The Tom Sawyer of DragonBall
A Hero’s Legacy bookends the lengthy DragonBall series of animes as the final canonical tale in the series. It was the only feature film released under GT, and would be the last new film from the series until series creator Akira Toriyama made the anniversary special sometime in 2007 or 2008. This makes the film kind of special, as it technically closes out the series.
It takes place 100 years after the end of GT and follows Goku’s great-great grandson, Goku Jr. Goku Jr. was seen briefly at the end of GT fighting against Vegeta Jr. in a world tournament, but this film tells the tale of how Goku’s young descendent came into his own. Though Junior is clearly a chip off the old block in terms of his looks, he couldn’t be any more different from his legendary namesake. He is a coward and a wimp with a strong dislike of confrontations and lacks the aptitude for strenuous physical activity. He is living with his “grandmother” Pan, the last surviving member of the Z-senshi. A young girl throughout the course of GT, she is an old woman now, and not much is revealed about her life since then, though she spends her days taking care of Junior and making a valiant yet futile effort to train him in the family tradition of martial arts. One day, Pan falls gravely ill, and Goku Jr. realizes that she is dying. His sense of powerlessness to help his grandmother gives him enough determination to seek out the dragonballs to wish for her health. He is joined by Puck, a schoolyard bully who is mystified by Junior’s determination to complete his quest. Their mutual goal is Mount Paizo, on which stands the abandoned home of Junior’s namesake, and where he knows the family dragonball is kept. Unfortunately, since the Son family’s descendents moved out of the area, many powerful demons have claimed the wilderness surrounding Mount Paizo as their own, and the two plucky youngsters will have to face these monsters to reach their destination.
The film does not follow the basic formula of most Dragonball films, in which the heroes face sudden unlikely challenges in the form of unexpected villains, resulting in an all out fight with everything hanging in the balance. Rather, this is more of a heartwarming adventure tale that recalls the mood of more lighthearted moments in the original Dragonball series. This film is like the Tom Sawyer of Dragonball, and is more about Junior’s finding the courage to surmount his obstacles than it is actually defeating the villains of the tale. At first blush, it may seem to make the film a weaker offering when stacked up against its brothers, but it’s actually a nice film and a great way to end this long-standing series on a positive note.