Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan

If you’ve been in enough discussions about Dragon Ball, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the character Broly. Making his debut in 1993 in the non-canon film Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball Z: Burn Up!! A Close Fight - A Violent Fight - A Super Fierce Fight in Japan), Broly went on to become a rather popular character within the fandom, more so than any of the other movie-exclusive villains in the franchise, to the point where he even got representation as a DLC fighter in the recent game Dragon Ball FighterZ, a game whose roster is otherwise devoted to select canon characters as of the Dragon Ball Super anime. The endurance of Broly’s popularity would ultimately culminate in the debut of a canon version of the character in the recent film Dragon Ball Super: Broly. In preparation for the new film, we have decided to rewatch Funimation’s 2003 dub of the original Broly film (via the Broly Triple Feature Blu-ray collection) as a way to compare the two versions of the character.

While Chi-Chi (Cynthia Cranz) is trying to get him to behave in order to get Gohan into a private school, Goku (Sean Schemmel) receives a distress call from King Kai and is forced to leave via instant transmission. Meanwhile, a picnic involving the other Z fighters is interrupted by the appearance of a Saiyan named Paragus (Dameon Clarke), who tells Vegeta (Christopher Sabat) about the creation of a new Planet Vegeta (the Saiyan homeworld). As Vegeta, under the promise of fighting the Legendary Super Saiyan, goes along with Paragus, Master Roshi (Mike McFarland) ends up getting himself, Krillin (Sonny Strait), Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny) and Oolong (Bradford Jackson) on board, with Future Trunks (Eric Vale) getting on board just as the ship closes. On the new planet, Paragus introduces his son Broly (Vic Mignogna) as Vegeta’s servant. When Goku arrives, his presence causes Broly to act up, one of many signs that something is not right about the new Planet Vegeta.

While the plot is pretty straightforward, there isn’t much to it, as the bulk of the second half of the movie is dedicated to the actual fight with Broly, the aforementioned Legendary Super Saiyan. While Broly himself is indeed an interesting character, his backstory didn’t seem to have enough exploration as it could have, as while we do get to see it, his motivation for fighting Goku is rather lacking. That said, the final battle is very well-done and has some actual tension as the other fighters along with Goku try and figure out how to stop Broly, even if the reason for his downfall is a little questionable. Though the movie is non-canon, it seems to place itself sometime around the Cell Saga in the series, given the presence of Future Trunks and his participation in the events, as well as only the base Super Saiyan form being available to Saiyan characters in this story.

Goku (left, Sean Schemmel) preparing a Kamehameha against Broly (right,
Vic Mignonga) in his Legendary Super Saiyan form.

Even though animation quality in general has improved significantly since this film’s original debut in 1993, the animation holds up surprisingly well. The animation of the Broly fight is especially good, as is his transformation into a Super Saiyan that only serves to highlight his raw power. Though the voice actors have greatly improved in their performances of their respective characters over time, the voice acting still holds up as they display the experience they still had in their roles. Vic Mignogna, best known as Edward Elric in the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, is an interesting choice for Broly, however he still manages to show great range as he plays Broly more calmly in his base form until the character begins to transform, where his performance is truly menacing. Mignogna would continue to voice Broly in the film’s two sequels, Broly – Second Coming and Bio-Broly, as well as reprise the role years later in Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

The Funimation dub also introduced a number of additional songs to its soundtrack, most notably “10’s” by metal group Pantera. I would comment on this, however I cannot since the Broly Triple Feature Blu-ray version restores the original Japanese soundtrack, for those who are curious. That said, the soundtrack was good for what it was, working with its more minimalist nature to highlight certain moments when deserved.

Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan is worth giving a watch, if only to see the origins of a rather popular Dragon Ball character. That aside, while the movie is a little light on plot, what little there is is actually pretty well-written, though the main draw is a fantastically-animated battle backed by some really good voice acting. This movie is made more for existing Dragon Ball fans than non-fans, though its execution makes it probably one of the easier non-canon films for a non-fan to watch.

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