Except for fighters born from the Fusions, Son Gohan has always been the strongest warrior in Dragon Ball. The latent potential of him, since his debut in the manga of Akira Toriyama, was sensational, to the point that his father Goku had such trust in him that he entrusted him with the fate of the Earth in the clash with Cell, handing down to him the role of protector of humanity. . The path of the young Saiyan, from the final stages of the Buu saga and obviously in everything Dragon Ball Superhas been fluctuating to say the least: his role in the affairs of the franchise has gradually faded, and Gohan himself has become (unfortunately, for many fans) a series B fighter, while keeping faith with his peaceful nature and his vocation as a scholar.
With Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, however, everything changes. The new film of the franchise, in Italian cinemas from 29 September with Crunchyroll and Warner Bros Italia, brings back the figure of Son Gohan, moving away from the protagonist of Goku and Vegeta to baste a more choral story focused on some of the Z Warriors that in the midquel of Dragon Ball Z had received very little space. The result is a film that, despite its obvious technical and script limitations, could represent a breath of fresh air for fans of the franchise.
The return of the Androids
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has its roots in the origins of the saga created by Akira Toriyama. This is nothing new: in the review of Dragon Ball Super: Broly we told you about a film that partially rewrites the mythology of the Saiyan warriors to look to the future with characters already known but reintroduced into the canon. Super Herostarting from the same assumption, instead tries to do something different: project Super at a later stage in historywell beyond the events narrated in the animated series and in the Toyotaro manga.
Chronologically we are in a phase much closer to the epilogue of the classical opera, about a year before the famous Tenkaichi Tournament in which Ub made its appearance. And so we have little Pan, who from the innocence of her 3 years takes her first steps as a fighter, and Goten and Trunks, finally teenagers. The plot of the film draws directly from the adventures of young Goku, bringing back to the center of the events the ruthless army of the Red Ribbon: to weave the strings of this new threat is Magenta, the son of the deceased General Red, who lost his life during the attack of the little Kakarotto at the base of the Red Ribbon for many years or are. Secretly, even after the defeat of Doctor Gelo and the elimination of the Androids, Magenta continued to keep alive the army founded by his father, disguising it as a pharmaceutical company, but has long plotted to revive the magnificent creations of the Ribbon. Red, the cyborgs, to conquer the world. To make his goal come true, the new leader has hired Dr. Hedo, grandson of Gelo, who nevertheless does not seem to share the evil ideals of his crazy grandfather. To convince the scientist, Magenta makes Hedo believe that the Z Warriors – led by Bulma of the Capsule Corporation – are a secret criminal society that intends to threaten the world by leveraging his sense of justice.
Because of this Hedo gives birth to two new powerful robots, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, and secretly leads to the creation of a deadly ultimate android, which if activated would raze the planet in seconds. The only one to notice this new danger is Piccolo, forced by the Son family to take care of little Pan: if Videl is in fact engaged as a martial arts teacher at the dojo of her father Mr. Satan, Gohan is instead overwhelmed with his studies, and much to the chagrin of his Namekkian teacher, he is again neglecting training.
When Piccolo notices that the Red Ribbon is back, however, it is useless to invoke Goku and Vegeta: the two Saiyans are training on Beerus’s planet together with a new fighting partner, Broly, and are currently unreachable. The fate of the Earth is therefore in the hands of Son Gohan: but first, the son of Kakarotto will have to unlock his true potential, regaining the strength of the past and awakening the powers that will make him invincible again. And when the Red Ribbon kidnaps his daughter, the warrior can’t help but endlessly charge his aura.
A different film, not without flaws
From a narrative management point of view, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero it’s quite a different film from its predecessors. If in Battle of Gods (here’s ours Dragon Ball Z review The battle of the gods) or precisely in Broly the focus remained the fighting, the new film from TOEI Animation immediately reveals a more staid pace and focused on the daily life of its protagonists, as well as on the conspiracy set up by the Red Ribbon.
This does not mean that the struggles to the sound of energy waves are not present, far from it: the “slice of life” component, however, permeates a large part of the film, and it must be admitted that in the general economy even the best part of the whole feature film. While Dragon Ball films previously tended to take themselves seriously, often failing to replicate the dramaturgy of the classic opera, the more light-hearted tones and situations that portray the Z warriors in decidedly lighter scenes work pretty good and will make all those fans happy who wanted to see Piccolo, Broly, and the others in a slightly different light than usual. Absolute protagonists of Super Hero however, Gohan and Piccolo remain. The latter, in particular, proved to be central in the narrative engine of the whole story, and the management of the namekkiano even represents the flagship of the whole plot: alternating between moments of pleasant comedy, derived from his relationship with Pan or from the reproaches towards his student, and surprising power-ups, even Piccolo finally returns to being a warrior with an important specific weight, a bit like what happened in the most classic and iconic DBZ sagas.
Even in the unpublished characters we found some pleasant surprises: the antagonists, characterized by a funny aspect but extremely dangerous in terms of strength, seemed to us in full “Toriyama style”. In particular Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, from simple extras ready to leave room for a more powerful villain, turned out to be more profound and sympathetic than expected.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other plot elements. In fact, it should be emphasized that, net of the listed merits, there are others that pay off Super Hero a film full of lights and shadows. The appearance of Cell Max, already anticipated by the official trailers of the film, can only look like yet another recycling of opponents and situations already widely known to Dragon Ball fans. Likewise, the new form of Gohan seems to us a frankly questionable and unoriginal aesthetic choice, weighed down by a truly exaggerated and over the top design compared to the previous, splendid transformations of the Saiyan. A real shame: maintaining a less whimsical style, especially in the last twenty minutes of the film, probably Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero would have turned out to be a truly different film from the previous ones, more original and less subservient to the need to resort to twists and power- up more and more bombastic.
The graphic framework of the film is also somewhat contradictory. For the first time in the history of the franchise, in fact, Dragon Ball completely abandons traditional design to embrace computer graphics. The result is quite questionable: if from a character design point of view the work seemed impeccable, especially as regards the close-ups, the overall visual impact was surprisingly poor in detail. In the wide fields, for example, the models of the characters lose quality, while the backdrops are too approximate compared to the actors on the screen. As for the staging, especially in the clashes, the work done by the staff is quite good, but inferior to the spectacular animations of DB Super: Broly. From a choreography point of view, the fights have satisfied us and the performance of the various clashes is still quite spectacular, well supported by a satisfying and epic soundtrack. Unfortunately, there remains a big step back from Broly’s direction, more courageous and experimental: the hope is that, in the future, TOEI Animation will give up this “transformation”, returning to its previous and magnificent level.
Finally, a few words about the Italian dubbing: in the wake of the previous film, Super Hero presents a mixed cast of Roman and Milanese voices. All the historical voice actors obviously return to interpret their respective roles: Claudio Moneta, Gianluca Iacono, Emanuela Pacotto, Lorenzo Scattorin, Luca Ghignone and Davide Garbolino return to interpret Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, Beerus, Piccolo and Gohan, as well as Mario Bombardieri as Broly and the other classic voices of the Mediaset cast. We will have the opportunity to better investigate dubbing and adaptation in a dedicated special: for the moment it is enough to know that, in terms of translation, Super Hero offers a rather peculiar choice, operating a mix of fidelity to the original and all-Italian nomenclature. While on the one hand we have “manga oriented” terminologies such as Piccolo, Kamehameha and Kakaroth, on the other hand some words or accents remain anchored to the Mediaset proposal.