Five years ago, if you would have told me that Akira Toriyama would be stepping up to write a continuation of Dragon Ball Z, I would have called you liar and wouldn't have believed you (though I would have scrounged around the internet looking for every bit of information to feed the hope).
I honestly thought that Dragon Ball Z Kai was the closest we were going to get as far as "new" Dragon Ball Z content. But in 2013, America caught wind that Japan would be seeing a theatrical release of an original Dragon Ball Z story. The movie was titled 神と神? which is translated God and God and would inevitably re-titled for English audiences as [Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods](tag:579427)!
The film would go on to become a massive success both in its original market, as well as overseas. In America, it was named the highest-grossing, theatrically released anime of all time!
After having seen the film, there was an obvious sign of renewed interest in the Dragon Ball Z franchise as it paid homage to both Dragon Ball in the style of humor that was highlighted throughout, as well as Dragon Ball Z as it delivered some of the best action we've seen in a Dragon Ball film. The characters were alive and fresh again. Not unsurprisingly, it led to the newest film installment in the series Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', which is in select theaters through August 12th.
I was given the privilege of screening the film early and I have to say that it was right on board of what I expect out of Dragon Ball Z. You can read my review for the movie here: It's Akira Toriyama's Love Letter to Dragon Ball Z Fans!
I was also given the privilege of interviewing the voice-actor, ADR director, and line producer, Christopher Sabat (Vegeta, Piccolo) as well as voice-actor, ADR director, and screenwriter, Sean Schemmel (Goku, King Kai).
So based on what I've seen in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' as well as my interview with these two legendary voice actors, I'd like to take a look at Dragon Ball Super and discuss both what I expect to see as well as what I hope to see.
Bear in mind, not everything mentioned will be in Dragon Ball Super, a lot of it may be wishful thinking and/or speculation. Considering that Dragon Ball Super hasn't even been released in America yet and that it's still airing new episodes in Japan, I would never dare to make those claims about the show.
1. Original American Voice Actors for English Dub
Christopher Sabat and Sean Schemmel are two of the best voice-actors in anime and both of lent their voices to a wide variety of animation that many of us love and enjoy. But I think I can speak for many when I say that the voice acting in Dragon Ball Z is truly unique and creative and sort of set the standard for a lot anime voice acting.
People may not realize this, but these two voice actors (Christopher and Sean) are the men behind a majority of the cast in the Dragon Ball / Dragon Ball Z series.
Christopher Sabat is best known for his work as Vegeta, a character many claim to be their favorite, but he's also the voice behind Piccolo, Yamcha, Kami/Hero, Mr. Popo (Z), Omega Shenron, Zarbon (Z), Recoome, Burter (Z), Jeice (Z), Shenron, Porunga, Ultimate Shenron, Vegito/Gogeta, Moori, as well as some various background vocals.
Then there's Sean Schemmel, who does the voice of the main hero in Dragon Ball Z, Goku. But he also provides voices for multiple characters including Vegito, Gogeta (final two with Christopher Sabat), King Kai, Nail, Mr. Masuka (Circus owner).
Since both actors have lent their voices to the most recent Dragon Ball Z movies, it's sort of expected that they'll return for Dragon Ball Super, but while talking to Sean Schemmel, he warns against that assumption.
"I think a lot of people assume that we are returning for Dragon Ball Super when in actuality, we don't even know. A lot of times people make these assumptions but it's more fan-wishing than reality. People don't understand that there's a business side to this too. I can't say that I have a job on this right now."
This statement may comes as a surprise to some but he's absolutely right, a lot of us as fans tend to make assumptions based on what's been done before. But with any new series, it isn't all that uncommon to see voice actors swapped for newer talent.
With that being said, I will still continue to hold onto hope that these two beloved voice-actors return for the revival of the Dragon Ball name!
2. Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
We all love Goku and Vegeta, in my opinion, they're the "Superman" and "Batman" of the Anime world. But there are so many other characters inhabiting the Dragon Ball universe that deserve a chance to shine.
That was one of the things that absolutely loved about Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', was that a lot of the characters that aren't the two most powerful characters, got a chance to get in on the action. For instance, we saw Master Roshi really hulk out at one point and deliver some awesome scenes.
But out of all the characters that Dragon Ball Z has, there was still only a handful of them in newest film that really did any fighting (Master Roshi, Krillin, Piccolo, Tien, and Gohan). They really missed an opportunity to show off some of their best fighters. For instance, Krillin told 18 to stay behind while they went to face Frieza at one point...WHY?!
18 is a pretty awesome character and was once of the biggest threats to the Z fighters back during the Android Saga. I don't like to accuse anyone of being sexist and that may not have even been the purpose behind all of it, but it really felt like turning 18 into nothing more than a wife/mom was unjust (not saying there's anything wrong with that, I'm not a Social Justice Warrior or anything like that).
That's just one example of a character that needs to be more in the spotlight. Apparently, there are many other characters that need to shine a little more according to Christopher Sabat, who was a little disappointed with Gohan's portrayal in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'.
"They really were not kind to Gohan in this new film. He was so dorky and he did nothing. They really didn't even need to put him in the movie."
I have to say too, that I absolutely agree with Mr. Sabat on the point of view of Gohan. He had one glimmering moment where he powered up against Frieza, but you could barely call what transpired between them a "fight". It ended almost as soon as it had began.
Do they not realize that this GOHAN, the son of GOKU?! This is the kid who at the age of 4-years-old was exerting extremely high power-levels and dealing out hard-hitting attacks. The same kid who Piccolo left out in the wilderness for a year to survive, and DID! The same Gohan who delivered the fatal blow to Cell!
But I understand that with an hour and a half limit of story-telling time, some characters are going to suffer under those restraints. But now, with Dragon Ball Super coming out, they need to have threats that some of the Z fighters can provide a legitimate helping hand to or if there's a threat too big for any of the less-powerful characters, there should be side-stories where these characters are doing more than standing on the sidelines grunting in irritation and sweating with fear while they watch their friends and family engage in epic battles.
3. Iconic Villains for Ages to Come
I haven't watched any of Dragon Ball Super as I just can't watch it without the Funimation dubbed voices, it's weird, it's the only anime that I'm really like that with. But since I haven't seen any of it, I don't know anything that's going on. I know that Beerus along with a very similar looking character make an appearance and we don't know what role they will play in this series. We know that Beerus isn't necessarily a "villain" but he's not really a "good guy" either. He's the God of Destruction and doesn't seem at all unhappy with the title nor afraid to flaunt it when necessary.
But while Beerus may barely be a threat in the two films altogether, seeing how he's spared the lives of Earth and even had a hand in saving it at one point, Dragon Ball Super may still in fact, show us something different.
I say this because when I asked Christopher Sabat and Sean Schemmel if they thought Akira Toriyama may have plans to release more movies in the future, even though Dragon Ball Super is on-going, they had this to say:
"I'm not sure on what they've got planned." Sean Schemmel started. "It depends on if they have two different animation teams working on them separately or if the animation team working on Dragon Ball Super is the same that did Resurrection 'F'."
"We don't actually know what Mr. Toriyama has planned for this." Christopher Sabat added. "They don't really let us know that until it's necessary. But I can say that these films don't necessarily precede what Dragon Ball Super is doing. They more likely exist alongside of the show rather than before it."
So, if the events in the movies have left large enough gaps between films, than we could very well see some epic clashes against characters like Beerus. But ultimately, we know that Beerus will probably never be hell-bent on destroying the Earth (unless Goku and Vegeta forget to bring him his share of pizza the next time they want to train with Whis).
So, I'm excited in seeing what new, crazy-creative villainous characters Mr. Toriyama comes up with to pit against our heroes. I'm anticipating epic transformations and battles that rival those of the big three (Frieza, Cell, Buu).
4. Character Development
A smaller moment in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' is the scene where Whis trains Goku and Vegeta and as the two give their best attacks, Whis is so casually able to side-step anything that they throw at him and he even takes one of them down with a simple slap on the neck.
What I love about this scene was it shows that there are still limits in power that our heroes need to push. We know there are going to be some crazy challenges coming down the pipe if Akira Toriyama has decided to create another on-going Dragon Ball show and our heroes need to be prepared.
But the preparation and training has to go further than just training in world's or environments with stronger gravity levels than Earth's or trying to catch King Kai's monkey, Bubbles or attempting to hit Gregory on the head with a hammer.
There needs to be an inner growth in these characters. They need to mature to a point where they're able to ascend a new level and hit more power levels that are even greater than what we've seen in the past (we already know that's happening though). But I want the inspiration to derive from the fact that Vegeta is learning not to become so wound-up and uptight as Whis points out to him.
I want Goku to learn that he needs to not always be so over-confident when facing enemies. He needs to stop letting his guard down and allowing enemies to get the best of them because he's not willing to go all-in right from the start.
I know Vegeta will always be grumpy Vegeta and will ultimately still want to strive to be the strongest Saiyan, even stronger than Kakarot and I know that Goku will always be his light-hearted self and will ultimately want to experience the fight for the sake of testing his strength, rather than resort to a fight to the death. But though their character remains, they're knowledge and skill need to supersede more than just their strength.
I also want to see other characters grow as well. When we first started out in Dragon Ball, Goku was just a kid but by the end of the series, he had become a young man. At the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan was merely a 4-year-old but now in the timeline of Dragon Ball Super, he's also a young man engaged to be married to Videl.
I want to see something similar with our young heroes of Dragon Ball Super, namely Trunks and Goten.
As we rage with Goku and Vegeta in the ultimate battles, I'd like to see the dopey little quests that these two hilarious rug-rats get themselves into. But at the same time, I want the show to progress to where we see some epic stuff with these two, more than what we saw them do in final season of Dragon Ball Z. I want to see the sword-wielding Trunks once more. I know that events in the timeline have changed so he wouldn't probably be as tragic a character as he was when we first met him, but it'd be nice to see him grow up, along with Goten.
But the theme of growing stronger is one that runs rampant through all the Dragon Ball universe and I'd ultimately like to see our heroes, great and small, reach for new heights.
5. Bruce Faulconer Soundtrack for American Release
Now, this one is far-fetched and wishful thinking, but any American Dragon Ball Z fan (who isn't a hipster purist) loves the 1990s Bruce Faulconer soundtrack to the series.
The epic melodies, like Vegeta's Super Saiyan Theme as featured in the above video, the heavy metal chords being struck with every punch and kick, the whine that echoes throughout the show whenever everything comes to a standstill, and the tense drums during stand-offs; all of it strikes the right chord (pun intended) with the English speaking fans.
Now, I know that with shows like Dragon Ball Z Kai where they kept the original Japanese music follows the modern day trend of English-dubbed anime, but there's a part of me that still crosses my fingers and holds out to hear some more of those epic melodies that Bruce used to pump out with each episode.
But as I said, it's wishful thinking, but the 90s English Dragon Ball Z music felt just as much apart of the show as any of the characters did.
But we don't know what to expect (unless you've watched the Japanese version) and ultimately, anything is possible. There's a ton of other stuff I'd like to see in the series and maybe some of it will come true, maybe all of it will, and then again maybe none of it will.
All I know is that with Akira Toriyama behind the writer's chair once again, we're destined to see some great story-telling once more!