DBZ Battle of GodsLet’s be real: Dragon Ball Z is so entrenched in the consciousness of so many anime fans that it has become the quintessential all-ages action comedy. At my library, this movie received the same reaction from boys and girls, men and women: “There’s a new DBZ?!” Indeed, it has been nearly two decades since the production of the last DBZ movie, Wrath of the Dragon. Since then, anime has come a long way in terms of its production standards and audience. Does series creator Akira Toriyama’s sense of humor still ring true? Do these characters’ lives matter anymore? Do the fight scenes still have the power to impress? Against uncertain odds, the answer is yes.

When Bills, an old god, awakens to news that a Saiyan has killed series villain Freeza and has been prophesied to attack Bills next, he travels to Goku’s home in the afterlife to trump him in two hits, giving viewers a taste of longer fight scenes to come. Bills senses there are other Saiyans on Earth and travels there to investigate. From this point, the meat of the movie takes place on Earth during Bulma’s birthday party, where the majority of DBZ‘s heroes have gathered for a number of in-jokes and cameos.

Most of the humor is universal, but fans will catch the largest laughs and gasps throughout the movie, especially as the ever-serious Vegeta demeans himself in an effort to keep Bills calm and another scene in which a pregnancy is revealed. In fact, catching up with the cast proves to be so humorous and charming that the fights with Bills seem like appeasement for action junkies. Vegeta as reluctant court jester is a new and tense role, but he eventually takes a shot at Bills, as do many of his comrades. As always, Goku arrives and unlocks a new level of Saiyan godhood when he is pushed to the absolute limit for the sake of his friends and family. Of course the DBZ producers didn’t choose this occasion for our heroes to fail, and the film settles as a celebratory crowd-pleaser.

In that sense, this movie represents a DBZ fan’s dream come true: the band is back together and they can play all the hits just as well as before. But will the comeback vibes last? This year will see another DBZ movie, about a resurrected Freeza, and trailers indicate that its plot will take place after the events depicted here. Bills is an excellent addition to DBZ lore, a circumstantial villain who exists as a personality instead of a grim threat, and he’ll apparently be a part of the series from here on out. Newcomers to the franchise may be left scratching their heads as they try to keep all the characters straight, but there are more than enough fans out there to show them why this standalone movie is worth the indoctrination.

I watched this movie on Blu-ray, subtitled, and through television speakers. The image and audio quality were immaculate and the Japanese voice cast nailed their roles, essentially acting as the Japanese equivalent of The Simpsons; iconic characters Bart Simpson and Goku have each been voiced by one woman for several decades. Everyone looks a lot shinier than they did in the 90s installments and the wonders of CGI have clearly enhanced the high-flying action scenes, but this is most definitely a love letter to the series that fans know so well. Special features include a look inside the recording booth with several voice actors.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
FUNimation, 2014
directed by Masahiro Hosoda
85 minutes, Number of Discs: 2, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: PG-13
Related to: by Akira Toriyama

  • Thomas

    | He/Him Teen Services Librarian, Richland Library

    Features Writer

    Thomas is a teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying for his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, he won an award from Thomas Cooper Library for his curation of the works of “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. He has spoken about manga, graphic novels, teen programming, and podcasting at NashiCon, DragonCon, ColaCon, New York Comic Con, and American Library Association conferences. He has been on on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee, written articles for Public Libraries, The Hub, Book Riot, and Library Trends, and reviews for School Library Journal and Kirkus.

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