The Red Ribbon Army was once destroyed by Son Goku. Individuals, who carry on its spirit, have created the ultimate Androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. These two Androids call themselves “Super Heroes”. They start attacking Piccolo and Gohan… What is the New Red Ribbon Army’s objective? In the face of approaching danger, it is time to awaken, Super Hero!!!
Being a diehard fan of the Dragonball series since my childhood made this one of my most anticipated films for 2022. And any true fan knows that the name of Gohan is a favorite amongst most viewers with his character possessing the potential to possibly become the world’s strongest fighter. After the Cell saga in Dragonball Z, fans around the world complained that the character was nerfed, aka put on the back burner, with no real development left in his role. At once the world’s strongest fighter stopped training and became obsessed with studying, making him weaker, and losing power, and it was nothing short of disappointing. So, with another movie special focusing on bringing him back into the limelight, and resurrecting an older villain by the name of Red Ribbon Army, it appeared the creators were delivering justice in the form of great entertainment that any true Dragonball fan would love.
What’s different and also riveting about this new chapter is the animation style that was used. It’s similar to many of the recent video game styles that have surfaced on home consoles from the past decade in home entertainment. I felt this new method worked exceptionally well providing a newer look to the anime while also staying true to its roots that fans grew to love over the years. Dragonball is known for many things with one of those being the details in fighting, and that wasn’t lost in the slightest. The colors were vividly bright, and the designs of each character stood out bold with dark lines and shadows to make a statement. It was both familiar and new and I loved every aspect of it.
The amount of attention given to the Red Ribbon Army as the antagonist was another great addition to this feature. Whether you’re familiar with this past villain or not, enough exposition was provided to give you a fair assessment of their organization, and what their motivations are for a full understanding. It was also relevant and consistent with what we’ve seen before with Dragonball too in the past. Their story fit in well with the overall lore and made logical sense as to why they would reappear to face the Z warriors (the main characters in the series). The entire series of Dragonball isn’t just one series, it is multiple series. Dragonball is first, followed by Dragonball Z, and Dragonball Super is to follow (Dragonball GT is now considered non-canon). I’ve never seen much of the first series, Dragonball, but this new film motivates me to go visit it for the first time. That’s how great the Red Ribbon was during the runtime. They also provide worthy villains by the name of Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 who are worthy foes for our heroes.
With a film centered on the character Gohan, I’m surprised he isn’t my favorite out of the bunch. That goes to the character of Pan and Vegeta. Pan being the daughter of Gohan was full of fight and energy. Being only three years old during the time, she displayed so much promise for the future as one of the agents to defend the earth against evil-doers. She played no games and I would love to have her as my daughter. I wouldn’t need protection from anyone or anything else if I had her by my side. Vegeta is possibly my favorite in the movie. During his whole duration in Dragonball he’s been known to have an ego and pride which honestly is his downfall. He would become so much stronger if he changed his philosophy when it comes to fighting and that’s exactly what he did this time around. It was only a short tease, but I can’t wait to see more from his character in the future. It’s very obvious that he learned a ton of information during the tournament of power when he and Goku faced off against Jiren.
The fighting itself was also familiar and new. After so many episodes and movies from the franchise, you’d think the choreography would be stale and repetitive. That’s not the case at all with the creators still being able to craft a style of fighting that you’ve never seen before. The addition of subtitles populating the screen when certain characters make physical contact with others was also a new detail. This wasn’t needed to help the film but didn’t ruin the moments either. All the signature moves are back and it will have you screaming in excitement if you’re a fan.
On top of that Dragonball has always been known for its unique comedic style. It’s not for everyone and is palatable in my opinion when taken in small doses. I just wish so much comedy wasn’t focused on to develop the plot of the film. Which in most cases is revenge from one character to another or world domination. It’s the same here and I will say it’s warranted. The reason we end up here is justified without any hesitation.
My criticisms of the film hold so much weight over the whole project though. What is appealing about the Dragonball lore as a whole is the hard work, dedication, and passion coming from all the characters. It is taught to its viewers that anything can be achieved through nonstop hard work and never giving up. That’s the main selling point of the franchise. And for years audience members from around the world have witnessed the Z fighters go through hours, and hours, and months to even years repeatably training nonstop to achieve a new power level. It’s an earned powerup but that was not the case with the main characters Gohan and Piccolo. I haven’t been this disappointed in such a long time. Instead of working hard for their new power that was presented in the marketing and trailers for the film it is extremely unearned and feels like cheating. There was a lack of training and guidance, and it didn’t come across as well thought out in the slightest.
I can even say the same about another villain that emerges from the past towards the end of the film. It felt so unearned and wasted which is unfortunate due to the amount of potential to be outstanding. They’re from the past and was one of the best antagonists the Z fighters have ever faced. However, it wasn’t a fleshed-out character anymore this time around. It was just a bad guy that screamed and yelled loudly that randomly fired off kick blasts. For such a character to be brushed over when it was a fan favorite in the past felt so disrespectful and lazy, to be honest. There was so much build-up to the last moments, the most important moments of the film, and I feel it failed there miserably.
On a positive note, there were a few aspects of the final showdown that made you reminisce about the past as a Dragonball Z fan which was nothing short of fun. However, the film could’ve been so much more than it was in its final form. Unfortunately, the previous film in the franchise Dragonball Super: Broly (2018) is far superior that this one, being a step-down. I’m just so curious about what happened in the writing room that had the final product develop in the way it did. It feels like there was more of a focus on the animation style than the actual script leaving me as a diehard Dragonball fan a bit let down.