Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero made its way to the Indian theatres on Aug 26, 2022, releasing after the unprecedented success of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie at the Indian box office. Naturally, fans were excited for the film, not just because it belonged to a much-loved franchise, but also since it was the first anime movie to get a Hindi dub in the country.
I too was eager to see Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero for a couple of reasons; its focus on Gohan and Piccolo, two fan-favorite characters who were sidelined as the Dragon Ball franchise evolved into a multiversal battle shonen, and also the major use of 3D animation in the movie.
While the news about Goku and Vegeta playing a marginal role in the movie was a breath of fresh air, the use of 3D animation by Toei is something I was skeptical about.
I am a huge fan of the 2D art style that was intrinsic to the early days of Dragon Ball anime. I grew up watching it, so I was among those who might have griped at the changes being introduced by Toei. However, I certainly wasn’t disappointed as I walked out of Juhu PVR after the movie’s premiere.
The 3D CG animation of the movie:
The CG animation certainly did have some positives. While the character’s movements were more smoother and consistent than what you’d see in a traditional 2D animation, the biggest pro for me has to be the free animation of the idle characters, who would otherwise have stood still.
For instance, Pan running around and doing odd things in the frames she is not even in the focus, or Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 posing and quibbling in the background as Magenta and Hedo had their more important arguments, added more depth to these scenes.
On the other hand, the character designs and the visuals seemed less like that of an anime and more game-like at multiple instances. The scene where Piccolo was training Pan, though striking in its color balance, lighting and shadows, felt more like an improved version of Motu-Patlu (the grass? the background?) and less like a scene from a Dragon Ball movie.
The CG animation was extensively used to create the backgrounds, in the movie’s fight scenes and to portray the damages of these said fights. And most of these parts stood out like a sore thumb. Gohan’s very first transformation in the movie, Cell Max’s energy burst as he spawned and some other similar scenes felt kind of spotty too.
While Dragon Ball Super: Broly too included 3D models in the fight scenes, they meshed perfectly with the 2D style, drawing a lot of praise from the fans. However, Super Hero’s complete overhaul made the CG animation more visible, and the fan’s verdict on it should be out soon!
Plot of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero:
Coming to the plot, the movie was littered with throwbacks to Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, and it will certainly add to the nostalgia meter for old-school fans of the series.
The revival of the Red Ribbon army, Piccolo meditating on the mountain top (c’mon, that’s iconic), his gigantification (classic callback to the Budokai Tenkaichi fight), references to Cell and how the movie linked itself to the Cell Saga are certainly some aspects which I loved very much.
Other than that, the plot had nothing unique to offer and seemed rushed in most parts.
The movie started off with a detailed explanation of the Red Ribbon army, their history, and their lore, giving me hope (especially with Toriyama being involved). However, post Hedo being recruited, the balance went off somehow.
While Gamma 2’s fight with Piccolo didn’t last long, the movie spent a lot of time showing Piccolo investigating and infiltrating the Red Ribbon army’s base. The focus on investigation is a win-win, however, there are other plot details that should have received a similar treatment.
There were a number of battles scattered or more like crammed into the movie, and all of them failed to leave an impact. Though the movie’s description says that Gohan is involved in a life or death scenario to save the earth, nowhere in the movie did the stakes seem so high.
The transformations, especially the new forms that main characters Gohan and Piccolo achieved after a long time, and even the sacrifices that were made over the course of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero seemed shallow compared to Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation or Android 16’s sacrifice in the Cell Saga.
But in the end, negatives aside, the plot progresses without any hiccups and is enjoyable in its majority. Pan’s cuteness is a winner, without a doubt.
The way the movie bridges the gap to the end of Dragon Ball Z is accurate and perfect.
The characters and how they fared:
Gohan and Piccolo were the center of attraction of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. It would be criminal to expect a detailed development from a movie with a runtime of around 100 minutes, but they somehow manage to pull it off.
The film, or Piccolo more so, raised the fans concerns about Gohan not having achieved his much lauded potential. In the end, Gohan did play the major role in the final face-off against Cell Max, albeit in an unconvincing way.
Piccolo had more of an important role in the movie than Gohan, as he took up the role of the silent orchestrator. His relationship with Pan is also a highlight in the movie.
Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 on the other hand, stole the show, along with Hedo. Their chemistry lit up the screen as the duo exuberated likeable vibes. They seamlessly shifted from their roles of main antagonists to teaming up with the Z warriors in the final fight.
Carmine, his poses, his demeanor, his running and the videos that he created (and failed miserably on whatever platform he uploaded them) acted as the perfect comic relief. Talking about comic relief, Bulma using Shenron as her personal cosmetologist, had me in splits.
The biggest surprise for fans in the movie was definitely the inclusion of Cell Max. The fans were hyped by whatever was teased in the trailer regarding Cell. However, Cell Max displayed no characteristics of the original Cell we saw in Dragon Ball Z and was just a mindless machine hellbent on causing destruction.
Gotenks too made a hilarious appearance after a long layoff. Butt afficionados have a precious gift by Gotenks for them in the movie.
Goku, Vegeta and Broly make a brief cameo, as they train on Beerus’ planet. They did not have a direct impact on the happenings of the movie, however, there is one very important post credits scene that Dragon Ball Z fans should definitely not miss.
Overall, the movie was enjoyable and fans of the franchise should not miss it. While the plot doesn’t have the recipe to blow your mind, nor the fight scenes that could rival Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero still has enough nostalgia packed in to make it a worthwhile experience.
The inclusion of Gohan and Piccolo too, like I said before, is a breath of fresh air. The animation, though not without its downsides, is bound to give you a new experience, and is definitely worth a try.