Every so often fans of an IP will step up to the plate in a way that the owners of said IP will not or cannot. Animator and storyboard artist Naseer Pasha stepped up to the plate and hit one of the biggest home runs in Dragon Ball fandom with Legend – A Dragon Ball Tale.
Naseer and his studio, Studio Stray Dog, reimagine the showdown between Goku and Chi-Chi during the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. And Naseer introduces a couple of fun twists when Broly and Vegeta interrupt the match. Broly shows up first, complete with his brief ominous references to Goku as Kakarot. And then Vegeta, now the king of all saiyans, arrives to confront Broly.
But what about the fighting?
It’s a short film, about 8 minutes long, and the fighting is BRUTAL. Naseer and his team took Dragon Ball in a more “realistic” direction with the way fighters exchange blows. And the fight choreography is arguably some of the best I witnessed when compared with Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super.
Vegeta jumps around the massive Broly, evades the legendary super saiyan’s crushing blows, and lands quick attacks when he can. When fighters land hits, they land HARD.
Z and Super have some epic fights, and I’m a big fan of both anime. I LOVE Dragon Ball. But injury and death are treated so lightly that it’s hard to feel concerned for the Earth’s greatest warriors when they’re fighting. But in Legend – A Dragon Ball Tale, I feel the stakes when Broly grabs Vegeta and tries to snap his neck. Or when Chi-Chi attacks Broly only for the legendary super saiyan to pick her up by one arm and… well, you should watch it.
In addition, rather than treating super saiyan as a form that fighters can comfortably retain once powered up, Naseer treats super saiyan more like a state of mind they have to focus on. Broly occasionally hits Vegeta so hard that it knocks him out of super saiyan before Vegeta snaps back into it.
As for Goku, you’re in for an interesting treat. It’s not for everyone. But I appreciate when artists take risks, especially with IP so many people love and have fond memories of.
Closing Out Legend – A Dragon Ball Tale
At the end of the film, Naseer takes a moment to express his gratitude to the viewers and his team. He states, “Animation takes a lot of time and energy and focus and stamina and budget and time. We had all that stuff except for the budget. My entire team did this out of the sheer enthusiasm for Dragon Ball Z and the project itself.” After asking people to check out his Patreon, he concludes with, “Maybe the next one won’t take four years.”
My hat is off to you, Naseer. I think that four years was worth it considering the film has already amassed three million views after debuting July 6.
As one individual put it, this project is a tribute to everything Dragon Ball was, is, and could be. And I couldn’t agree more. I can’t wait to see what Naseer and Studio Stray Dog do in the future. The end of Legend – A Dragon Ball Tale certainly hints at this being the beginning of something greater.
What did you think of Legend – A Dragon Ball Tale? How do you feel about how they handled the different characters? Let me know in the comments below!