I’ve talked about Toriyama Akira’s shounen classic, Dragonball before. I’ve also gone over its first film & several of its sequel DBZ’s films. Which is natural, I suppose, given how influential it is and how many films it has. We’re kicking off this year’s film festival with a look at the second Dragonball film. This one hit theatres in 1987, when most of you weren’t born and I was just a baby. I understand I was already highly critical of media and snubbed Maya the Bee for being too pedestrian.
We open with a quick retread of Goku & Krillin approaching Roshi for training. He sends them on an errand to bring him a beautiful young girl but he doesn’t trust them so he specifies that he wants the sleeping princess who’s been imprisoned by demons for centuries according to legend. Which, I guess still makes her young when compared to Roshi. The pair set off, each determined to be the one who finds her. Unbeknownst to them, there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. And no, the castle isn’t a Transformer. As awesome as that would have been.
The biggest narrative issue does lie in the retread. First off, there’s no real reason for this. You could easily have Roshi send them during their training whilst offering some reward that they both want. Secondly, there are parts of it that really don’t work when you think about it. Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong & Pu’ar all arrive on Roshi’s island to look for Goku, for example. And there’s no reason they should expect him to be there if he’s not being trained. It would be like if I asked a store’s manager if they knew where my friend was because I saw her shop there once and just assumed the staff would know her whereabouts because of it. It’s like they want to have the established situation of the series proper but they also want to reset it.
On some more positive notes, the film does to a good job of encapsulating the show’s aesthetic. It’s the type of quick, goofy scenario you might just get for one or two episodes. It has a strong sense of fun to it and just the right ratio of weirdness.
The film has all your favourite characters, from the point it’s set. You have Krillin, Goku, Roshi, Bulma, Oolong, Lunch & Pu’ar. Also, Yamcha is there but he’d already begun his spiral into uselessness at this point and, while Goku & Krillin are fighting demons he punches out a physically deformed old man and that’s pretty much it. I’ll echo a question from DBZ fans everywhere. Why is Yamcha even here? Anyone could’ve decked that deformed elderly man. Even Oolong.
The best part of the characterisation in this film has to be the portrayal of Krillin & Goku’s rivalry and transition into friendship. It’s a nicely done element that’s actually kind of genuine, in spite of all the absurd elements around them.
The film looks like the series that spawned it. Which comes with the good and the bad. They recycle some bits. The backgrounds aren’t the best. However, the aesthetic is appealing,the monster designs are pretty good and the crazy futuristic technology is nicely done.
(Do you have a moment to peruse these tracts?)
I’ll focus primarily on the film only characters since every single member of our main cast was well acted in the series proper, occasional overdone moment notwithstanding. They were also strong in the last film and I’m sure they’ll be strong in the final two Dragonball films when I eventually review them. And that’s not even going into the Z related part of the franchise. In this case, we only really have the antagonists voiced by Nozawa Nachi, Iizuka Shouzou (who also voiced good old number 8 in the main series) & Gouri Daisuke (who voiced a plethora of minor characters including the tortoise, Colonel Yellow, Cymbal & Drum). Gouri also voices my favourite antagonist in the film because he just seems to be having such a grand time although all three give good performances. The music is solid as well.
Not really any here. Unless you think Goku’s eagerness to be friends with Krillin has to do with romantic tension. Which I don’t but I’m not averse to the idea.
Majinjou no Nemuri Hime is a solid film. It’s enjoyable with some strong action sequences, good comedic moments and, frankly, if you’re a fan of Dragonball this is forty five more minutes of the same type of thing. So, you’ll enjoy it. It’s definitely a vast improvement over the first film. I give it a solid 7/10. Tomorrow, we’l continue the week with Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei.