If someone were to tell me 10 years ago that Dragon Ball was still going to be relevant today, I wouldn’t believe them. Fast forward to now and fresh off the heels of the success of Dragon Ball Super, which continues the adventures of main hero Son Goku and friends, and a Goku balloon float shown to a nationwide audience on American television during the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Dragon Ball fandom is thriving. Perhaps because of that renewed enthusiasm, an opportunity came to re-introduce one of the series’ most popular characters into the proper lore. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a re-telling of a Super Saiyan that’s still loved by fans worldwide and pulls no punches in providing fun entertainment for long-time devotees of the series.
The Past and Present Collide
Dragon Ball Super: Broly first takes a look at the past of the Saiyans and how their fates would become intertwined with one of the series’ most iconic villains, Frieza. Fans get introduced to a more modern version of Broly, who originally debuted in the 1993 Dragon Ball Z movie, “The Legendary Super Saiyan.” The Broly featured in that movie isn’t considered to be canon; however, this new version of Broly is canon, in order to add some context into the whole Saiyans versus Frieza drama.
The plot then fast-forwards to the present where Frieza, fresh off his revival at the end of the Dragon Ball Super series, is trying to find the Dragon Balls once more. Two of his soldiers discover Broly and his father Paragus on a near-barren planet. Paragus has been harboring a desire for revenge against King Vegeta for condemning his son to die and trained Broly to help him achieve vengeance one day. With a common enemy (Vegeta being the son of King Vegeta), Frieza recruits Broly and Paragus in a renewed attempt to take out Goku and Vegeta on Earth. History becomes a major theme as Goku, Vegeta, and Broly battle not just to win, but to confront their pasts as a once-proud warrior race that has been reduced to a small number.
DBS: Broly delivers on displaying the tension between the 3 Saiyans on the action front. Long-time fans will love the ridiculous and insane fighting sequences that the series is known for. The battle starts off in an arctic region and then transitions into a volcanic region over time. There’s also a mix of 3-4 animation styles that make the battles something to watch. From CGI to traditional animation, DBS: Broly is a stimulating visual experience.
A Tortured Giant
The story may not be the most original, but I found it does a good job in portraying Broly as a victim of child abuse and politics. He’s not a pure villain a la his previous incarnation. Broly is a young man with anger issues and the heart of a gentle child. There is a touching moment where he talks about his past to the soldiers who find him. It highlights Broly’s conflict between wanting to be free and listening to his father. Broly is forced to fight his fellow Saiyan warriors, since his father is all he has. It reflects how many of us have trouble dealing with anger, especially young men who are taught to suppress their emotions in a way that isn’t helpful.
A Tight-Focused Cast
There aren’t that many recurring characters from the Dragon Ball series in this movie and it’s not a bad thing. The characters who do show up all matter and have meaningful screen time (with the exception of Goten and Trunks). Goku and Vegeta are still as great as ever. Bulma is still full of sass. Beerus and Whis continue their run of being fun side characters who prefer to watch instead of fight. Piccolo’s appearance makes sense plot-wise. Gogeta, the fusion of Goku and Vegeta, also became canon in the film and was refreshing to see again. The MVP of the film is arguably Frieza, who’s used as a wonderful conductor for the events of the film.
Another note is that the film also adapts the Dragon Ball Minus manga chapter, which was published in 2014 by Viz Media and is a re-telling of the OVA, “Bardock – The Father of Goku.” Fans get to see Goku’s mom, Gine, a nicer version of Bardock, and the kid versions of Goku, Vegeta, and Broly through what I thought was an adorable sequence.
For (Mostly) Shonen Fans
With that said, DBS: Broly isn’t for newcomers. This movie is really for fans who have followed the series for years. I also found the music to be a bit cheesy at times. There are two songs where the lyrics just scream either Broly’s or Gogeta’s name in a way that’s supposed to hype the fights, but come off as trying too hard. Another thing I noticed is one animation sequence during the fight between Goku and Broly. It takes a first-person approach, as the viewer gets to “be” Broly and push Goku through a glacier. I feel that it looks a bit awkward, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re trying to use a bunch of styles to make everything look cool.
A Great Use of Rage
I wouldn’t call DBS: Broly the best Dragon Ball movie of them all, but it’s up there. The film does a remarkable job of making a cult-favorite character relevant, providing well-timed humor, and offering a good amount of hot shonen action. Also, Daichi Miura’s “Blizzard“ is a perfect theme song for the film. One of Japan’s hottest modern pop acts performing a song for a modern-ish story from a classic anime series. You can’t do it any better.
We all knew Dragon Ball was still alive after Battle of Gods, but with Broly and its box-office success in North America, the Dragon Ball franchise continues to remind anime fans that it’s still a series that transcends cultural barriers — perhaps forever more.