'Dragon Ball Super': What Comes Next After 'Broly'?

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is now out in theaters worldwide, and is proving to be every bit the game-changing chapter of the Dragon ball saga that fans have been promised.

Now that Broly is here, and fans are getting to experience it first-hand, the buzz is already starting to turn toward what comes next in the franchise. The milestone film is opening some big doors to a new era, so what comes next after Dragon Ball Super: Broly? Let's break it down.

Full Fan Service - If you didn't get the hint while watching Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the film is pretty much an official marker of when Dragon Ball became a full-on, fan-service franchise. But it's actually something that's been happening in slow increments for the last few years, beginning with the Dragon Ball Super anime's Tournament of Power arc. That final installment of the anime was basically a "fight-of-the-week" showcase of battles between fan-fav fighters, culminating in one of the bigger milestone transformations (Ultra Instinct) that Goku has gone through since first going Super Saiyan in Dragon Ball Z's "Freeza Saga".

Ever since the Dragon Ball Super anime ended, the franchise has leaned wholeheartedly into its fan-service approach. If you don't believe it, just think about the fact that Dragon Ball Super's first movie was a Broly reboot; Broly has been one of the most iconic and enduring characters in the franchise since his introduction 25 years ago, and the decision to bring him back in this new film was definitely done with fan service in mind. The result of that decision has been Toei putting out the most successful Dragon Ball movie yet, which is pretty much all the validation you need that a fan-service approach (literally) pays big dividends.

Testing Grounds - So now that Toei, Akira Toriyama, and the rest of the Dragon Ball makers have seen that fan-service works (thanks to the massive successes of the Top arc and Dragon Ball Super: Broly), the next step would be seeing what exactly, serves fans best. That process is already happening, as Dragon Ball is currently using multifaceted media saturation to test different ideas and concepts in the series. The Dragon Ball Super manga is now more accessible than ever (thanks to big changes in Shonen Jump's business model), and the manga series is positioning artist Toyotaro as a full-on successor to Akira Toriyama. As Broly arrives in theaters, Toriyama and Toyotaro are already launching into a bold new storyline that brings together a fearsome new villain and some old Dragon Ball Z story threads for an arc that could entirely redefine Goku and Vegeta's powers, and even what the greatest source of power is in the Dragon Ball saga.

Even the Dragon Ball video games from Bandai Namco have taken on a life of their own in the franchise. Japan's popular arcade / card game hybrid, Super Dragon Ball Heroes, was built on fan-service fighter matchups, and it's become popular enough to spawn an entire Dragon Ball Heroes promo anime, in which there are virtually no limits to what kind of crazy fan-service events can occur. And while the animation on Heroes is noticeably shoddy, and the "episodes" presented as truncated webisodes, the fanbase is nonetheless hyped about "event moments" like seeing Goku and Vegeta battle their Time Patrol counterparts; the return and/or introduction of some headline-making villains; plus some drastic potential changes to Dragon Ball lore.

The best thing about all of these little experiments is that they don't carry much risk (yet), as Dragon Ball's most potent lifeblood (the anime series) isn't affected by anything the manga, games, or auxiliary anime series are doing. But if something on those other fronts really clicks and connects with fans (a storyline, characters, powers) then there's now space and freedom to selectively adapt that piece of the puzzle into the official canon, and ignore the parts that don't fit. It's what Dragon Ball Super: Broly did with its major retcon of Saiyan history, pieced together from a lot of formerly non-canon storylines or character details, into a bright new official backstory for Goku, Vegeta, and Broly.

Yuya-Takahashi-Dragon-Ball-Super-Broly-Art

The True Canon - The endgame for Toei's plans after Dragon Ball Super: Broly seem to be glaringly clear: pull the series together into one tightly-woven official canon, meant to appeal to a larger global audience than has ever been marketed to. As stated, that canon will be the one "true" version of the saga, with debates about who or what is considered "official" in the series now settled forevermore.

What makes it into this larger, global-minded version of Dragon Ball canon will first be carefully tested in other areas of the franchise, before being imported into canon via a future anime or animated film. It's a sure-fire way of getting Dragon Ball to be everything that fans want, while still allowing (or even encouraging) creative freedom and variety in the manga, games, or other projects related to the series.

As of writing this, the first official hints of the next Dragon Ball Super anime episodes are starting to leak, which means we may have an answer to this question, sooner before later!

Spinoffs? - We're starting to hear a growing chorus of fans who say now is the time for Dragon Ball to follow other franchises, by offering fans a lineup of spinoffs. Dragon Ball Super and its Broly feature film have expanded the franchise universe (or multiverse, rather) so much, that there's now an (over)abundance of fan-fav characters, many of whom would be able to sustain their own series. ToP characters like Universe 6 (Cabba, Kale, Caulifla, Hit) or Universe 11 (Jiren and the Pride Troopers) have led fan nominations for spinoff stories; Heroes has sparked the notion of the Goku and Vegeta "Xeno" characters getting their own Time Patrol series; and now Broly and his new companions Cheelai and Lemo are getting similar endorsements from a fanbase that loves them. Of course, there are also the "forgotten" characters of the franchise like Gohan, who could use the spotlight of a Goku-free series to finally shine in. With the franchise branching out so widely, it seems almost inevitable that series will have to focus on more than just Goku and Vegeta's latest power-up. Or so you would think...

0comments

What do you think is coming next after Dragon Ball Super: Broly? Let us know in the comments!

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is out now. Dragon Ball Super currently airs its English dub on Adult Swim during the Toonami block Saturday evenings at 9:30 p.m. It is also available to stream on Funimation and Amazon Video. The Japanese language release is available to stream on FunimationNOW, VRV, and Crunchyroll.