Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is the second film to be released with the Dragon Ball Super branding, and it is the 21st Dragon Ball feature film overall.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
Directed by: Tetsuro Kodama
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Starring: Masako Nozawa, Toshio Furukawa, Ryo Horikawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Mamoru Miyano, Miyu Irino,, Volcano Ota, Ryota Takeuchi, Takeshi Kusao, Miki Ito, Bin Shimada, Mayumi Tanaka, Yuko Minaguchi, Aya Hisakawa, Ken Uo, Aya Hirano, Ryuzaburo Otomo, Koichi Yamadera, Masakazu Morita, Nana Mizuki, Tomokazu Sugita, and Norio Wakamoto

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has the distinction of being the first Dragon Ball project to be produced mainly using 3D animation. Admittedly, this different style threw me off right at first, but I became so engrossed in the story that I adjusted to this new animation style. One of my kids watched the film with me and commented that the animation made her think of the cut scenes from the Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2 videogame. One of the few spots in the film to not utilize the 3D animation is the recap at the very beginning, which includes footage from both the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z anime series. My only complaint with the visuals is that for the ending credits, we only get rough drawings on the side of the screen instead of seeing what these drawings depict with actual animation.

The recap at the beginning of the film is there to remind the audience about the Red Ribbon Army and how Goku had defeated them years earlier. It also includes references to Dr. Gero and his creation of the artificial humans and Cell. This recap is important, because both of these ideas play a major part in the story of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.

Magenta, the CEO of Red Pharmaceuticals, is the son of Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army. Magenta seeks to revive the organization in order to exact his revenge on Goku for defeating his father years earlier. Magenta, along with his assistant Carmine, seek to recruit Dr. Gero’s surviving grandson, Dr. Hedo, to help them. Hedo is a mad scientist who has just gotten out of jail after serving a sentence for grave robbing.

Hedo is an interesting character. While he may be a mad scientist, he is also quite the fan of superheroes. It turns out that Hedo has no memory of his grandfather, and his parents were upset with the Red Ribbon Army for luring Gero into their organization, so he has no reason to seek revenge for his grandfather. Magenta decides to use Hedo’s love of superheroes to convince him that Bulma’s Capsule Corporation is an evil organization bent on world domination. Hedo agrees to help Magenta, but as we see later in the film, he draws the line at certain actions.

We see that Piccolo is training a now three-year-old Pan. He praises her for having most of the basics down, but she needs to work on being able to fly. At first, this seems kind of odd, since we saw Pan flying when she was an infant. However, she was likely doing it unconsciously when she was that young. Now that she’s a little older and has awareness of herself and her surroundings, she’s no longer able to do it. They have to stop their training, though, because Pan has to head off to preschool.

Later, Piccolo gets a call from Videl asking him to pick up Pan from school. She has another commitment, and Gohan is so engrossed in his research that he’s unable to get her. Piccolo gives Gohan a visit and reprimands him about ignoring his training and his family. We do get some humor here, though, as we see that Videl and Gohan keep giving Piccolo various plushies for helping out with Pan… and Piccolo obviously isn’t interested in them. At the same time, as a viewer, I kind of wanted to give Gohan a piece of my mind for focusing more on his research than on his family.

The two storylines come together when an android known as Gamma 2 appears before Piccolo for a confrontation. Gamma 2 isn’t the brightest, though, because Piccolo sees the Red Ribbon Army logo on him and realizes that there’s a connection after Gamma 2 was trying to be secretive about his identity. They have a fight, and Gamma 2 thinks he’s beaten Piccolo and leaves. Piccolo survives, and he follows Gamma 2 to Magenta’s hideout. He gets a disguise and learns about Magenta’s plot, about Cell Max (a new version of Cell), and about a plan to kidnap Pan to draw out Gohan. Piccolo manages to get himself assigned to the kidnapping mission, and he’s able to tell Pan what’s going on and how she can help make Magenta and the others believe that she’s scared.

Ultimately, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is Piccolo and Gohan’s story. Obviously, Gohan isn’t going to take his daughter being kidnapped lightly, and as he fights to rescue her, we see his strength increase. Piccolo also gets a power up in this film as well. The big climactic fight in the film utilizes Cell Max as the “final boss,” and it also serves as a moment to humanize Dr. Hedo and the two Gammas after they realize they were tricked by Magenta.

We do get occasional scenes of Goku and Vegeta training at Beerus’ place, with Broly, Lemo, and Cheelai watching, but they are not the major focus of the story. Their training and the inability for Bulma to contact them allowed for the film to focus on Gohan and Piccolo. One of the most humorous things in this section of the film is Beerus meeting Cheelai for the first time, and it’s obvious that he’s smitten with her. Whis even makes an off-hand comment when he realizes this.

One of my favorite things about Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero are the throwbacks and “easter eggs” that appear in it. One of my favorites is when we see footage that Magenta has gotten of Goku and the others over the years, and one of the shots he has is of Vegeta in the infamous pink shirt. There’s also a throwback to when Piccolo increased in size turning a Tenkaichi Tournament. It’s brought up by Gohan near the end of the battle with Cell Max, and Piccolo comments that he’d forgotten all about it. After this reference, we see Piccolo increase his size as part of the fight against Cell Max. I think there were a couple of others as well, but those are the main two that stood out.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has a great mix of action and humor, and I appreciated that the story didn’t rely on Goku to save the day. That’s become such an integral part of the Dragon Ball formula, so I appreciated seeing Toriyama shaking things up in that regard with the screenplay for this film. After seeing the films that Toriyama directly had a hand in, I think that they’re the strongest films in the Dragon Ball franchise.

This film was fun to watch, I appreciated seeing characters other than Goku getting the spotlight for once, and Pan is simply adorable. I would highly recommend Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero to fans of the Dragon Ball franchise.

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