Anime Film Review: Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Dragon Ball Super: Broly was released as the first film with the Dragon Ball Super branding, and it is the 20th Dragon Ball feature film overall.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Directed by: Tatsuya Nagamine
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Starring: Masako Nozawa, Aya Hisakawa, Ryo Horikawa, Toshio Furukawa, Takeshi Kusao, Ryusei Nakao, Koichi Yamadera, Masakazu Morita, Ryuzaburo Otomo, Katsuhisa Hoki, Naoko Watanabe, Banjo Ginga, Shigeru Chiba, Tetsu Inada, Nana Mizuki, Tomokazu Sugita, Masami Kikuchi, Kimiko Saito, Yukiko Morishita, Takuya Kirimoto, Hisao Egawa, Atsuki Tani, Yohei Azakami, Takashi Matsuyama, and Bin Shimada

When I first heard about this film and the fact that it would focus on Broly, I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly excited about this film. I had never liked Broly in his previous three film appearances (Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly Second Coming, and Bio-Broly), so I was a bit apprehensive about having him being the main focus of another Dragon Ball film. But after finishing off the Dragon Ball Super anime series, I made myself watch Dragon Ball Super: Broly so I could at least say I’ve seen all the television series and films that have been released up to this point.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is actually a re-telling of Broly’s origin story, and it starts out with some history of the Saiyans. The ultimate focus of this history, though, is on Vegeta, Broly, and Goku and what happened to them leading up to their respective introductions. The most time is spent on Broly, though, which makes sense. The audience gets to see King Vegeta get angry that another Saiyan child would have a higher power level than his son. Broly is sent away in a pod, and his father, Paragus, steals a ship to rescue him. The pod lands on a rather inhospitable planet, and Paragus’ ship crash lands on the planet. While Paragus is able to rescue Broly, they are unable to leave because the ship is damaged. Paragus vows to raise his son in order to exact revenge on King Vegeta.

When Frieza summons all the Saiyans back to Planet Vegeta, Bardock (Goku’s father) returns, but suspects something isn’t right. In this film, we get to meet Goku’s mother, Gine, and after some discussion, she and Bardock steal a pod in order to send Goku away to Earth, just in case Bardock is correct about Frieza’s intentions. While it was great to get to see Goku’s mother, this telling of Goku’s being sent away to Earth is a bit different than what was explained in the Dragon Ball Z franchise. While Goku is still a low-level warrior in this telling, it wasn’t his parents who sent him to Earth in the original telling of his departure from Planet Vegeta.

After Planet Vegeta is destroyed, there’s a scene of Vegeta and Raditz, along with Nappa and a few other Saiyans, getting the news of their home planet’s destruction. Vegeta is more concerned about the fact that he’ll never be king than he is over the fact that his father and most of his race are now dead. When Vegeta is asked about his brother, he just shrugs it off and says he has no idea wha’’s happened to him. Raditz has the same reaction when asked about his younger brother.

The film then moves 41 years into the future and is set at a time after the end of the Dragon Ball Super anime series. Two of Freiza’s henchmen have broken into Capsule Corp and stolen the Dragon Radar and the six Dragon Balls that Bulma has collected. Bulma knows where they’re headed, so she, Goku, and Vegeta head toward that location.

Meanwhile, two new recruits for Frieza’s army are out trying to find new recruits for Frieza, and they end up on the planet where Paragus and Broly are. The two recruits find them and are blown away by their power levels. When they learn that the two of them have been stuck on this planet for years, they make a strong case for Paragus and Broly to come with them. The two recruits become friends with Broly, and the female recruit is unhappy about how Paragus tries to control Broly. She steals the remote and destroys it, which becomes important later in the story.

Frieza decides to take Paragus and Broly with him when they go to retrieve the Dragon Balls on Earth. Goku, Vegeta, and Broly encounter each other, and this is when the battle that dominates the film gets started. At first, it seems like Vegeta has the upper hand on Broly, but as Broly figures out what Vegeta is doing, it becomes a much more even match. But Broly’s strength keeps going up, and Paragus has no way to control it since the remote was destroyed. The battle gets so insane that Goku has to convince Vegeta to do a fusion with him. The fusion gag from the Fusion Reborn film comes into play here, and it’s actually amusing and works in this film. But once they merge and become Gogeta, the climax of the film gets underway. I liked how the battle was brought to an end, thanks to some unexpected help.

After watching Dragon Ball Super: Broly, I have to say that this was a much better film than I had anticipated. This telling of Broly’s story allowed Broly to truly be developed as a character, and as a viewer, I came to really like him. I also thought the addition of the old man and the female as recruits for Frieza’s army helped to make a huge difference. By having these two characters for Broly to befriend and confide in, the viewer gets to see that Broly is actually a decent and gentle Saiyan, who was being pushed by his father to become a warrior because of his desire to get his revenge on King Vegeta. I also thought this film made it even clearer how much of an asshole Paragus is. And while the battle between Broly, Vegeta, and Goku took up quite a bit of the runtime of the film, it never felt dragged out or boring. I also liked how parent-child relationships played an important role in this film as well, and we get to see three different relationships (Gine and Bardock’s love for Goku, King Vegeta wanting to mold his son into what he wanted him to be, and Paragus micromanaging Broly’s life).

The animation was definitely in the same vein as the Dragon Ball Super anime series, although it was at a little higher quality for this feature film. My only real gripe with the animation has to do with when attempts were made to include computer graphics among the traditionally animated elements. The CG used in this film stood out way too much, and it was blatantly obvious how much CG was being used in some of the scenes. Outside of that, though, the animation was pretty decent.

I was happy to see how Dragon Ball Super: Broly ultimately retcons the three Broly movies from the Dragon Ball Z films that were released in the 1990’s. Not only does it retcon those three films, this single film tells a much stronger story for Broly. I would highly recommend that fans of the Dragon Ball franchise to watch the Dragon Ball Super: Broly anime film, because it’s really worth every minute of its runtime.

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