If Dragon Ball Super 2 can learn anything from 2018’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie, it’s how not to treat the supporting Z-Warriors. Since powering back onto the big screen with Battle of Gods in 2013, the revived Dragon Ball franchise has been on a roll, hitting a critical and commercial zenith with the canon introduction of Broly, the Legendary Super Saiyan. Boasting sublime animation, intense action, and a fan-favorite villain from the classic era, Dragon Ball Super: Broly scaled unprecedented heights for an anime movie, even compared to the high standards set by past releases.
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While Dragon Ball Super: Broly evidently got plenty right, the story disappoints in one key area. Across the 100 minute running time, Goku and Vegeta are joined by Frieza… and that’s it. By this point, fans of Tien and Yamcha have come to expect disappointment, but Piccolo, Gohan, Goten, Krillin, the Androids and Trunks are all sidelined in favor of focusing solely on Dragon Ball‘s contingent of pure Saiyans. To do so many major Dragon Ball fighters a disservice at the same time is quite some feat.
On one hand, limiting the action to Goku and Vegeta makes for a leaner story and maximizes punching time, while keeping Broly at the heart of the action – exactly where he should be. Here in 2021, however, that justification no longer applies. As much as the Saiyan focus might’ve worked in the context of Broly’s story, Dragon Ball Super‘s new cinematic offering requires a different approach, not only in the interest of variety, but also because Goku has a whole bunch of unused family members and friends with plenty to offer.
Gohan rediscovered his fighting spirit during the Tournament of Power, and despite sitting out of the fight against Broly, is ready to make a bigger contribution in the upcoming sequel, perhaps even regaining some of the early promise that made Goku’s son the star of the Cell Games. Unlike Gohan, Piccolo has been training as diligently as Goku and Vegeta (albeit not with Gods of Destruction and angels). There’s no reason for the Namekian to be ignored a second time, especially now that he’s a “grandfather” to young Pan, and has more reason to defend Earth than ever. When Majin Buu first emerged, Goten and Trunks were deemed humanity’s best hope against the bright pink blob, but have since been relegated to pet-sitting duty whenever a major battle arises. As the young Super Saiyans get a little older, it’s time they were taken more seriously as fighters. Androids 17 and 18 only recently reunited at the Tournament of Power, meaning Dragon Ball Super has barely scratched the surface on their potential as a team. And, finally, Krillin. While Goku’s bald bestie was eclipsed in strength long ago, Krillin provides Dragon Ball with its relatable heart – an ordinary human in a world increasingly populated by Gods.
With all of these potential storylines and character arcs going criminally unexplored in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the sequel should be an ensemble piece that highlights each of the main Z-Warriors, rather than Goku and Vegeta alone. After all, this is what Dragon Ball used to be before the Super era. Piccolo had an epic bout with Frieza, Gohan starred against Cell, and Gotenks played a major role in the Buu saga. Krillin was there too, trying his best and making us love him for it.
If Dragon Ball Super 2 is feeling really brave, the sequel could even – whisper it – have someone other than Goku defeat a major enemy. Since the Dragon Ball Super era began, Goku has been reluctant to share the glory in final battles, and even Vegeta wound up looking foolish against Golden Frieza and Moro. Dragon Ball has never been the most inventive anime in town (Akira Toriyama might’ve borrowed a few bits from Superman), but the formula is rapidly becoming much too predictable. No one’s seriously expecting Yamcha’s Wolf Fang Fist to win the day, but Vegeta or Gohan delivering the decisive blow in Dragon Ball Super 2 can prove the franchise has a future beyond Goku.
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