(Posted to my Facebook page on November 16, 2014)
I just watched Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and thought I’d share my thoughts.
It’s been a long time since anything really new came out of the Dragon Ball universe cannon-wise. Dragon Ball Z Kai began in 2009, but that was simply a re-cut of Dragon Ball Z with less filler, updated animation and such. The Path to Power, the previous movie, was released in Japan back in 1996! Even then, it’s important to note that none of the other seventeen DBZ movies have actually been considered cannon. This is also, if I remember correctly, the only Dragon Ball Z movie to receive a theatrical release here in America, which is pretty fantastic. I wanted to go see it in theaters myself, but I really didn’t have anyone to see it with…
Anyways, on to the movie itself. It takes place during the time skip between the defeat of Kid Buu and the 28th World Martial Arts Tournament (The end of Dragon Ball Z, when Goku meets Uub). After only 39 years asleep, the god of Destruction Beerus awakens from his sleep. He claims that a premonition of his combined with a prophecy he heard before he last went to sleep stated that a worth rival would appear for him at this time, a “Super Saiyan God”. Learning that only five Saiyan remain alive (Six, counting Vegeta’s brother, who oddly enough is referenced by Vegeta himself, but not the Gods when they make their initial count), Beerus finds Goku, who he learned defeated Frieza while he was asleep, and Goku challenges him to a battle. Despite powering up to Super Saiyan 3, the battle is over in a matter of minutes, with Goku utterly defeated. Beerus then sets his sights on Earth, determined to find the Super Saiyan God. The problem? Being a god of destruction, anything that annoys him might make him snap and blow up the planet at any time…
Just to put this out there, this isn’t a fighting-heavy movie. It sounds weird to say that, but roughly half or more of this movie mostly revolves around the interactions between the Z-Fighters and Bulma’s 38th birthday party. On that note, if you came into this for something akin to World’s Strongest, which is mostly nonstop action, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, it’s a very, very funny film. It’s jokes hit head on, and seeing all your favorite characters together again and interacting is a joy in itself. To be fair, there’s a substantial amount of filler in the film (Including a subplot involving Emperor Pilaf and his minions that more or less goes nowhere) but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. This movie is more of a celebration of Dragon Ball Z, and the message it delivers at the end is what really makes it memorable in my book. I remember talking to someone who particularly doesn’t like Dragon Ball Z (At least, after the Frieza Saga), and his main point was that “After becoming the strongest in the universe, it’s kind of stupid that all these stronger guys keep showing up”. But I think that’s really a message for the whole series, and that of this movie: Dragon Ball Z, on at least some levels, is always about the struggle to become better. You aim to be the best because it keeps you growing stronger, because there’s always someone stronger somewhere, and that’s what makes the constant struggle of Dragon Ball interesting.
Anyways, this is really a must-watch for Dragon Ball Z fans. If you’re not a Dragon Ball fan, you probably won’t understand much of what’s going on, but you might get a kick out of some of the humor and the fights. The updated animation is great, the original english dub cast all return and do a wonderful job, and most of the jokes hit spot on. Akira Toriyama did a great job of constructing one of the most beloved anime of all time, and this simply serves as a toast to that empire.
I give Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods a 4 out of 5.