Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is a bad and confusing name for a movie and without some context and knowledge of the franchise, it’s probably a very confusing movie to watch. Characters make deep cut jokes and wave off important plot points that were explored in dozens of episodes of the anime, but for fans–even casual Dragon Ball fans–Super Hero is a rewarding comedy filled with impressive action sequences that all comes together to be the best Dragon Ball movie since 2013’s Battle of Gods.
After more than 35 years of Dragon Ball content, you can only watch your favorite impossibly powerful heroes punch new impossibly powerful villains so many times before you roll your eyes and open up Twitter on your phone. The wonderful thing about this current era of Dragon Ball, and this movie in particular, is that the keepers of the franchise (which now extend beyond its original creator, Akira Toriyama) understand that. Characters still punch each other very hard and send them careening into the sides of cliffs and follow up with energy blasts, but just as much time is spent on the strange family dynamics that have developed among the ever-growing cavalcade of aliens who could kill you by giving you a hearty slap on the back.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Super Hero is it is not a story about Dragon Ball protagonist, Goku, and his best frenemy, Vegeta. The two appear in the film, but only to acknowledge why they aren’t around to help with the latest threat. Super Hero is primarily a Piccolo movie which is a welcome breath of fresh air. Piccolo has always been liked by fans, even in his villainous days, but in the modern era of Dragon Ball, he has become a favorite turning into a father figure to Goku’s son, Gohan, and a grandpa figure to Gohan’s daughter, the adorable Pan. Watching Piccolo embrace the roles to train Gohan’s three-year-old daughter and chastise Gohan for being too busy to pick up his daughter from school is both heartwarming and hilarious.