The world premiere of the latest film from the top-charting anime, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, went underway at the Hollywood TCL Chinese Theater. Cast, crew members, and influencers celebrated the much anticipated release of the film.
From leading stars Sean Schemmel and Chris Sabat, who voiced Goku and Vegeta from the Funimation dub since 1999, to Vic Mignogna, who voiced Broly in the previous movies, the stars lined the red carpet with surprises. Truly, Dragon Ball’s 19-year legacy in America has evolved from being a once niche show on cable network to making a Hollywood debut.
If it feels like Broly has been around for a while, it’s because its marketing has had a long lead time. Marketing material for Dragon Ball Super: Broly started at Anime Expo’s July 2018 convention, where it was simply known as Dragon Ball Super: The Movie, but the movie itself won’t be making its wide release until January 16, 2019. Given the history of success with the previous Broly films, despite being non-canonical, the early bets made in the West throughout the year will prove to be a worthy investment.
Admittedly, I haven’t watched a single episode of Dragon Ball Super, and haven’t seen a single episode of the franchise since the dub episodes of Dragon Ball GT in 2005. As a lapsed fan of 13 years, Broly was an entertaining animation spectacle for people with tangential knowledge of Dragon Ball. In typical DB fashion, be prepared for long combat scenes that make up much of the 100 minute film. However, the movie moves quickly to cover all essential basics of the storyline and the universe before throwing viewers into a smorgasbord of mixed animation sequences.
Most people don’t come to Dragon Ball for plot, but with a few non-screaming battle scenes, Broly is a humorous epic story. Starting off with a backstory for Broly and the other Saiyans, the movie quickly pushes forward to present day where the characters are regathering the Dragon Balls to fulfill a superficial need (a.k.a. Bulma wishing to look five years younger). Thankfully, contrasting with Broly’s previous, jerkish portrayals, this iteration of Broly is more sympathetic and childlike, making it easier to empathize with the torment he suffered from his father. However, there’s almost no time for sentimentalism, even after major character deaths. But the combination of action and comedy eases the pain of losing that character. Even during the hour-long battle with Broly, Goku and Vegeta teleport to Piccolo for help in devising a plan to overcome Broly’s unstoppable strength. Anyone familiar with the Fusion Dance will get a good laugh out of Goku and Vegeta’s multiple failed attempts at uniting to defeat Broly.
Animation fans won’t want to miss this movie, as Toei Animation has put everyone from their veteran A-team to their new A-team to do key fights scenes in the movie. There’s a mix of traditional, computer, and CG animation that make Marvel action battle scenes look like child’s play. Experimental angles, such as using a first person POV during Goku and Broly’s fight, fell flat in terms of the physical impact, but provided an interesting perspective for the audience.
Other more standard angles, such as Vegeta’s first fight with Broly, were upgraded versions of the traditional style of fighting animation Dragon Ball is known for. Unlike DB’s infamous cheap, looped smear punching, the battle sequences are worthy of at least five repeats to grasp the subtle details in animation technique. Simply, you have to see it for yourself.
Among the call backs to the original anime series, the heart swelling moment came from the movie’s ending: Broly and his two new companions living on the desolate planet he grew up on, which is reminiscent of Goku’s beginnings with Bulma and Krillin on Earth. Before closing out the movie, Goku teleports to Broly and provides them with Bulma’s glamping capsules to ease their lives on the planet.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is now playing in Japan, and tickets for the American screenings are on sale now.