From Curse of the Blood Rubies to Resurrection F, here's the single most awesome moment in each DB movie
Dragon Ball is that special kind of thing that transcends anime fandom itself--there are folks who don't even like anime or manga by and large, and yet they love Dragon Ball. You can sing "Cha-La Head Cha-La" at karaoke and people sing along, you can start shouting "KA... ME..." into a crowd and let them finish the rest--Dragon Ball's popularity is on a whole 'nother level.
Of course, with that level of popularity you're going to get anime-original content, and in Dragon Ball's case we didn't get too many in the way of filler episodes... we got movies. Dragon Ball Super: Broly, which released last month in Japan to ludicrous box office numbers, is arriving in the US tomorrow, and is the twentieth theatrical Dragon Ball release.
Kinda crazy, huh? Personally, I've always had more of an attachment to Dragon Ball's movies compared to the TV anime (I'm a "read the manga" kinda guy), so I wanted to go back and look through each and every one of the past nineteen Dragon Ball movies and pick out my single most hype, most "HOLY CRAP" moment or scene in each one... and who got the most robbed, for good measure.
SPOILERS FOR 33 YEARS' WORTH OF DRAGON BALL MOVIES FOLLOW
1. Curse of the Blood Rubies
Most Hype Moment: Goku vs Bongo
The first few Dragon Ball movies are sorta-retellings of the main story, so in Curse of the Blood Rubies we get Goku meeting Bulma, Yamcha trying to rob them, Master Roshi and Oolong being... themselves... and new villain King Gurumes and his goons in place of Pilaf, Mai, and Shu. The movie had been building up Gurumes' right-hand man, Bongo, so Goku legit having a flying staff fight with him while Bulma tries to evade an entire air force is pretty great stuff. Still, shoutout to Yamcha's not-showdown with Pasta.
Who Got Robbed? Technically, Goku did, right at the beginning of the movie!
Honestly, I don't think anybody got robbed in this--early Dragon Ball was really good at making sure everybody got to do something even if it wasn't related to the action, and Curse of the Blood Rubies lets the whole cast shine.
2. Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle
Most Hype Moment: Goku and Krillin, the perfect tag team
With the goal of "training under Master Roshi" driving them, Goku and Krillin team up to take on all of main villain Lucifer's henchmen at once, and it's pretty damn cool. It turns into a running fight and they get overwhelmed later, but then they get to team up again to fight Lucifer himself (and Yamcha gets to take on Lucifer's top guy!), just solidifying what a great team these two are.
Who Got Robbed? Again--nobody!
Everybody gets to do something, and nobody feels like they're there just to take up space. It's kinda nice, while it lasts. Honestly, if there's one character the movie doesn't have enough of, it's Lunch, since everything she does is awesome and more of her wouldn't hurt.
3. Mystical Adventure
Most Hype Moment: Akira Toriyama's two most popular creations team up to murder a man
Tao Pai Pai's kind of an evil jerk, and in this quasi-retelling of another stretch of Dragon Ball proper, he publicly and brutally murders Bora before beating up Goku and blasting him out over the horizon. Tracking Goku and a Dragon Ball, their fight ends up in Dr. Slump's Penguin Village, where Goku gets an assist from little robot girl Arale and they literally blow Tao up with his own missiles. Solid runner-up moment: Tenshinhan being a hero and using a beautifully-animated Kikoho on the Crane Hermit.
Who Got Robbed? Nobody, really?
Although the argument could be made for Yamcha--he was doing well in the tournament! It seemed like he was getting a push! He did pretty awesome things in the last two movies--but really, much like Krillin later on, his job is to job.
4. Dead Zone
Most Hype Moment: Goku vs Ginger and Nicky
Time for that first timeskip! There's just a whole lot of cool action in Dead Zone--Piccolo winding up a punch in slow motion for what feels like a full minute before totally murdering Sansho, Kami's laser eyes, and the final 2v1 where Goku and Piccolo team up against Garlic Jr. But the real star of this movie is Goku taking on two of Garlic's henchmen--Ginger and Nicky--with some slick weapons choreography wrapped up with a great Kamehameha.
Who Got Robbed? Chi-Chi
Yeah, I guess I could say Krillin since, y'know, he gets peed on and then gets half a building dropped on him, but let's keep this interesting. When Garlic Jr's minions show up to kidnap Gohan, Chi-Chi squares up and reminds us that yes, she is in fact a world-class martial artist who just happens to hang with freaks and aliens, and gets one-shotted by Ginger's forcefield. It's okay, we all still know who commands the strongest, fight-hungriest being in the universe.
5. The World's Strongest
Most Hype Moment: OH SHIT THE WHOLE GANG'S HERE LET'S DO THIS!
This is a Z movie where Master Roshi--MASTER ROSHI--gets two awesome fights, Piccolo is a good guy who becomes a mind-controlled bad guy and goes back to being a good guy, and while Goku definitely gets the last hit, everybody has to work together to keep Dr. Wheelo off him! But this right here, this one shot where everybody lines up to charge Dr. Wheelo... this is the good stuff.
Who Got Robbed? Krillin literally adds nothing
In his past three movie appearances, Krillin has guts--he charges into fights, stands his ground to protect people, and even gets a few cool moments of his own. But in The World's Strongest, he's diving for cover, regularly getting slapped around, and the only actually-helpful thing he does is prevent Bulma from getting blown away at the end. Oh well, he'll redeem himself--no really, he totally does.
6. The Tree of Might
Most Hype Moment: Goku wipes out Turles' henchmen
On the one hand, it's a little annoying when you bring most of the good guys to a fight, and Goku's the only one to actually do anything. On the other, it's so freaking cool to watch, and Goku styles on all these fools in the most dynamic, satisfying way possible.
Who Got Robbed? The whole gang shows up, fails to make a dent in Turles' henchmen
Y'know how "wait for Goku" is the all-too-accurate joke of this series? It's in full force here--the Z Fighters come out in force, everybody has a unique opponent to fight, and everybody gets absolutely demolished by Turles' goons. Piccolo's smart enough to show up later--all he needs to do is show up, fight Turles himself to buy Goku some time, get blown up, and collect his paycheck.
7. Lord Slug
Most Hype Moment: Piccolo offers a helping hand... to Hell
Hoo boy, do villains die bad in this movie, or what? Goku blows Medamatcha to pieces, and then bounces Angila's mouth-beam back where it came from, decapitating him, but I think the worst one goes to poor Wings here. Wings tries to fight Piccolo, but gets thrown around, beaten up, kicked while he's down, and then he offers a hand (and a job) to Piccolo. Piccolo reaches down, then opens his hand up and executes him. It's awesome enough to get everybody watching to go "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" but also kind of a war crime, so you're feeling uncomfortable about it afterward. Still, really awesome.
Who Got Robbed? The audience
I think I've talked about this before, and it only partially has to do with Gohan's stupid whistling song. See, the Japanese title for this movie is 超サイヤ人だ孫悟空--Son Goku, the Super Saiyan, but Goku doesn't really go Super Saiyan in this movie. And, y'see, him kinda-sorta-not-really "going Super Saiyan" doesn't actually do anything against titular bad guy Lord Slug other than shift the momentum in his favor--there's a weird Piccolo/Goku not-quite-fusion and Goku blows Slug away with a Spirit Bomb. So yeah. I... might have some repressed childhood issues due to this movie lying to me.
8. Cooler's Revenge
Most Hype Moment: Salza and Piccolo reenact the ending of Die Hard
Goku finally became a Super Saiyan in a movie, for real! Cooler is defeated, blasted into the sun! The world is safe again, right? Not exactly--Cooler's top henchman Salza is still alive, and even though he's pretty beat up, he has more than enough left in the tank for OH NEVER MIND Piccolo just killed him from off-screen. Thanks, dude!
Who Got Robbed? Honestly? Nobody
Krillin puts up a decent-enough fight even if he doesn't take out any of the henchmen--he basically heads up the plan to locate and heal the wounded Goku. Same goes for Gohan--nobody really does nothing in this movie and they all contribute to the final victory, so good job, team!
9. The Return of Cooler
Most Hype Moment: Vegeta's constant, awesome assists
Flying in with a huge head kick? Helping to take down Metal Cooler? That final, desperate ki blast that gives Goku the second he needs to land the final blow? Vegeta's a huge help in this movie!
Who Got Robbed? Vegeta constantly, awesomely getting shut down
Well, for about half the time. That huge head kick? Metal Cooler gave just as good as he got. Big Bang Attack? Vegeta got kicked in the junk, then got his face grabbed and almost blown off. For every cool thing Vegeta does, he immediately gets knocked back down a peg. This won't become a routine or anything, right?
10. Super Android 13!
Most Hype Moment: Trunks vs Android 14
The Japanese title of this movie is 極限バトル!!三大超サイヤ人--Extreme Battle!! The Three Great Super Saiyans and HO DAMN does it live up to that. Goku, Vegeta, and Future Trunks (in his first movie appearance!) are each given an Android to fight, and Trunks takes his opponent out in the coolest fashion possible--charging toward him, slashing with his sword, staying in this pose until the dude flies in half and explodes, and only sheathing his sword afterward. So cool.
Who Got Robbed? Piccolo
After getting beaten up real bad in Tree of Might, Piccolo went on a huge upswing for the next three movies, constantly taking out henchmen, saving the rest of the Z Fighters, and participating in one of the final battles! So we've built up some expectations for Piccolo at this point, meaning it's disappointing when he shows up late (after Vegeta!), barely scratches the final boss, and really only helps by momentarily serving as a punching bag.
Yes, I realize the easy joke is to talk about how Android 13 full-force punches Son Goku in the Son Gonads, but I'm a professional.
11. Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan
Most Hype Moment: Broly no-sells a point-blank Kamehameha
An unspoken rule of Dragon Ball is that the slower you say "Ka... me... ha... me... HA," the stronger the attack is. After getting thrown through multiple buildings and surviving the explanation of Broly's super dumb backstory, Goku decides to finish things with his signature move. He spends a while charging it up, too, while Broly slowly walks towards him... and then Goku lets loose, firing a Turtle Destruction Wave point-blank into Broly's Dwayne Johnson-esque pecs. Even after the massive explosion, Broly is unperturbed and grabs the dumbstruck Goku by the face. The movie's nice enough to not show us what happens next.
Who Got Robbed? Vegeta doesn't even last 30 seconds
I could change this to "Vegeta literally does everything wrong in this movie," but this stands out the most--after preening, posturing, bitching, moaning, and finally freaking the f**k out, Vegeta finally decides to join in the melee after Piccolo yells at him. How long does the Prince of Saiyans last against Broly, the Legendary Super Saiyan?
29 seconds. Next time you rewatch this movie, count 'em. Also, after that, he spends like five minutes complaining about how he's not going to lend his energy to Goku so they can just beat Broly and go home. That was pretty annoying, too.
12. Bojack Unbound
Most Hype Moment: Gohan snaps
There's always a point in a Dragon Ball movie where the hero(es) figure out some clever-yet-simple method of beating the exhibition-match bad guy, and it usually involves borrowing energy from friends (or Goku's only-really-effective-in-movies Spirit Bomb, so... same thing). But this time, Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2, like he did against Cell, and it's chilling. Most of Dragon Ball's cast have a body count thanks to the movies, but Gohan tears Bojack's minions apart with his bare hands, and it falls into that "horrific, but awesome" bucket that Dragon Ball sometimes dips into.
Who Got Robbed? Piccolo
Did you know that this is the last time Piccolo shows up in a Dragon Ball movie until Battle of Gods? Maybe they were running out of things to do with him, but basically he shows up, saves Gohan, and promptly gets blown away by Bojack. He saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to take a break.
13. Broly - Second Coming
Most Hype Moment: The Son Family Kamehameha
Oh hey, we're finally into Dragon Ball's other timeskip! Goku's very dead at this point, but he shows up to join Gohan and Goten for that great father-sons activity called "it's not murder if it's self-defense and it comes at the end of a really cool martial arts battle." No really, it's really cool--the somehow-still-alive Broly leaps up onto a spire of rock and throws a huge energy ball down at Gohan, intending to finish him off. Gohan fires off a Kamehameha, and is joined by his little brother Goten. The two of them are just barely hanging on, and their pleas for help become a wish to the Dragon Balls (collected earlier in the movie!) and Goku shows up to help. With a brief distraction from Trunks, the Son family shoots Broly into the sun and his heart explodes! DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS A CHILDREN'S MOVIE
Who Got Robbed? Piccolo again
Looks like I was wrong in the Bojack writeup! Gohan's in trouble--he's unconscious and about to sink into lava! Suddenly, silently, Piccolo shows up, swoops down, saves Gohan--his awesome flute theme plays, and Gohan is safe. But it turns out that Piccolo couldn't be bothered to show up in the first of several Broly sequels--it's actually just Krillin, dressing up like Piccolo for laughs and getting unceremoniously dumpstered by Broly, also for laughs!
Most Hype Moment: HE JUST WON'T GO DOWN!
On a rewatch, Bio-Broly ended up being awesome mostly for how insane the odds are stacked against our heroes. Nobody's a top-tier fighter (we have Trunks, Goten, 18, and Krillin), but everybody keeps taking gnarly hits, getting up, giving it another go, getting knocked back down, and then getting up for another round. They only really get a break when Trunks pours toxic goop all over Broly, giving them a chance to save people from, uh... the overflowing toxic goop.
Who Got Robbed? Everybody who avoided this because people (like me) said it was the worst Dragon Ball movie
That's Return of Cooler. Give this one a shot--it legit feels more like original Dragon Ball despite being, y'know... a Broly movie. It's nice to be proven wrong sometimes.
15. Fusion Reborn
Most Hype Moment: Super Saiyan 3 isn't enough?!
Okay so, Goku's stuck fighting big, adorable first-form Janemba while Pikkon's off trying to free Hell's bureaucracy. Goku turns Super Saiyan 3 and absolutely pummels Janemba... to the point that it transforms into a sleek, mean-looking red-and-purple badass. A sleek, mean-looking red-and-purple badass who can evenly fight with a Super Saiyan 3! Backed by some beautiful animation, the new and scary Janemba lays into Goku and puts him on the run.
Who Got Robbed? Sorry Gohan, guess you're not the protagonist any more
On any other day, "Gohan fighting Frieza" sounds like a cool thing, right? Well, with Hell frozen over, a whole bunch of former DB villains show up, and Gohan, along with Videl, Goten, and Trunks, get to play cleanup on Earth while Goku and Vegeta do the real work. At least Gotenks re-kills a bunch of Nazis.
16. Wrath of the Dragon
Most Hype Moment: When the dust settles
Wrath of the Dragon is a constantly-escalating ride where you think there's a straightforward solution--Tapion sealing the monstrous Hildegarn in his magic flute--but when that falls through, the gang's gotta do what they do best and use some good old-fashioned action violence on the giant monster. This all culminates in Goku going Super Saiyan 3 and using this crazy-ass golden Dragon Fist attack that we never see anywhere else (maybe GT?), and as the dust settles, the clouds part, and you see a victorious Goku standing amidst the rubble with his fist held high... it's almost a spiritual experience.
Who Got Robbed? Gohan definitely isn't the protagonist any more
So Wrath of the Dragon is supposed to take place shortly after Kid Buu is defeated, meaning this is Ultimate Gohan/Mystic Gohan/whatever he's still in high school so he's not "Adult" Gohan, meaning that you think he'd at least help out against Hildegarn. He does not, barely participating in the fight and getting knocked out almost immediately.
17. The Path to Power
Most Hype Moment: Goku wipes out the Red Ribbon Army
Released to celebrate the series' 10th anniversary, The Path to Power is a super-gorgeous loose retelling of the early part of Dragon Ball, going from Goku meeting Bulma to the assault on Red Ribbon HQ, connecting it all with meeting Master Roshi for the first time. Everybody gets kidnapped, so Goku rushes to save them... and takes on an entire army in the process. From an aerial chase to a rough fight against tanks and foot soldiers, to the final, emotional showdown with Commander Black, the entire movie builds up to this and doesn't disappoint.
Who Got Robbed? Nobody, it's an original Dragon Ball movie
Although there is an argument to be made that we got robbed, because I would have loved more Dragon Ball movies like this, but instead, we took a long break from DB...
SEVENTEEN YEARS PASS. WHAT, YOU THINK I WAS JOKING?
18. Battle of Gods
Most Hype Moment: Goku rushes Beerus only in regular Super Saiyan form
Even the mighty Super Saiyan God form isn't enough to stop the God of Destruction, but Goku's riding this high until the very end. "Only" turning Super Saiyan 1, Goku goes toe-to-toe with Beerus, dragging the fight out into the upper atmosphere and getting whooped--but it's awesome the entire time, especially with FLOW's "Hero" playing in the background.
Who Got Robbed? Videl
Remember how cool Videl was? How she was Gohan's fiery other half, loved to train, wanted nothing more than to learn how to do all the cool superhuman shit? Remember how she charged Broly head-on, then came back for more? Yeah, all that's in the past now.
19. Resurrection F
Most Hype Moment: EVERYBODY GETS TO BE AWESOME!
"Krillin, Tenshinhan, and Master Roshi all get awesome moments in a Dragon Ball movie." Yes, Mystical Adventure came out in 1988, but what if I told you that I was describing a Dragon Ball movie from 2015?! While the headline fights definitely go to Goku and Vegeta, Resurrection F remembers that Dragon Ball has a whole supporting cast, and puts them to good use fighting Frieza's army.
Who Got Robbed? Vegeta, but it's okay this time
This is the one time that Vegeta gets robbed in a Dragon Ball movie and it doesn't feel wrong--it's legitimately part of the story because Vegeta plays with his food and doesn't immediately finish Frieza off. Getting a re-do thanks to Whis' literal deus ex machina button, Goku flies in and killsteals Frieza from right under Vegeta's nose, saving everyone from the real enemy of Dragon Ball: Vegeta's ego.
And that's all of 'em! Dragon Ball Super: Broly hits US theaters tomorrow, so let's all go see what the most hype moment is... and who gets robbed (my money's on Vegeta)!
What about you? What are your most hype moments from the Dragon Ball movies? Who do you think got robbed? Sound off in the comments and share your takes!