Dragon Ball once again put a big dent in the Internet with the news that the franchise was launching a new Dragon Ball anime - and it wasn't at all what most fans expected. Instead of a sequel series to Dragon Ball Super, the next anime will be a PR series based on the popular Dragon Ball Heroes video/card game in Japan.
After hearing that caveat, needless to say there was a big reaction from Dragon Ball fans all over the world, and the discussion about the pros and cons of this next anime are still ongoing. One topic that has been of particular interest, is what this Dragon Ball Heroes anime could mean for the future of the franchise's other series - like the highly-anticipated sequel series to Dragon Ball Super.
Let's start with the biggest point of debate for a lot of fans:
The Experiment is On
A lot of fans have taken this announcement of a Dragon Ball Heroes anime to be exactly what it probably is: an experiment, meant to test the waters of what the franchise can now achieve. Heroes has already made some important headway by getting its own manga series - but Dragon Ball Heroes pretty much exists to be Dragon Ball fan-fiction played out in game form. Seeing how the fandom responds to an entire anime (even in small doses) that's built around fan-service is going to be the biggest point of intrigue in this little experiment - for a lot of reasons...
Non-Canon Just As Official
For years now there have debates (read: arguments) about which parts of the Dragon Ball mythos are canon vs. non-canon. If a character or storyline didn't appear in certain anime series or canonized movies, it's not considered to hold the highest badge of "official" authenticity - regardless of how popular it might be (Broly).
However, a Dragon Ball Heroes anime would validate the non-canon side of the franchise in a way that we haven't really seen. Even Dragon Ball GT had the illusion (now confusion) of looking very much like a canon sequel to Dragon Ball Z - but this will be the first series that's essentially built around fan-service, rather than organic storyline.
One Interesting yield of this experiment will indeed be the question of popularity. If the Dragon Ball Heroes anime becomes as popular with fans as DBZ or DBS - or even DBGT - then this PR anime based off an unabashed fan-service game suddenly takes on a new life. If the fandom embraces it, discusses it, and celebrates it as much as anything in a canonized series, then how important does the line between canon and non-canon become?
A Dragon Ball For Everyone
The answer to the above question, in the above scenario, is: not that important. If a Dragon Ball Heroes anime becomes a big hit, then the franchise will essentially breakthrough into a bold new "something for everyone" era, which it has been tip-toeing around for years now.
Thanks to rapid changes in content consumption, fans have been able to get the Dragon Ball experience through so many different paths, whether it's just watching the top series (DBZ, DBS), hitting or skipping over side series like DBGT, streaming the latest sub series, waiting for the TV dub series, etc. It makes sense for the franchise to be now testing the waters, to see if a bigger batch of series couldn't expand the franchise rapidly, and successfully.
Wide Variety of Styles
Diversification has definitely worked on the superhero side, with DC Comics and Warner Bros. being the particular leader in knowing how to use the same characters and properties in a variety of different ways. The Teen Titans, for example, have gotten serious animated series (like Teen Titans or Young Justice); more silly, satirical series (Teen Titans GO!); and it's going to soon have a full live-action show, as well.
The same tactic may prove true for Dragon Ball if this Dragon Ball Heroes anime becomes a breakthrough hit. While the global fandom surely loved Dragon Ball Super, the more casual fans around the world could just as easily embrace the more fantastical fights and matchups of the Heroes anime. After that, the options blow wide open - especially if Toriyama's involvement is no longer a hard requirement to lure in a big fanbse. There could be a Goten and Trunks series in the vein of the original Dragon Ball series; an overpowered continuation of Super for that crowd; continuations of Dragon Ball Z like the FighterZ game story; something for everyone. And the best part is, the things that work don't have to remain separated...
That's right! If you think Dragon Ball fan service like Dragon Ball Heroes was the standard, wait until a Heroes anime can crossover with Super - or whatever other series may be out there by then. We could be talking total fan overload by the end of all this!
Are you excited for the Dragon Ball Heroes anime? Or are you waiting for that Dragon Ball Super sequel? Let us know in the comments!
Dragon Ball Legends mobile game is expected to be released sometime this summer. Dragon Ball Super currently airs its English dub on Adult Swim during the Toonami programming block Saturday evenings at 9:30 p.m. It is also available to stream on FunimationNOW and Amazon Video. The Japanese language release of the series is complete, and available to stream on FunimationNOW, VRV, and Crunchyroll.