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Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming

190px-DBZ_THE_MOVIE_NO._10Japanese Title:  The Dangerous Duo! Super Warriors Never Rest

Original Release Date:  March 12, 1994

English Release:  April 5, 2005

Directed by:  Shigeyasu Yamauchi

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  52 minutes

With Broly being an overnight sensation following his debut film, it was no surprise to see him turn up again. The problem with Broly though is that he’s all style and no substance. He’s motivated by his mostly irrational hatred of the one he calls Kakarot, whom we all affectionately refer to as Goku. He barely speaks and is essentially raw power unrestrained. Making things harder on him for his return engagement is that Goku is dead, so his boys are left to pick up the slack. Unsurprisingly, this makes Broly – Second Coming the first DBZ movie to not star Goku in some capacity. He may have been dead in our last film, but he still had a pretty commanding presence over the film. He makes an appearance in this one, but it’s definitely understated compared with the prior movie. This is also the first movie to not feature Piccolo, though there’s a joke at his expense in it. Another surprising stalwart of the movies, Oolong, won’t cameo either. And after appearing in the last four features, Vegeta will be a surprising omission here. It’s always tough to figure out when these movies are supposed to take place so it’s possible Vegeta is dead. Really, this movie and the next features a really small cast of characters and it’s anchored by the debut of Goten and Young Trunks. Lastly, it’s also the first to feature Dragon Ball Z‘s second theme song over the opening credits, the underwhelming “We Gotta Power.” We’ll miss you, “Cha-la…”

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A dying Broly crash lands on Earth. That’s some sense of direction.

The movie opens on an old but familiar sight – a Saiyan Space Pod zooming towards Earth. It smashes into the planet’s surface and from it emerges Broly (Vic Mignogna). Having apparently escaped the destruction of New Vegeta in just the nick of time, he’s in bad shape and the wound left by Goku is still open. He soon powers down from his Super Saiyan form and collapses into the snow, ice forming over him. He’ll lay there for seven years, and of course he’s just bound to wake up all kinds of pissed off.

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Kid Trunks, Videl, and Goten make their film debuts.

Videl (Kara Edwards), Goten (Edwards), and Trunks (Laura Bailey) are out hunting Dragon Balls. Videl is sporting her short-haired look so this movie takes place after her training with Gohan, meaning she can fly and fight a little. She apparently asked Goten and Trunks to tag along to aid in her search for the Dragon Balls since Trunks’ mother Bulma possesses the Dragon Radar. Trunks and Goten are a handful given that they’re just kids, and they’ll test the patience of Videl and also likely force her to question why she brought them along in the first place when all she desires is to just see the Eternal Dragon, Shenron.

Their search leads them to a small village in the mountains – Nataday. The villagers there are preparing for a sacrifice, a young girl is to be offered to some monster in order to spare their village destruction and misfortune. The sacrifice is the brainchild of the village shaman, Maloja (Robert McCollum) and Videl is disgusted by the whole thing. Other villagers share her views, and Trunks offers to take care of this supposed monster for them.

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The village shaman Miloja – he’s a dick.

Videl, Trunks, and Goten all hide in a nearby altar and wait for the monster to show. There’s an offering of food for the beast, and Trunks swipes some which just makes Goten jealous. Video instructs him to keep quiet and stay put, but when goes for an apple she slaps him in response causing Goten to cry. Goten is apparently an impressive cryer, for his howls reach Broly himself. Baring a remarkable similarity to the cries of his infant father, they’re enough to agitate and awaken Broly from his long slumber. In case you have forgotten, Broly is driven by his hatred for Goku whom cried a lot when he was an infant, and it bothered the infant Broly enough to scar him as an adult.

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They’re quite good at irritating Videl.

Videl, feeling bad for making Goten cry, apologizes and swipes a dumpling for him. Trunks laughs and lets her know she’s been conned by the diminutive Saiyan, which just makes her more frustrated and annoyed by the whole situation. Soon the monster shows itself to be a mere dinosaur (in case you forgot, dinosaurs exist in this world) and Trunks and Goten are unimpressed. They toy with the beast a little, before eventually returning to the village with its carcass. The villagers are overjoyed to see the beast has been slain, all except Maloja who is banished by the elders for his sacrificial methods. With that out of the way, the heroes are able to resume their Dragon Ball hunt.

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Broly has awakened!

The trio calls it a night, but a loud sound wakes Videl early in the morning. That sound is Broly, emerging from his ice prison and powering up to his Super Saiyan, but not his Legendary, form. Videl finds and confronts him and, not knowing who he is, tries to attack. Broly is far too powerful for her to handle though. Goten and Trunks soon awaken to the sounds of the fight and they rush to see what’s going on. They have no idea who Broly is, but Broly sees Goten and immediately is sent into a rage due to the child’s resemblance to his father, Goku. Broly is easily able to knock the two boys around, but during the fight they’re able to spot the last Dragon Ball. Trunks devises a plan where Goten is to retrieve the Dragon Ball while he distracts Broly. This is where the movie takes a silly turn as Trunks moons the Saiyan warrior while Goten also pauses to take a pee.

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When ya gotta go…

Goten is successful in retrieving the ball, but soon loses it amongst a bunch of crystal balls. Trunks is dismayed by his friend’s clumsiness, especially because he too really has to pee. He manages to avoid most of Broly’s most damaging moves, but eventually ends up in the arms of the monster when his bladder gives out. Goten does however manage to gather all of the Dragon Balls and he takes them behind a waterfall where he can safely summon the Eternal Dragon Shenron. Unfortunately, Goten realizes he doesn’t actually know how to summon the dragon and sits there perplexed. Trunks manages to retreat behind the waterfall too and doesn’t know how to summon the dragon either. They’re forced to confront Broly, who whips them around pretty well until their savior arrives in the form of Gohan (Kyle Hebert).

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Don’t worry kid, I got this.

Gohan had sensed the fighting, and unlike the other three, he’s faced Broly before and knows what he’s up against. Gohan is definitely stronger than he was when he faced Broly the first time, but he might not even be as strong as he was when he defeated Cell since this is Buu Saga Gohan before his training with the Elder Kai. He’s still able to power-up to Super Saiyan 2, but all that does is force Broly into his more monstrous Legendary Super Saiyan form. Broly is able to physically dominate Gohan in this form, but the resourceful Saiyan is able to break free of Broly’s hold and lure him into a nearby volcano where the lava engulfs Broly. Gohan collapses on a nearby rock as the lava inches closer to him. A caped warrior swoops in though to rescue him. Piccolo? No, it’s Krillin (Sonny Strait) dressed in Piccolo’s attire for some reason. I can only assume this is a metta joke for the audience since Piccolo often drops in unannounced to rescue Gohan in virtually every movie.

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Not what anyone was expecting…

The two share a nice moment, and then Broly returns. You didn’t really think lava could kill him, right? He’s surrounded himself with an energy shield and quickly takes out Krillin. Gohan is too weak and exhausted to offer much resistance, and Broly begins to torture him. He’s very much enjoying himself, until Videl tosses a rock at him. It doesn’t hurt him, but it does distract him and he turns to look as Videl collapses, the effort of just throwing a rock seemingly exhausting what little energy she had left. The sight of her falling enrages Gohan enough to tap into his reserves, forcing himself from Broly’s hold. Announcing he’d had enough, Gohan powers up to Super Saiyan and unleashes a Kamehameha attack against Broly, who counters with a blast of his own. The force of the attack knocks Goten’s bag over and the Dragon Balls spill out awakening the young child. He transforms into his Super Saiyan form and joins his older brother in firing a Kamehameha at Broly. Together, the brothers appear to be holding their own, but it’s still not enough. Goten then silently makes a wish that their dad was there with them.

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Broly has an answer for Gohan’s attack.

The Dragon Balls, apparently hearing Goten’s silent plea, flash and the skies darken. No dragon appears, but Goku does! He encourages his sons and powers up to his Super Saiyan form and joins his Kamehameha blast with theirs. And yet it’s still not enough! Trunks awakens as well and sends a last ditch effort Broly’s way. His blast is enough to sneak in behind Broly’s and throw off the timing of his own ki blast. Goku sees this, and implores his boys to give it their all. Their combined might overwhelms Broly, who cries out in pain as he’s blasted from the Earth and into the sun, seemingly gone for good (yeah, right),

Goku vanishes as quickly as he appeared, and Goten and Gohan are left to wonder if he was really ever there. The Dragon Balls seem to confirm that he was, as they’ve turned to stone and rocketed away. Videl awakens and admonishes Gohan for taking so long to get there, while Trunks remarks he wants a snack. They all set off for wherever, while poor Krillin remains where he was following Broly’s attack wondering if they’ve forgotten about him.

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The lasting image from this movie is at least a good one.

Broly – Second Coming, unlike the first film to feature Broly, is almost entirely reliant upon comedy for its entertainment value. There’s the little setup with the village before the main event, but the movie is fairly straight-forward in its execution like many DBZ films before it. I did appreciate the little bit of adventuring we saw early, and the visual of Goku joining his sons for a triple attack is surprisingly emotional, but the movie earns very little of the payoffs it tries to cash-in. Broly is even more one-dimensional than before, and he’s little more than a video game boss character. The repeated near-saves have become a trope, though at least the movie seems to poke fun at that with the Krillen rescue effort. The juvenile nature of the humor involving Goten and Trunks is sometimes charming, sometimes humorous, but hard to sustain a picture with. The arrival of Goku breaks all of the rules of the Dragon Balls, as Shenron isn’t properly summoned, never even appears, and also disappears after only fulfilling one wish. As much as I like the image of all three combining for an attack, it would have probably been better to just leave Goku out of this one. With him dead, it could have been an opportune time to have Piccolo stand-in considering he’s been a second father to Gohan, or even a more mature Vegeta finally stepping in and embracing his role as a father-figure for the younger Saiyans.

Adding to the tonal problems is a rather bland presentation. The backgrounds are kind of typical DBZ and don’t really offer up much. The visuals are more in-line with the main series as well and do not have that extra special ingredient that most of the films have. Maybe Toei knew this one wasn’t going to be as good as the others because of the lack of Goku and just didn’t sink as much money into the production as they normally would. It all adds up to a very subpar experience, and Broly – Second Coming just may be the worst of all of the Dragon Ball Z films. It has some inherent entertainment value, so I would still say watch it if you have never seen it, but it’s one you’ll only revisit out of a feeling of obligation or when you’re just sick of watching the other, better, films.


Dragon Ball: Season 4

dragon_ball_season_4_600x600_itunes_artwork_by_eddie09-d58sdkjIt sure is taking me a long time to post about the “seasons” of Dragon Ball. I place the word seasons in quotations because these aren’t actual seasons of television, but just how FUNimation chose to label them when releasing the show on DVD. As a result, Season 4 starts during the World Martial Arts Tournament as opposed to before it or at its conclusion, which is a pretty poor way to start a season (though it’s a better start for Season 4 than an ending for Season 3 which was quite abrupt). Thankfully, Season 4 will end at a better spot setting up for the fifth and final volume of Dragon Ball episodes.

Season 4 has a different feel than its predecessor. While Goku has dealt with loss before and even experienced a desire for vengeance, he’ll be pushed towards a darker path even more so in this volume, but first the tournament. When we left off, Goku and his friends were participating in yet another World Martial Arts Tournament with the plot very clearly setting up a showdown between Goku and his latest rival:  Tien Shinhan. Tien is a student of Master Crane, who is also the older brother of Mercenary Tao, who Goku dispatched in Season 3. As a result, Crane wants to see his brother avenged and is relying on his pupil to do so. In order for the two to meet though, they need to win their respective matches to meet in the finals.

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Some unfinished business from Season 3.

The first 9 episodes deal with the tournament, and throughout it both Goku and Tien will be tested. By its conclusion, they’ll gain a new understanding of each other and Master Roshi will gain some new students, but he’ll also lose one. Setting up what is the main arc of the season is a murder and one that will have a lasting impact on Goku. If you want zero spoilers, then skip ahead, but the murder of Goku’s best friend and one-time rival Krillen is perhaps the darkest moment in Dragon Ball history. Perhaps the only comparable moment is the death of Dende in Dragon Ball Z at the hands of Freeza. Krillen is still basically a child when he’s murdered in Dragon Ball. It happens off-screen, but when Krillen is taking an especially long time in returning to their group’s celebratory dinner Goku runs back to the training ground to retrieve him only to find his lifeless body. It’s an affecting scene to behold as the image is held for an uncomfortably long time. This moment moves Goku to tears, naturally, but it also gives rise to an anger inside of him that is also uncomfortable to see. Up until now, Goku has been our happy-go-lucky protagonist. He’s dealt with loss mostly with sadness and to some degree a lack of comprehension. He’s learned empathy over time, he’s bore witness to how unjust the world can be, and he’s fully equipped now to experience a wide range of emotions at the sight of his best friend’s corpse.

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He doesn’t look THAT scary.

This sets the stage for the evil King Piccolo to enter our story. Piccolo is an ancient evil that not even Master Roshi could handle. He’s often referred to as a demon, and it took a technique from Roshi’s master Mutaito that cost him his life to seal him away previously:  The Evil Containment Wave. Roshi naturally preaches caution to his young pupil, but Goku is too headstrong and determined to avenge his fallen friend. He will pay for his impatience, as Piccolo isn’t alone. Since he’s rather old and feeble looking, Piccolo has surrounded himself with some powerful adversaries. They’re all named after musical instruments just like their master, and all have a sort of reptilian or demonic appearance:  Piano, Cymbal, Tambourine, and Drum. In order to defeat them, Goku will need to get stronger and he’ll be forced to seek out Master Korin once again.

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King Piccolo likes his minions scaly and green.

Meanwhile, Master Roshi together with Tien and Chiaotzu, decide they’ll need the help of the Dragon Balls in order to essentially wish away the demon king. While they’re doing that, and Goku is off training, Piccolo’s minions are seeking out the strongest fighters in the world with the goal of killing them to pave the way for King Piccolo to take control over the world (he’s a rather conventional villain, in that respect). Roshi’s plan to assemble the Dragon Balls ends up backfiring and he’s unable (or unwilling) to master the Evil Containment Wave. As a result, Piccolo seizes control of the legendary artifacts and is able to restore his youth, and power. In the process he also kills the Eternal Dragon. Suddenly, death has real consequences in this world with no dragon able to restore life to those who have fallen or will fall.

With King Piccolo fully powered-up, all eyes turn to Goku. His training with Korin puts him into confrontation with the bulbous Yajirobe. Yajirobe is essentially a punch-line in DBZ, like a lot of the main characters from Dragon Ball unfortunately, but here he is not such a push-over. Still, he’s no Goku. There’s some humor to be found in Goku’s training with Korin, but it’s largely a bit of a slog as we’re more eager than usual to see Goku face-off with the evils that stand before him. Once his training is complete, he’s forced into conflict with Piccolo’s minions and eventually the demon king himself.

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If you’re a fan of Pilaf and his crew, don’t worry, they’re still hanging around.

Some drama is created in the meantime. Tien has mastered the Evil Containment Wave, and with Goku still missing in action, he’s resolved to use it as Piccolo has begun destroying the earth city by city. Using the wave against Piccolo would mean Tien’s death, so it becomes pretty important for Goku to hurry up and get there. Goku and King Piccolo are naturally destined to meet in combat, and surprisingly, their confrontation is pretty short spanning just three episodes, but as I mentioned in the lead-in it’s at least all contained on this set without bleeding over into the next. It does mean a some-what abrupt end to the season as the immediate fall-out is left for Season 5.

Dragon Ball Season 4 marks both a new story-telling device for the show, vengeance, as well as a doubling-down on the previous format. That format is essentially Goku encountering a new foe, getting beaten down, training, and then returning to face the enemy in a rematch now powered-up. It’s a formula that Dragon Ball Z will beat into the ground, but at least here it’s not quite so worn out. Still, the training moments between Goku and Korin are slow, and they’re made even more so because the story did give us an effective motivation earlier for Goku to face Piccolo. It’s both refreshing and sad to see Goku motivated by vengeance. It would be nice if Goku could remain unaffected by the evils of the world, but it’s also unrealistic for a show with such an expansive amount of episodes. Sort of forgotten is how the season begins, with Goku turning an adversary in Tien into a new ally. It’s handled well enough, with Tien’s sense of honor ultimately being the aspect of him that is won over by Goku and his friends. Of course, if you’re like me and you experienced Dragon Ball Z before Dragon Ball then you knew Tien was destined to be an ally, but it was still entertaining to watch.

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A powered-up Goku is ready to take on the king.

At this point, the show has also improved visually. It’s success likely lead to some increased production budgets by TOEI Animation so the special effects and animation are better than they’ve ever been. The aged King Piccolo is well illustrated and he’s actually a lot more interesting to look at than the youthful version. There’s a moment where he forces an egg out of his mouth to create a new minion and it’s both gross and strangely satisfying to watch the scene play out. The original soundtrack is kept, and while it’s certainly dated, it has a whimsical quality that works really well with Dragon Ball. The benefit of FUNimation dubbing the series after DBZ means these actors have had plenty of time to get a feeling for the roles and everyone sounds mostly great. They’re all familiar if you’ve watched the other dubs, and the continuity is nice and appreciated. If you prefer Japanese audio it’s there as well. The original aspect ratio is also preserved.

Season 1 is still my favorite Dragon Ball season, mostly because it’s just a lot of fun and the ignorant Goku of Season 1 is really entertaining. Season 4 might be my second favorite though. It has some filler, but not as much as Season 3, and the stakes feel high which is also an improvement over both Seasons 2 and 3 and helps to give the confrontation more weight. It’s also satisfying when taken as a whole, and though I wouldn’t recommend it, you could conceivably just jump-in at Season 4 and enjoy it without seeing the previous material. I don’t know that I would call it peak Dragon Ball, but there is a downward slide following it with Season 5 basically feeling like an encore for the show as well as a setup for what’s to come. I promise to not take over four years to get to that one.


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