3.75 out of 5
Neat

Purrr....

  • Not focused on Goku
  • Piccolo
  • Gamma 2
  • Nostalgia scenes

Hisss!

  • Weird 3D animation scenes
  • Cell Max
  • No vocal music tracks

Studio
Toei Animation
Director
Tetsuro Kodama
Genre
Action, Adventure, Animation
Rated
PG-13
Theatrical Release Date (NA)
Aug 19, 2022
Film Length
1hr 40min
Purchase From


Filed Under

The review contains spoilers of the film.

The Dragon Ball franchise first kicked off in 1984 and has since become a global phenomenon. Whether you like the series or not, Dragon Ball helps showcase anime across the world, and even after 20 films, it’s still going strong. The newest entry, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, differentiates itself from its many predecessors, using 3D animation for the entire film and focusing on characters other than Goku, the series’ protagonist. However, the film falters with a recycled storyline and awkward-looking 3D animated scenes.

It’s All About the Green

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero - Screenshot

Since 1984, the Dragon Ball series has followed Goku and rarely steps away to focus on other characters. In the latest franchise film, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, this is one of those rare moments where Goku is not the main character. Instead, the film mostly focuses on Goku’s son, Gohan, as well as Piccolo, Goku’s old rival and Gohan’s martial arts teacher. Vegeta, Goku’s rival, also takes a backseat, even though he is considered one of the top fan-favorite characters. That said, fans will still get to see the series’ two heavyweights for a short time, training on a planet far away from the events occurring on Earth.

The film reiterates the history of the Red Ribbon Army, an evil organization that was taken down by Goku when he was a boy. The organization is looking to make a comeback with the help of Magenta, the son of the former leader of the Red Ribbon Army. However, to take down Goku and his allies, he’ll need a brilliant scientist to help achieve his goal of taking over the world. Dr. Hedo, the grandson of scientist Dr. Gero, who once created androids for the Red Ribbon Army, is sweet-talked (and sweet-toothed) into creating his own powerful androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2.

Elsewhere, Piccolo mentors Pan, Gohan’s daughter. With Gohan too focused on his career, Gohan is avoiding training and at times parenting, much to Piccolo’s annoyance. After Piccolo’s encounter with Gamma 2, Piccolo decides to use the Red Ribbon Army to push Gohan to fight and give him a lesson that he shouldn’t be slacking off. Of course, Pan does get in on the action, aiding Piccolo’s plans, and it’s comical. However, Piccolo may have bitten more than he can chew.

2022 Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero - Screenshot

The animated film takes a different approach from prior Dragon Ball films, focusing on Piccolo, Gohan, Pan, and other minor characters. Unfortunately, those wanting to see Majin Buu fight will be disappointed once again as Buu goes into a slumber and doesn’t join the fight. Even factoring that in, overall, it’s a refresher that you don’t need the protagonist to make a film interesting.

Still, Super Hero falls into the same issue as previous entries, recycling storylines and characters. In Super Hero, fans are introduced to two new androids and the return of Cell. Fans of the Dragon Ball Z series will recognize that it’s a story setup fairly similar to the Android saga. Let’s also not forget that Piccolo gained a power boost in that saga to take on the new foes. Then, add a pinch of the Red Ribbon Army saga content from the Dragon Ball series. Put them all together for this 1.5 hour movie.

Though with Piccolo’s power boost in the film, it’s welcoming to see him in the spotlight. Gohan snaps back into his true fighting form and goes even further in the climax of the final battle. The film also gives more clarification on why Gohan keeps stumbling when it comes to catching items tossed his way. It also reveals that Saiyan children have sudden growth spurts.

Super Androids, Cell Meh

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero - Screenshot

Although fans are given yet another pair of androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 are entertaining. The two androids are distinctly different from previous character designs, and resemble classic Japanese television superheroes such as Ultraman. Dr. Hedo, creator of the androids, is a superhero fanatic and programmed the two androids to carry a personality of heroes. Thus, they proclaim justice and the taking down of evil. Gamma 1’s personality is more serious, while Gamma 2’s personality feels relaxed and cocky. You could even say that Gamma 2 is like the blue blur himself, Sonic the Hedgehog, in that way. Luckily for fans, Gamma 2 has more screen time than his android partner.

While Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 are fun to watch, the final enemy, Cell Max, is underwhelming. The build-up of Cell Max made the film exciting, but when it was time to unleash him, he was little more than an overgrown monster on a rampage. Cell with a tail like a wrecking ball just emphasizes that even more. Plus, if the beast gets taken down, he’ll simply blow up. It would have been nice to see a glimpse of the intelligence seen in the original Cell in this newer version, but now the original character feels tainted. The mighty Cell that was once a terrifying force to be reckoned with turned into a generic, rampaging, single-minded beast. It’s unfortunate.

A Good Attempt for 3D

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero - Screenshot

The 21st Dragon Ball film steps into the world of full, feature-length 3D animation, and while it looks good for the most part, it struggles in some areas. The awkward movements are noticeable in scenes with little movement. Instead of having a smooth transition when a character’s body is moving, such as walking or arm gesturing, the animation looks too stiff and unrealistic. In fast-paced action scenes, it’s not as noticeable.

The look and feel of the character models are done quite well and match the original 2D illustrations. They very much resemble the visuals from the popular Dragon Ball FighterZ fighting game, except improved, which is a testament to the developers of that title. Facial expressions and body effects such as shivering look natural with these 3D models. Special effects are also beautifully done, especially in the final battle against Cell Max.

Eight years after the 2014 Battle of Gods film, the 3D effects are much improved, and they can only get even better from here.

Great Effects, No Vocals

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero - Screenshot

The film’s sound effects are done quite nicely. Buildings collapsing and energy attacks being fired all sounded great as they should, but Gamma 1 and Gamma 2’s sounds stood out the most. Anytime these androids land or take a hit, you can hear the effect of hitting a piece of metal.

Dragon Ball’s 2022 film also contains a solid set of orchestrated music, though it’s missing vocal tracks. Unlike the previous 20 films, Super Hero doesn’t have a band playing a special score for the end of the film.

If anything, a vocal track inserted into the film would have brought more excitement to the film’s climax when Gohan snaps and gains a power boost to fight Cell Max. Where’s Hironobu Kageyama when you need him? Two of the recent Dragon Ball films, Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F, brought in vocal songs in the middle of the movie, making the action more energetic. Super Hero could have used the same treatment, and it’s a missed opportunity.

The Final Attack

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is an enjoyable film that puts a much-needed spotlight on the side characters rather than the usual series protagonist. Its first attempt in 3D needs more refinement, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing this film.

An early screening provided by Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures for this review. Fans can grab our Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero wallpapers for their favorite device here at Cat with Monocle. Tickets available through the film’s official website.

Dragon Ball Super: SUPER HERO | LAUNCH TRAILER

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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