August 23, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Tetsuro Kodama
Available in the original Japanese version (with English subtitles) or in a dubbed English-language version.
Culture Representation: This Japanese animated fantasy film takes place primarily in Japan, featuring characters that include humans, robots and monsters.
Culture Clash: Various heroes try to prevent a group of villains from reviving the evil Red Ribbon Army.
Culture Audience: “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” will appeal primarily to fans of the “Dragon Ball” manga and TV series, as well as people who are interested in sci-fi/fantasy anime about heroes versus villains.
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” offers a highly entertaining, rollicking story that is one of the best of the “Dragon Ball” anime movie series. Viewers don’t need to be familiar with the “Dragon Ball” franchise to enjoy the film. The movie has a typical “heroes versus villains” story as the basis for the movie’s plot. However, the memorable characters, the movie’s snarky comedy and the dazzling action scenes make “Dragon Bal Super: Super Hero” worth watching.
Directed by Sunghoo Park and written by Akira Toriyama, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is based on Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball” manga series, which has spawned anime series and several movies. The basic plot of “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is very easy to follow for anyone who isn’t familiar with anything in the “Dragon Ball” franchise. That’s because in the very beginning of “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” there’s a summary of relevant “Dragon Ball” history and characters to inform viewers why certain things might be happening. Fortunately, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is not cluttered with too many characters, which would lead to a lot of confusion.
In the “Dragon Ball” multiverse, Son Goku (the main protagonist in the “Dragon Ball” manga series) was a superhero who destroyed the evil Red Ribbon Army. Goku came from the Planet Vegeta and is of the Saiyan race. He came to Earth and had children with a human woman named Chichi. In “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” Goku’s eldest son Gohan could continue his father’s legacy, but he is caught up in his academic studies.
Gohan has a daughter named Pan (who’s about 5 or 6 years old), who is training to be a superhero with Piccolo, a former enemy of Goku who became a friend. Piccolo (who is the reincarnaton of the Great Demon King Piccolo) has a prickly “father figure” relationship with Gohan. A running joke in the movie is that Piccolo gets irritated when Gohan asks Piccolo to act like a babysitte/nanny and pick up Pan from school.
Meanwhile, Red Pharmaceuticals president Magenta is the son of Commander Red, the founder of the Red Ribbon Army. Magenta feels cheated out of his Red Ribbon Army legacy, so he hatches a plan to revive the Red Ribbon Army. In order to achieve his goals, Magenta recruits a 24-year-old eccentric genius scientist named Dr. Hedo, who is obsessed with research that will producer androids with superpowers.
Dr. Hedo was wealthy but blew his entire fortune on this research. Out of desperation, Dr. Hedo stole three bodies from a morgue, converted them into primitive androids, and made them work at a convenience store. Dr. Hedo was sent to prison for these crimes.
The movie shows how Magenta contacted Dr. Hedo shortly after Dr. Hedo’s release from prison. Magenta scoffs to his loyal and saracastic chauffeur Carmine about Hedo’s crimes and imprisonment: “He would’ve made more [money if he had just robbed the place. How stupid can a genius be? No matter. We’re not looking for business sense.”
Dr. Hedo finds it too tempting not to take Magenta’s offer of giving Dr. Hedo whatever funding that Dr. Hedo needs. Dr. Hedo tells Magenta: “I’ve got zero interest in wielding power. Continuing my research is all I care about.”
Dr. Hedo soon reveals what he considers to be his masterpiece inventions: two androids with superpowers named Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. On the outside, the two Gammas look identical (Gamma 1 wears a red cape, Gamma 2 wears a blue cape), but they have noticabely different personalites. Gamma 2 is the more arrogant and more risk-taking of these two androids.
Other characters in “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” include Bulma, a brilliant scientist on the hero team; Vegeta, who is Bulma’s husband and a prince of the Saiyan race; Videl, who is the wife of Gohan and the mother of Pan; Trunks, who is the son of Bulam and Vegeta; and Krillin, a former Goku rival who later became Goku’s friend.
The expected battles ensue between good versus evil. The fight scenes are high-energy and often suspenseful, even if viewers can easily predict a certain final outcome in any movie about superheroes. What makes “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” interesting to watch is that even among the heroes and villains, there are disagreements within each group, and loyalty to each other is not always guaranteed.
The voices of the “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” characters are portrayed by different actors, depending on which version of “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” that you see. The original Japanese version (with English subtitles) has the following Japanese voice actors for the film: Masako Nozawa (who voices the characters of Son Goku, Son Gohan, and Son Goten); Toshio Furukawa as the voice of Piccolo; Miyu Irino as the voice of Dr. Hedo; Hiroshi Kamiya as the voice of Gamma 1; Mamoru Miyano as the voice of Gamma 2; Volcano Ota as the voice of Magenta; Ryota Takeuchi as the voice of Carmine; Yūko Minaguchi as the voices of Pan and Videl; Aya Hisakawa as the voice of Bulma; Ryō Horikawa as the voice of Vegeta; Takeshi Kusao as the voice of Trunks; and Mayumi Tanaka as the voice of Krillin.
The English voice actors include Kyle Hebert as the voice of Son Gohan; Sean Schemmel as the voice of Son Goku; Robert McCollum as the voice of Son Goten; Christopher R. Sabat as the voices of Piccolo and Vegeta; Zach Aguilar as the voice of Dr. Hedo; Aleks Le as the voice of Gamma 1; Zeno Robinson as the voice of Gamma 2; Charles Martinet as the voice of Magenta; Jason Marnocha as the voice of Carmine; Jeannie Tirado as the voice of Pan; Kara Edwards as the voice of Videl; Monica Rial as the voice of Bulma; Sonny Strait as the voice of Krillin; and Eric Vale as the voice of Trunks.
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” certainly benefits from Toriyama still being involved in the “Dragon Ball” franchise as a chief creator. It’s hard to imagine the quality of the franchise being quite as good without him. The cinematic versions of these characters do tremendous justice to the manga versions. Expect this “Dragon Ball” saga to continue to delight longtime fans, as well newcomers.
Crunchyroll released “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” in U.S. cinemas on August 19, 2022. The movie was released in Japan on June 11, 2022.