Anime Film Review: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is the 18th animated feature film based on the Dragon Ball series, and the 14th film to be released for Dragon Ball Z. The film was directed by Masahiro Hosoda, and it was released to Japanese theaters on March 30, 2013. FUNimation holds the North American distribution rights for the film.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
Direced by: Masahiro Hosoda
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Starring: Masako Nozawa, Kōichi Yamadera, Masakazu Morita, Masaharu Satō, Hiromi Tsuru, Mayumi Tanaka, Ryō Horikawa, Toshio Furukawa, Tōru Furuya, Takeshi Kusao, and Jōji Yanami
Run Time: 85 minutes
Rated: PG

The film is considered to be part of the official Dragon Ball storyline, and is set between Chapters 517 and 518 of the original manga during the 10-year time skip. Akira Toriyama, the mangaka for Dragon Ball, was also heavily involved with the movie.

On August 5, 2014, my husband, my two older children, and I went to the AMC Kent Station 14 in Kent, Washington to see a theatrical screening of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. We got there early enough that we were able to get front row seats.

At our screening, it appeared that the individual running the projection didn’t entirely know what they were doing at first. It turns out they were supposed to start the file about 20 minutes before showtime so the previews and messages could be seen before the film. But for whatever reason, the projectionist didn’t try starting the file until right at 7:00, when the film was supposed to begin. The projectionist eventually got it going, and then the audience saw the 20 minute “pre-show” in fast forward so the projectionist could get to the movie.

Once the film started, we met Beerus, the antagonist that’s introduced for the film. He is awakened after a 39-year slumber by his assistant, Whis, who informs Beerus that Freeza was defeated by a Saiyan. Beerus then says the reason he wanted to awaken in 39 years was the fact that the Oracle Fish foretold that a mighty opponent, a Super Saiyan God, would appear before Beerus. He decides that the best way to track down this opponent is to talk to the Saiyan who defeated Freeza.

Goku, meanwhile, is training on King Kai’s planet, where he overhears King Kai talking with Supreme Kai about Beerus returning. A comical scene happens here, when King Kai tries to disguise what he was talking about. Unfortunately for him, Goku manages to figure it out.

A quick question here: wasn’t King Kai’s planet destroyed during the Cell Saga? The only thing I can conclude is that at some point between the end of the Majin Buu Saga and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the Dragon Balls were gathered together and a wish was made to restore King Kai’s planet and to bring King Kai, Bubbles, and anyone else on that planet back to life.

Anyway, Beerus arrives unannounced on King Kai’s planet and demands to see Goku. First he asks about the Super Saiyan God, and Goku and King Kai have no idea what he’s talking about. Beerus then challenges Goku to a fight, and Goku eagerly accepts. Unfortunately, even though he’s powered up to Super Saiyan 3, Beerus can easily defeat Goku. Beerus is disappointed with the battle, and heads to Earth in search of another Saiyan who might have information on the Super Saiyan God.

The scene then changes to Capsule Corp., where a big bash is being held for Bulma’s birthday. Most of the rest of the movie takes place at the party. Bulma is obviously drunk and acts rather bitchy, first complaining that Goku didn’t show up, and then complaining that Vegeta is off training instead of being at the party. I had to keep from laughing whenever the alcohol would be referred to as “punch,” because it’s obvious that that’s not what the adults are drinking.

Vegeta’s training is interrupted by a message from King Kai, telling him about Beerus and how easily he defeated Goku. He’s also told that if Beerus ends up in a bad mood, he’ll destroy the Earth. As Vegeta is about to warn the others, Beerus and Whis suddenly arrive. Vegeta has to swallow his pride and tries to do everything he can to placate Beerus. At one point in the film, this even includes Vegeta doing a song and dance on stage to distract Beerus from something that happens during the party. Vegeta’s song and dance was a highlight of the movie for me, and I was cracking up immensely because it was just so out of character for him.

While this is going on, Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu and skulking around because their Dragon Radar told them the Dragon Balls were there. It turns out they all look like kids now, because at some point before the film, they had collected the Dragon Balls and wished for youth. However, Shenron made them a little too young. They find where the Dragon Balls are hidden, but before they can take them, they are found by Trunks. Mai manages to sneak the four-star ball out as she does something to deceive Trunks. Trunks tells Goten that Mai is his girlfriend, and then later has Mai pretend to be his girlfriend. Unfortunately, when the four-star ball falls out of her pocket, she takes Trunks hostage. Gohan jumps in by making an appearance as The Great Saiyaman.

I knew going into this film that Pilaf, Mai, and Shu would be in it; however, I thought it was only going to be a brief cameo or something. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re actually important characters in the film. And the return of The Great Saiyaman also ended up being rather comical, although he does do something kind of stupid that hurts Videl.

But then, all hell breaks loose when Majin Buu refuses to give Beerus any pudding and eats it all in front of him. This angers Beerus, and he declares that he’s going to destroy the Earth. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Earth is now in danger all because of… pudding. Buu, Android 18, Tien, Piccolo, and Gohan all take on Beerus, but to no avail. Goten and Trunks power up into Gotenks, and Beerus literally gives him a spanking.

Then Bulma angers Beerus, and he slaps her. When Vegeta sees this, he gets so pissed off that he powers up to the point that he’s stronger than Goku. Unfortunately, even Vegeta is defeated. Goku arrives on the scene, gathers up the Dragon Balls, and summons Shenron. When Goku asks about the Super Saiyan God, Shenron is at first upset that there’s no wish. However, when it’s pointed out that Beerus is there, Shenron suddenly trembles and begins explaining. Wow, I never thought I’d see the day that Shenron would actually be afraid of something and become flustered!

Once Goku has the information he needs, an attempt is made to transform him into a Super Saiyan God so he can battle Beerus…

I don’t want to say anything further about the film, because it’s going to wander too much into “spoiler” territory.

But I have to say that Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is one of the best Dragon Ball Z films that I’ve seen. What I really appreciated seeing was the humorous aspect that was so prevalent in the first Dragon Ball anime series being used to great effect here. When Dragon Ball ended and Dragon Ball Z started, the whimsical humor of the first series all but disappeared, and Dragon Ball Z ended up taking itself way too seriously.

Beerus and Whis ended up being interesting antagonists. Not only were they strong and evil, but they also had a comical side to them. Again, that comical aspect was missing from the majority of the villains in Dragon Ball Z, with the original form of Majin Buu being the main exception to that.

But to turn this away from the humor, there’s also a couple of epic battle scenes between Goku and Beerus that should satisfy fans of the action and fighting aspect of Dragon Ball Z.

I want to add that as someone who’s seen all of the Dragon Ball franchise, I was happy to see both Oolong and Tien getting some screen time in this film, since they seemed to hardly show up or do much of anything during Dragon Ball Z, in addition to the reappearance of Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu. Poor Yamucha and Pu’ar are still relegated to being background characters, though. I don’t recall seeing Lunch at Bulma’s party, though, unless she was hidden in one of the quick panning shots at the party. Speaking of those quick panning shots, does Bra appear anywhere in them? From things that are said in the film, it would have to put this at a point where Bra would have to have been born already. Was she there, or was she simply overlooked?

Overall, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. My husband and kids seemed to enjoy it, too. In fact, my kids kept quoting lines from the movie as we headed home from the theater.

I would highly recommend this film to fans of the Dragon Ball franchise, and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed in it. And I recommend staying through the ending credits. On one side of the screen, you’ll see pages of the manga flipping by while the credits roll on the other side, with a new rendition of “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA” by FLOW accompanying the visuals. Personally, I thought FLOW did a great job covering the song. They made it sound more modern, but kept the spirit and feel of the original version.

I can’t wait for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods to come out on home video, so I can relive this movie again in my own living room. While it won’t be as cool as seeing it on a big screen in a theater, it’ll still be awesome to see it again.

Additional posts about Dragon Ball:

2 comments

  1. youfreakinnerd · August 6, 2014

    I totally agree! This movie was great! I loved it and can’t wait to freaking own it!

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