After appearing as the overpowered, screaming meathead of villainy — and enduring power fantasy of twelve year old boys worldwide — in not one, not two, but three (count’em) previous Dragon Ball films, Toei producers, through either massive payments of undisclosed cash or a nefarious, undisclosed blackmail scheme, have finally forced series creator Akira Toriyama to officially recognize their most divisive creation with the arrival of the new film Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
Did Toriyama spin a decent yarn? Did One Piece: Film Z and Dragon Ball Super series director Tatsuya Nagamine bring the goods? Did Toei animation finally remember how to draw the characters fromone of theirmost enduring and popular franchises ever? Does wearing a DBZ shirt to the theater amplify your power levels or merely strengthen your body odor? The BLT crew is back from the theater with all the answers!
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Seven years in the making, REDLINE (2009) marks the third collaboration from two of Japan’s best, yet largely underappreciated talents: producer Katsuhito Ishii, known for his quirky, weird, and Tarantino-esque live action films, and director Takeshi Koike, known for his extraordinary animation chops. Their talents combined with the staff of Studio Madhouse result in a film that, while admittedly a little shallow, accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: BLOW YOU AWAY. Yes, friends, Production IG can keep their shitty CG cars for themselves because REDLINE is all about doing the things the hard way: traditional animation done completely by hand with blood, sweat, and tears — just as god intended! Oh yeah, there’s also enough space aliens to make a Star Wars film blush, cool mechanical designs, off-beat humor, giant-sized pompadours, robo space fascists, kaiju, and a killer soundtrack to go with the oh-so-incredible animation. Did I just give away the tenor of our review? Very likely. Tune in for more slavish REDLINE worship!
Voltron Season 2 has Heat excited. Grant catches us up on the latest Power Rangers shenanigans. And Zen remarks on Moyocco Anno’s comedy manga,Insufficient Direction about her strange marriage to director Hideaki Anno.
After his minions gather the titular wishing stones, everyone’s favorite baddie that won’t stay down is resurrected to enact his revenge upon Goku and friends; surely, this time, he will prevail! As fan fiction as that sounds, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’also marks the return of series creator Akira Toriyama to the franchise (following 2013’s Battle of the Gods) making this 2015 entry only the 2nd film to earn its place in official Dragon Ball canon. As might be imagined, the story penned by Toriyama, blends equal parts comedy and action, making for a solid outing that neither breaks new ground or seriously offends but is sure to please long time fans.
Another first for the Thieves, I’ve got a start to what (I hope) will be something of a regular feature on the blog – Side Dishes. In these features, I hope to explore side characters which I feel deserve the kind of attention/respect/analysis that is usually reserved for the main hero (or Entree, if you will).
Unlike Drake, I intend to start pretty much near the top – Dragonball’s Piccolo.
Piccolo is one of the characters that inspired me to even write about the importance of side characters. His arc is the same sad song we have heard so many times from a DBZ character – in Dragonball he was that dude, but once Z hits he gets repeatedly used just to show off Goku’s incredible abilities… and eventually not even that.
Regardless of his “weakness” by the show’s primary metric of fighting prowess, Piccolo is one of the more fascinating characters of the main story. He starts as an outright villain, then slowly but inexorably goes from reluctant aide to tenuous ally and then eventually a good (if reserved) friend. Throughout that time he finds true connection through being an adoptive father figure to Gohan – in fact, probably being a much better father than Goku himself – and a close friend to Krillin and the other Z Fighters. He discovers his own alien heritage, merges with his literal better half to become fully self-actualized, and is always the voice of reason in every encounter even if he is woefully outmatched. Unlike his orange-wearing counterpart, he is always punctual to any conflict, and buys time for his friends and allies time and again by risking life and limb for little respect or reward.
Stylistically he is a lot more unique than many of the other cast members as well. Though initially he is just a derivative design of his father, he stands out as one of the most unique looking members of the Dragonball mythos and has a style and flair that is second to none. The turban/cape combo is very distinctive, and even his color pallette of green/blue/white/purple is something of an oddity in the show and other works. While many characters in the show are recognizable for an attack or particular moment, Piccolo is memorable based on just his stance.
Sadly, for all of Toriyama’s imaginative brilliance, Piccolo is tragically underused and underappreciated by the end of the series. By the end of the series he is next to useless, and gets a double-whammy in the form of Pikon – a character who just shows up, is more powerful than Piccolo while looking nearly identical, and still being basically worthless. Ouch. Perhaps Dragonball Super will bring everyone’s favorite Namekian back and put him center stage again. Here’s hoping.
So what’s your take, Rogues? Any love for the Green Bean from Beyond? Let me know in the comments as usual, and enjoy your weekend!