A plea for melancholy adapted to the new times.
As a kid, when I got tired of watching ‘Dragon Ball Z‘ movies on VHS and DVD, I couldn’t help but feel a terrible sorrow for Broly. The character in ‘Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan’ (1993), ‘Broly – Second Coming’ (1994) and ‘Bio-Broly’ (1994) never struck me as a villain like Freezer or Cell. He was bad, yes, and infinitely powerful. But it wasn’t his fault. Dementia occupied his mind with a childhood trauma. “Kakarotto” rattled in his brain over and over again, forcing him to fight the only goal he had been implanted as a child. He had no other goal in life than to end Goku, and no matter how much he became a monster, he was never more than a poor misunderstood.
That’s the first thing that ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly‘ fixes.
When I found out that the next Dragon Ball Super movie was going to have Broly as its antagonist, I expected the worst. As the villain had never been transferred to the official canon of the series, he was a golden goose that Toei was not going to let pass. But I feared they would do what they did in the nineties: turn him into an emotionless machine whose only potential was to destroy things. I was afraid that they would tell me the same disposable story and, in short, that I would end up sleeping for lack of empathy. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The first step taken by ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly‘ is to turn the character loved by all fans not only into a worthy rival, but also into someone with authenticity. It’s not bad for the sake of it. He doesn’t even like to fight. He is a complex warrior, who has suffered enormous abuse since childhood and whose anxiety is caused by his own father, not by a baby crying next to him when he was born. It is a revisit of the Freudian myth in a world where parental authority has never been punished so directly.
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Broly, in short, is an original character in the saga, someone who not only offers enough for a film, but can be very important in the long run. But this is just the first of the ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly‘ successes. If the film has triumphed at the international box office and in American critics, it’s because, broadly speaking, it works like a Marvel film.
If in ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘ we look at the chaos from the perspective of Thanos, the crazy Titan who wants to reduce the number of inhabitants of the entire galaxy by half, this time we put ourselves in the shoes of Broly, someone who has never had the power to decide. Someone who has never been asked if he wants to be a warrior.
Although we end up getting into Goku’s skin, in most of the footage we are with Broly, which allows us to start from scratch. It doesn’t make sense to watch the film if you’re not a Dragon Ball fan, but at least we feel like we’re not in front of a film that is used to stretch the gum. We are starting a new story that emanates the same as the classic films but, at the same time, raises the stakes in every sense.
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As in ‘Infinity War’, it’s Broly who guides the plot, until we get to a final battle that starts before the start of the footage. It’s the longest, most spectacular and best narrated battle in the entire saga. It follows the classic scheme of the anime: first Vegeta fights, then Goku and then the final surprise appears (which we already revealed in its day). But everything follows a purely Hollywood structure that has nothing to do with the long halts of the current anime or with ‘Battle of Gods‘, which was lost between its parodic tone and its epic intentionality.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ is closer to a feature film of ‘Avengers’ than the previous anime films, and for this it has only been necessary to remove the trash that only hindered the previous plots. Unfortunately, most of the characters in ‘Dragon Ball’ have been disabled, and not because they are not interesting, but because the series has focused, since Goku grew up, to show more and more power without taking into account the rest. Neither Mutenroshi nor Krillin nor even Gohan painted anything in this film, so they just don’t appear. It all comes down to the most important characters and new ones who can offer much more in a future series yet to be confirmed.
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For his part, Freezer shows that his resurrection was not in vain. Although his film wasn’t the best we’ve seen and his time in the anime has left him in the background, ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ serves as a deserved redemption for the best villain of the whole series. Assuming he doesn’t have the power to stand up to Goku, Freezer becomes his Lex Luthor. As everyone looks at his fists, evil emerges from his mind.
Little to say about the effects used in the feature film. Sometimes, CGI techniques jump a little to those of us who are used to the 2D of the series, but most of the time they integrate perfectly into the narrative, acting as a point of dynamism so that we can’t stop looking at the screen for a single moment. Perhaps, in a few years we will see these effects as primitive, but they represent an impasse for the most successful anime in the West to dare to use the techniques that we have already seen in works such as ‘Attack on Titans‘.
Undoubtedly, ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ marks a before and after in a saga that celebrates 35 years with a new golden age. It is a plea for melancholy, yes, but it adapts to the new demands of an audience that wants (almost) the same as always but told in an infinitely better way.