One of the highlights of my San Diego Comic Con weekend was the opportunity to attend the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero panel in Hall H. While I already shared my excitement and experience from the panel itself, I thought I would take a little time to share my thoughts on the 20 minutes that were premiered at the panel.
Super Hero opens with a brief history lesson on the Red Ribbon army: the antagonistic force that Goku battled against way back in the opening arcs of Dragonball all those years ago. After one plan after another is derailed by Goku and his friends, it seemed as though the Red Ribbon army had finally faded into obscurity.
Or have they?
The intro makes it clear that the Red Ribbon army is indeed alive and well, and with the genius grandson of Dr. Gero, Dr. Hedo, now free from prison, the current Red Ribbon leader is ready to conscript him in order to make the most powerful androids the world has ever seen.
Meanwhile, we get some interesting glimpses into Gohan and Piccolo’s lives. Piccolo seems to be the mindful grandfather, training Pan while her parents are working/away, and chastising Gohan for getting too absorbed in his research. Piccolo’s disappointment and frustration in Gohan serves as an accurate extension of the disappointment the fans have had for some time now, when Gohan was given the back seat to further development for Goku and Vegeta in the latter arcs of DBZ and especially throughout Super.
While we don’t get to see Gohan in action (well, outside of him changing into his training clothes), Piccolo does treat us to a brief encounter with an unfamiliar android.
The preview concluded with the android seemingly defeating Piccolo before flying off (though we know Piccolo is just fine…)
Though hungry for more, the 20 minute sneak peek told me a few things about this movie:
The alternative animation style looks pretty cool: Super Hero Is incorporating a CG/hand-drawn hybrid style, and as producer Norihiro Hayashida pointed out, the animators are leaning into the hand-drawn style to help compensate for the CG to have a more balanced approach. The result is a smooth, but visually unique experience. I was a bit fan.
The movie still has some great comedic elements: Despite the series being known for knock-down, drag-out action, there is definitely tons of comedy to be found in Super Hero. From the absurd villain to Piccolo’s matter-of-fact commentary on why the android’s attacks have word bubbles popping out of them, the 20 minute sampler elicited more than a handful of chuckles from the audience.
It’s giving Piccolo and Gohan time to shine: Piccolo and Gohan were an iconic duo in Dragonball Z, and this film is helping them to take center stage. Don’t get me wrong, I love Goku and Vegeta, and following their journey to higher forms and greater levels of power is always exciting, but there’s arguably a deeper bond and more substantial narrative in Piccolo and Gohan’s story. There has been a lot of buzz already about new forms for both of them – and I can’t wait to see what they look like!
Overall, I’m very excited for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero to arrive in the theaters on August 19th!