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Review: 'Dragon Ball Super: Broly' Powers Up As The Franchise's Best Movie Yet

You might think Dragon Ball has done it all, but then you’d be wrong. Akira Toriyama birthed a juggernaut when he stepped out with the series decades ago, and it carries on still. Now, the team at Toei Animation is letting fans know Son Goku has lots of life left in him, and the studio did so with Dragon Ball Super: Broly — the best film to hit the anime to date.

The movie’s premise is a simple one, and it makes no bones about its offerings. Dragon Ball Super: Broly follows Goku and Vegeta after the Tournament of Power, and the Saiyans are as hungry as ever for battle power. With a whole multiverse before them, the pair find themselves pitted against an unfamiliar foe when a long-lost Saiyan named Broly is located by Freeza. However, the meat of the movie’s story comes in its first arc, and it all has to do with well-timed flashbacks.

Yes, anime fans may have been taught to despise flashbacks, but Dragon Ball Super wields the technique as skillfully as Goku does a Kamehameha Wave. The history of the Saiyan race comes into play at the film's start as fans visit Planet Vegeta during its most tumultuous time. Not only does the ambitious time slip retcon details about Saiyan society, but it sets up a clear origin for guys like Broly and Goku.

Though the flashback comes off rather curt at the end, Dragon Ball Super: Broly seeds new life into the Saiyan race with the sequence. It filters back into present day seamlessly, giving fans a chance to see how the decisions of a few Saiyans led to where Goku and Vegeta are today. So, when Broly finally shows up, fans are given a chance to see how the Saiyan has fared after being separated from his home world.

In a welcome turn of events, Broly is given a fleshed-out back story that gives the fighter something he’s never had before: a personality. The biggest issue fans had with Broly’s original debut during the Dragon Ball Z era was his lack of character, but this film makes up for its in spades. Not only does Broly have a defined personality, but his tragic history will leave fans feeling sympathetic for the once-parodic brute.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly ties together a cohesive narrative in the time its given, but its fast pacing leaves little room for forgiveness. Some overtly direct exposition is needed pull the story along, but what the film lacks in storytelling is made up for in animation.

Just — to put it simply, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is the best the anime has ever looked.

Helmed by director Tatsuya Nagamine, this latest Dragon Ball Super is not only canon thanks to Toriyama’s script, but it revitalizes the anime’s tired aesthetic. Art director Naohiro Shintani brought on a truly all-star crew of artists to animate this film, and that dedication shine in every frame. Not only does Dragon Ball Super: Broly look fluid in a way the series has never before, but it builds upon favorite animation quirks from titles past. From Goku going Super Saiyan to Freeza’s iconic cackle, every piece of Dragon Ball Super has been given a makeover, and each fight sequence feels like a climatic one.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly might be the newest film to enter the franchise, but it refuses to rely on that clout to push any agenda. The movie is as power-hungry as King Vegeta, and its lofty ambitions easily make it one of the best films to ever hit Dragon Ball. On par with Fusion Reborn or even Battle of Gods, Dragon Ball Super: Broly will knock back any fan even if they aren't up to date with the series, and it breathes new life into a franchise that has years more to go.

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Rating: 5 out of 5

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