The Amateur Otaku Reviews DRAGON BALL SUPER: BROLY
Whether you love, hate or don’t know much about anime; you have heard of Dragon Ball.
Created in the 1980s by the illustrious Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball (1984) follows the antics of young Goku and his friends as they travel around the world for the mystical dragon balls. When all seven dragon balls are collected, they give the collector the power to summon the great dragon Shenron, which has the ability to grant one wish. Adventure, conflict and memorable characters make Dragon Ball one of the most beloved manga/anime of all time.
In the way that Dragon Ball explores Goku’s childhood all the way to his late teen years; Dragon Ball Z (1989) covers his adult life and expands the canvas to the farthest reaches of heaven, hell, Earth and Space. With greater emphasis on super-powered battles, DBZ introduces some of the most memorable villains, iconic character transformations and battles in anime history. It is this iteration of the series that ingrained the terms “Over 9000!“, “going Super Saiyan” and “KA-ME-HA-ME-HA!” into my generation’s cultural zeitgeist.
Now to truly measure the importance of the worldwide anime phenomenon that is Dragon Ball, just check out this weekend’s box office numbers. The newest in-canon movie event of the current series, Dragon Ball Super, opened in 3rd place making a whopping $10+ million; notwithstanding, it opened in way less screens than its competition. The fact that an anime film can get these many fans to pay their hard-earned cash on these tickets is astonishing. As of this review, the movie has made $88+ million worldwide in a span of 5 days.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly takes place right after Universe Survival Saga and follows our heroes Goku and Vegeta as they come face to face with a new Saiyan, Broly. Is he friend or foe? All they know is that he is aching for a battle and with every punch they trade with him, he becomes stronger. Have they met their match, or will our heroes prevail?
The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and radiantly colored, with minimal use of CGI to enhance the action. Having watched Dragon Ball Z since I was kid; I can admire the evolution of its fighting animation, the use of certain “camera” angles and panels to accentuate actions and moments. Thought it feels excessive at times (as its typical of the series and genre), you never miss the story being told through the fists of our fighters as the action endlessly escalates with grace. With a feature-length of 101 minutes, I can safely assure you that the main event of the film takes more than half of the movie’s run time. Yes, that’s right. The fight between all three Saiyan fighters last 45 or more (I couldn’t find a way to time it, but that estimation feels right), but it constantly evolves and shifts gears, successfully keeping the audience on its toes.
But the film’s greatest strength is its first act; which revisits the dealings between the Saiyan race on Planet Vegeta with the Evil Space Conqueror Frieza: which escalates to the near extermination of the Saiyan Race. Focusing on Broly’s harsh childhood and violent upbringing; the writers and director take their time and allow the audience to invest in this new character before his encounter with our heroes. Being that the movie is considered canon, the writers expect the audience to know our main characters (Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, Trunks, Beerus, etc); but there is enough information provided during your time with them for you to recognize the film’s leads as someone coming in blind. The time taken in the conflict’s setup makes the payoff towards the end that much more rewarding.
Filled with moments that highlight the creators appreciation of their fans, humor and breathtaking visuals; Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a movie that honors the history of Dragon Ball, its fans and an awesome time at the movies. Whether you’re an otaku current with the series, a fan that used to watch in the past or someone wanting to know what all the fuzz is about; this is a film you don’t want to miss.
Check your local theater listing for showtimes of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, you’re going to want to see it in theaters!
From The Amateur Otaku (the companion podcast is coming soon, so follow us on Twitter!) to you,
Brandon “Lexan” Alvarado
The Scarlet Fan