At the 2021 New York Comic Con (NYCC), TOEI Animation and Shuesiha finally revealed the trailer for the next movie installment in the Dragon Ball franchise. The last movie to be released in 2019, “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” was a huge success around the world, raking in $116.5 million and making the film the 11th highest grossing anime film internationally of all time. So, it was only a matter of time before fans from all around the world got to have their Dragon Ball desires met and TOEI executives could rake in the money from another film.
The anime world exploded then when the title of the new movie and some of Akira Toriyama’s artwork for the movie had been leaked. We got a glimpse of the possible villains of the movie along with some artwork of Pan, the granddaughter of the main protagonist Goku, grown out of her infant and toddler stage. Fans, including myself, became obsessed with theories as to what this next movie is going to look like, and from NYCC, I can already begin to say that some of my hopes are coming true!
To start, let’s talk about side character development. Akira Toriyama and TOEI gave Dragon Ball fans one of the best moments of the franchise during the Cell Games Arc. There we saw Gohan, Goku’s son, take the mantle of Earth’s strongest warrior from his father by unlocking the hidden potential that was inside of him from the beginning of the Dragon Ball series. Gohan ascended past the level of the Super Saiyan to defeat Cell with one of the coolest Kamehameha waves the franchise has ever seen. It was assumed from that point on that Gohan would be the one to continue the story of Dragon Ball. However, Toriyama had other plans in mind, as Japanese fans wanted to see Goku come back to the series in full force. In the subsequent Majin Buu Arc and then throughout the entirety of the Dragon Ball Super Arcs, Goku has been brought back to center stage, and for lack of a better phrase, it has been the Goku show ever since. Side character development, even for characters as strong and important to the plot as Vegeta have been pushed aside, but at the NYCC, the producers of the film made sure to emphasize the importance placed on those characters in the upcoming film, namely Pan (Gohan’s daughter) and Piccolo.
But as a Gohan fan, I hope the film is not limited to just those two characters, as I have been hitting my knees every night praying for the return of a strong Gohan to correct how the franchise deserted him after the Cell Games Arc. Viewers of “Dragon Ball Super” anime and specifically the Tournament of Power Arc saw that Gohan with a little training was capable of fighting with his father Goku when Goku entered into his Kaioken Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan form (I know, a mouthful, but in essence it just means Goku has the power of a god times 20). Gohan is by no means a weak character or one to leave out of the franchise, because as Gohan even said in the anime, he wants to discover a new Saiyan transformation on his own for him to proudly use in battle. This could be the moment for Gohan to do so! Although I think that ultra-instinct is the most compatible technique for Gohan to learn considering how practical he is, I want to see Gohan have a moment just as he did in the Cell Games Arc and return to the main stage as a serious contender, if not the strongest character in the show.
My second big hope for the movie involves Broly. Again, the producers made sure to discuss at NYCC that Broly will be featured in the film and is currently living on a planet besides the one we left him on at the end of “Dragon Ball Super: Broly.” Before Broly was made canon in the “Dragon Ball Super” film, his appearance throughout the Dragon Ball Z films as a non-canonical character always made my heart pound. Here is this ruthless fighter with no off button: he just fights and looks freaking cool as the Super Saiyan of Legend. So, his introduction into the canon had me excited to finally see him in the official story line, and with his newfound power being even greater than before. Broly in the Z saga was a menace to a Super Saiyan, but in the Super saga, he is now powerful enough to go toe to toe with Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Gogeta (a fusion of Goku and Vegeta which not only combines but multiplies their power). So, seeing Broly at the 34-second mark in the trailer training with Goku gets me excited to see what a powerful figure he can become in the franchise if he learns to harness his power. Broly has always been a fan favorite, and for him to get more screen time is huge for all the fans who have been waiting for this moment.
Now my real final hope for this movie comes down to the “evil organization” presented to us in the trailer. It appears to be, in some form, remnants of the Red Ribbon Army from the Dragon Ball saga when Goku was a child. The Red Ribbon Army is an easy antagonist as they have always been considered “evil” in the franchise. But I hope that their return is thought out rather than sloppily thrown together, as it has been in past sagas and films. Because at this point, Goku and his cast of friends and family have fought them on a number of occasions. Like the mold in Ziv, they always seem to return, and I hope that this return is symbolic and important rather than some old Red Ribbon Army officer being mad that Goku keeps beating them.
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” promises to be an amazing film, and it has high expectations to meet considering how well “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” did with not only fans, but also in the box office. Theoretically, Gohan and the other side characters might not get the limelight, and Broly might be weak, and the Red Ribbon army might have a terrible back story, but you know my ticket is purchased so that I can continue to see my favorite superheroes throw it down with some bad guys again.