Last Updated on by
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, the 21st Dragon Ball film overall and the fourth in the “Dragon Ball Super” era of the storyline, is now officially in theaters as of the time of this posting. With a new focus of having Gohan and Piccolo as the protagonists for this saga, combined with a new CGI look, fans will be interested in the new direction this film will be going for the overall Dragon Ball franchise. And to commemorate the film’s upcoming release, Toei Animation alongside the now combined Crunchyroll and Funimation, went through all the stops to promote this upcoming film.
To add a bit of context for what fans could expecting, we go back a year to Comic-Con @ Home 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the on-site festivities for SDCC 2020 and 2021. Kicking off with a performance of “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” by Hironobu Kageyama, the panelists included Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku, as well as show producers Akio Iyoku and Norihiro Hayashida.
The newest Dragon Ball Super movie was previously released on May 9, Goku Day. Akira Toriyama released this message to the fans:
“An all-new movie since Dragon Ball Super: Broly is currently in the making! Just like the previous movie, I’m heavily leading the story and dialogue production for another amazing film. I really shouldn’t talk too much about the plot yet, but be prepared for some extreme and entertaining bouts which may feature an unexpected character.
We’ll be charting through some unexplored territory in terms of the visual aesthetic to give the audience an amazing ride, so I hope everybody will look forward to the new movie!”
- Akira Toriyama
As with Broly and other previous films in the Dragon Ball Super era, Toriyama created the original story, script, and character design. Akio Iyoku says that while Toriyama was deeply invested with the creation of Broly, he’s even more invested with this new film, even beginning to write this new film as production on Dragon Ball Super: Broly was still in the works. He mentions that: “Creating a story is the most important part of making a movie. He was already starting to write the script while on the set of the previous one. What happened was once he finished the script for “Broly” and we started production on it, I said “Shall we continue to the next movie?” and we just went for it,”
The panelists revealed concept art from the upcoming movie which was drawn by Toriyama before production on the movie began. “We base the anime designs on Toriyama-sense’s original art.” Featured characters included Piccolo, Pan (who is now in kindergarten), Krillin (in Policeman gear), and a brand-new character. They also showcased an imageboard featuring scenery of Piccolo’s house and its surroundings.
When Nozawa was asked what makes the world of Dragon Ball so intriguing: “I’m always thinking is that children will also be watching. Don’t you think there are many worlds we can visit in an anime that we normally can’t in our own world? I think that’s one of the greatest things about it. You’re able to do things that you normally can’t in the real world.”
The big reveal for the panel was the announcement that the newest film in the Dragon Ball franchise will be titled Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. The reason the producers chose the title “Super Hero” was because Toriyama is focusing on the superhero aspect of the Dragon Ball franchise this time. Iyoku added, “We’ve got two “supers” in there, which is great. We really wanted to emphasize that this movie is all about the superhero vibes.” Hayashida also added, “I really want everyone to see what role the new characters play in this new movie.”
The announcement was accompanied with a special clip Akira Toriyama and the film’s production staff, featuring an animation that will be in the film of Goku preparing himself for a fight.
Toei and Crunchyroll later announced that the film would be released in U.S. and Canadian theaters on August 19, 2022. And back to the present year at SDCC 2022, with the upcoming release of the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero film, Toei alongside their partners Bandai Namco, Crunchyroll, S.H.Figuarts and Tamashii Nations, had a heavy focus on showcasing Dragon Ball Super for the upcoming film in their respective booths.
Fans had opportunities to take photographs with attractions related to the Dragon Ball universe, including a replica of Piccolo’s house, as well as statues of the Z Fighters and the new characters that will make their debuts in the film. There were also collectibles fans could potentially purchase. And of course, there was also plenty of swag Toei gave out to fans, including Dragon Ball Super themed lanyards, swag bags, and even a collection of five badge ribbons featuring the main characters of Super Hero for those who stop by booths that featured Dragon Ball Super.
Fans packed the Convention Center’s Hall H, Comic-Con’s largest and most prestigious panel room for the first time since the Dragon Ball Super: Broly panel in 2019. The panelists included Lauren Moore from Crunchyroll/Funimation alongside Norihiro Hayashida, the executive producer of the film, and Christopher Sabat and Toshiro Furukawa, the English and Japanese voices of Piccolo. Akio Iyoku, the co-producer of Super Hero was also supposed to have joined the panel, but was unable to make it to San Diego this year.
Toei Animation on Twitter: “We hoped the fans who attended the #DragonBallSuperSuperHero panel in Hall H enjoyed the first 20 minutes of the movie! Thank you to Toshio Furukawa, Masako Nozawa, and @JustChrisSabat for a panel to remember! pic.twitter.com/yXQGRjHTEq / Twitter”
We hoped the fans who attended the #DragonBallSuperSuperHero panel in Hall H enjoyed the first 20 minutes of the movie! Thank you to Toshio Furukawa, Masako Nozawa, and @JustChrisSabat for a panel to remember! pic.twitter.com/yXQGRjHTEq
In a first for the Dragon Ball franchise, Super Hero’s animation incorporates brand new techniques, most notably a shift to 3D CGI animation. Historically, transitioning the anime artstyle to 3D has often times not mixed very well, but Hayashida-san said that “in order to overcome that we focused a lot into the hand-drawn component of it as well. So, after we did 3D animation there’s a lot of touchups, a lot of hand-drawn animation was happening on top of that to smooth it out and make the experience feel very seamless so I hope everyone will get the chance to see the different visual expression that we went for.”
Akira Toriyama himself was very involved in the character design and the story, including the movie’s screenplay. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is set in Planet Earth, with Piccolo and Gohan serving as the film’s protagonists. Piccolo has historically been a sensei to Gohan, and Hayashida-san does note that the film will showcase the deep bond between the two. As for the film’s antagonists, the film brings back a very familiar foe to OG Dragon Ball fans, the Red Ribbon Army. The film itself has a lot of heavy action and battle sequences, something which Dragon Ball films are very familiar with, but also includes drama slice-of-life components, Hayashida says that the balance between the two was well executed.
Toonami Squad on Twitter: “Norihiro Hayashida on stage talking about the production and story of Super Hero. He notes that there is a new animation pipeline with Super Hero, with the shift to 3-D. He also notes the deep bond between Gohan and Piccolo in the film. #DragonBallSuperSuperHero #SDCC #SDCC2022 pic.twitter.com/PzIjYYlKvn / Twitter”
Norihiro Hayashida on stage talking about the production and story of Super Hero. He notes that there is a new animation pipeline with Super Hero, with the shift to 3-D. He also notes the deep bond between Gohan and Piccolo in the film. #DragonBallSuperSuperHero #SDCC #SDCC2022 pic.twitter.com/PzIjYYlKvn
The panel then showed a message from Goku and Gohan’s Japanese VA, Masako Nozawa. She noted Gohan and Piccolo’s relationship, and you’ll love it enough to see it multiple times and show it to your friends.
San Diego Comic-Con 2022 marked the first time that Piccolo’s English and Japanese voice actors, Chris Sabat and Toshiro Furukawa, joined the stage together to talk about Dragon Ball. Furukawa-san himself was starstruck to seeing the crowds in San Diego in addition to the reception of Dragon Ball, saying that: “I’ve been told beforehand that is one of the biggest conventions in the United States, but now I’m really seeing that, I hope I can really share the what makes Piccolo great with everyone here in this room today.” Likewise, Chris himself has been inspired by Furukawa’s work in voicing Piccolo, joking that: “I have to say how to say it is very difficult for me to be sitting next to him right now without repeating everything he says in a different voice. I heard your voice in my ear for 25 years now and is shocking to sit next to you right now. There’s normally headphones on and I always assumed you were very far away and it means so much to me and to everyone here that you would come all this way to share this experience with everyone.”
As previously mentioned, Piccolo serves a major role in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, and no doubt both Furukawa-san and Chris were both pleased to hear this. Furukawa has wondered to himself what direction they were going to take Dragon Ball franchise next, and when he learned about Piccolo and Gohan’s roles in Super Hero, he responded “Ooh, I’m going to get a lot of screen time on this movie’, which is great.” Chris had a similar reaction when he learned that Piccolo was headlining Super Hero, saying: “My first reaction was: “wait, wait, what?” and my second reaction was: “No, seriously? I’m going to be the main character in this?” But when I finally calmed down, I was like “YES! This is it!” Sabat noted that while there are “Team Goku” and “Team Vegeta” supporters within the Dragon Ball fandom, and while Goku and Vegeta are in their own league, there are also “Team Gohan” and “Team Piccolo” segments as a third part of the fandom, and that this is an amazing story for them.
Toonami Squad on Twitter: “Piccolo’s English and Japanese voice actors, @JustChrisSabat and Toshiro Furukawa, join the stage, the first time they’re in a panel talking about Dragon Ball Super together. Chris thanks Furukawa-da for his inspiration voicing Piccolo. #DragonBallSuperSuperHero #SDCC #SDCC2022 pic.twitter.com/rRr5iLolNo / Twitter”
Piccolo’s English and Japanese voice actors, @JustChrisSabat and Toshiro Furukawa, join the stage, the first time they’re in a panel talking about Dragon Ball Super together. Chris thanks Furukawa-da for his inspiration voicing Piccolo. #DragonBallSuperSuperHero #SDCC #SDCC2022 pic.twitter.com/rRr5iLolNo
Being the English voice of both Piccolo and Vegeta, as well as being the voice director of Dragon Ball Super, Chris’s preparations to dub Super Hero was a little different compared to previous series and films, as he needed to remain cool while being excited for what he is seeing with the story’s direction. A lot of his preparation also came in preparing the entire dub cast for what they needed to do, so a lot of it came in the form of “reading the script, kind of taking it in, and then getting over the excitement of it. And then trying to figure out what it is that this movie is trying to say and what’s it what it’s doing and why Piccolo is this important part. And I was really excited to go through the script, help find some wonderful people to play all these new characters.” But when it came to actually getting in the booth and recording his lines, Chris followed what he calls “Piccolo’s training technique,” which is to ““Stay chill, hang out in an iceberg, meditate, and not get too excited.” And the rest of it’s easy, I just listen to his [Furukawa’s] voice and try and figure out how emotional this character needs to be and then I try to bring that same level to my performance as well.”
The panel came to a climax when fans were shown the first 20 minutes of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (in Japanese with English Subtitles), followed by the reveal of a new trailer for the film.
Toonami Squad on Twitter: “Fans in Hall H just saw the first 20 minutes of #DragonBallSuperSuperHero, and a new exclusive trailer of the film. All I’ll say is that I think you’ll be very excited this August 19.Thanks @LaurMoor @JustChrisSabat Toshiro Furukawa & Norihiro Hayashida on a great panel. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/jXmRXpqibk / Twitter”
Fans in Hall H just saw the first 20 minutes of #DragonBallSuperSuperHero, and a new exclusive trailer of the film. All I’ll say is that I think you’ll be very excited this August 19.Thanks @LaurMoor @JustChrisSabat Toshiro Furukawa & Norihiro Hayashida on a great panel. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/jXmRXpqibk
From what I’ve seen from the film, all I’ll say is that I think you’ll be very excited this August 19th. If you wish to see Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in theaters, check out https://www.2022dbs-global.com/ for showings near your area, and help support the anime industry on the big screen.
What are your thoughts on this article? Do you plan on seeing Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in theaters? Let us know by commenting below or directly on our social media. And stay tuned to Toonami Squad, as we’ll have additional reports from Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con 2022, which I plan on releasing within the next month.