Tag Archives: goku

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that Dragon Ball Super has been the thing I’ve loved most that I never knew I wanted. I was done, or at least content, with Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball GT wasn’t good, but I didn’t need it so it wasn’t something that bothered me. Then Battle of Gods came out which ended up being the start of something new for Dragon Ball and here we are. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is the second Dragon Ball Super movie following 19 volumes of manga, 131 episodes of the anime, and the movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly. And really, the last two Dragon Ball Z films were basically Dragon Ball Super since they were adapted into the anime in a longer form. The original Dragon Ball anime will likely always be my favorite, but there’s something to be said for Super which is more self-aware and comes across as being very confident in how to depict these characters, some of whom have been around almost 40 years. It’s funny and willing to poke fun at itself without resorting to more meta humor or fourth wall breaking. And it’s still action-packed and contains all of the tropes of Dragon Ball Z that have somehow become more charming as the years go by, maybe because of the nostalgia. Probably because of the nostalgia.

Super Hero is written by series creator Akira Toriyama and it’s very much a film a designed to place the spotlight on the B-team. When Toriyama was writing and illustrating the Cell Saga for the manga, it was conceived as a passing of the torch, and even a finale, from Goku to Gohan. Obviously, that changed quickly as Toriyama was convinced to keep going and we got the Buu Saga which basically returned Goku to the top of the mountain while Gohan trended towards a more peaceful existence and characters like Piccolo, Krillin, etc. settled further and further into the background. When Super came around, it largely followed that with the only difference being Vegeta moved into an almost co-lead with Goku, but when the anime came to an end, Goku was firmly back at the top.

The Red Ribbon army is under new management.

Now, the anime ended a few years ago, but the manga has continued. We basically have two different canons going on now. While there was always some differences between the two, they were often subtle and inconsequential. Now we have Broly and this film while the manga has gone in a very different direction. This film even features a time-jump that I don’t think has taken place in the manga. I’d have to go back and look, but regardless, there will likely be debate on what is and is not canon and I think the simple answer is we simply have two timelines at this point until (if?) the anime comes back.

Needless to say, this one takes place after the events of Broly and Goku (Sean Schemmel), Vegeta (Christopher Sabat), and Broly (Johnny Yong Bosch) are now comrades. They train together on the planet belonging to Lord Beerus (Jason Douglas) and it’s implied that Broly still has a ways to go in order to get his temper under control. Elsewhere, Piccolo (Sabat) has taken to training Gohan’s daughter Pan (Jeannie Tirado) in martial arts, though the young girl is having some trouble learning to fly. Gohan (Kyle Hebert) has immersed himself in his work neglecting his training and even fatherhood, which it’s hard to say what irritates Piccolo more as he and wife Videl (Kara Edwards) have become more and more reliant on Piccolo as a babysitter of sorts.

Gamma 2 (left) and Gamma 1 are the latest in android technology.

Brewing in the background is the threat of danger. The Red Ribbon army has been re-assembled by its new leader, Magenta (Charles Martinet), who is dissatisfied with being a mere pharmaceuticals producer and longs to restart the androids program. In order to do so, he turns to the great grandson of Dr. Gero, Dr. Hedo (Zach Aguilar), a young prodigy in robotics who was recently incarcerated. Despite the fearsome origin, Hedo is a bit childish and enjoys cookies. He also doesn’t aspire to be a great villain like Magenta and would prefer to create stylish androids in the model of a super hero. Magenta is able to woo the young scientist to his side by claiming that the individuals who took down Cell years ago are aliens out to conquer Earth and Hedo is willing to go along with this since it means money for his research.

With Dr. Hedo onboard, the Red Ribbon army successfully restarts the androids program leading to the creation of the twins Gamma 1 (Aleks Le) and Gamma 2 (Zeno Robinson). It’s Gamma 2 that comes into contact with Piccolo, whom he confuses for King Piccolo (we get a running gag of people referring to Piccolo by one of his former aspects throughout), and picks a fight since he fancies himself a super hero. Gamma 2 makes the mistake of thinking Piccolo was defeated and inadvertently leads Piccolo to the Red Ribbon HQ where he makes a startling discovery. Unfortunately, Bulma (Monica Rial) is unable to get ahold of Goku and Vegeta so it will be up to Piccolo and a rusty Gohan to save the world this time.

Daddy’s not coming to save you this time, Gohan, time to power up!

And that’s basically what it feels like this film waned to do. Unlike other Dragon Ball films, Goku is not going to swoop in at the end to save the day. This is Gohan and Piccolo’s fight, and both are going to power-up to new, largely unexplained, heights. Do we care that these new forms are unexplained? No, because they’re both fun and expected. There’s a fair amount of fan service at play, especially with callbacks to some of the forgotten lore of Dragon Ball’s past, and the sort-of return of an old villain. That’s actually the one criticism I have with the fan service elements as the returning villain is more like a shell of its former self with no personality. It would have been fun to see that personality rekindled and its reaction to the current state of this universe, but oh well. The story is fun, and Piccolo’s infiltration mission he undertakes creates a surprising amount of plot for a Dragon Ball feature. Usually it’s just bad guy shows up, and a long fight ensues. This one actually has pacing and needs things to happen in order to get to the fight. And we’re also dealing with villains who think they’re the heroes, which adds a different twist. It might be less action-oriented as a result so some fans may dislike it, but I found it rather enjoyable and it definitely gave the film more of a Dragon Ball feel such as when Kid Goku basically did the same with the old Red Ribbon army.

The character and story are certainly familiar and a whole lot of fun, what’s different is the production. This is the first Dragon Ball film to be rendered in 3D. It’s a 3D that can look like 2D in some parts and it’s something the past film did in certain shots. This one, outside of 2D flashback sequences, sticks with the 3D throughout and the results are mostly fine, but there’s some ugly parts. For some reason, Goku seems to look the worst in this style and comes across far too much like a character from a video game. I guess it’s a good thing then that he’s not in a lot of this one. There are a few other shots and moments where it gets “video gamey” and it is distracting. And a lot of those shots happen early in the film which is unfortunate because the film begins with a 2D refresher that looks awesome and made me wish the entire film was animated in such a fashion. I would prefer this, and any future episodes of the anime, to look more like that, but I suspect this is the wave of the future for Dragon Ball so I better just get used to it. I do like the use of colors and light with this film going for a manga look. Scenes pop and some of the tracking shots and angles this film goes for are dynamic and really engaging. Director Tetsuro Kodama has done a fantastic job of presenting Dragon Ball as there’s a great energy to the animation and a real weight to the blows.

Piccolo is the film’s heart, and as a longtime Piccolo fan, I approve.

Another strength of the film rests with the audio. The voice performances are all as expected, which is pretty great, while the soundtrack is maybe the best Dragon Ball has ever had? There will always be plenty of fans that love the old stuff from the 80s, but this one has a terrific presence. Composer Naoki Satō really got the message across that this one should sound heroic. There’s a lot of super hero sounding compositions and the music is very dramatic. There were no odd moments, like chanting which was used in the last movie, that took me out of the moment at any time. Some might be disappointed with the lack of more familiar songs, but I for one really enjoyed this soundtrack and found it quite suitable for what the film wanted to present.

Dragon Ball Super – Super Hero is another great addition to the Dragon Ball universe. It continues this high quality return for the series which has really seen the film version of the franchise taken to new heights. Before, Dragon Ball Z films felt like filler. They were simple stories that basically were like the Cliff Notes version of the main series with placeholder villains standing in for the real thing. These last four have felt more like full-fledged movies and I suspect that’s because those involved in the creation of them wanted that to be the case. Dragon Ball has become this warm blanket for me that always shows up. It would have to be really bad to be a disappointing experience and this film is far from it. Because I seem to ask so little of the franchise to entertain me, it’s become harder to decide what’s best among these films, but easy to say that they’re all good. If you’ve ever liked Dragon Ball definitely check out Super Hero. Dragon Ball on the big screen is an experience in and of itself so this gets a strong recommend from me. And Bandai, if you’re reading, we need some more figures based on this one. You know what I’m talking about!


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Son Goku Super Hero

Wait! Don’t go! I swear this is a Goku worth talking about!

Back in the early 2000s I was a collector of Irwin Toys’ Dragon Ball Z line of action figures. When I started collecting that line, I just focused on my favorite characters which were primarily Vegeta, Trunks, and Piccolo. Gradually, the collector impulse took over and I started buying entire waves as they came out even if I never would have imagined I’d buy a figure of Yakon or Yamcha in a yellow suit. Anyway, what happened is my collection was surprisingly light on DBZ’s main character: Goku. Irwin was also pretty bad at keeping popular figures in circulation, they basically made a wave of figures and then moved onto the next one so late adopters were pretty screwed (and maybe that’s partly why they went out of business during the line’s life). I would eventually get the Series 4 standard Goku, but only because I found it on clearance for 4 dollars at a KB Toys (it was a pretty bad likeness), but I never got a Super Saiyan Goku or others. I did get some of the later Goku figures that Irwin and Jakks Pacific (who bought the license from Irwin when it went bankrupt) released, but my collection was definitely light on the legendary Saiyan.

I lead-off with that nugget of info because I’m partly amused, and partly shocked, that Goku dominates my collection of S.H.Figuarts based on Dragon Ball. This latest release based on the new movie Dragon Ball Super – Super Hero brings my total of Goku figures to 5, which isn’t a ton, but it’s amusing to me because I have only 1 Vegeta, 1 Piccolo, and zero Trunks. I’m also not including in my total of Goku figures my Goku Black and the two Kid Goku figures. Perhaps more amusing to me, the only other characters I have multiples of are Krillin, Master Roshi (one as Jackie Chun), and Bulma(!). I’m pretty sure the me of the early 2000s would be quite surprised that I would have more Bulmas than Vegetas, but that’s where we are. This obviously wasn’t deliberate on my part to make up for my lack of Goku 20 years ago. It’s largely the result of me getting into this line very slowly. I initially only intended to collect the figures from Dragon Ball, but they’re so few and far between that I started branching out to Z and Super and event GT! There are figures of Vegeta and Trunks that I’d like to have, but they’re no longer in circulation and I’m just not willing to go secondhand on them. Maybe one day, but for now Goku gets to dominate.

I wouldn’t normally advocate for buying a figure just for a new face, but I might for this one.

So why am I adding another Goku to my collection? Well, I didn’t have a base Goku having passed on the Saiyan Raised on Earth release and when this particular figure went up for solicitation I just happened to like it. The color palette for the new movie is based on the manga and the promotional images just made this figure look nice. Rather than a red-orange gi, this Goku is sporting a much lighter shade of orange. The promo images did a good job of making the figure look like it had more of a matte finish, and the portraits looked really sharp. And since it was being solicited at the bargain price of $35 I figured “why not?” And I’m happy to say the figure is more or less as expected. This is a Goku after all and it’s on a body that we should all be plenty familiar with and those promotional images ended up being honest about some parts of the figure, and less so about others.

The yelling expression is also on point. Whatever Bandai did differently with this one, keep it up!

First of all, the portraits for this Goku look terrific. In comparing them with past releases, I’ve narrowed it down to a few things that seem to make them “pop” better than before. For one, Bandai painted all of the lines including the ones under the eyes. They also used black instead of that brown shade they often use on the faces which helps to better reflect the anime. The eyes also look to be larger and the eyebrows have a little more shape to them. That’s pretty much it, which isn’t much, but the end result looks so much better. These are the best portraits of any Goku I have and it’s also helped by the selection. There’s the usual smirky face, plus a side-eye smirk that’s a little redundant. Then we get a yelling face which looks great because they made sure to round off the eyes, as Goku is often depicted, and the paint is so sharp that it really feels like Goku is screaming at me when I look at the thing. The fourth portrait is more of a frightened or surprised look which we’ve seen out of Goku plenty of times, usually in more comedic moments. It’s my favorite of the bunch and since it’s so different from the other figures I have it’s likely I go with this look in my display.

I’ve expressed my displeasure with this butterfly joint in multiple reviews, but I don’t think I’ve ever photographed it.

Aside from the faces, this Goku is pretty much like all of the others. There are actually subtle differences among the Goku figures I had before this one. Super Saiyan God Goku has a slightly leaner mold in places while the absurdly long named Goku had a different torso due to some battle damage while Super Saiyan 4 Goku is very much its own thing. This figure though is exactly the same as the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I reviewed a while ago. That’s both a good and bad thing. On one hand, the figure is a solid representation of Goku from the anime. It looks pretty good, the proportions are okay, and it mostly moves well. It’s just getting long in the tooth. There are some things it doesn’t do well, like move at the hips out to the side or much at all in the torso. If you wanted this Goku to be positioned in a true flying pose where he’s parallel with the ground it wouldn’t work because he can’t bend his head back far enough. The butterfly joint also isn’t the greatest and this figure has the same problem as that prior Goku in that the inner portion of the butterfly joint was molded in a flesh color instead of orange so it looks like his shirt is ripping. He also has the old shoulders which seem to be getting phased out and they feature the sleeves pinned to them which I have never liked. The ankles are also still on ball-pegs and they’re not great either. That’s what it doesn’t do very well, but what it can do is allow for enough posing that someone with many Gokus on the shelf can still find variety here.

A sampling of Gokus. This figure and the one on the right (the figure’s left) are pretty much the same.

I don’t feel the need to dive into the articulation anymore than that given this is a reused figure covered before. The only other thing to talk about are the rest of the aesthetics and accessories. Given this is a $35 release, it’s probably no surprise that the accessories are limited to the face plates and hands. It’s always a bummer when we don’t get something extra, but thems the breaks. The hands are fairly standard: fists, open, martial arts pose, Kamehameha, and one right two-finger Instant Transmission posed hand. The gi is sculpted in that lighter orange and I like how it turned out. There’s still a bit of a glossiness to it, but it seems to be less severe than usual. The same can be said for the other parts of the figure like the flesh tones and blues. The painted bits are color-matched well and applied cleanly. The undershirt and sleeves are painted better than my other Goku figures and the boots are nicely done. There is some shading, but it’s limited to the lower parts of the legs. I’m not sure I quite understand what Bandai was going for here. Do they think it works best for an aura type effect? You basically have a darker orange at the shins that gradually blends into the light orange by the time it reaches the upper thigh with little shading anywhere else. There’s a hit of it on the orange part of the sleeves and maybe a tiny bit on the abdomen, but it’s so subtle that I’m not sure if my eyes are playing tricks on me or if it’s really there. Aside from that, the only other criticism I have for the paint is the opacity on the symbol on both the front and rear of the gi could have been increased. What looks very nice though is the hair which has a matte finish to it. I don’t know if they hit it with a clear finish or if the plastic is a little different as it feels softer than the black hair on Kid Goku. Whatever they did, keep it up because the hair turned out wonderful.

Goku is at least a character worthy of multiple releases. If you want a base Goku, this is the one to get.

The Super Hero version of Goku is likely a figure most fans will know if they want it or not the moment they see it. If you have a standard Goku already, it’s probably something that can be ignored. However, at $35 it’s quite cheap for a Figuarts release and that might get people to double-dip on base Gokus just for the new portraits. If you’re like me and don’t have a version of Goku like this, I think this is the superior release when compared with the Saiyan Raised on Earth version. That is largely a subjective opinion though as I prefer the more orange gi and I like the faces better. You may have the opposite opinion. At the end of the day, it’s certainly nice to have options.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku Kaio-Ken

He’s ready to rumble.

My isn’t that title a mouthful? This version of the classic character Goku comes to you from Bandai via New York Comic Con. If I were to simplify that title, I’d call it shiny Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken Goku, which is still pretty wordy. I guess blame Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama for the obsession of stacking different power-ups in what I feel is an intentional bit of word play that he likely finds amusing. And I do too! At any rate, this is the last of the convention exclusives I ordered in 2021. All of the other ones, including other Dragon Ball related figures in Nappa, Goku, and Beerus, came from the world famous San Diego Comic Con. Well, that con didn’t actually happen in 2021 as it was virtual due to COVID once again. One of the few big cons to actually take place ended up being New York Comic Con, and while that one tends to be smaller than San Diego, some companies still like to issue event exclusives for it and that’s where this figure comes from. Bandai, in partnership with Bluefin Brands, made this version of Goku available at the event, but also made it available online for folks like me who weren’t going to journey to New York just to get a Goku. It meant a longer wait, but all things considered, this is one of the shorter waits I’ve have to endure in recent memory.

This box feels gigantic relative to other figures in the line, and with good reason.

This version of Goku hails from Dragon Ball Super and one of its first, major, arcs. The first two arcs of the show were adaptations of Dragon Ball Z movies, so this era is where Super really felt like its own thing to me. And it was just some tournament that was a bit of a friendly organized by two gods who happen to be brothers and share a rivalry. It introduced some new characters, most notably Hit, and it was during a fight with Hit that Goku dusted off his old Kaio-Ken technique. You remember that one, right? Kaio-Ken was all the rage for about five minutes when Goku took on Vegeta, but it was basically dropped after that. Yeah, technically, Goku used it against Frieza later on, but it was basically as a means to dismiss the technique which would essentially be replaced with the Super Saiyan transformation. It made Kaio-Ken one of those things fans had fun speculating on, “What would using Kaio-Ken as a Super Saiyan do for Goku?!” but the show was done with it.

Pissed off Goku.

If you need a primer on the form, it’s basically a technique that temporarily heightens Goku’s speed and power as a multiplier. He did it multiples of 2 and 3 against Vegeta, but would go up to 10 later. In Super, Goku turns to it after his Super Saiyan Blue transformation as the ultimate showing of his power at that moment in the series, though it’s not referenced much after. It does look cool though as Kaio-Ken by itself has a red aura, and combine that with the Blue transformation and you get a blue-purple look. It certainly made sense to explore the mode in figure form, and that’s what Bandai and Tamashii Nations did. And this being an event exclusive, they added some shine as well.

I love that shade of blue used for the eyebrows, so much so that I’d like to see other versions of Super Saiyan Blue Goku (and Vegeta) just go with that for all of the hair.

This version of Goku is obviously similar to other versions of Goku in the SHF line. He stands at about 5.5″ to the top of his forehead and roughly 6.75″ to the top of the hair when at his tallest. He’s basically in-line with my Super Saiyan Blue Goku, but this is actually mostly a differently sculpt. I don’t have it, but if I had to guess, this figure shares most of its parts with the Ultra Instinct Sign Goku which depicted Goku from his battle with Jiren. His gi is rather tattered so it needed its own sculpt to capture that. The only pieces this figure can share with the other blue Goku is the head, neck, and arms, though even some of that needed modification. I don’t have either version of Ultra Instinct Goku so this figure has more of a “new” feeling to me than it would others. It was honestly something I hadn’t thought much about until I had the figure in-hand.

The paint is rather lively on this guy and you can see the almost glitter quality in the shirt here.

What’s going to sell this guy beyond the sculpt is the paint job. The sculpt is fairly nice and I like the rips in the pants and shirt. The finish on the paint is of a pearl quality. The navy shirt takes on a metallic purple as a result and it’s pretty cool to handle and see how the light plays on it. The hair is a semi-translucent plastic with a touch of purple air-brushing, by the looks of it, which gives it a nice effect. The flesh is more saturated than we’re used to seeing due to trying to emulate the Kaio-Ken red effect. Bandai did have to do a lot more color-matching than usual though because of all of the rips in the clothing. The results are a tad mixed. The exposed portion of the chest could stand to be a touch more saturated as I feel like some of the navy color is showing through. The left knee is colored plastic, but the upper and lower portions of the leg surrounding it are painted and it’s not a perfect match. It probably won’t bother most on a shelf, but in-hand it’s pretty noticeable especially when the knee is bent all the way. This finish is also very glossy and gives the figure almost an enamel finish. It also has a different feel than most figures in the line. The plastic feels thicker and since almost everything has this finish applied it has a slippery feeling. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. Aside from the color-matching issues, my only real criticism for the paint is that I wish there was something applied to the torn parts such as a darkening to the interior parts of his pants. I just think it would help that part “pop” a bit more.

I can’t really complain because we get the aura effect with this figure, but we’ll never have enough Kamehameha effects.

The sculpt for this guy is overall pretty good. I already mentioned how the torn pieces of the gi look nice, and we get the usual musculature for Goku that other figures have. This one changes things up with some battle damage in the form of scuffs sculpted into portions of the arms, legs, and chest. I’m torn on if I think Bandai should have added some black linework to those scuffs to bring them out more as they’re not going to show from the shelf. This figure is going for a glowing aura look, so perhaps it would not have made as much sense, though I feel like in those moments Goku’s battle damage becomes even more noticeable in the anime. I could be wrong, I haven’t watched any of these episodes in years. One thing that did surprise me a little is there’s more evidence of mold release on this figure than usual. That’s those rough portions of the figure where it was removed from the actual tools used to create it. There’s basically a full tab on the underside of my figure’s right shoulder that makes it look like it was from a model kit no one bothered to snip. This figure also has those sleeves that peg into the shoulder which I really don’t like. Almost every Goku has that so it’s nothing new, but I’ll continue to complain until they find a better solution. Another common complaint is Goku also could be beefier. From the front, he looks okay. I’d probably widen the chest a little, but it’s mostly a nitpick. From the side though he looks thin. His chest doesn’t push out at all. It’s odd and almost comical. It’s also more pronounced because he doesn’t have the vest to add a little bulk, but this is something all of the figures in this line could stand to improve on. Goku, especially a powered-up Goku, should be thick and buff.

My lingering piece of criticism for this line is that nearly every character could stand to have some added girth. Goku should have a more pronounced chest when viewing him from the side.

There was a lot of new for me to take-in with the sculpt and paint of this figure, but articulation? That’s pretty much standard. His head is on a tiny, double-ball peg with another ball in the base of the neck. Despite that, he can’t really look up, but can look down. His head feels a little loose, but it seems to be holding a pose all right. The shoulders are on the peg and hinge system with a butterfly joint. The butterfly is really limited, but they at least colored it properly so it’s not ugly, just not particularly functional. There’s a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbow which bends past 90 degrees. The hands are on the usual ball pegs. In the diaphragm, we have the ball-hinge system so you can pull up on the figure if need be. It doesn’t really do a lot though as the figure can’t really crunch forward no matter what you do with the hinge, but he can bend back a little. Mostly, this joint just gives you some swivel and a little tilt, but you have to be mindful of paint rub. At the waist, you can swivel and the belt and rags is a floating piece. At the hips, Goku can almost do a split, kick forward, and kick backwards because he doesn’t have sculpted buns. There’s a little twist there too, and then your usual double-jointed knees below. The knee on the right has a bit more range backwards because it’s a standard, clothed, joint while the exposed left knee has reduced range, but still goes beyond 90 degrees. The ankles are on ball pegs and have the usual range for Goku’s boot design. It goes forward a little, back a fair amount, decent ankle rocker, and a lousy toe hinge. All of the joints are fairly smooth and required no break-in period, so that is always appreciated.

I can see people being against translucent plastic for Super Saiyan hair, but I do think this figure draws attention to how bland the approach to the hair was for the standard release. Granted, the figure on the left retails for only 30 bucks.

The other unique aspect to this release comes with the accessories and packaging. The optional hands and expressions are fairly standard. We get a stern look, scream, smirk, and a teeth-gritting expression. All of the faces are well painted and I love the shade of blue used for the eyebrows. I wish that was the standard shade of blue for this form of Goku. For hands, we get a set of fists, martial arts pose hands, Kamehameha hands, and wide open “Solar Flare” hands. For a box, he comes in this oversized standard box with the usual event exclusive coloring. It’s oversized because this Goku comes with an aura effect! That’s certainly unusual, and also why this guy cost $60 instead of $50, but it’s worth it. I love effect pieces and for this particular form it’s needed. It’s the standard aura piece, of which I have a yellow version already, and it comes in three pieces: a rear blast and two side pieces. It’s cast in translucent plastic with red at the edge and blue on the inside. The plastic is soft and and partially hollow. The only thing I don’t like is the translucent nature of the plastic means more of the seems are visible, especially towards the bottom of the center piece. It’ll get the job done though, and I hope it doesn’t get that sticky residue my other aura piece has acquired over the years.

If you like what you see then this figure is a worthy addition to the Super collection. If you’re someone who never cared about this version of Goku then you’ll probably be content to skip it.

This version of Goku is another good selection by Bandai when it comes to event exclusives. Not everyone needs a version of Goku so specific to one look from the show that doesn’t show up much, and the paint application is something that will appeal to some more than others. I thought this figure looked great in the promotional shots, so when Bandai made it available online I said “Why not?” The actual figure in hand pretty much lives up to my expectations. It’s eye-catching and fun and I love adding another aura, even if this one is really specific to this version of Goku. My guess is that most people who bought this are happy with it. I don’t think it’s good enough to win anybody over who didn’t see a spot for this in their collection, but those who want it should be content. Since it was an event exclusive, it’s currently sold out at MSRP so only secondary options are available. This strikes me as the type of release that might be high right now, but could come down in time as it is a bit niche. If you missed out and are having second thoughts, just keep an eye out. Who knows? Maybe a good deal will come around sooner or later.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Super Saiyan God Son Goku

Goku has officially ascended to godhood.

The last of my San Diego Comic Con 2021 exclusives has finally arrived and it’s the event exclusive version of the Bandai/Tamashii Nations Super Saiyan God Goku. Now, Dragon Ball fans might quibble with my title for this article as I called it Dragon Ball Super when this form technically debuted in a Dragon Ball Z film, Battle of Gods, which would then be adapted into the anime series Dragon Ball Super. I’m just going with what’s on the packaging, folks, but if I had to place a label on this version of Goku I would say it does feel more like a Dragon Ball Super thing. At any rate, it’s the same film that featured the debut of Lord Beerus, who we looked at last week and it was my desire to add Beerus to my collection that prompted me to just get Goku too. The two clash in that film, and this figure felt like a good one to pair with Beerus. I’m not actually too keen on the Super Saiyan God transformation, but maybe this figure will change my mind.

Super Saiyan God is characterized by Goku getting reddish-pink hair and remaining rather lean. Not quite early DBZ lean, but certainly leaner than Buu Saga Goku.

Super Saiyan God was the latest power-up introduced in Battle of Gods and it would be quickly eclipsed by the Super Saiyan version of that, the mouthful Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. Or, Super Saiyan Blue for short. I don’t really understand the specifics of the whole thing, but basically, in order for a Saiyan to attain this form, he needs to have five other Saiyans lend them their energy which somehow becomes divine and leads to this transformation. The actual transformation gives the Saiyan a firey red aura, turns their hair a red-pink, and actually causes them to slim down as opposed to bulk up. Since the shape of the hair remains the same, they don’t necessarily look like a Super Saiyan, which is this form can then go Super Saiyan and become the blue version. How Goku (and later Vegeta) learn how to use this form without the added step of having other Saiyans lend them energy is either not explained or not explained well. Either way, it wouldn’t be Dragon Ball if there wasn’t some element of things being made up as they go along, would it?

You do have to fiddly with angles and those damn sleeves to get the best look. Here I failed as you can see the flesh colored piece inside the joint, which should be orange.

This version of Goku should feel pretty familiar to anyone who has handled one of the many recent Goku figures that Bandai has released. It’s the same body as the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I’ve already reviewed and Bandai has been able to get a lot of use out of this buck. The only difference I can see with that figure is the arms are actually smaller and leaner, which is appropriate for this form. I’m not sure if they’re the same as the Saiyan Raised on Earth Son Goku figure, since I don’t have that one, but it is nice to see a subtle difference between the two godly Goku figures since it makes sense. Outside of the biceps and forearms, the other difference really is just in the paint job and belt. This figure has a lighter orange to the gi likely to account for the aura and because it’s the event exclusive color edition. The belt is the Cell Saga era belt too which doesn’t feature a knot and the boots are a much brighter shade of blue. The laces are also painted red like the piping as opposed to brown. The choice of colors, combined with the translucent, pink, hair, does really help to create the illusion that Goku is glowing. It’s neat, and I think it works well for this form.

The paint flaw on Goku’s left sleeve might seem like a minor thing to someone reading this, but for a figure with very little paint on it, it’s a bit ridiculous they can’t get it right. This is also the best pic for seeing how the vest and crotch are a different shade of orange.

Beyond those changes, a lot of the figure feels the same. There’s some shading on the front of the pants and abdomen, but that’s basically it. The other painted areas are the flesh color on the chest and the blue trim on the sleeves. Unfortunately, the left sleeve on mine was not painted particularly cleanly. The plastic on the face also doesn’t match the neck and chest as well as it could, otherwise, the painted details on the face look good. The plastic inside the butterfly joint is also cast in the proper color, orange, as opposed to flesh colored like my previous Goku figure so that’s a plus. There is no shading on the crotch area though, or on the upper torso, which will probably irritate some. I get their reluctance to shade the crotch because if it goes too heavy he might look like he pissed himself, but more shading would have been nice. It seems to be something the original release of this figure has over this one, as just looking up images of that reveals a more vibrant release.

He can assume the position, but the lack of energy parts is a bummer.

The figure also feels the same because the accessories are pretty much the same. You get four faces with this guy: stoic, smiling, teeth grit, and yelling. They all look fine, though I’m kind of partial to the stoic face for this form. As far as hands go, you get the fisted hands in the box plus flat palms, martial arts pose, Kamehameha, and wide open hands. Pretty much the only hand you don’t get is an instant transmission hand, but we have plenty of those in other sets so I don’t think it’s a loss. There’s no effects part though, which is always a bummer. Being an event exclusive, I wish Bandai had added an aura effect since this guy did retail for $50, but that’s how it goes.

Look! It’s the battle of the gods we were promised!

The articulation for Goku is, stop me if you heard me say it already, the same as past Goku releases. He has the floaty pieces in his hips to cover up the joint and the sleeves which peg into the shoulders that I’ve never really liked. He can look up and down no problem and the butterfly joints in the shoulders allow Goku to do his signature energy blast poses. His head is on the old ball-hinge the original release had, and not the updated ball peg which is much better. It works, but sometimes you have to fight it to get it to bend where you want it to. At least it works better on Goku than it did on Beerus since his entire head swaps and you can accidentally get that hinge facing in a direction you don’t want. The hips don’t go out very far to the side, but he can kick forward and back because has those floating pieces instead of a sculpted butt. The knees and elbows will get you better than 90 degrees while the ball-peg ankles are just okay. The toe hinge is bad. Most of the joints are nice and smooth, with the lone exception being the right thigh twist on my figure. This is a first for me, but that thing is stuck. I have never had this issue with a Figuarts release before, but one twist caused the leg to pop off. Thankfully, it’s just a ball and socket connection so no damage was done, but it is a bummer.

IS Beerus too tall or Goku too short? Considering one of these guys is the main character for the series from which all other figures should be compared to for scaling purposes, I’m going to say it’s the cat that is too tall.

Does this figure make me a fan of Super Saiyan God? Yes and no. I think the translucent effect with the hair and the brighter approach to the color palette work really well, and it’s essentially what you’re paying for if you get this exclusive. I think that approach to the hair is an improvement over the standard release from a few years back, but probably not enough of one to warrant an upgrade if you already have it. Otherwise, he’s a Figuarts Goku. It’s a good figure, I wish mine didn’t have that paint error on one sleeve, but aside from that it feels like a quality figure. I don’t regret my purchase, but I’m also not doing backflips. If you’re at all familiar with this line, then you should probably know if you want this figure or not. And if you do, and you have yet to purchase one, well you’re in trouble because the secondary market is essentially all that remains. The prices I’m seeing aren’t terrible, but they’re obviously more than the $50 it would have cost you last summer.

To close this out, will end with the gathering of the Gokus. You can see the different approach in color when comparing him to SSB Goku, and the leaner proportions. Goku Black is really an all-together different figure, but we’ll let him stand here anyway.

S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball GT Super Saiyan 4 Goku

Step into the (not so) grand tour!

In the world of Dragon Ball, there are varying opinions on which version of the anime is superior. Dragon Ball Z is unquestionably the most popular, but there are people (like me) out there who swear by the original Dragon Ball that came before it. More recently, Dragon Ball Super has entered the fray and it’s a worthy successor to DBZ that may or may not be finished. Really, what few debate is what occupies the lowest rung of the Dragon Ball ladder: Dragon Ball GT.

Dragon Ball GT first premiered in 1996 after the conclusion of DBZ. Series creator, artist, writer Akira Toriyama was finished with Goku and the gang, but he was more than willing to let Toei continue the story because presumably it was easy money for him. Over the years, a level of trust had been established between the two as Toei produced numerous Dragon Ball movies which were created in-house with Toriyama still on-hand to design new characters. The films were all non-canon, but GT would represent a chance for Toei to truly broaden the scope of Dragon Ball.

If the goal was to create something demonstrably different from the other Super Saiyan forms, well, then mission accomplished.

The results were mixed at best. Toei, seemingly recognizing that Goku had long surpassed his peers by the end of DBZ, redesigned everyone and gave Goku some new traveling buddies in his granddaughter Pan and the now adult Trunks. And perhaps to capture the adventuring spirit of the original Dragon Ball, Goku was turned back into a child and set out on a quest to collect the Black Star Dragon Balls. During his journey, he would unlock a new ability: Super Saiyan 4.

I like the painted details on the face, but I don’t know that we need the “butt” in the center of the forehead on a stoic expression like this one.

Back in Dragon Ball Z (or just Dragon Ball for the manga purists), Toriyama conceived a new level of power for Goku that caused a minor transformation in that his hair would turn blond and his eyes teal. This was the Super Saiyan transformation, and really, the series could have ended with Goku’s unlocking of this ability and toppling Frieza, but it didn’t. Goku needed to keep getting stronger, so what’s stronger than a Super Saiyan? Super Saiyan 2! By the time the story was concluded, Goku had advanced to Super Saiyan 3. All three levels were fundamentally the same, except the shape of Goku’s hair changed with the third level being the most dramatic in that his hair was several feet long. Also, he lost his eyebrows for some reason. It’s not surprising there wasn’t a ton of imagination in these transformations. With the original, Toriyama has joked that he mostly designed it the way that he did so that he no longer had to color in Goku’s hair since the manga was in black and white and yellow hair would just be white.

For Super Saiyan 4, Toriyama decided to get creative. I’m not sure if Toei requested something different, or if this was Toriyama’s will, but Super Saiyan 4 definitely breaks the mold of other transformations. And being that most people aren’t really into Dragon Ball GT, it’s become the show’s only lasting legacy as the look does seem to have its fans. There’s certainly enough fans that Bandai and Tamashii Nations decided to bring the look to the S.H.Figuarts line in time for the show’s 25th anniversary.

A McFarlane approved side eye portrait.

If you’ve never seen Super Saiyan 4 before, well, it’s certainly a trip. In an effort to bring the Saiyan race back to its primal roots, Super Saiyan 4 mixes the look of the classic Great Ape transformation with that of a humanoid Saiyan. For Goku, this means his body becomes coated in a hot pink fur (why that color, I have no idea) and his tail returns. His hair still gets demonstrably more wild, but remains black. The hallmark of the look from a hair perspective is the tufts of hair that rest on the character’s chest. His eyes are also rimmed with red and the iris becomes gold with black pupils. His disposition seems to shift as well with Goku becoming cocky, and even a touch sadistic. Goku loves fighting in the same manner as a kid loves playing any competitive sport, but Super Saiyan 4 Goku might actually enjoy dishing out pain. As a design, it’s certainly garish, but it’s so outlandish that it kind of works. I know when I first saw images of this form back in the 90s I found it shocking and absurd, but over time I have come to appreciate it for its uniqueness.

They were able to ditch the sloppy look of the butterfly joints on past Goku releases, but this could still use some fine-tuning.

Despite that, I’ve never considered myself a true fan of Super Saiyan 4. I wouldn’t say I’m indifferent, but it doesn’t bother me that the look has basically been rendered non-canon by Dragon Ball Super. It is interesting though and that’s why I’m hear to talk about the action figure. The Tamashii Nations take on the look is largely as expected. It does some things well, and some things not so well. It’s also the first figure in the line that I’ve purchased that was made at Bandai’s new factory in Vietnam. What does that mean for the figure? Well, anytime you have someone completely new to something get added to a process there’s going to be some growing pains, and this figure certainly seems to suffer a bit from such.

I guess the one on the right s now the true Super Saiyan 4? Or is it actually 5?

This primal take on Goku stands at about 5.25″ to the top of his visage and a tick over 6″ to the top of the hair putting him right in line with other Goku figures in the line. He comes in the same, familiar, window box with an assortment of parts and effects to make the figure feel complete. The default expression for Goku is a stoic one. There’s a little bit of paint on the face to highlight the creases in his brow and under his eye which is all applied cleanly and does add a lot to the figure’s expression. I’m not sure we need the center line in the forehead, as it’s not something that appears frequently in the artwork. It kind of gives him a “butthead,” but it’s something I’m getting used. It certainly isn’t needed on a stoic expression. The hair looks appropriately wild to the point where it can be hard to manipulate the head on this guy without pricking your finger.

Flight stand not included, but definitely useful.

Below the head we have a mix of colored plastic and painted parts. The neck is flesh-colored plastic, while the chest is painted. There is a slight different in the color of the flesh which is always a bummer. His chest also sticks way out, consistent with the character’s look in the show, but it makes his neck appear to sit pretty far inside the figure. It also doesn’t help that there’s a noticeable gap between neck and chest. The pink portions are colored plastic save for the little bit on the hands. There’s sculpted texture, and it looks fine. The paint around the flesh-colored portions of the chest is not the cleanest, but it’s not so bad that I’m convinced Bandai’s standard factory in China would have done any better. The belt is a floating piece of plastic and the mustard pants feature a hint of a wash on the front of the figure, nothing on the rear. The colored components seem to match just fine, and on the rear of the figure is the tail which features the same sculpted fur as the arms and torso.

Screaming head or smirking head? Tough call, but it’s one largely dependent on what you want to do with the neat effect piece.

Bandai did a good enough job here with the look of the figure that I think any Super Saiyan 4 fan out there will be pleased. The colors and proportions look right to me, and the mix of portraits are also quite suitable for this version of Goku. In addition to the default expression, we have three more: smirk, side-eyed teeth gritting, and yelling. All feature the same clean paint apps and the selection is so good that it’s hard to settle on one. The bangs on Goku pop off to access the face plate, and one of my nitpicks with this guy is the hair doesn’t sit flush on the top of the head cleanly. I find myself constantly fiddling with it to get it to look as best it can. It’s not something that will be noticeable on a shelf, but in-hand it does become apparent. The fit is also loose, and I had the face or hair fall off when swapping hands. Goku also has an assortment of hands to utilize including fists, martial arts pose hands, wide open palms, two finger hands, Kamehameha hands, and Kamehameha hands with pegs. The pegged hands are for use with the energy effect, something we rarely get. It’s a translucent pink ball with 6 rods that can be inserted into it. It then pegs into one of Goku’s hands and looks pretty rad. I can’t imagine many collectors declining to utilize it in their display. Uncharacteristic of this line, I found the hands actually difficult to swap. Pulling them off of the figure is easy enough, but getting them on is a pain. Is this just a result of the new factory not being used to this sort of thing? It feels like it because I’ve never had to heat a figure from this line before, but for some of these hands I opted to.

A nice touch here is that the figure features a sculpted rip in his pants for the newly sprouted tail.

The other area where things feel a little off is with the articulation. This edition of Goku has basically all of the points of articulation one expects, but the engineering could have used a little more quality control in a few places. Most notably, it starts at the head. The figure really can’t look up, but that’s because of the hair. To make up for this, the two large strands on the back of his head are actually articulated, as are the two that hang over the chest. He can look down and that’s easy because his head is pretty floppy. It’s not so bad that he can’t hold a pose, but just a little pressure on the back of the head will send his chin diving into his throat. The base of the neck is articulated, but I can’t really get it to do anything which is unfortunate since it has that gap in it. At the shoulders, we have a modified butterfly joint with a newer ball peg and hinge setup. This gets rid of some of those floating pieces, but also leads to more gapping issues. I think this joint would look great on a standard Goku, but a shirtless one isn’t optimal. There’s also that flesh-colored paint to be mindful of as you don’t want the paint to rub off. He also has a biceps swivel, a double-jointed elbow that bends past 90 degrees, and ball-pegs at the hands. In the torso, we have ball joints in the abdomen and waist so he can rotate and pivot with a decent crunch forward and back. Again, watch the paint on the abs as you don’t want that to scratch. At the hips, he has legs that can do full splits and kick forward, but the sculpted butt cheeks prevent him from kicking backwards. There’s a thigh twist, double-jointed knees, and the standard ankle ball-joint. The range at the ankle is poor, and the toe hinge is too loose to really add anything. The ankle itself is also loose and standing him can be more tricky than typical of this line. The knee joints are fine, but in a first for me with this line, I had the knee cap pop off when bending it. It just tabs on, but it’s going to be annoying if it keeps doing that. He also has a ball joint where his tail meets his body. There are no other joints in the tail so it’s posing is limited, but I’d rather that than a bunch of ugly ball joints throughout.

“Don’t you dare talk shit about me and my series!”

The articulation, overall, is fine it’s not the usual “feel” I’m used to with this line. Some parts feel a little rougher than usual (the shoulders) and others are too loose for my liking. It’s understandable given the circumstances, and the move to the factory probably helped keep the price down as he’s $60, but a part of me wishes they handed them some lesser characters first before going right into such a unique look. Aside from that, the weight and overall feel is still excellent and this is certainly worthy of the S.H.Figuarts branding. Just the added paint on the face makes him look a lot nicer than the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I have and I do like the removal of some of the floating pieces in the shoulders and hips. If they didn’t stamp it right on the box where this thing was made few would likely question it. And I think this factory will get better, in time. Supposedly, the final form Cooler came out of the Vietnam factory and turned out great, so maybe they already have things mostly figured out.

As for Super Saiyan 4 Goku, this is a rather bizarre and unique look for character made even more so by the dismissal of Dragon Ball GT in favor of Dragon Ball Super. The series was never really canon to begin with, but since Toriyama designed the Super Saiyan 4 look most treated that part as canon. And maybe it will be again some day, or some variation on it, but for now we have the various Super Saiyan God forms. I don’t expect Bandai to go to the GT well too frequently in the future, though I suspect we’ll be seeing Vegeta in his Super Saiyan 4 form eventually and maybe even Gogeta. It helps that some of these parts can be reused for both figures, namely the arms, and it’s a subline that can trickle out and won’t command a ton of resources. As a weird little footnote in my Dragon Ball collection, I like this guy. I was going to pass on it eventually, but decided to give-in to curiosity. And it turned out to be $60 well spent.


S.H.Figuarts Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku

That is quite the mouthful, is it not? The Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku is the latest action figure from Bandai’s S.H.Figuarts to arrive in Target stores in the US. This form of Goku is what happens when a Saiyan ascends to Super Saiyan God level, and then goes Super Saiyan again. Confused? You probably should be, which is why in-universe Goku proposed just calling the form Super Saiyan Blue because he just looks like his regular Super Saiyan self, but with blue hair instead of blond. And that’s cool! At least I think it is, but blue has always been my favorite color so that is all the explanation you really need for why I like it. And if you’re unfamiliar with it, that might be because you stopped paying attention after the Dragon Ball Z hype dyed-down for this form is from the more recent Dragon Ball Super. And if you liked DBZ back in the day and have slept on Super, I recommend checking it out because it’s pretty fun.

Do you like your Goku stoic?

The SHF line from Bandai and Tamashii Nations has become one of the premiere collector lines for action figure enthusiasts. It’s a super-articulated, 1/12 scale line that is known for its high level of quality. That can also mean a high price tag as well with many releases tagged for $60 or more at release. It wasn’t that long ago that the line was basically an import only affair, but US-based retailers have slowly been adding the line to their stores. Barnes & Noble and Gamestop were among the first places I encountered the line outside of online toy shops, but Bandai has wanted to make this a more accessible line and has partnered with American distributor Blue Fin Brands to make these things even more available. And also more affordable. That’s why you can now find some products at Target, which was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. And in order to appeal to a more casual Target shopper, Bandai has turned to Goku and a rather aggressive pricing strategy. Likely owing to the fact that the company is reusing the same mold over and over, Bandai has been able to price Goku at $35. He doesn’t come with as many accessories as other figures in the line, but he’s hardly bare bones. Bandai started with its standard Goku, then released the Kaioken version, and now it’s released the Super Saiyan Blue version. I suspect the new Full Power Super Saiyan Goku will show up as well.

Or do you prefer him smug? I like smug.

This seems like a pretty good strategy to me, especially because I may have never bought this particular figure otherwise. I’ve somewhat reluctantly begun to expand my Dragon Ball collection to include some of Z and Super, and this figure is the first one I have in hand. As I said above, I like the Super Saiyan Blue look. It’s just Super Saiyan Goku, but with cooler hair. I never had the opportunity to get this figure before and the only other versions I’ve encountered in a physical store have been the model kits or the Dragon Stars edition, and neither really appealed to me. I have wanted to cherry-pick a bit from the Dragon Ball Super, and to some extent Dragon Ball Z, releases so I was happy to see this figure get reissued as it was originally a released timed with the film Dragon Ball Super – Broly.

Of course, there’s also pissed off Goku.

Goku is about as good as any other SHF release I’ve purchased, and that’s a good thing. To the tip of his hair, he’s just shy of 6.5″ which makes him about a half inch taller than the Super Saiyan Vegeta I have from the same line. That looks about right for late era DBZ and DBS as Vegeta was gradually drawn taller than his original appearance (apparently, being good causes you to grow in the world of Dragon Ball), but was always kept shorter than Goku. He sports his traditional organge gi with his own kanji on the front and rear (accurate to the film) and a knotted belt. His undershirt, wrist wraps, belt, and boots are navy and his skin is quite pale, which is often how it’s colored when in one of his super forms. His hair is a dark, pearl, blue which is basically how it’s colored when the character lacks an aura. I was a little surprised Bandai didn’t try to create the illusion of an aura, but this looks good too.

And when Goku gets mad, he starts working on something…

As is the case with most figures in this line, Goku doesn’t possess a ton of paint. The gi is done in orange plastic with a slight wash on the front to add a touch of depth. Basically, the only painted parts are the facial features, blue sleeves, blue wrist wraps, the flesh of his chest, the kanji on his chest and back, and the red stripes and knots on his boots. What little paint there is has been applied in a clean manner. My only gripe is with the opacity. The white on the kanji needs to be thicker as some of the orange bleeds through it. The same is true of the chest which looks like it’s cast in blue plastic to match the undershirt and it shoes through just a little. It’s not too noticable though and I’m genuinely pleased with how well the flesh plastic of his neck matches the painted flesh. In total, the paint is fine, but since this is sort of a “budget” release it’s easy to wonder if that plays a role in the thin paint on the kanji.

Like the good old Kamehameha attack!
In case you prefer a side view of the destruction.

Beyond the paint, the sculpt for this figure is generally really good. Goku is a character than can be tough to get right for some reason as I’ve seen many figures where his head just looks too small. And I kind of felt that way about the standard Goku Bandai did and it’s why I never picked him up. Maybe it’s just the shape of the Super Saiyan hair, but this one looks better to me. His head might be a touch on the small side, but it doesn’t throw off the look of the figure. The gi looks terrific as far as the folds and such are concerned and they really did a great job hiding the articulation when Goku is in a vanilla pose. I’m especially happy with how the face turned out on all of the swap-able pieces. Anime characters like Goku sometimes end up with facial features that are too soft, but Goku does not suffer in that regard. His nose is pronounced whether looking at the figure head-on or from the side. I like the variety of expressions as they all very much scream “Goku.” The musculature of his arms looks “just right” to me. It’s easy to see why Bandai would re-release this base sculpt over and over because there isn’t much they could do to improve upon it.

Since I don’t have a proper Dragon Ball Super villain, King Piccolo is just going to have to take one for the team.

People love the SHF line because of the sculpts, but also because of the articulation. Goku boasts as much articulation as pretty much any other figure in the line, which is to say he packs a lot. He has a single ball peg at the head/neck that lets him look down pretty far and up just a bit. Go too far back and a small gap will appear at the base of the neck. It’s okay, but not as good as some other figures. At the shoulders, we have the usual ball-hinge setup with a butterfly joint. The shoulder cuffs of the gi can be moved around as they’re just pegged into the arms which allows you to position Goku’s arms in almost any position you can think of, though he can’t quite reach across his body. Bringing the arms forward will, of course, create a large gap behind the shoulder, but he can do a decent Kamehameha so you’ll probably get what you want out of it. Unfortunately, the interior of the shoulder is cast in flesh-colored plastic when it should be orange so if you look at the figure from certain angles when in that classic pose it doesn’t look right. At the biceps, he has a swivel and below that a double hinge that does better than 90 degrees. The hands are on ball-hinges and the wrist cuffs hide the ball portion very well. In the torso, we have the SHF ball hinge so you can twist and pivot at the base of the rib cage, but also pull up on the figure to crunch him forward and back. At the waist is a twist, and below that we have what I think are ball pegs at the hips. He can kick forward and back just fine, but out to the side he’s a touch limited with his left leg, but for some reason his right is even more limited. I don’t know if the floating, plastic, “cap” Bandai used just isn’t lining up right on that side or what the deal is, but I don’t want to force it. He’s got a twist in the upper thigh, double-hinge knee, and ball peg at the ankle with a toe hinge. The ankle articulation isn’t great because it’s recessed so far in the boot. They could probably stand to do better there, but I have no issues standing him. The belt also features a peg at the knot so you can reposition it as needed. It’s a floating piece otherwise so it can also slide around.

“Keep you low power, Super Saiyan, stink away from me, Vegeta.”

The articulation is overall pretty good. It’s not the best SHF figure I’ve seen, but it does strike a pretty terrific balance between pleasing the sculpt and offering a wide range of motion. Really, the big negative is that butterfly joint and maybe the sleeves, which peg into the shoulder to move around, but can get kind of ugly in certain poses. They can be manipulated into something pleasing enough, but it feels like a better solution could be found. For $35 though, this figure is a terrific value. I don’t know that much really competes. Maybe the Tokka and Rahzar NECA released last year which averaged out to around 30-35 a piece? And I haven’t even mentioned the accessories. Goku comes with 4 portraits and four and half sets of hands. The facial portraits are stoic, smile, teeth gritting, and yelling. The hands are fists, open palms, martial arts pose, Kamehameha hands, and one double-pointing “Instant Transmission” right hand. Basically, you get everything you need with no extras. It would be awesome to get a stand or energy effect, but given the price I’d say you’re getting a solid assortment. The only facial portrait one could ask for that isn’t here is maybe just a cheerful expression, but that’s definitely not needed for the Super Saiyan Blue form. And when it comes to the hands, there’s none I could want that isn’t here. Goku isn’t a character that needs gripping hands and he can do all of his signature poses with what Bandai provided in the box, save for the ones that need a stand.

Just a couple of cocky Saiyans.

And that’s what this is, a low cost entry point into the SHF Dragon Ball line. It definitely strikes me as a sound strategy as I can see some people seeing this in a place like Target and picking it up on a whim and that leading them down the rabbit hole that is the SHF line. It’s even worked on me to a degree as I now want a villain, or at least someone, to pair with Goku. I definitely would like to get my hands on a Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta and I hope he gets a reissue at some point. I don’t know that I need the Broly to place on a shelf though. This is a line I intend to just cherry pick my favorite looks and characters and it felt right to add at least one Goku to the mix. And I like how he turned out. Could he be better? Yes, especially at that butterfly joint, but overall he looks nice and moves well enough that I think anyone who picks this figure up will be happy with it.

“Bye!”

S.H.Figuarts Juckie-Chun/Jackie Chun

It was about a week ago in my write-up on the Dragon Stars World Martial Arts playset that I bemoaned my decision to pass on the S.H.Figuarts release of Jackie Chun and I hypothesized I might rectify that. Well, it didn’t take me long to make up my mind as here I am to tell you all about Jackie Chun! The martial arts master and winner of the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament has been cast in plastic and is ready to join my humble Dragon Ball collection. What motivated me to finally pull the trigger on this guy was largely my completist nature. The Dragon Ball set from Bandai is pretty small when compared with the assortment of Dragon Ball Z figures, so why not get them all? I have the first Bulma Bandai released in my Pile of Loot at Big Bad Toy Store so the only one I’m missing now is kid Chi-Chi. I can’t get past her costume though, so I don’t know if I’ll ever pickup that particular figure.

“Boy, you sure do look familiar!”

The reason I initially passed on Jackie is because he’s very similar to Master Roshi. Not only do they look strikingly similar, they’re literally the same figure. For the most part. The only difference in terms of sculpting is the head and lower leg area, but the torso is the same. Jackie just dresses all in a deep navy blue, almost black, as opposed to Master Roshi’s much more colorful attire. And if you didn’t notice right away that they’re essentially the same, the give away rests on the back of the figure where Bandai just glued in the plug piece intended to seal the peg hole for Master Roshi’s turtle shell accessory. It’s a minor eyesore on Jackie, but the figure is helped out by the fact that we’re dealing in dark colors here and it is on the back of the shirt. At the same time, it’s a bit annoying since the shirt is in three separate pieces and one has to wonder how much money was really saved by not redoing it. At least he has a peg hole if you want to utilize a more dynamic stand.

He can pose.

Being that he’s essentially the same figure as Roshi, the articulation is also the same. That figure had some good and bad to him, and a lot that has to do with the clothing. The shoulders flare out and the wrist area is surrounded by large cuffs so it all limits the articulation a bit. The shirt is also intended to be a long martial arts uniform, and since Bandai doesn’t utilize cloth goods, the only way to properly articulate that is to “scallop” the sculpt and insert a series of ball-pegs into the torso. It’s not the cleanest sculpt in the torso as a result, but it’s not truly an eyesore either. Again, the dark color of Jackie works to the figure’s advantage in hiding this somewhat, but I do wonder how he’d have come out with a cloth robe.

He can siiiiiiiiing!

Bandai doesn’t use much paint with its S.H.Figuarts line, and it is a common complaint I hear from other collectors. Jackie is no except as he’s mostly just colored plastic. The only paint on the body of the figure is the white stripe and black fasteners down the center of the shirt and the gray soles of the shoes. The rest is reserved for the head and face where the eyes and eyebrows are well-painted. There may be a touch of a wash in the hair and beard as well which helps bring out the sculpted details and looks pretty sharp. His hair color has a gray to it, unlike Master Roshi’s all-white beard, which helps distinguish him further. The choice of doing the figure in a very dark blue as opposed to black is a little curious. As far as I can tell, his outfit is sheer black in the anime. And unlike many comic books, there’s no blue shading to speak of. I don’t know if this was based on information from Toei, or if Bandai just made an artistic decision not to go full black. As a result, under some light he looks a little blue and others a little gray, but always pretty dark. It’s not something that bothers me, I just find it curious. The finish is at least fairly matte which cuts down on the plastic sheen some figures in this line feature. Ultimately, the likeness is pretty on point and the sacrifices the figure makes in the sculpt to accommodate the articulation are worth it in the end.

“Ka…”

If you wish to know precisely how he’s articulated, I’ll run it down for you here. If you’re familiar with the Master Roshi figure, then skip ahead. Jackie has a ball peg at the head and base of the neck and he has some pretty solid range. Surprisingly, he can look down quite well despite the presence of the beard, it’s looking up that he’s not great at. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges with a butterfly joint. He can raise his arms out to the side better than expected and the butterfly joint allows him to achieve his Kamehameha pose fairly convincingly. There’s a biceps swivel below that and single-hinged elbows. The elbow is probably the least impressive part of this figure as they’re on these big ball-hinges that look funny from some angles. They also can’t achieve a 90 degree bend due to the way the sleeves flare out. It’s close, but not quite there. At the wrist are ball-joints which is a good choice since the sleeve works to conceal the ball-hinge which can be unsightly on other figures. In the diaphragm is a ball-hinge mechanism that mostly affords tilt and twist. Twist too far though and you end up with some ugly gapping. The hinge allows the upper body to lift up and crunch forward, but the shirt doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. A lot of rubbing occurs and I worry about smudging if utilized too much. Below that is another ball-peg at the waist allowing him to rotate and tilt. At the hips he can kick forward about 90 degrees and spread his legs out to the side almost into a split. He kicks back a little bit and the double-hinged knees basically give him 90 at the knee. There are thigh swivels and the feet are on ball-pegs. They’re not great, but the cuffs at the end of the pants were going to limit him anyway. There is a toe hinge as well.

“…ha!”

Jackie-Chun should be able to get into the poses he needs to be able to get into. Martial arts posing and energy blasting all are achievable. Helping him to do all of that are the loads of extra parts Bandai tossed in. Probably as a make-up for him containing a ton of parts reuse, Bandai made sure to give him an array of hands and facial expressions. He has the one head, but three separate faces. And like Master Roshi, you can swap the mouth and beard piece between the faces to mix and match expressions. You basically get angry eyes, serious eyes, and excited eyes to go along with a closed mouth, an angry yell, and a surprising, or singing, open mouth. That last one pairs with a microphone stick, as is the case with many Dragon Ball characters, there’s a serious side and a playful side to Jackie which this figure seeks to capture. As far as hands go, he comes with two crane pose hands which are unique as the peg basically goes into the underside of them to achieve the proper the shape. He also has two Kamehameha hands which are essentially the opposite as they peg into what I would call the top of the hands. He also has a set of peace sign hands, some chop hands, fists, martial arts pose hands, splayed open hands, and one gripping, right, hand for the microphone. Unique to Jackie are also swappable forearms. These are present so that he can roll up his sleeves. The arms separate below the elbow and the new ones just peg in. They don’t appear to be designated as left or right so either side works. They allow for more freedom with the hand articulation since this eliminates the cuffs from play, though another point of the figure that can come apart means there will be times you pull the arm off when you don’t intend to. A minor annoyance for an interesting feature. Lastly, there’s a 3 star Dragon Ball. This one has a pearl finish to it as I believe Bandai has already released seven standard balls so this new finish is being applied to the line going forward.

“No, Goku!”

Posing and utilizing these parts is all pretty painless. The hands pop on and off with minimal fuss, though the left arm of mine features a loose forearm connection so often the whole thing comes off when I’m just trying to swap the hand. The extra forearm doesn’t seem to peg in snug either so it becomes a balancing act posing him with the sleeves up. Unlike with Master Roshi, I don’t feel like we’re missing any expressions as far as the hands go, though a “drunken master” face would have been excellent. What’s really missing though is an energy effect. A charging one would have been nice, or just a Kamehameha attack since this guy is the master of that technique. I am guessing Bandai wants to do a Kamehameha Master Roshi that’s all bulked up and that’s why we don’t have that here. At least this time we have the hands.

Jackie Chun looks pretty good opposite the kid figures when placed on the World Martial Arts Tournament set. He is, more or less, in scale with them. It’s not perfect, but that’s more of a critique of the kid characters which were sized-up for the figure release. Bandai seemed to prioritize scaling Master Roshi, and Jackie Chun as a result, with Kid Goku and Krillin so he looks kind of silly next to Bulma, who is just way too small. King Piccolo towers over him well enough, though that figure should probably be bigger than he actually is. Scale is a limitation of this line in general and Bandai just seems to approximate it as opposed to trying to make it totally accurate.

I couldn’t quite get them into the double kick pose from the anime.

Adding Jackie Chun to my collection allows for me to pose him opposite Goku or Krillin, leaving Master Roshi to be more of a goof off to the side. I like that Jackie has the singing face and microphone for when I don’t want him on the battlefield, or I could just let him be the stern, wise, old, master watching silently. I liked the Master Roshi figure so it stands to reason I like this one. Is he essential for a Dragon Ball collection? Probably not, but it’s not as-if the character isn’t memorable. I hope Bandai continues to release more dedicated Dragon Ball figures so my display can continue to grow. They have Lunch/Launch coming this summer, but nothing has been announced beyond her. There’s still Pilaf and his gang, end of Dragon Ball Goku and Chi-Chi, Tien, and plenty more. I’d be interested in basically all of them, so hopefully Bandai comes through. Right now though, I have a fun little collection that’s pretty nice to have all on its own.

Yes, this’ll do nicely.

S.H. Figuarts Bulma – Adventure Begins

Toy collecting is something that will probably always appeal to me. I just love getting a new toy, even as an adult even though I basically pose it and forget it. It’s just one of those things that makes me happy, so I don’t question it. It can be an expensive hobby though, so I try to stay in my lane, so to speak. For the past few years I’ve largely just stuck with collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bucky O’Hare. Then 2020 came and COVID forced everyone to stay home. I even found myself saving money as a result since my family and I couldn’t go anywhere and working from home meant I was saving money that was normally spent commuting to and from work. As a result, I’ve found myself behaving in a less disciplined manner when it comes to my hobby, which is why 2020 is now the year I’ve decided to expand upon my Dragon Ball collection!

A couple of years ago, I came across some S.H. Figuarts products in a local GameStop. I had never seen this line in person and I felt compelled to grab a Vegeta and soon after a Kid Goku. I’ve enjoyed Dragon Ball since I was a teen, first falling for Dragon Ball Z before discovering the series that preceded it. As a teen, I definitely strayed towards DBZ, but now I find I prefer the more whimsical Dragon Ball. As a result of my positive experience with the Kid Goku action figure I almost immediately wanted to add more, but these toys tend to run a bit high when it comes to cost. Because of that, I pushed it aside and mostly hoped to catch a sale eventually. I especially hoped to see Master Roshi go on sale, the hope being there aren’t as many Dragon Ball fans out there as there are DBZ ones. I never did see him go on sale though, so for the past two years my collection has consisted of one, lonely, figure.

The summer of 2020 has been much kinder to me as far as Dragon Ball toys are concerned. A recent sale has allowed me to expand upon that collection, and up first is Bulma! This is the second S.H. Figuarts of Bulma with the first being based on the artwork in the closing credits of the show where she looks like some Mad Max character. It’s a look that only exists in that one moment, which is odd because that’s the look Irwin chose when it made Dragon Ball toys back in the early 2000s. It was an easy pass for me, but more recently a new Bulma was released. Dubbed Adventure Begins, this is essentially a first appearance Bulma from when she meets Goku and runs him over with her car. She has her pink dress and her blue-green hair is held in a ponytail by a big, red, bow. She even has panties which is a bit pervy, but this is Dragon Ball after all.

Bulma stands at about 5″ in height with an extra half inch if you include her bow. She comes packaged in a nice window box display, as do all Figuarts action figures, and has numerous accessories. The goal of this line is to make a figure that both perfectly captures the source material while also providing for a ton of articulation. This is meant to be an expressive figure capable of capturing the spirit of the character. And Bandai/Tamashii Nations are pretty damn successful at doing just that.

Bulma is packed with articulation, even though she’s not a “fighter” who needs to be capable of getting into and out of numerous, dynamic, poses. Bulma’s head is on a ball-joint capable of full, rotational, movement. She can look down rather well, but not up. Her pony tail is also on a ball-joint so you can do a lot with that if you desire. Bulma’s shoulders are ball-jointed with a swivel joint in there as well for maximum rotation. She can reach forward and back and even over her head. Her bicep has an additional swivel at the sleeve and her elbows are simple hinges. They’re single-jointed but on a wheel so she can achieve the same range of motion a double-jointed elbow can, but that wheel is a bit ugly when her arm is straight. The hands are on ball and sockets and there is a single hinge in each. Bulma has a ball-joint in her mid-torso just below her bust to give her full upper body motion to go along with a waist swivel. Her belt is non-removable, but it’s also not glue down so you can slide it around. The skirt is soft plastic and her panties are even a separate piece of plastic. Bulma has ball-joints at the hips and her thighs can rotate in and out as well. She has single-jointed knees on those wheel joints again, though it’s hidden well from the front. Her ankles can swivel and she has hinges and can rock side-to-side at the ankle.

Bulma’s sculpt is fantastic and really captures the look of the character. She’s a bit slight, but that mixes well with the bigger characters. The paint detail is minimal, but clean. She’s also sturdy and easy to pose and stand. She can even balance on one foot, though it’s a bit tricky. The only thing missing from her articulation is a butterfly joint at the shoulders so she can properly aim the sidearm she comes with. Inserting one probably would have harmed the look of the figure too much, but having her grip her gun with two hands was the only pose I couldn’t quite get to work.

Since this is a Figuarts toy, Bulma comes with a whole bunch of additional hands and other accessories. She comes packaged with fist hands which are really easy to remove. They’re on little pegs and look kind of scary, but they seem rather durable as they’re the same pegs Kid Goku has. Getting another hand on requires some finesse as the peg wants to move on you, but it can be done. Bulma’s additional right hands include: a trigger finger, pointing, cupped hand (for holding a Dragon Ball), open hand with peg hole (for the Dragon Radar), and a hand holding a capsule. For left hands (the non gloved hand) she has a pointing hand and an open hand. The accessories to go with those hands include a Dragon Radar, a 2-star Dragon Ball, a gun, gun holster, and holster with a gun inside it. She comes packaged with the holstered gun on her belt, but it pops off easily and can be replaced with the empty holster. The gun cannot be inserted into the holster, but it’s pretty cool that both were included.

Scary!

Rounding things out are the extra faceplates. Bulma comes with a smiling expression as her default look and can switch to a more exhuberant happy face and a shocked or scared face. Obviously, the biggest omission is an angry face since Bulma is known for losing her temper, especially with Goku who’s ignorance in those early episodes frustrates her and crosses some boundaries as well. To change her expression you simply pull her hair off, which is really easy to do. The face then pops off as it’s on two, thick, pegs so there’s little chance of anything breaking. Seating a new one is painless and there you go! I like all of the included faces, though I don’t know if I’ll ever pose her with something other than her happy face. The scared face definitely lends itself well to photography and I do plan on snapping more pictures with that one eventually.

When thinking about the important characters of Dragon Ball, Bulma certainly qualifies. Even so, I wasn’t sure that I needed a Bulma since all she is going to do is stand on my shelf, maybe holding her Dragon Radar, and not much else. Now that I have her though I’m very glad I took the plunge. This is a fun figure and she looks great. I’m very happy with the articulation and accessories, and really the only thing missing from this figure is an angry facial expression. It would have been fun to have Bulma perpetually screaming at Goku on my shelf, but in the end I guess she deserves to be happy.


Dec. 23 – Missing in Action Christmas Specials

disney afternoon christmas

The closest the original DuckTales got to Christmas was this TV spot.

When you do an annual advent calendar-styled countdown of Christmas programming, you start to realize the brands you can rely on and what you cannot. It can be a challenge to find 25 worthy topics, so in order to prevent a time crunch every fall I keep a list of specials I can source from. Throughout the year if I stumble across one I’ll add it to the list. Sometimes I’ll think I’ve found something only to find out it was a misleading title such as the episode “It’s a Thunderful Life” of the not well-remembered The Terrible Thunder Lizards program. And then there are times when I’ll find a special and I’ll view it, only to find there’s nothing to talk about. It’s not good, nor is it really bad, it’s just bland and forgettable.

Inevitably, I’ll take a look at my list at various times throughout the year and I’ll be surprised at an absence. I’ll then seek out the special I think I’m looking for only to be reminded that, “Oh yeah, that show never had a Christmas episode.” One of my top offenders each year was DuckTales. The original run for that show ran for over 100 episodes and never broached the subject of Christmas, even though Scrooge McDuck debuted in a Christmas comic book! Disney was new to television with that series and also new to syndication. Television stations typically don’t like syndicated programs to feature seasonal episodes since they don’t want to have to worry about when the episode airs. Who wants to see a Christmas episode in May? It’s an overblown issue though, which is probably why many syndicated shows would toss that aside and go with whatever stories they wanted to tell. The new version of DuckTales rectified this problem, as we saw way back on December first, which is why I’ve decided not to include the 87 version in this post.

In the spirit of this phenomenon, as it were, I want to highlight the cartoons that decided against doing a Christmas episode. These are the shows I’m most surprised by, and some of them have tripped me up more than once. I’ve looked through the episode list for these programs repeatedly looking for key words like Santa, Christmas, presents, or even snow. Alas, I guess when it came to Christmas and these shows, it just wasn’t meant to be.

rescue rangers

Despite their numerous rescues, the Rescue Rangers never saved Christmas.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Hot on the heels of DuckTales came Chip ‘n Dale:  Rescue Rangers. This show took the comedic duo who harassed Donald Duck and Pluto on numerous occasions and gave them their own show where they solved crimes a d helped those in need – quite a turn for the former mischief makers. They were paired with some newcomers in the inventor mouse Gadget and the cheese-obsessed Monterey Jack. Zipper the fly completed the group and they were often tasked with solving crimes or rescuing someone. The show was another direct-to-syndication affair with a 65 episode order that premiered in the fall of 1989. And like DuckTales, there was no Christmas episode for these adventurers even though one practically would have wrote itself. The diminutive heroes often found themselves helping kids, so helping a kid get on Santa’s good side could have been a plot. Or having the Rescue Rangers just plain save Christmas from a Grinch-like villain would have worked fine. Seeing the Rangers ride around in Santa’s sleigh would have been a great and festive way to end an episode. Pretty much all of the Disney Afternoon programs that followed would get a Christmas special. The only one off the top of my head I think did not is Gargoyles. I also don’t think many of the shows based on film properties (e.g. – Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Timon and Pumba) had Christmas episodes either. Alas, we’ll just have to make due with the classic Disney shorts Toy Tinkers and Pluto’s Christmas Tree if we want to see the chipmunks in action around the holidays.

cowabunga christmas

There is a ton of TMNT Christmas merch out there, but surprisingly no television special to go with it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a marketing bonanza in the late 80s and into the early 90s. The show basically existed because Playmates needed it to in order to sell toys, which is how many cartoons from that era came about. And it was a great vehicle to do so as the Turtles often had new vehicles and inventions to make use of and there was always a new mutant to battle who could quickly become an action figure. That merchandizing tie-in aspect of the show makes it a bit of a surprise it didn’t bring along Christmas, the time of year when more toys are sold than at any other point. Playmates could have been handed holiday versions of the Turtles and other characters in which they’re wearing festive sweaters or are even decked out like Santa and his elves. There could have been a mutated reindeer friend for the Turtles, maybe one with a radioactive, glowing, red, nose! A sleigh that is rocket-propelled and drops bombs or a gnarly snowboard for Mikey to hit the slopes with. Plus, there was a Christmas story all ready to go in the comics in the form of the Michaelangelo one-shot issue from Mirage in which Mikey busts up an illegal toy-smuggling ring. That episode would be adapted for the 2003 cartoon and titled “The Christmas Aliens,” but it amazes me it took over 15 years for that to happen.

dragon ball christmas

Yes, it would be silly and possibly stupid to have Goku face-off with Santa, but I bet it would be a lot of fun!

Dragon Ball

One of the longest running anime ever has produced hundred of hours of television, and not once has Christmas been relied upon to drive an episode. Dragon Ball and its many iterations has been entertaining kids and adults since the mid 1980s. It’s known as much for its action as it is for its silly and sometimes juvenile sense of humor. It’s that aspect of it that seems to make it ripe for a Christmas special. An ignorant Goku could have been introduced to the concept of Christmas by one of his friends and found the custom confusing. He could have ended up giving weird gifts, or doing something selfless and noble, either would be in-character. I think a somewhat comedically dark ending with Goku out in the wilderness seeing Santa and blasting him with a Kamehameha could have been entertaining too. Maybe the episode ends with him roasting a reindeer after Santa fled in panic with Goku clueless over what he had just done. These are all more Dragon Ball-styled plots. A Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Super plot would obviously involve Goku challenging Santa to a fight. Santa would either be super powerful, or super not with Goku accidentally really hurting him in a slapstick kind of way. Maybe following such an injury, Goku has to take over as Santa for a night which has comedic potential as well, so much so that I’ve basically talked myself into wanting this. And it all ends with Oolong getting a stocking full of women’s underwear on Christmas morning. Now that’s a sentimental sort of ending.

Goofy-Art-of-Skiing

Goofy has experienced Christmas via Mickey and Goof Troop, but he never got to star in a holiday short of his very own.

Goofy

In the 90s, Goofy received his own show. It was basically an animated sitcom, and it put Goofy in the role of a single father. Goof Troop was a surprisingly poignant show and a different take on the character than what we were used to seeing. Goofy had shown a domesticated side on occasion in his old shorts, but nothing really like this. Goof Troop received it’s own Christmas special, and the characters returned in the same role for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas years later with a different Christmas outing. That’s good that Goofy got multiple looks at it because he was the lone holdout back in the days of the cartoon short to not have a Christmas episode. Donald Duck received Toy Tinkers, while Mickey and Pluto both got to star in Pluto’s Christmas Tree, but Goofy got nothing. That’s why when packages of cartoons were shown with Mickey’s Christmas Carol on television the Goofy short often shown was The Art of Skiing, a quality short for sure, but not a Christmas one. Goofy comically trying to setup a tree or decorate a house seems like a great way to use his brand of physical comedy. It could have even been in the form of one of his classic “How to” shorts such as “How to Prepare for the Holidays.” Goofy playing Santa, Goofy cooking a turkey, Goofy wrapping gifts – it’s almost too easy! Maybe that’s why it never happened?

captain n link

This show was just a commercial for Nintendo products so it’s surprising that they didn’t add in the wonder of Christmas at any point.

Captain N: The Game Master

Captain N was possibly the only show more cynical than Masters of the Universe or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it came to hawking merchandise. It was basically an animated commercial for Nintendo as the main character, Kevin, sported a Nintendo controller as a belt buckle and armed himself with a zapper. His allies in the show were all stars of their own video games like Kid Icarus and Simon Belmont and they even made the Game Boy a character later on. Maybe the showrunners felt that doing a Christmas episode would be too on the nose, but I think it would have fit the mold just fine. Imagine all of the Nintendo products that could have been piled under that cartoon tree. I’m not saying it would have been good, as this show is pretty terrible to revisit, but it may have at least featured some ironic humor. At the very least, we could have seen Dracula’s castle covered in snow or found out if a Game Boy can function during a blizzard.


Dragon Ball Super: Broly

db super broly poster

Dragon Ball Super: Broly

The first movie under the Dragon Ball Super umbrella is one that sets out to take what was previously non-canon and adapt it into the main series. The most recent two Dragon Ball Z films; Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’, ended up being the start of Dragon Ball Super which is now well over 100 episodes into its own series and several volumes of manga as well. It was last year that the series took a pause, seemingly coming to an end, only for this feature to be announced soon afterwards. Over the summer it was revealed that the subject of the film would be the infamous Broly, a character created for the prior Dragon Ball Z films that is either a fan-favorite or fan-hated character, depending on who you ask. In that universe, Broly was the featured villain of three separate films, and according to this humble blogger only one of those three films was any good. Broly is simply an all style and no substance villain. He’s big, mean, and powerful, but he has no real motivations beyond wanting to annihilate the hero of the series, Goku, whom he despises because he made him cry when the two were infants. Yup, you read that correctly.

Finding out that Broly would soon be adapted for his fourth film and presumably brought into canon left me with mixed feelings. Those feelings quickly shifted to positive ones though as what reason did I have to really doubt series creator Akira Toriyama? Broly already had the look, and aside from the reason for hating Goku being quite lame, the rest of his origin was fine. There was enough of a skeleton there that could be fleshed out into something worthwhile. And after doubting that there was anything left in this franchise, I’ve been proven wrong time and again by the last two features and basically the entirety of Dragon Ball Super. Toriyama, and those working with him, seem to have a handle on what sets this world apart from others. It’s the humor, as well as the action, that makes it go. The series can’t stop to take itself too seriously, or else it will betray what it is. Anchoring the series on the Goku and Vegeta characters is also fan-service at its best. It’s their differences as characters that works so well. It meant taking away most of what once made Vegeta a villain, but Dragon Ball Super has managed to make him likable and understandable without also softening him too much.

dbs broly normal

Broly is re-introduced in this one as canon with a tweak to his base design.

Before I go any further, it is worth pointing out just where this film follows in the grand scheme of things. If you’re like me and have been following Dragon Ball Super via the dub that airs weekly on Toonami then you’re going to have some things spoiled for you. This film takes place after the events of Dragon Ball Super so far, so it’s after the Tournament of Power which has yet to officially begin. If you watch the Japanese dub of the show, then no problem as you saw the finale almost a year ago. For us just watching on a standard cable package, it means having the events of that tournament some-what spoiled. And I mean that very loosely as the setup for that tournament is that all of the universes who lose are destroyed. I don’t think any viewer expects the universe inhabited by Goku and his friends to be wiped out and have the story end there, so the fact that this film even exists is only the most mild of spoilers. The film doesn’t go into any detail about how that crisis was resolved, so I didn’t feel particularly spoiled by anything. Only the fate of one character would really count there, so if you want absolutely nothing else spoiled you may want to stop here as I can’t really discuss this film without mentioning that character at least in passing. There’s your final warning.

king vegetas court

King Vegeta’s court where Paragus is informed on the fate of his son.

Okay, with that out of the way we can freely talk about Dragon Ball Super: Broly! This is a review, not a synopsis like I did with my DBZ movie feature from last summer, so I don’t aim to spoil anything pertinent to the film beyond just going over the general plot and setup. If you’re a longtime fan, you’re probably most curious about how this new Broly (Vic Mignogna) equates with the old. He’s a different character, but it is also largely the same. The film begins several years before the present day when planet Vegeta was still a thing. In addition to seeing the early days of Broly, we’re also treated to something previously untouched upon and that’s the transfer of power over the universe from King Cold (Jason Douglas) to his son, Frieza (Christopher Ayers). It’s fun seeing that acknowledged, though it’s not particularly thrilling. Broly himself though is soon introduced as a baby, and like the prior Broly, he seems to have incredible untapped power. King Vegeta (Christopher Sabat) appears jealous that this child rivals his own infant son, also Vegeta (Sabat), and it may explain what he does next.

dbs kid goku

The flashback also contains a brief look at young Goku in a somewhat touching scene.

Like the prior Broly, this one will find himself banished from planet Vegeta. His father, Paragus (Dameon Clarke), suspects the king did it out of jealousy, but the king claims he did it out of fear over what Broly is capable of. A power so terrible cannot be controlled and he could destroy them all. It’s hard to say what the truth is, but Paragus refuses to see his son exiled to a barren world alone. He steals a spaceship and chases after him all while swearing revenge on the king who did this to him and his son. We also get another peek at Goku’s father, Bardok (Sonny Strait), and even meet his mother, Gine (Emily Neves). It retcons the events of Bardock’s solo film a bit, and also shows us a softer side to the character which provides some context for how Goku (Sean Schemmel) came to be so different from other Saiyans. We also get to check in on a toddler Vegeta and Radditz, which is amusing, and see the destruction of planet Vegeta from another angle. There’s even a mention of a brother to Prince Vegeta that I was not aware of. I don’t know if that’s mentioned at all in the episodes I have not seen, or it could be a hint at something to come in a future movie or series.

dbs paragus

The design for Broly’s father, Paragus, is also still in-line with his old portrayal only now he’s aged up. He’s also still a dick.

After the lengthy setup, the film jumps to the present day and finds Goku and Vegeta sparring. They’ll soon find out that Frieza is up to not good, and his stealing of the Dragon Balls from Bulma’s (Monica Rial) lab is what sets the plot in motion. That will get all of our main players to Earth, including a now fully grown Broly and his father, where the action takes place.

snow clothes goku and vegeta

Goku and Vegeta showing off their trendy new winter duds.

To no one’s surprise, the majority of this film is action as the two heroic saiyans take on Broly. Broly is depicted as actually kind-natured this time around, but his power drives him mad. It’s a subtle change from the previous version we’ve seen, but it’s handled far better and this character actually has meaning. He’s a sympathetic character, much more so than before, and one the audience isn’t necessarily instructed to root against. His design is only a little different from his old one, but he has a slightly more refined look. There’s some grit there as well and he actually looks like someone who has lived his whole life in exile. He’ll find some sympathetic characters which help add to his story, and overall I think he’s a fine addition to the cast this time.

dbs god vegeta

Vegeta demonstrating his mastery of the Super Saiyan God form.

The action is the main attraction, and after the slow-paced opening I am happy to report that no action was spared as a result. This is a meaty film, and by its end you may even start to feel exhausted. It keeps upping the visual ante along the way though, so it never gets boring. New tricks are unleashed, some more abstract than others. My favorite was a first-person camera in the middle of the fight that really pulled me in. It sounds like a gimmick, but it worked really well to see the lightning-quick action unfold from such a perspective. It was also tastefully utilized, so it didn’t overstay its welcome. There’s plenty of big spots, and also some rather brutal ones. Nothing is gratuitous though, and overall if you’re a fan of action this is one satisfying and spectacular film. There is also less emphasis on fan-service this time around when compared with the last two films. There’s no effort to get all of the old gang back together and the cast is actually fairly trim. This one simply has a story to tell and a battle to feature.

dbs goku blue

The film is visually stunning, but there are moments where I felt like I was watching a cut scene from Dragon Ball FighterZ.

The film is still mostly done in 2D with digital hand-drawn animation, the design of which was handled by Naohiro Shintani instead of Tadayoshi Yamamuro who has done virtually all of Dragon Ball previously so all of the characters have a slightly altered look to them, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say they appear off-model. Those hand-drawn parts are delicious for the eyes and Dragon Ball has never looked better. The movements of the characters are so fluid and sharp, and the slightly muted color palette is reminiscent of the manga more so than the actual anime. Vegeta’s battle suit, in particular, uses a more navy color than a bright blue and Goku’s orange gi is just slightly pale. This being Dragon Ball, there’s also lots of bright greens and blacks and some cute character designs amongst the villains. There are instances of obvious CG, most noticeably when space ships are shown. It’s also still used in battles, but it’s less of a distraction than in past films. There are still times though when I felt like I was viewing a cut scene from a video game as opposed to an anime. I wouldn’t go so far as to say those moments were jarring, but the hand-drawn stuff is just so flawless that I wish they just tried to stick with that as much as possible.

broly vegeta snow

Arctic settings are among my favorites in Dragon Ball. The brightly colored characters just look great against a cool backdrop.

The music composed by Norihito Sumitomo is also quite bombastic and in-time with the visuals. Some of the main themes, in particular Broly’s and a character I won’t mention by name as it would constitute a spoiler, include a chant in the song where the name of the character is spoken. It further adds to the fighting video game feel of some of the visuals and I’d consider it ludicrous if this were any other property save for maybe Mortal Kombat. It manages to add to the spectacle of everything. Also, some old favorites return though it’s worth mentioning this movie doesn’t feature an opening credits scene like the old ones. I kept waiting for it to pop-in, until I realized it wasn’t coming. It’s probably for the best, though I did kind of miss it.

dbs full power broly

If you’re looking for some of the old Broly you know (and love?) you’ll get that here as well.

Ultimately, I was left feeling like seeing Dragon Ball Super: Broly on the big screen was very much a worthwhile experience. This film was designed for that setting, and I really enjoyed my time with it. I was surprised to find it actually showing at quite a few theaters in my area, and further surprised to find many shows sold out. Thankfully, I was planning on seeing this alone as I couldn’t find two seats side-by-side anywhere. The machinations of the plot are pretty contained so if you haven’t bothered to watch Dragon Ball Super you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into this and and figuring out what’s going on, so don’t let that be an obstacle. If you ever cared about Dragon Ball, then you owe it to yourself to catch it on the big screen.


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