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Anime impressions: ‘Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods’

Image from the upcoming Dragon Ball Z movie, Battle of Gods.
Image from the upcoming Dragon Ball Z movie, Battle of Gods.
© Bird Studio/Shueisha © 2013 Dragon Ball Z the Movie Production Committee

On August 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th of 2014, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” will be available in a number of theaters throughout the U.S., and FUNimation Entertainment gave us a sneak peak at this action-packed film, the first “Dragon Ball” movie in 17 years.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
© Bird Studio/Shueisha © 2013 Dragon Ball Z the Movie Production Committee

Based on the “Dragon Ball” manga from Akira Toriyama, released stateside by Viz Media, the “Dragon Ball Z” anime follows the adventures of Goku, a Saiyan, an alien race of warriors, who has been raised on Earth after being sent there as a child when his home planet was destroyed. As Goku learns the truth about his origins, he finds himself challenged by a variety of different alien, android and just outright strange beings from throughout the universe. Alongside his friends, he fights to save Earth, even if they have to destroy a large portion of it in the process. That is what the Dragon Balls, orbs that when all seven are gathered allow the summoning of a powerful dragon, named Shenron, who will grant the summoner one wish, are for though, right?

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” takes place following the events of the “Dragon Ball Z” anime, after Goku and his friends defeat Buu. On Earth, everyone has gathered for Bulma’s birthday and the celebration is in full force, although both Goku and Vegeta are each off on their own, training. Far away, Beerus, the “God of Destruction” awakens from a lengthy slumber and learns from his attendant Whis, that Freeza has been slain by a Saiyan warrior. This peaks Beerus’ interest, as while he slept, he had a dream that a “Super Saiyan God” would arise as his rival.

Anxious to find this new challenge, Beerus locates Goku on King Kai’s planet and asks him if he knows anything about the Super Saiyan God, but Goku knows nothing. Never one to turn down a good fight, Goku challenges Beerus and the two have a quick battle. Goku doesn’t stand a chance though, and in just a few strikes from Beerus, he is beaten. This leaves Beerus rather disappointed, so he begins to search out the rest of the remaining Saiyans, namely Vegeta, on Earth.

Having been warned about Beerus, by King Kai, Vegeta tries to make sure that Beerus, who has joined in on the festivities, has a good time and he stays calm, or all of Earth could be destroyed. It doesn’t take long for something to happen though, after Vegeta goes so far as to make a fool of himself in front of everyone, Beerus loses his cool when Buu refuses to give him a pudding cup, sending him into a rampage.

As Beerus throws everyone around, Bulma gets in his face and Beerus slaps her, sending Vegeta into a rage that makes him more powerful than Goku, but the god continues to prove that he is too much for them. Goku arrives a little late, and as Beerus makes plans to destroy Earth, he convinces the god to give them a few minutes to figure out how to find the Super Saiyan God, with the help of Shenron, so Beerus can have his battle.

I don’t want to spoil any more of the story, so I won’t discuss the ending.

Visually, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” looked about like you would expect a feature film version of an anime TV series to look. Compared to the original series, the animation was smooth, looked a little cleaner and the picture was vivid. I watched the film on my computer, via a link provided by FUNimation, so I’m sure that seeing and hearing the film in a theater will be a much more impressive experience.

As far as the voiceover goes, everyone sounded just like they have in the English version of the series, so no real surprises there. If you liked the English dub of “Dragon Ball Z”, then you shouldn’t have a problem with the voice cast of the film.

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” feels like a tribute, not only to the anime series, but to the fans that have loved it for so long, and it delivers plenty of what we loved about the series, especially action and comedy. The film had a bit of fanservice, not just all of the action but also in seeing the returning characters, Pilaf, Mai, and Shu also make an appearance, in child form, as they try to steal the Dragon Balls, of course. It does however have a few flaws, the main one being the story, things move a little too fast and Beerus doesn’t really get established as well as he could have.

The film had plenty of action, and it was nice to see Goku and Vegeta in full fighting form once again. Vegeta also shows a different side of himself in this film, which was nice to see, you really get to see how he feels about Bulma when Beerus hits her, and for him to act like a fool to keep Beerus entertained and the Earth safe was something special. It was also interesting to see Shenron flustered after learning that Beerus was in attendance at his summoning.

Admittedly, I have a bias when it comes to “Dragon Ball Z”, in my early teen years, when I would spend weeks at a time in the hospital, it was “Dragon Ball Z”, “Gundam Wing” and “Rurouni Kenshin” that gave me something to look forward to each day. With that said, if you are a “Dragon Ball Z” fan, or you enjoy the “One Piece”, “Naruto Shippuden” and “Fairy Tail” movies, then you will enjoy “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods”.

(FUNimation Entertainment provided early access to the film for this piece.)