Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 40 minutes, Director – Tetsuro Kodama
When the Red Ribbon Army shows signs of creating a new artificial superpowered weapon, alien Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa) assembles a team to stop them from attempting to destroy the world again.
It should be said before properly diving into this film that I’m a complete outsider to the Dragon Ball franchise and universe. Going into this film I was aware of its existence, but outside of that knew almost nothing. However, unlike last year’s Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train – which I considered to be one of the best films of the year having gone in knowing nothing, not even that it acted as the bridge between the first and second series of the hit anime Demon Slayer – perhaps some prior knowledge, and investment in the original anime and manga would help to bring out more within this particular adaptation – of course, a different kettle of fish entirely from Demon Slayer.
Telling its own isolated story there’s enough to engage with and follow within Dragon Ball as we see alien Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa) assemble a team of skilled fighters – each with their own special powers and abilities – to take down the Red Ribbon Army, who are creating their own overpowered artificial being in the hope of taking over, and potentially destroying, the world. The weapon is being created by Dr. Hedo (Miyu Irino) – a short figure with a worrying Oreo addiction – who organisation head Magenta (Volcano Ota) has recruited shortly after the doctor, with a fascination of just what he can make with the right funding, is released from prison.
Much of this is delved into within the early set-up, after a brief prologue and general conversational explanations and ideas of who characters are, what they’re doing, etc. These may crop up every now and then, but luckily the film doesn’t feel bogged down in catch-up for outside viewers. With so many characters – there’s a brief scene or two tangent to a separate group training on a different planet, leading to a point which could likely be explained in a line of dialogue or two instead of a couple of scenes – the film still manages to get through its narrative with a fair level of ease. Some of this may come down to the fact that the plot is fairly stripped back and down-to-basics – both a blessing and a curse for various reasons, while it, again, works for outsiders it does sometimes feel a bit thin.
It’s perhaps why some of the action and fight sequences feel slightly drawn out – particularly the final fight filled with screaming and flashes of various coloured lights. That being said as a whole the film fits its 100 minute run-time rather well, going by rather quickly and certainly not feeling as long as it is. Despite the occasional issues which pop up now and then there’s generally an enjoyable time to be had with plenty of amusement thrown in here and there to keep things moving along and the audience engaged. Yes, it might lack tension on some occasions due to certain elements, such as the final boss, not quite being built up very much, but there’s still enough throughout that works and keeps you engaged to make for worthwhile viewing.
Perhaps this will work better for those more invested and engaged in the Dragon Ball franchise as a whole, knowing the lore and workings of various elements and characters. However, for those who are coming to this fresh, or knowing fairly little, there’s enough enough given to bring you in without the film being bogged down by context and backstory. There’s a good time to be had within this and the various fantastical elements and powers that it has on display throughout its well-flowing run-time.
While the more basic nature of the plot is both a blessing and a curse there’s enough within Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero to engage franchise outsiders. While some stylistic elements and tangents may work better for already-existing fans what’s provided overall is enjoyable, if occasionally wobbly, viewing.