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Dragon Ball Super Super Hero Is A Loving Tribute To Piccolo & Gohan Fans

Dragon Ball Super Super Hero is the 21st movie in the franchise and the fourth to be considered canon, after 2013’s Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods, 2015’s Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F and 2018’s Dragon Ball Super Broly (check out my review of that movie here), all of which are written by creator Akira Toriyama himself. It’s also quite possibly the best one yet.

Father And Son

The best thing about the movie is that it puts the spotlight on someone other than Goku and Vegeta for once. Dragon Ball Super Super Hero puts the spotlight on Piccolo and Gohan. It’s refreshing to see a Piccolo-centric movie, which is a first for the franchise. He has the most screen time in the movie, more than even Gohan. Speaking of Gohan, the last time we saw him playing an integral role in a movie was probably back in 1994’s Dragon Ball Z Bio-Broly.

Dragon Ball movies have never been known for their plot or continuity but I was surprised by how heavily Dragon Ball Super Super Hero references not only the Dragon Ball Super anime but also Dragon Ball Z and the original Dragon Ball as well. These throwbacks and easter eggs are a nostalgic tribute for long-time fans who have been watching the franchise since the 80s, 90s or early 2000s, as well as those who have been playing some of the recent Dragon Ball games (Dragon Ball FighterZ, look out for it).

The plot in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero revolves around Piccolo and Gohan going up against a returning Red Ribbon Army. To say more would be to spoil the story, but I can say this; the movie has surprising connections to the past, including the original Dragon Ball, which is part of why this movie is so good for fans to appreciate. That said, the movie does explain all of that with brief recaps and flashbacks, so those unfamiliar with Dragon Ball can still enjoy the movie. If you’re a longtime Dragon Ball fan, you’ll beam with excitement at every callback because I know I did with all the giddiness I felt when I was a boy growing up and watching Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball Super Super Hero is a father and son story, as well as a grandfather one. Who is the father/grandfather? No, it’s not Goku. In fact, don’t expect Goku and Vegeta to do much in the movie, they’re relegated to the sidelines this time around (don’t be too disappointed by that, they still get one good fight scene in the movie). As almost all Dragon Ball fans can attest to, Piccolo is arguably more of a father than Goku (who is not only absent a lot of the time, he’s also pretty neglectful). Thus, the relationship between Piccolo and Gohan, as well as between Piccolo and Pan (Gohan’s adorable daughter who’s grown a bit from the baby that she was in the Dragon Ball Super anime), are the emotional crux of the entire movie.

With a story that’s more personal, the stakes in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero may feel lower than the multiversal tournaments in the Dragon Ball Super anime or even the battle that broke dimensional barriers in Dragon Ball Super Broly, but that doesn’t make the movie any less epic. The fight scenes are awesome, especially when watched in IMAX. Oh, you’re worried that the movie is rendered in 3D CG instead of the traditional 2D animation? Don’t be. I was initially worried that the new 3D CG animation would look cheap or sometimes look like a video game, but it’s clear that this is no low-budget production.

The 3D CG animation in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero still looks detailed and expressive, though certain scenes may look a bit stilted. However, this new visual style shines during the movie’s fight scenes, which impressed me. The way that the camera follows the action in this new 3D CG style makes the fight scenes look more dynamic than ever, in ways that I don’t think are possible to pull off in conventional 2D animation. Remember how Dragon Ball Super Broly utilized a bit of 3D CG in its climactic fight between Gogeta and Broly? Imagine a whole movie with action like that but with improvements on almost every level, so kudos to director Tetsuro Kodama (who also directed Dragon Ball Super Broly) and Toei Animation. Trust me, it all looks better in motion than it does in screenshots.

What’s amazing is that Dragon Ball Super Super Hero is the first anime movie to receive an IMAX release in Malaysian cinemas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Malaysia, I was able to watch this movie in full IMAX glory and I can tell you that it’s definitely worth it due to how dynamic the fight scenes are portrayed in 3D CG. Just one piece of advice; try not to sit too close to the screen because you’ll want to be able to catch all the action as it unfolds.

In a franchise that’s been going on as long as Dragon Ball, it’s easy to simply keep doing the same thing, and Dragon Ball Super Super Hero does follow several of the same tropes, including new deus ex machina transformations. The biggest issue with the movie for me is the final antagonist, which feels like a step down after how compelling they made the last few Dragon Ball antagonists such as Jiren and Broly. This one just feels a bit tacked on.

Ultra Instinct

If you’re a Dragon Ball fan, Dragon Ball Super Super Hero is a must-watch and one that will tug the heartstrings of anyone who grew up watching the original Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z anime. It’s perhaps one of the best Dragon Ball movies, as it proves that Dragon Ball doesn’t need Goku or Vegeta to be great. The rest of the supporting characters need some love too, and as a Dragon Ball fan, I’m happy to see characters like Piccolo and Gohan finally getting more time to shine.

PSA: Stay until the end of the credits because there’s a post-credits scene that is a real treat for fans.

FINAL SCORE: 90/100

We received an early screener of Dragon Ball Super Super Hero courtesy of Sony Pictures Malaysia. Dragon Ball Super Super Hero is slated to premiere in Malaysian cinemas on 30 August 2022, including IMAX screens.

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  1. New Dragon Ball Daima Anime Announced, Coming In Fall 2024

    October 13, 2023 at 1:34 am

    […] The franchise is ramping up hype again after releasing one of its best movies just last year with Dragon Ball Super Super Hero and with a new Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi 4 game in the […]

  2. Akira Toriyama: His Greatest Iconic Works From Dragon Ball To Dragon Quest

    March 8, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    […] Ball itself is still going strong 40 years later with new movies (most recently, 2022’s Dragon Ball Super Super Hero), sequel manga/anime (the upcoming Dragon Ball Daima) and games (the upcoming Dragon Ball Sparking […]

  3. The Late Akira Toriyama’s Last Dragon Ball Anime Premieres This October

    July 19, 2024 at 4:06 pm

    […] The franchise is ramping up hype again after releasing one of its best movies just last year with Dragon Ball Super Super Hero and with a new Dragon Ball Sparking! Zero game coming later this […]

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