Plot: Goku has arrived on Roshi’s island to train under him, but a boy named Krillin has arrived to request the same thing. Roshi only wants to take on one student, so he offers a race to decide who gets to be his pupil. There’s a legend about a sleeping princess who has been held captive in a castle called The Devil’s Hand under the absurdly fittingly named Lucifer. Whoever saves the princess and brings her back to him wins. But there’s more to this ‘princess’ than you might think.
Breakdown: Returning to Funimation back in its early days. How quaint. This was picked up by Funimation when they were making their trial runs with Dragon Ball, but this movie was a special release completely uncut and unedited, meaning all of the text remains in Japanese, including the credits, at least certain versions – the one that I have included them anyway.
This is yet another movie that Harmony Gold also dubbed but damn it all if I can’t find that version. We also have a couple more HG name changes to note, one them being hilarious.
By the way, doesn’t that plot just sound like the most cliché thing ever? A princess is being held hostage by an evil being and it’s up to our valiant heroes to save her? Was that like the first story plot ever made?
Our plot is set up by our narrator saying a sleeping princess is trapped in some castle by a freaky demon thing and actually scares me with the odd and creepy animation they’re using here. That was unexpected. It legitimately caught me off guard.
We get the opening theme, which is the original Japanese version. No idea why. Funi already had a dubbed theme made for Dragon Ball and their own title card. To be honest, I prefer Funi’s version over the original. The vocals are fine, but the music is awful. It’s a shame because the Funi version that was finalized for the entirety of the series is one of my favorite themes ever.
Oh well, at least I don’t have to see that lame title card again.
This movie continues on from the previous adventures from the last movie, so I guess these movies are in their own little canon, even moreso than usual. Goku is flying around on his nimbus catching some food as he heads to Master Roshi’s house to ask to be his student. Goku here is voiced by Ceyli Delgadillo as opposed to Saffron Henderson from the previous movie. You may know her as…….No one else. Apparently she voiced young Dende in the older dubs of Dragon Ball Z as well as the kid that Yusuke saves in the first episode of Yu Yu Hakusho, but her role as Dende was redubbed in the remastered versions of the DBZ series and I barely remember what the kid from YYH sounds like.
She does a pretty good job, and I don’t have any real complaints beyond that same weird feeling of having a different voice actor play a well-known character.
He meets back up with Master Roshi and asks to be his student, but he says he doesn’t take on many students and wonders if Goku has what it takes. Huh? In the last movie he performed the move that took you years to create and master in about two minutes. That doesn’t show you that he has potential?
Goku hears something and they look outside to see a small boat paddling in the distance. It’s everyone’s favorite bald guy, Krillin!
Krillin here is voiced by Lauren Steele, who was never replaced as his VA barring when he became an adult.
Oh and Krillin’s HG name is the hilarious one I was talking about.
Okay, here it is.
…..BONGO! Funny – he doesn’t look like the guy from The Mosquitoes…..If you get that reference, you earn a hug.
Krillin makes a grand entrance by jumping from his boat that is still pretty far away from shore, but ends up getting his head stuck in the sand. He asks to be Roshi’s student as well, presenting him with a dirty magazine as a gift.
Roshi only seems to want to take on one student. Krillin presented him with a gift when Goku did not but Goku arrived first and asked first, so he decides to give them a test to see who should get to be his student.
The test is one of legend that is incredibly dangerous. They have to save the princess from the plot—I mean legend has it that a Count named Lucifer (yes, Lucifer. She’s literally being held hostage by the devil) put a spell over a princess to put her in a constant state of sleep. Hey, you stole Maleficent’s gig! Their task is to go to the castle and save the princess. Whoever does the actual saving gets to be his student.
At the bare bones, this story’s as cliché as humanly possible, but Dragon Ball never makes things that boring.
As the story concludes, we see our first glimpse of Launch
or as she’s known in the HG dub, Marilyn.
Her voice actress(es) isn’t (aren’t) the same here, but they emulate her voices pretty well and I never paid much attention to Launch anyway. During the series she was just kinda there and meant for comedy. I don’t blame you if you didn’t pay attention to her or remembered her either. Akira Toriyama has reportedly straight up admitted that, at a certain point, he completely forgot Launch even existed.
Roshi forbids Goku from using the nimbus to prevent an unfair advantage against Krillin and merely points them in the supposed direction of the castle.
Krillin trips Goku as they start their race, but not like that matters because it’s Goku.
Krillin continues to try all sorts of tricks to make Goku fall behind, even cutting a rope bridge and making Goku fall hundreds of feet into the rocky waters below. Krillin, there’s a difference between little underhanded tricks to win a race and attempted murder.
He also takes a bus and rides a herd of buffalo to get there faster, but Goku catches up on foot.
Meanwhile, back on Roshi’s island, Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong and Puar come for a visit. The only significant voice change here is Bulma who is played by Leslie Alexander and, from what I can find this is the only voice acting role she’s ever done. I don’t like her as Bulma because she sounds way too much like a shy 40 year old librarian than the loud screaming teenager I know her as.
Goku and Krillin arrive at the Devil’s Hand while Bulma and the others catch up to them to see them/visit or help them I dunno. However, their plane gets attacked by some monster and they crash land.
This movie’s villain is weird. He’s named Lucifer, but he looks and acts like a vampire and he has an assistant named Igor. You’re meshing so many evil icons together…
Bulma wakes up in a beautiful bedroom, and Lucifer tries to sweet-talk her, but she demands to see Yamcha and the others.
Krillin and Goku make their way through the castle and see a whole army of monsters charging at them. However, they pretty much ignore them and run over them. One monster stays behind – a typical looking demon thing with….pink horns and a pink ribbon circling its head? And a little pink puffball sidekick?…..Okay.
The army comes back, but Krillin won’t have any of that and starts kicking some ass while Goku faces off against the whateverthehellthatis who fights with….giant orange lollipops?……Did I eat the wrong brownies a minute ago?
Once the candy man is dispatched, Goku goes to help Krillin with the others and we get a good ol’ fashioned ass kicking montage. It’s here where some of the voice acting gets a little lame, but it’s not too bad.
However, pinky gets back up and starts Master Asia-ing everything. Goku demands that he release the princess, but he tells them that the princess isn’t a girl.
Goku starts to take him on, and Krillin decides that this is his opportunity to split.
Unsurprisingly, the thing with Bulma is a trap and they really want to drain her blood with a needle for a ceremony they’re having.
Krillin gets carried off by a pterodactyl and Goku pursues him. Goku calls his flying nimbus to save Krillin from falling into the mouth of a sea monster. He tries to set Krillin on the nimbus, but since Krillin doesn’t have a ‘pure heart’ he falls right through and Goku has to save him again.
The pink and red monster thing gains the ability to fly by putting two balls of green fire beneath his feet and sends out his army of flying monsters with machine guns to chase after Goku and Krillin on the flying nimbus—You know sometimes I need to take a step back and realize how silly anime is sometimes…Ahhhh.
They fight for a bit, and Goku takes the pink and red monster thing down by leading him into the mouth of the monster that was going to eat Krillin before and he gets eaten. However, they remain pursued by the army of monsters behind him.
Meanwhile, the monster army is taking their sweet time sucking out Bulma’s blood. Oolong, Puar and Yamcha are in disguise in the crowd keeping an eye on her. Just as she’s about to be poked with the needle and just as Yamcha’s about to run to her aid, a giant explosion occurs overhead. Goku and Krillin fall into the Sleeping Princess’s canopy bed where they discover that there is no princess in terms of a girl. It’s actually the name of a giant jewel. Okay, if it’s not an actual princess, why is it being held in a canopy bed? What’s the point besides to further confuse people?
Launch comes out of nowhere riding a motor unicycle and steals the jewel away. She starts escaping, but Count Lucifer sends his army after her. Since she now has the jewel, Krillin and Goku pursue her, not realizing that Bulma and the others are also in trouble. Yamcha and the others make their way to Bulma and are about to rescue her when Oolong and Puar lose their transformations and they all end up getting outed and surrounded by monsters.
As Launch makes her escape, stray hairs tickle her nose and make her sneeze, which causes her to transform back into good launch. (If you need a refresher on her character seeing as how they never explain here who she is or what her shtick is, Launch has two personalities; one being a gun-crazy thief and the other being a super sweet ball of sunshine. Besides the obvious manner change, her hair also changes color between blue (good) and blonde (bad) with her eyes also changing color from black (good) to green (bad). She switches between the two against her will when she sneezes and neither personality remembers anything the other has done.)
Her sudden transformation causes her to crash and lose the jewel to Goku, but Lucifer grabs Krillin and threatens to kill him if Goku doesn’t hand over the jewel. He gives Lucifer the jewel, but Lucifer’s army attacks anyway. Goku handles them just fine until that little pink puffball thing from earlier bites his tail, causing him to become faint. The monsters take this opportunity to beat the crap out of Goku while Krillin looks on helplessly. Later, Goku and the others are all trapped in some wall being guarded by the pink puffball.
Lucifer and his cronies begin their ritual which involves aligning the full moon with the skylight of their castle and shining the light onto the gem to ‘activate’ it. Did the writers just take every cliché around and shove them into a Dragon Ball movie?
If you’re familiar with the series, you know what the full moon entails – Goku turning into a giant uncontrollable ape. Despite the first movie not showcasing the ape, Yamcha seems to know about the transformation and how to stop it. I only mention this because this movie as well as the first one clearly do not follow the show’s canon because several aspects such as Goku’s adventures with Bulma, meeting Yamcha and Puar, meeting Oolong, Master Roshi etc. are all pretty different from the occurrences in the show. Even this movie’s initial plot with Krillin is not how it originally happened.
We also have no idea what Goku and the others were doing between movies, but we know they weren’t together the entire time because Goku was off on his own when he went to Roshi’s. If you’re merely following the movies’ canon, you’d be pretty confused as to the workings of a good chunk of this movie such as what Goku is, what happens to him during a full moon, what Launch’s deal is and more.
As Goku wreaks havoc, Yamcha tells Puar to turn into a giant pair of scissors and he cuts off Goku’s tail, causing him to transform back.
Once that’s said and done (What was the point of that? I guess it did free them from the wall, but I don’t even know how they got in the wall to begin with.) they go off to rescue Bulma who’s still being held captive by Lucifer.
Lucifer’s big plan is to use a giant friggin’ laser beam to blow up the sun. They never explain why they need Bulma’s blood in the first place. And to make it even more annoying, they never even take any of her blood so I honestly don’t understand why that plot point was there.
The blood wasn’t part of the ritual in any way nor was it a part of the master plan. Were they going somewhere with that and just forgot? What would they have done if Bulma and the others never went to the Devil’s Hand? That was a one in a million chance, and they needed that blood, supposedly right then and there, for their ceremony. They also never explain what the Sleeping Princess jewel is or where it came from or what it even does really besides I guess make lasers work. RRRGHHHH.
They want to blow up the sun to take over the world
because they thrive in darkness while humans die without sunlight. They claim the sun is useless to them, but hi science. Do they realize that moonlight is only possible with sunlight? The moon doesn’t produce its own light – it’s reflecting light from the sun. That’s why the moon has shadows. Seeing as how the moon was critical to this plan and the overall workings of the jewel, they can’t call the sun ‘useless.’
Also, I hope these demons have an extremely strong low temperature tolerance.
Goku and the others show up and they have short fight with Lucifer’s only attack being a red ball of light replayed with stock footage a couple of times. Right as the laser is being fired, Goku destroys it with a Kamehameha wave, but the blast instead backs up in the laser beam, kills Lucifer and destroys his castle.
They take a picture by the destroyed castle and show it to Master Roshi along with Launch who decided to tag along for some reason. Can she ride the nimbus? At least when she’s good Launch? Also, I love how Launch isn’t even named in this movie. They never mention it once. If you’re going to make your own movie canon, you need to explain stuff like this.
Launch barely even had a purpose in this movie. She showed up, stole the jewel and lost it two minutes after getting it. Her being there had no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
Anyway, Roshi’s so enamored by Launch that he immediately accepts both Krillin and Goku as his pupils and shows Launch around the house. However, she turns back into bad Launch and shoots up the place, even shooting Roshi three times in the head. (He got better)
And the movie ends with Goku, Krillin and Roshi freaked out by Launch.
Bottom Line: I have to say, this movie’s probably one of the weakest movies based on an anime I’ve ever seen. It’s not horrible, it’s just not interesting and there are a ton of issues with the storytelling.
If you’re only following the canon of the movies, this would be pretty confusing with Launch (especially considering that, since you never hear or see her name, you’d never even know who she was) and Goku turning into an ape. The story is as cliché as it sounds, the villain is weak, the master plan is cliché and most of it is nonsensical. If this weren’t a Dragon Ball movie and included its humor and characters I would be asleep right now.
That being said, the main/only highlights of the movie were Goku and the others. There are several awesome jokes, and I love watching Krillin kick ass even if he ultimately doesn’t get to do much. If it didn’t have the lovable qualities of Dragon Ball, it’d be a bad standalone movie.
The voice acting’s pretty good even if Funimation was just starting to take their training wheels off back then.
The music is also standard DB fare, great with it’s own style and flair.
Additional Information and Notes: Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle was directed by Daisuke Nishio, a prominent director in the Dragon Ball series with the entirety of the series, several movies and nearly half of Dragon Ball Z under his belt. It was written by Kenji Torui. The movie was produced by Toei and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.
Runtime: 45 minutes
Recommended Audience: Nothing particularly bad. There’s violence and nudity with Goku after he de-transforms. Roshi’s still a perv, but he doesn’t do anything too bad here. 10+
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