If there is one anime/manga that has transcended into pop culture it is none other than Dragon Ball. The work of Akira Toriyama has enthralled fans for years and its popularity continues to escalate even to this day. The series has seen a resurgence of sorts with Dragon Ball Super, but this renaissance may not have been possible if not for the series’ success on the big screen. In 2013 the franchise made a return with the film, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, which was followed up by the 2015 sequel Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F and both were successful in their own right. Now with its momentum in full force the series comes back to the silver screen with perhaps its biggest movie to date-Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine the new movie not only continues the story of Goku and company, but it also brings back the fan favorite Broly to series now reimagined by Toriyama himself. Despite its limited release Dragon Ball Super: Broly was an anticipated film to see this year for the likes of Dragon Ball fans, myself included, but could the new film power up to expectations? While the movie did not go as I anticipated this anime film managed live up to the exciting nature of Dragon Ball.
The plot of Broly centers on Goku and Vegeta coming face to face with Broly, a lost saiyan whose monstrous power makes for a great weapon for the likes of Paragus,Broly’s father, and the ever villainous Frieza. When it comes to storytelling Dragon Ball can be simplistic. The idea of characters fighting one another in outrageous battles has been the series’ bread and butter and that is usually all that was required to be investing-though that is not to say the story could not be complex from time to time. In the case of Broly it seemed that the plot was the best of both worlds. Along with the intriguing lore of Planet Vegeta the focus of the Saiyan showdown was not just exciting but also dynamic as the battle with Broly had its own three act structure within its narrative. However despite its impressive aspects the contrast between these elements did hurt the plot’s execution a little bit as the story’s themes could get lost in the shuffle as soon as the action began. So while this story did not live up to my expectations that was not to say the plot had nothing to offer as it was thrilling, entertaining and everything I could hope from Dragon Ball.
Dragon Ball is known for having a massive cast of characters with each member standing out in their own way. So it was surprising to see the cast of Broly to be a minimal one, but this actually worked in the movie’s favor. The movie was about the trio of Goku, Vegeta and Broly and that was certainly the case when it came the film’s sense of character development. Both Goku and Vegeta were as enjoyable as ever and although their progression did not alter they did receive a little development thanks to the movie going into their origins. Yet even with the iconic duo the spotlight was on Broly and his time on center stage was not wasted. The character is a breakaway from his popular counterpart but this did not take away from his effectiveness. Broly had a solid character to him as well as an imposing presence that made his villainous predecessor so memorable. Despite the attention to the saiyans the supporting cast had plenty to offer as well. Frieza was his evil self and he managed to steal the show every time he was on screen; while the likes of Bulma and Whis were enjoyable as ever. New characters such as Cheelal, Lemo and Paragas were good additions to the cast though they could have a little more development. Add the likes of Lord Beerus as well as Bardock and you have a cast that was not worthy of Dragon Ball but one that was decent for any movie.
While the story and characters were all well and good the one area that Broly knocked out of the park it was technical aspects-particularly the animation. Simply put Dragon Ball Super: Broly was an animated spectacle. The art direction was stylish with its lighting and colors and it brought the iconic manga to life in a way that has not been seen on the silver screen. The animation was beneficial in showcasing another highlight for the movie: the action. The battle with Broly was as definitive and creative to the point where even trying to describe it would be doing the action a disservice. Adding to everything else was of course the music by Norihito Sumitomo. Much like animation the music was also beneficial for the movie as the compositions were embedded with the movie’s keen style. Everything about this movie came down to presentation and Dragon Ball Super: Broly strived in this field as its technical execution was worthy of any cinematic experience.
As both a fan and a moviegoer I find myself pleased with Dragon Ball Super: Broly. While the movie could be too simplistic it had plenty to offer which thanks to the keen presentation in the story, characters and animation. At its core Broly was an action packed experience that was much captivating and it was entertaining with moments that would the biggest of blockbusters jealous. When it came down to Dragon Ball Super: Broly not only lived up to its series name but this animated feature was escapism at its finest,and that is a rare feat for any movie to conquer.