I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say that Dragon Ball Z is one of the most important anime to ever exist. For many, Dragon Ball Z was how we became diehard anime fans in the first place. I remember watching Toonami as a kid and being glued to my chair whenever Dragon Ball Z came on, making it a staple of my weekly TV shows. Even as I grew up and my interest in anime expanded beyond the average shonen fare, I still held a soft spot for Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, and yes, even Dragon Ball GT.
But the Dragon Ball movies were always my go-to choice for reacquainting myself with the franchise. Most of the movies are barely an hour long and have stunning animation, so I’m able to get a microcosm of everything fantastic about DBZ in one sitting. I can get the frenetic action, the stunning animation, the vile villains, and the lovable heroes all in small, but perfectly sized portions. In recent years, DBZ has only gotten better in fleshing out its large cast of characters and delivering beautiful fight scenes that would make any fan regress to the age where they saw their first beam struggle.
So I’m going to cut right to the chase here. If you’re a DBZ fan, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a must see action spectacular that will make you cheer and leave you slackjawed at how much fun you’re having. Action fans will be over 9000% satisfied by Broly and you may also feel something for the character for the first time in two decades.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Director: Tatsuya Nagamine
Release Date: January 16, 2019
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a movie of two halves, each taking place in different time periods. The beginning of the movie starts off retelling the events of Bardock: Father of Goku and how Planet Vegeta was destroyed by Frieza and how Broly, Vegeta, and Goku survived the explosion. It’s very familiar for longtime DBZ fans, but what’s different here is that this is the first time that this story is actually included in official Dragon Ball Z canon. For the longest time, the DBZ movies have always been in their own independent world with only the slightest of connection to the main story, but now we can see that two of the most popular stories — the story of Bardock, Goku’s father, and Broly, the legendary Super Saiyan — are officially a part of the main series. No more fan canon!
In fact, that’s probably one of the most commendable things that Broly does; it legitimizes beloved non-canon characters. The original author, Akira Toriyama, was more involved in Broly than he had been in any DBZ movie ever, and that attention shows in the final product. There’s nothing, for lack of a better word, fan-ficky, about Broly. Everyone acts in character and there are no moments that happen because the movie forced it to happen. Every exchange between characters feels authentic and helps to flesh out the world.
Seeing the destruction of Planet Vegeta redone in 2019 was a sight to behold from a technical perspective, but what stood out to me was the sense of dread that permeates the whole time. We know the planet is going to be destroyed, but instead of us learning this through forced psychic visions, we follow Bardock as he slowly realizes the destruction himself and prepares for it. He sends Goku off himself with his wife and promises that they’ll find him and become a family again. It’s much more somber than it ever was in the original special, leaving a lasting impact for the viewer.
But all of that is a mere prologue for the rest of the movie. What Broly does to make it truly stand out from nearly all other DBZ movies is that it fleshes out its main villain to an unprecedented degree. Let’s be honest here, Broly was never the most complex character in his original trilogy of movies. He just served as a monster truck of a foe that bum rushed all of his opponents and showed off how powerful he was. He was an embodiment of the best and worst of the franchise. He was ungodly powerful and gave us some killer fight scenes, but all he did was shout and punch people without much rhyme or reason. No character to speak of.
Thankfully, through some miracle of miracles, Broly finally has a defined character! And a tragic one at that, being mentally and emotionally stunted as a child and abused by his father, trained to enact revenge on the Saiyan race because that’s what his father Paragus wanted. But there are moments where we can see that he is a quiet and gentle soul that was forced into a life of violence. He fights because he doesn’t know anything else, so when he goes ballistic while fighting it’s amazing to watch, but you also can’t help but feel bad for the guy.
In the middle of these solemn moments, Broly actually gives us some fun comedic moments between the destruction of Planet Vegeta and the carnage that Broly unleashes. And it’s probably some of my favorite comedic moments in the past couple of years. Whether it’s Vegeta berating Goku repeatedly, Beerus’ role in the movie, or what one character wants to wish with the Dragon Balls, I was genuinely laughing at what was happening. Remember, DBZ isn’t all about fighting and energy beams. The series can be damned funny and goofy when it wants to be.
The question remains though, how is the action? How are the fight scenes, and does Broly truly live up to the title of Legendary Super Saiyan after we’ve seen other LSS in the Tournament of Power? Does the impact of seeing Broly truly let loose land?
Well, first off, at least 45 minutes of the movie is dedicated to the Broly fight. Nearly half of the movie is about Broly going to town against Goku and Vegeta with nary a pause in between and it is legendary. Just when you think it couldn’t get more insane, it just keeps raising the roof. To see the planet itself crumble at how devastating he can be is a treat, but the highlight for me was when Broly paid homage to his original transformation into LSS. The actual fight itself is everything you could ever want it to be and then more, showcasing memorable moments like an extended sequence where the fight is shown in first person view from Broly’s perspective. Broly is just a barbaric fighter here, unlike most of the other more refined fighters in the series. He’ll get the job done by stomping Goku, smashing him into the core of the Earth, or just by using him as a damned club. And I loved every second of it.
Unfortunately, that momentum couldn’t last for the entire movie, and some key moments of the fight make the awkward transition to 3D CGI. It’s understandable, but it robs the action of some of its beauty when we go from meticulously detailed animation to somewhat jumpy models ramming into each other. It only happens twice in the movie, and while the earlier moment is forgivable, the second time ruins what could have been a finale to rival all other battles in the franchise.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly, at the end of the day, is about one thing and one thing only; watching Broly open up a can of whoop-ass on Goku and Vegeta. The fact that Broly has a well-developed character and we got a very solid redux of the Bardock special is icing on the cake and only serves to enhance the already fantastic movie. DBZ fans will be cheering in their seats at all of the spectacle, but be even more excited at the possibilities that this movie brings to the franchise moving forward. Now when does Dragon Ball Super return again?