Where should Dragon Ball Super go with the series, after the game-changing events of the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero movie? It's one of the biggest questions hanging over the fandom right now, as Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has sparked a major resurgence in fan love of characters like Gohan, Piccolo, or Pan, who not shined nearly as brightly in Dragon Ball Super as they did in Dragon Ball Z. At the same time, Super Hero has had a much harder time connecting with some Dragon Ball diehard fans – especially in its home region of Japan.
So what to do now?
Is Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Canon?
The first thing to get clear is whether Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero even has that much of an impact on the larger events of Dragon Ball Super. It's been somewhat vague and confusing if the events of Super Hero are canon – including major new transformations for both Gohan (Beast Form) and Piccolo (Full Potential Unlocked), as well as young characters like Goten and Trunks being aged-up to teenagers. To make a longer issue short, Toei animation and Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama are basically playing it fast and loose, expanding the scope of Dragon Ball while reserving the right to pick and choose which elements of that expansion become "offcial" canon.
As Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero producer Akio Iyoku explained:
"Between this film and Toyotaro-sensei's manga, we currently have two lines of Dragon Ball Super running," Iyoku explained. "To begin with, the film is written purely as a sequel to [Dragon Ball Super: Broly]. We wanted to pick up on and meet the expectations of everyone who's stuck with Dragon Ball so far, along the lines of, 'It'd be neat this happened,' or 'I hope this kind of character shows up... And in [V-Jump's] pages, we have the continuing story of Goku and Vegeta. We'll see new strong enemies show up, and new stories, and events will continue to progress. Of course Toriyama diligently oversees the storylines for the manga too, so it's like we have events running in parallel. In terms of timeline placement, we try to not build things in too strictly-we'd like to leave margins in the story, to allow for a greater degree of freedom... To put it simply, 'Things are more interesting this way!'"
Will Dragon Ball Super's Manga Reference Super Hero?
It most certainly should!
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero did extra work including Goku and Vegeta in its story, carving out a clear crevice of time that could be synched up with the events of the manga's last few story arcs. Specifically speaking, Gohan and Piccolo's new transformations; Pan's new commitment to fighting; older Goten and Trunks and even a more clear look at how Bulma is a badass are all wonderful elements that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero introduced and the main series could use.
Dragon Ball Super Needs Power Balance
The key issue that has arisen with Dragon Ball Super's almost exclusive focus on Goku and Vegeta is that t overpowered the two Saiayan warriors to a degree that far outclasses the other characters in the Z-Fighters ensemble. Dragon Ball Z was about the group dynamic, but Dragon Ball Super has all but made that impossible.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has done the work of bringing the next two most powerful characters in the group (Gohan and Piccolo) to a level where they can stand alongside Goku and Vegeta again. Goten and Trunks are also on deck to possibly rejoin the story now, as their older selves can also quickly level up. For Dragon Ball Super to waste all that Super Hero helps to balance out would be a waste.
Back to Bad Guy Beginnings
The other thing that Dragon Ball Super is doing write that is worth mention is bringing things back to some key villains that helped propel the series forwards. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero brought back the Red Ribbon Army from the very beginnings of the series, and showed how DBZ's threat of a future overrun by androids is still a very real one. In the Dragon Ball Super manga Frieza has just made a major return, revealing that he too has leveled up to compete with Goku and Vegeta again.
It's only a matter of time before Frieza sets his sights on Earth and its Dragon Balls again; it almost seems like the character developments and power-ups of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero are going to be a necessity – as will the full power of Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Broly and all the rest, if the Frieza Force triues something like an all-out invasion of Earth.
...Now that's a story e'd love to see happen – how about you?
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is now playing in theaters. Dragon Ball Super is releasing new manga chapters monthly, free online.