When the Great Demon King Piccolo was released upon the world, he broadcasted a message on television declaring May 9th as “Piccolo Day”…and promptly celebrated by announcing his ownership over the planet. Since then, May 9th has been officially recognised as “Goku Day” but, to make things simpler, I’m using this as a good excuse to celebrate all things Dragon Ball and spend this month taking a look back at one of the franchise’s most popular villains: Broly.
Released: March 1994
Director: Shigeyasu Yamauchi
Distributor: Toei Company
Budget: ¥14.5 million
Stars: Kyle Herbert, Vic Mignogna, Kara Edwards, Laura Bailey, Robert McCollum, Sonny Strait, and Sean Schemmel
Whilst searching for the seven magical Dragon Balls with Videl (Edwards), Goten (ibid) and Trunks (Bailey) accidentally awaken the Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly (Mignogna), who crash-landed to Earth after escaping the destruction of New Vegeta. With Goku (Schemmel) dead, it’s up to the Saiyan children, and Goku’s oldest son, Gohan (Herbert), to confront Broly and end his threat once and for all.
After debuting in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump back in 1984, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball spawned not only an anime of its own but also a sequel series, Dragonball Z, in which series protagonist Goku had grown up to become a superhuman defender of the world. After being licensed by Funimation back in 1996, Dragonball Z largely dominated the lives of a generation of kids who were exposed to its depictions of good and evil and wacky, otherworldly concepts.
A series of feature-length animated films accompanied Dragonball Z; though produced without the direct involvement of Toriyama, and thus largely considered non-canon, the films did introduce us to Broly, the hulking, terrifyingly powerful Super Saiyan of legend. The character became a near-instant hit, which no doubt contributed not only to him being only the second Dragonball Z movie villain to star in more than one film but also his multiple appearances in videogames and being the only movie villain to eventually be integrated in Toriyama’s recognised canon.
Broly – Second Coming opens to show a Saiyan pod ominously crash-landing on Earth. Its passenger is, of course, a seriously wounded Broly, who is quickly frozen and entombed in ice. Apparently, mere moments before the destruction of New Vegeta in the last movie, Broly was able to make his way to a Saiyan craft and escape; quite how his pod knew to come to Earth isn’t really explained (I assume Paragus (Dartanian Nickelback) pre-programmed all of his crafts to head there since it was his goal to invade the planet, after all) and, while it is a bit lame to have Broly’s injuries not be as fatal as they appeared in the last movie, it’s no more lame than him being defeated by a simple punch.
We quickly join Goten and Trunks, who are searching for the seven Dragon Balls in order to summon the Eternal Dragon, Shenron, for Gohan’s girlfriend, Videl. Their motivation for this literally extends to simply being that Videl wishes to meet the dragon, Trunks wants his own amusement park, and Goten wants to live in a land of cakes and ice cream; the quest for the Dragon Balls has often been arbitrary and played for laughs but you’d think the group could think of something a little more useful to wish for.
The group stumbles upon a village of locals, which is largely destitute despite the abundance of crystals scattered across the landscape. According to the village shaman, Maloja (McCollum) they are under constant threat from a monster that demands human sacrifice; Videl is characteristically sceptical but the village elder, Zalador (Grant James), attests that Maloja’s demands are the only way to appease their mysterious monster.
Noticing that Maloja has a Dragon Ball around his neck, Trunks offers to take care of their problem and the three of them lay out an elaborate feast to lure the monster out. When Goten is unable to resist his Saiyan hunger, he gets a slap from Videl that sends him bawling; his cries echo through the mountain and awaken Broly, who was traumatised by the cries of Goten’s father as a child.
The villager’s monster turns out to be little more than a dinosaur, a common creature in the Dragon Ball universe, which the Saiyan kids quickly taunt and make short work of, much to Videl’s chagrin. They then roast the dinosaur’s remains and return to the village as heroes, receiving the Dragon Ball for their troubles and disgracing Maloja.
Their good time is soon interrupted, however, when Broly emerges from his frozen tomb and begins destroying the countryside; still baring the scars and wounds from his battle with Goku, and driven to insanity in his desire to kill the Saiyan who has haunted his nightmares, Broly violently attacks Goten (who naturally closely resembles his father) and the others.
Immediately outclassed, the Saiyan children are little more than play toys for Broly’s raw strength. However, while Broly is attacking them and searching for them in their many periods of hiding, they manage to locate the Four-Star Dragon Ball, the last one they need to summon Shenron, and make a plan to hold out against Broly long enough to call upon the dragon for help
Sensing the battle, Gohan rushes to join the fight and is horrified to find Broly still alive. Well, maybe “mildly aggravated” would be a better way of putting it as even Gohan, despite having witnessed Broly’s bloodthirsty and brutal nature, seems more annoyed by Broly’s presence than fearful.
Equally outclassed, Gohan is unable to best the Legendary Super Saiyan, even when transforming into a Super Saiyan 2 and throwing everything he has at Broly and with Goten by his side. With certain death looming their way, they desperately wish for more power (specifically, in Goten’s case, for his Dad’s presence) and, finally, the Dragon Balls decide to activate, bringing Goku’s spirit to the battlefield and joining his sons in obliterating Broly with his own ki sphere.
Videl is just as pig-headed as always but, thankfully, her role in the film is relatively short. It’s amusing to see her charge at Broly head-on but at least the film never depicts her as having a chance at going toe-to-toe with the Legendary Super Saiyan. One scene that is a source of constant amusement, however, is when Krillin (Strait) impersonates and imitates Piccolo (Christopher R. Sabat) to rescue Gohan, proving that Krillin alone is all the comic relief a Dragonball Z movie ever needs.
Goten and Trunks are as annoying as ever in their arrogance and stupidity; they constantly avoid serious harm simply by virtue of being little kids and having been basically born Super Saiyans. Realistically, they would never stand a chance against Broly based on his power level from the last movie, especially at this point when they haven’t even mastered fusion yet. As expected, the children care more about food, peeing, sleeping, and looking cool rather than actually being capable fighters, lucking into a lot of their advantageous positions due to dumb luck and the raw power of their Super Saiyan forms rather than skill or strategy.
The same largely applies to Gohan, who was continuously noted to be far weaker as a young adult compared to when he destroyed Cell (Dameon Clarke) as a teenager. Indeed, Gohan’s power at this point was presumably far lower than his father’s when he fought Broly, and Goku could only defeat the Super Saiyan through the power of his allies. Because of this, the battles against Broly lack the impact and danger of those in the last film; rather than seeing Dragonball Z’s most powerful characters helpless and beaten to within an inch of their lives by this monstrous new foe, Broly – Second Coming is more about the remaining protagonists trying to survive until Shenron decides to hear their wish and summon Goku to the battlefield.
As a result, Broly’s power and menace seems far less impressive this time around; injured and driven to a near-mindless rage, he even seems leaner and less imposing that in his debut appearance. Though he makes short work of the children, and Goten, it’s nowhere near as impressive as the way he no-sold the combined attacks of Goku, Vegeta (Sabat), and Future Trunks (Eric Vale), characters all far more powerful than those that appear in this movie.
Sadly, despite his raw power and constant rage, Broly is a bit of a joke in this movie; he is easily outwitted and eluded by the kids (despite the fact that he should be able to sense their ki) and even gets pissed on by Trunks at one point and still fails to live up to even half of the threat he posed in the last film. Once Broly finally powers up to his “Legendary Super Saiyan” form, much of his former glory begins to return as he pummels Goten mercilessly, to the point where he is forced to beg for his father’s help. This, of course, leads to a pretty decent call-back to the iconic “Father-Son Kamehameha” that finally destroyed Cell as Goku joins his sons, in spirit, and, after Trunks follows his own father’s example and lands a minor blow that is enough to distract Broly, the three Saiyans vaporise Broly once and for all. It’s a great moment and trumps Broly’s disappointing end from the last movie, finally giving him a fitting death, but the entire film is a poor imitation of Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan.
Broly – Second Coming could have been so much more than it ended up being; thanks to the time period at which the film takes place (essentially some time after the end of the “Cell Games Saga”), we’re left following Goten and Trunks for the majority of the film’s runtime and, biased though I may be, I never found these characters that interesting; they’re an annoyance at the best of times and aggravating at the worst, constantly messing about and acting like…well, spoiled, arrogant little kids.
I would have much preferred that the film focus on Gohan and his personal battle against Broly in a recreation of his battle against Cell; since much of the film borrows from these recognisable elements anyway, I feel it would have been far stronger if it had gone down this path and included Vegeta, Goten, and Trunks as supporting characters rather than not at all and primary protagonists, respectively. Either way, Broly is a neutered threat; he lacks most of the imposing menace and destructive power so brilliantly showcased in his debut film and seems to struggle against a handful of opponents who are far weaker than those he faced last time, making for a bittersweet reunion with one of Dragon Ball’s more ferocious villains.
Could Be Better
Did you enjoy Broly – Second Coming? How do you feel it holds up compared to Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan? How do you feel about Goten and Trunks and the missed opportunity to have Gohan become the series’ main protagonist after Goku’s death? Do you agree that Broly was severely neutered in this film or do you, perhaps, rank Broly – Second Coming quite high compared to other Dragon Ball movies? Whatever you think about this film, feel free to share your memories of Dragon Ball in the comments below.