dragonball is undoubtedly one of the greatest anime and manga franchises ever made. Even those not into the medium instantly recognize Akira Toriyama’s “dragnum” opus, with multiple generations exposed to Son Goku and his friends. This led to all sorts of merchandise and adaptations, with the series’ high-octane action making it perfectly suited for video games. Unfortunately, one area where the series has always struggled is live action.
Beyond the infamous American adaptation Dragon Ball: Evolution, there were also two live Asian productions that also failed to do material justice. All this apparently illustrates that it is impossible to adapt dragonball in live-action, or at least that was then. The series’ grand universe requires a dedication to precision and budget as mighty as a Super Saiyan, and those combinations are incredibly hard to come by.
So far, every live-action Dragon Ball movie has been made cheaply
The Taiwanese and Korean bootleg dragonball the movies weren’t officially licensed adaptations, and it shows. These movies had incredibly low budgets, probably because their respective domestic film industries paled in comparison to Hollywood’s production machine. Of course, these were more adaptations of the original dragonball than its wackier sequel Dragon Ball Zbut the cheapness and inability to accurately bring the story to life was evident.
Then there’s the universally hated Dragon Ball: Evolution, which, although made by 20th Century Fox, was very lacking in Hollywood polish. Made on a budget of just $30 million, it just wasn’t enough to bring Akira Toriyama’s creative world to life. Sure, the movie itself went for a more mundane, grounded take on the material, but when it veered into the fantastical, it looked pretty terrible. Even the characters themselves were pretty unrecognizable, with Goku looking nothing like fans imagined.
It is important to note that it is not only the attacks and the fights that make dragonball so fantastic: the world itself is full of monsters, aliens and even dinosaurs, so something more realistic will end up disappointing fans. However, there is still a chance to make Something good in live-action with dragonballand the trail has been traced by superhero movies.
Man of Steel is the best Dragon Ball movie of all time
The epic battles and over-the-top action of dragonball finally came to life in live-action, though ironically it’s through the American superhero that fans usually dream of battling Goku. The 2013 movie Steel man was a much darker take on the Superman character, and the action was way beyond anything previous films could have done. These fights featured blistering speed, inhuman strength, barrages of blows, and inhuman destruction. It not only brought much of the comics action to life, but also demonstrated that the ki-fueled action of Dragon Ball Z could somehow work in live-action.
Dragon Ball Z features the same elements in its battles, pitting post-human and non-human combatants against each other in fights that make skirmishes typical of the shonen series look like arm wrestling matches. Sure, Steel man had a staggering budget: more than six times that of Dragon Ball: Evolution. Something close to this would be needed for a Dragon Ball Z adaptation to look good and deliver material justice.
Of course, with the stench of Evolution still very much in the air for studios and fans alike, it’s not going to happen any time soon. Money is only part of the equation, with the filmmaker reluctant to actually want to to adapt the source material and not just anchor it in easy-to-achieve realism. This could further increase the budget, but practical effects could and should also be used.
Likewise, even when the Japanese filmmakers make their live-action anime adaptations generally more faithful, they rarely look good, with the special effects used to bring certain elements to life falling well below Hollywood standard. Thus, it seems that the probability of a good live-action dragonball The movie being made is a wish worthy of Shenron himself, but the right budget and the right director could make it happen.