At this point, with 20 feature films and a gajillion episodes of various anime series spanning one of the biggest animation franchises in the world, any further installment of “Dragon Ball” is going to be, as they say, for the fans. “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” — the 21st “Dragon Ball” film, the second “Dragon Ball Super” film, and the first to use primarily 3-D computer animation — is exactly that, chock-full of popcorn nostalgia and fan favorite characters and villains and power moves exactly like what any fan of the long-running saga is looking for.
That’s not to say that “Super Hero” is hostile to any newcomers, however. Hardcore fans will understand what’s going on pretty much immediately, but there’s enough clever (and funny!) setup in the first 20 minutes even for those of us who haven’t watched a “Dragon Ball” property in a [redacted] number of years.
Green-skinned Namekian Piccolo is hanging out on Earth helping Gohan, iconic Goku’s intellectual Saiyan son, train his daughter Pan in the fine art of power ups, warcraft, and delivering flying kicks. His schooling is interrupted by the arrival of an android warrior claiming to be a superhero, sent by the new and improved Red Ribbon Army to eradicate any extraterrestrial threats to the planet. The “superheroes,” caped and jumpsuited Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, were created by the diminutive Dr. Hedo, the grandson of villain Dr. Gero, who is now working with the Red Ribbon’s leaders Commander Magenta and Staff Officer Carmine, whose car is outfitted with a domed sunshield to accommodate his giant pouf of hair.
Piccolo battles Gamma 2 and then infiltrates the Red Ribbon headquarters, learning the true reason why everyone is going after Gohan and his family — and discovers an even more sinister plan to bring back a classic villain. It’s time for Gohan to quickly figure out how to balance his intellectual pursuits with being an all-powerful alien dad. Cue many battle sequences consisting of muscly dudes screaming at each other while their hair stands on end, as is tradition.