Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022)

Genres - Action, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Anime, Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Aug 19, 2022 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - Japan, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Jocelyn DeVore

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is another installment in the Dragon Ball mega franchise, directed by Tetsuro Kodama and written by the series creator, Akira Toriyama. The amazing Japanese voice acting cast consists of Masako Nozawa, Toshio Furukawa, Yuko Minaguchi, Ryo Horikawa, Ayay Hisakawa, Mayumi Tanaka, and Takeshi Kusao. The English cast is also chock-full of voice talent staples including Kyle Hebert, Sean Schemmel, Aleks Le, Robert McCollum, Charles Martinet, Christopher R. Sabat, Dameon Clarke, Eric Vale, Jeannie Tirado, Kara Edwards, and Meredith McCoy.

In this iteration, Magenta (Martinet) and the Red Ribbon Army reenter Piccolo (Sabat) and Gohan's (Herbert) life, accompanied by two new androids to challenge them and their team. Magenta schemes and plots against everyone in order to get his way. Can Piccolo gather the team in time before the Red Ribbon Army starts their evil plan? Will Magenta be able to lure Gohan into a trap by kidnapping his daughter, Pan (Tirado)?

Fans can rest assured in the fact that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is canon to the anime and takes place right after the Dragon Ball Super: Broly film.

Akira Toriyama's brainchild, Dragon Ball has been a force to be reckoned with for nearly four decades. First coming to fruition in 1984, the original series followed Son Goku (otherwise known as Kid Goku) as he tried to collect seven orbs called Dragon Balls in order to summon the dragon which would grant him a wish.

Since then, the initial anime spawned multiple manga, 5 different anime series, 21 movies, 4 OVA (original video animation, which serve as fun, short, filler episodes), and 11 animated specials. There was also a live action movie that fans don't like to talk about.

The various series and movies focus on redemption as a multitude of the villains who enter the manga and anime end their story arcs on the side of good. Early in the series, they also focused on subverting tropes. In the shonen/fighting genres, main characters are often broody and filled with angst as they save the world or the damsel in distress. However, Dragon Ball is filled with young protagonists who are cheery and optimistic, and who often make stubborn and selfish decisions.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is no exception to these topics. Redemption is a big part of the plot. Most of the characters, from the villains to the heroes, touch on this theme. The movie also focuses on Gohan's daughter Pan, who is bright and bubbly much like Goku was in the first series.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is also filled with classic action scenes, tongue-in-cheek humor, and cameos from fan favorites. There are callbacks galore in this wonderful cinematic adaptation. Everyone from Goku and Vegeta, to Broly and Lemo show up with their own flavor of antics. The director and writer did a wonderful job balancing cameos with characters central to the plot, so as to not overwhelm viewers.

Even anime enthusiasts who have never seen the series can enjoy the film as the filmmakers expertly summarize main plot lines in a concise and interesting way.

While Dragon Ball fans will appreciate the fan service and callbacks, there are some things to be desired. Cell Max, while intimidating as a big bad villain, comes off a little stale as he merely serves as a big brute who appears too late, just when all the heroes think everything is right with the world once again. Some fans may not like the CGI, which is a different animation style than the regular anime.

However, other viewers may find that the classic animation style and CGI intermix beautifully. Fans of the series will agree that watching it on a huge screen is a treat. Sitting alongside other fans is also a much-added benefit to experiencing it in theaters.