Goku Jr embraces his heritage.
A Hero’s Legacy is a unique selection from the Dragon Ball movie chronology. It differs from its brothers in that it isn’t centred on epic battles or grandiose villains but rather a heartfelt story about courage and privation. It has a stronger emotional appeal than most Dragon Ball movies. The movie is set at a farther point in time which raises the potentiality for something fresh and exciting. But it is lacking, and as a result, is unnecessary and forgettable. Instead, what we get is an adventure movie.
In the last episode of Dragon Ball GT: Until We Meet Again, there is a brief segment in the epilogue which ties into this movie. The descendants of Goku and Vegeta fight in the World Martial Arts Tournament. They are carbon copies of their ancestors. It implied they are the future stand-ins, inheriting their positions while Goku watches on like a faithful guardian.
Despite its length, it actually does a better job than this movie. It makes a better starting point. The movie could have been a self-contained pitch for a possible future series.
The movie opens with a recap of recent events. The narrator briefly explains what follows after the series conclusion. A hundred years have passed since then and most of the characters have passed, save Pan. She is accompanied by her grandson Goku Jr who is the great great grandson of Goku.
Pan still upholds the traditional values, notably being training. But he is lacking in this department and has no actual powers. He also doesn’t identify with the character of Goku, and his persevering hope, courage and fighting spirit. Though he does share his innocence. Pan believes he has the potential to be his generation’s Goku. This is an interest he doesn’t share, preferring to be a normal boy.
It is at school where Goku Jr suffers bullying at the hands of Puck and company. We see the contrast between him and Goku. He is too timid to defend himself, resulting in passiveness. They even goad him on this matter.
The topic is continued at home where Pan instructs him to be courageous. Her passion/stress results in her collapsing of a heart attack. She is hospitalised which introduces Goku’s primary conflict: privation. His wishful thoughts of her wellbeing influences an interest in the four star dragon ball. This begins his adventure for it to Goku’s old house in the mountains.
He leaves with his backpack, and is then met by Puck and company who again goad him. But his need against privation is a strong enough trigger to show glimpses of a latent power, also courage in character.
The journey to Goku’s house is far and arduous to travel, but he is accompanied by Puck and an unlikely friendship blooms. Along the journey, they are fraught by ravenous wolves, demon warriors, and physical obstacles. It is during these occasions that Goku Jr shows glimpses of some hidden power, which is often the solution to a problem. This ultimately culminates in the ending against the Demon Lord Yoa. Righteous anger and a protective nature was enough to trigger in Goku Jr, a Super Saiyan.
The matter of the timeline is unsettled in the context of the series. The movie doesn’t expand on it, and therefore it is all open to interpretation. The questions about Goku Jr’s parental and family line go unanswered.
I didn’t find the movie to be necessarily exciting. Instead, watching the film felt like a chore but its saving grace is that it is roughly 50 minutes in length. Fighting seems to be Dragon Ball’s core component, but this is absent in the movie which is why I found it boring. The movie itself isn’t as popular as the others, and the games have yet to acknowledge Goku Jr as a character despite adding vague characters to their rosters.
The theme of courage which appears in the movie is clear-cut and has an emotional resonance to it. It is a universal message which the audience can easily empathise with it.
Overall, A Hero’s Legacy is probably a movie you might just watch once and then forget you ever had it.