December 1, 2021

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[Review] Dragon Ball Super: Broly – One of the franchise’s best movies to date?

First at the Japanese Box Office upon its release, third biggest success for an animated film in the United States. Dragon Ball Super: Broly enjoyed, before his arrival in France, a very flattering reputation. With great blows of a cleverly orchestrated communication, the Toei aroused envy and impatience among the fans. Direct continuation of the eponymous series, the feature film was to succeed in making a place of choice in the hearts of admirers of Akira Toriyama and his work. A total success?

Everyone knows the story of Dragon Ball. A little Saiyan, named Son Gokû, arrived on Earth when he was just a baby and grew up to become a hero with extraordinary powers. Far exceeding hopes and his own limits, the pure-hearted warrior saved Earth time and time again, confronting many enemies. Among them, it is Freeza who quickly stood out from the crowd and who became, despite himself, a key character in the new narrative created by Toriyama and Toyotaro.

We find the tyrant at the center of the story even if he is not the main antagonist. This time, it was Broly who decided to resuscitate the leaders of Toei, he who had been at the heart of a 1993 film very popular with fans, but never validated by Akira Toriyama. The mangaka was then commissioned to create his own vision of Broly, from his character design to his story. And this is precisely what the realization of Tatsuya Nagamine wants to tell. In this, the beginning of the film is a real success. By tracing, with respect and intelligence, the origins of the conflict between the Saiyan people and the army of Freeza, but also the childhood of Goku and Vegeta, Dragon Ball Super: Broly does what few others have succeeded in bringing: new elements relevant to the general plot and answer some old questions.

Beyond being a prequel to the stories of the manga Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Super, the feature film formalizes a “new” character in the story. Broly, overpowered warrior, then makes his appearance. 25 years after a first film which therefore does not exist in the official timeline, Toei is trying again. This time, the character is better written and benefits from a much more interesting and relevant script background. Akira Toriyama’s pen is, logically, no stranger to it. Whether it’s his character traits, his father-son relationship with Paragus, or the origins of his power, everything is far more sane and intriguing than the perpetual clichés the film might have fallen into.

The first part of Dragon Ball Super: Broly is more than convincing. Then, it is the fights that make up the entire rest of the story. We must then admit that we are facing something never seen before. Technically, what is presented to the spectators is masterfully produced and staged. There is an eye for detail that gives the various clashes an incredible aura that sticks from start to finish. The Toei studios prove their know-how and skillfully mix quality animations and 3D technology for an explosive overall rendering. However, two gray areas somewhat tarnish the picture. The first is the glaring problem of rhythm that we feel. From the minute the fight against Broly begins, no respite is left to the spectator, sometimes forcing him to concentrate too much to continue to appreciate what is happening before his eyes. It would have been welcome to break the rhythm at certain times to start again and thus give more scope to this titanic clash. Another downside, if technically we reach new heights in terms of quality, we must admit that we sometimes face an overflow of colors and effects which somewhat spoils the overall feeling. In this sense, the film is not recommended for epileptics. we must admit that we sometimes face an overflow of colors and effects which somewhat spoils the overall feeling. In this sense, the film is not recommended for epileptics. we must admit that we sometimes face an overflow of colors and effects which somewhat spoils the overall feeling. In this sense, the film is not recommended for epileptics.

As for the character-design, Naohiro Shintani did a remarkable job. Goku, Vegeta, Broly, Frieza, Piccolo or Bardock benefit from successful features sublimated by shades and postures that will remind many of the anime of the 90s. We often feel the film’s desire to stick much more to Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z than Super, especially with regard to the character of the protagonists. Goku seems to regain his carelessness and, sometimes, his stupidity while Bulma and especially Vegeta make you forget the few gaps that were theirs in the current series. Small flat nevertheless for Frieza, too withdrawn during the feature film and whose interest as an antagonist is sometimes as important as the contribution of Yajirobe in the original manga. Early fans will understand.

Another point that is essential to address: what does Dragon Ball Super: Broly bring for the future of the franchise? To be completely frank, at the moment, not much. Not seeing Tatsuya Nagamine’s directing will not cripple readers of the manga or fans of the series, as what happens there has only a feeble impact on DBS history. Too bad, we would have appreciated a little more consistency in the writing with real conclusions to be drawn from everything that is presented. When leaving the screening, the feeling of having attended a great show of limited interest predominates. Be careful, this new Dragon Ball feature still remains a small nugget that makes a date. In many points presented previously, it stands out as a reference for fans of Akira Toriyama’s work.