It’s no secret, Dragon Ball is more than ever on the front of the scene since the launch of the animated series (and manga) Dragon Ball Super in 2015. If the anime ended last March without A sequel is announced for the moment, the twentieth film of the license had the task of ensuring continuity. The teasing around the project was intense since this twentieth feature film was first announced as a story about the Saiyans, before its title clearly indicates the direction of the story. Released in December in Japan, Dragon Ball Super Broly was initially worried by the will of Toriyamaet production committee to recycle one of the most famous antagonists of the lore Dragon Ball, before the trailers manage to create a wait, thanks to to a different artistic direction, but apparently licked …
The story of the film Broly takes place some time after that of the animated series Dragon Ball Super. Following the tournament of power, Freezer found life and reformed his empire, with the will to recruit powerful soldiers across the universe. Two of his henchmen manage to get their hands on two Saiyan survivors on a particularly hostile planet. Paragus, and his son Broly, failed on this hostile planet shortly before the destruction of Planet Vegeta, with no way to escape. Broly with incredible potential and seeming to be subject to his father, Freezer intends to bring them to Earth to take revenge on Son Goku and Vegeta, but also find the dragon ball …
With Dragon Ball Super Broly, Akira Toriyama chooses to reconnect with the theme of the Saiyan by incorporating in his scenario the famous Broly. A choice that probably comes from the production rather than the author himself, but that pushed him to replay the feature films of the time to reinterpret the antagonist to his sauce. And this is a first point that reassures the viewer in the first part of the film: Toriyama did not just recycle Broly, he wrote it in a totally different way, even changing his character, while raising it here on a part of the history of the Saiyans that comes to justify the existence of the character and his father in the universe, without creating great inconsistencies … and while seeking to satisfy the fans by talking again Saiyans before their extinction.
We understand it then quickly enough, the film is generous towards its fans, by its realization, but also by its history. In itself, Toriyama is content to interpret in his sauce several stories already known as the destruction of the planet Vegeta, or the character of Broly. He took the opportunity to come back to elements mentioned in the short chapter Dragon Ball Minus, present at the end of one-shot Jaco, the galactic patrol boat, and thus make tangible story elements that appeared only as bonuses so far. The scenario offers us something particularly pleasant when we are fan of Dragon Ball, without falling into another great facility. The passage around Bardock, even if it deserved some deepening, offers an interesting subtlety. And the term “subtlety” is not too strong in Dragon Ball Super Broly, since the film is full.
One thinks necessarily of the character of Broly, very different from his first version and here presented as a being lacking reference, his only attachment being his father, even if he accepts to be a tool for him. The most skilled in this story is that Toriyama uses this context and the trio Goku, Vegeta and Broly to talk about the succession and legacy of the Saiyan race. Among other things, the film’s basic idea is to talk about a chronology that has evolved. The bloodthirsty Saiyan of old are no longer, either by Goku who inherited his father’s will to “save someone”, by Vegeta who has denied his love of domination for a peaceful existence, and of course by Broly, who is not a fan of fighting, and who is only the toy of his father. Thus, if the purpose of the film may surprise, it brings a conclusion to this idea of Saiyan heritage, while opening interesting doors for the future chapters of the Super series.
Such a choice nevertheless brings some questions, especially about the presence of stakes in the story. Where every movie introduced a tangible threat to the Earth, it’s a bit more complicated for this feature film. Freezer, in itself, is no longer a threat in the present state of affairs, while Broly, good, sensitive, but fragile, is never portrayed as an antagonist, at best an adversary out of step with Goku and Vegeta, by their fight, will put on the right path while enjoying an opponent with incredible potential. It will not necessarily please everyone, of course, but the approach has the merit of being original, and allows the feature film not to fall into the formula of old movies that they were simply looking for the fan-service more than a story to tell (with some exceptions).
Obviously, it’s impossible to talk about the film without talking about its realization, its artistic direction, and its battles. Tatsuya Nagamine, who had distinguished himself on One Piece even though he had already worked on the Super series, signed here his first film Dragon Ball, and probably not the last given his success in Japan and the United States. Like the scenario that insists on the generation change on the side of the Saiyans, Nagamine operates a real upheaval on the side of the saga. Total visual redesign to the program, for a result that first surprised in the first trailers, before the film itself proves all the benefits of this change. Previously we talked about generosity of the film, because Dragon Ball Super Broly is never stingy to satisfy its spectators, including on the visual dimension. Besides the fact that a new and perhaps retro touch on certain aspects is brought, it is especially by the staging, the artistic choices and the combat choreographies that the feature film surprises on many aspects. The final clash is quite long and split into several obvious phases, but none are alike.
Thus, it is an entertainment of a great show that is offered to us through inventive clashes, and a staging that never leaves time to breathe. Sequence shots, panics around the characters, speed of movement, choice of sparkling colors … Artistically, Dragon Ball Super Broly is a visual slap like never before in the saga on time current. And as a pure animated film, it may seem absurd to see on the screen such great artistic ambitions for a movie stamped Dragon Ball, and whose initial status was that of the fan product. In the end, the feature film deserves to be observed by a greater number, for example the animated fans and the amateurs of great spectacle. If the universe of Dragon Ball can rebuff them, the artistic direction of the film has something to surprise them. The only visual downside that perhaps only the editor of this criticism: a CGI a little too visible at a certain moment of the film, and that could leave some spectators of the show for a few seconds.
There would be a lot to say about the project, about its new characters for example, the soundtrack, but also about some points that will really depend on the appreciation of each, like the humor and the status of the film within the Super series. And it’s certainly a great thing: the film has so many different directions and is so generous that there are many points to discuss. If there is, another point of view of the feature film can certainly be made. In the meantime, it’s hard not to advise everyone to try the theatrical experience during the national release of the film in March, because Dragon Ball Super Broly is a true audiovisual experience and a project so ambitious that this time hard to blame the series for falling into some ease.