and incredibly vibrant look for the series that works well in creating some stunning and colorful action.
Super Hero continues to show why Dragon Ball movies deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible as it’s just undeniably epic throughout. There’s really nothing that gets your adrenaline pumping more than Dragon Ball fight sequences, and Super Hero provides some action that widens your eyes and keeps your jaw dropped. It’s fast, lean, and incredibly colorful. The finale is especially just a triumph of epic action moments filled with eye dazzling color and hard-hitting brutality. Dragon Ball has proven that it’s worthy of the big screen since its conception and Super Hero is another showing of that.
As for the story, it might pale in comparison to Broly at times, but delivers its own fun thanks to its simple and effective story starring two fan-favorite characters. Frankly, it’s great Goku takes a back seat to let Piccolo and Gohan drive the story as it’s genuinely refreshing to see them be centerstage for the action and story as well as provide some great comedy. Piccolo has never been funnier and the whole story surrounding Piccolo trying to get Gohan to take training seriously again can be hilarious at times. There’s honestly some good humor throughout with all the characters and a lot of the humor leans into some great meta references and visual gags that audiences will enjoy.
The story as a whole is very simple and plays on the idea of defining heroes and villains that comic books always tackle while putting a Dragon Ball spin on it. With Piccolo leading, the story is especially fun and sees him sort of out of his element having to deal with a conflict on his own and in his own way. Plus, there a lot of nods and appearances by franchise favorites that fans will love and many will find it tough not to cheer when they come on-screen. Also, those worried that the film doesn’t continue Broly’s story should quell those worries. Super Hero never forgets to check in with Broly, Goku, and Vegeta and the trio delivers some great moments, including a post-credit scene that will definitely be pleasing for long-time fans. The only area where Super Hero lacks is with its finale threat as its attempt to resurrect a classic villain falls a little flat. Sure, it’s cool that the film tries to bring back a rarely seen villain, but they aren’t characterized in an interesting way. The character is basically just a brutish Frankenstein creation that lacks personality or interesting motivations to make for a fully satisfying resurrection.
While it might not hit all the same heights that Broly did, Super Hero is still a great follow-up that offers a refreshing slice of Dragon Ball goodness that everyone can enjoy. It’s a great showing of why Dragon Ball deserves the big screen because it provides an easily enjoyable story, great fan service, and visually jaw-dropping battles that audiences won’t find anywhere else.