Dragon Ball is one of the most popular franchises ever created. The original manga ran from 1984 to 1995, but the franchise has been going strong for more than three decades. Nowadays with Dragon Ball Super, the latest era of the series, Dragon Ball is going strong both in manga and anime form, Dragon Ball keeps capturing the hearts of both old and new audiences. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is just the latest film in the franchise, and it is without a doubt one of the best.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is the 21st film in the franchise. Some of these films have been theatrical experiences, but most of them ended up going straight to video. Lately, Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation have been making sure that the films are worthy of being seen in theaters, and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero fits right into that ambition, being one of the most impressive looking films in the franchise.
The previous film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, was an impressive example of 2D animation. The battles were just amazing, and seeing our favorite characters in their best-looking versions is always a treat. However, even in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Toei was toying with CGI to accentuate some scenes or moments throughout the movie. Anime studios have been slowly transitioning into 3D animation. The change has been slow, and it has certainly taken a different route than what 3D animation is in the west.
In Japan, anime studios have not tried to make films in the same way as Pixar or Disney would. Instead, they have tried to translate the anime aesthetic into a 3D environment. It has been a very difficult challenge, with some movies and TV shows failing spectacularly. The result of using CGI has always been stiff animations, awkward interactions, and a lack of detail in the 3D models. However, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero might be the first film to crack the formula of CGI anime, as it looks just amazing.
Dragon Ball FighterZ, a fighting game developed by Arc System Works, was proof that Dragon Ball could look amazing in 3D. The game was able to look just like the best-animated episodes from the show and retain the feeling of epicness that has always accompanied these episodes. Toie might have learned something from that game because they have done the impossible. The CGI animation in Super Hero looks incredible, and it avoids feeling stiff or lacking in detail.
2D will always be king in terms of anime, but Toie has really pulled off an amazing CGI anime film. More studios should now be able to see how to use CGI to replicate the anime feeling in the proper way. By being 3D, the camera work in this movie goes beyond anything we have seen in the series, and the movie goes into very intense and fantastic battles towards the end of the film. The 3D animation even manages to translate a lot of the heart and humor we love from the series.
On top of the incredible animation, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is also very special because it tells one of those rare stories where Goku and Vegeta are not at the center of it. The Dragon Ball cast is quite big, and yet, as the series progressed, the stories started to center almost exclusively around Goku and Vegeta. These two are the big guns when it comes to power level, so every time a new danger appears, you can count that these two characters will be there to face the danger.
Unfortunately, this leaves the rest of the characters in the dust, as if they were just useless background. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero acknowledges this aspect of the story and goes with it. This time, it is the chance of other characters to be the protagonists. The rest of the cast has more to do in this one, and it is amazing just to give them the chance to stand in the spotlight. We wish there could be more stories like this in the series. The rest of the cast deserve it.
Piccolo is the main character of the movie, and he carries it with ease. Piccolo is one of the most interesting characters in the series, and the one with the best character development in the show. His change from enemy to friend was just amazing, but he was forgotten throughout the later parts of Z and Super. Now, he proves that he can carry an entire film on his back and makes us laugh and scream with excitement just for him.
Gohan, also shares the spotlight with Piccolo in the film, and it feels just right, especially for those members of the audience who know and understand the relationship and history between these two characters. It is amazing to see them fighting back to back. Gohan, who was hyped up during early Dragon Ball Z as a warrior of infinite potential, goes to show once again that he really is one of the most imposing warriors in the entire universe.
The film’s mix of comedy and action is just perfect. It is great to see the story moving forward, and whatever comes next must be really exciting. You can really film that Toriyama and the other writers are setting up one hell of a team for the future. There are also payoffs towards the end of the movie, thanks to a fantastic post-credit scene. So be sure to not leave the theater before watching it.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is a triumph. It is one of the best Dragon Ball films ever made. The story feels unique, and the fact that it centers its plot around the characters of Piccolo and Gohan feels like a breath of fresh air. On top of that, the fact that Toie managed to crack the CGI anime craft is one hell of an achievement. We can only imagine what it will look like as the techniques to make it keep improving. If you’re a fan of the franchise, this is a must-watch.