As a fan of the entire Dragonball series, I am always excited when something new comes out and I rush to see it as soon as I can. In this case, we get a nice detour from the norm as the stars of this movie are not Goku and Vegeta but Gohan and Piccolo. Now I will admit that one thing I wish the series did a better job of sharing the spotlight with the rest of the case so I was excited to see how the movie would play out because of this. In this case, Goku and Vegeta are off-world training and unable to be contacted as the Red Ribbon army reemerges with new more powerful androids and it’s up to Gohan and Piccolo to stop them. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this movie but be warned I am going to type this up with the assumption that the readers know at least one new form is present in the movie as that is the norm with the series anymore.
The story of the movie is pretty solid. It does a great job explaining why we don’t have Goku and Vegeta as the main characters and why all the focus shifts to Gohan and Piccolo and the banter between the characters is great. While the story as a whole is not the most creative as it kind of seems to be a rehash of events you can see in the Cell saga of Dragonball Z, I honestly believe the Dragonball series past the young Goku arc is not really a series that you get invested in because of the story but because of the fighting and over the top stakes. It does just enough for what you would expect from a good Dragonball Super experience which is explaining the events to keep the viewer engaged but it’s not complicated enough that it overshadows the parts of the show that I feel viewers are more invested in. In this case, it does clearly explain how the Red Ribbon army returned and that’s about all the viewer needs to know to understand why we have more androids to deal with.
Gohan and Piccolo do a great job being the lead of this movie. I was afraid that the movie would kind of make Piccolo more of a side character during the moments that focused on Gohan but it really does a great job balancing screentime between both of them and giving them both plenty of chances to shine. Plus we really got to explore character relationships that we’ve never really dived into much if at all prior to this movie such as Gohan being a father, Goku being a mentor for Broly, and Piccolo bearing the weight of an impending threat on his shoulders. I found it to be great to see how these characters react in situations like this because it makes the movie as a whole less predicable and it’s fun finding out how the characters respond to new roles.
The fighting is really entertaining and takes a detour from the format we saw in the previous movie with Broly. Instead of one long fight that constantly changes as the fight goes on we get more of a series of smaller skirmishes before one final battle and I love how it gives an entirely different feel to the action in this movie from the last one. Each fight is well done and I was on the edge of my seat with my excitement for each one. The new forms in this movie, I won’t say what they are or who gets them, are really good. I’ll admit one in particular really took me by surprise because it was very unexpected and the other I did expect but I was happy with how it turned out. The forms look amazing and the circumstances behind them were well done.
The new style of animation for the most part works. I enjoyed how it had a 3D effect on the characters especially when we got full 360-degree views of some of the moments. The only real problem was that sometimes this new style of animation made it hard to follow some of the faster-paced scenes and I think a lot of that was just due to the fact that I wasn’t really adjusted to it during those moments. One of the fights happens early on in the movie and that was the one that I found most jarring which makes me think that’s what happened.
So overall everything is done rather well in this movie, the story, animation, and the characters but it is a movie with some flaws. The first is less of a flaw in the movie but a flaw in the series as a whole with Gohan. The idea of having Gohan find his fighting instinct again is a very entertaining plot point but it’s something that is way overdone. We’ve seen it a couple of times in Dragonball Z and again in Dragon Ball Super so at this point I found it frustrating that he needed to find his fighting instinct yet again. It was still fun to watch but they really need to show us what direction Gohan takes after this character development. As for another character I feel like Bulma is actually regressing as a character. In the namekian saga of Dragon Ball Z, she was very selfish and vain but really great to be a mature motherly character in the Buu saga and the beginning of Super, but here it’s like we are seeing the old Bulma again. The situation was humorous but I really feel like they could do more with a mature Bulma and humor rather than have her act like her old self for the sake of a laugh. This is a character that I really like because of how much she has evolved in the series and I would like for them to keep it that way.
The final thing I disliked about the movie was how it felt like a reimagining of the Cell arc in Dragon Ball Z. Now I will admit the Cell arc is my personal favorite of Z so it was a good choice but when the events of this movie mimic the events of the show so closely you can’t help but make a comparison of the two. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing but I feel like more could have been done to avoid the comparison. After all, we have seen another Dragon Ball Z movie that features an android made by the Red Ribbon army but that was able to change things enough to be less compared to the Cell saga. It’s not inherently a bad thing as this movie made it work it’s just something I wish more was done with.
Overall this was a very entertaining movie experience that I can’t wait to have on blu ray. It gave me exactly the experience I was hoping for in a Dragonball movie and did a great job putting new characters in the spotlight. I just hope going forward we can do more with these characters rather than rehashing previously successful plot points with them because while it’s entertaining the formula is now stale.