Dragonball theatrical release was, like its predecessor Curse of the Blood Rubies, released with other Toei movie versions at their little festival and thus ran to only 45 minutes or so. Also like Blood Rubies, it starts with a scene from the original series and gives it a new twist. Whereas that first film was a retelling of a plot arc with its antagonist changed to an original one, here we get the very basic outline – Krillin arrives at the Kame house and Muten Roshi sends him and Goku off to find him a woman as an expedient sort of a test, and they come back with Lunch (or ‘Launch’) – but spins that into a new plot involving a vampire-themed mystery riffing on Sleeping Beauty.
Muten Roshi has heard of a sleeping princess far to the West, so sends the boys off to rescue her as their test. Off the go in an amusing condensed race against one another, while the rest of the original gang – Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong and Puerh, bearing in mind that when this film was released in 1987 Tenshinhan and Chaozu had not yet appeared in the anime – arrive at the Kame House and, believing Roshi’s embarrassed lies, set off after the boys thinking they’ve gone to a theme park.
The sleeping princess is kept by a handsome vampire called, in that very Japanese Shounen way, Lucifer, who amusingly quite obviously has the same voice actor as Vexen in Kingdom Hearts. His minions take down Bulma’s ship and manage to subdue Goku when a cute pink demon thing latches onto his tail, and while Bulma is flattered at first and won over by Lucifer’s good looks, he soon restrains her and reveals he’s going to suck her blood, mwahahaha. Of course, the good guys interrupt and that all goes awry.
When Goku crashes into the large four-poster bed at the centre of the stage Lucifer has set up for Bulma’s execution, it is revealed that the sleeping princess is not a Pichi Pichi Girl after all, but a large diamond. Lunch makes her entrance, in her badass form, stealing it and making her escape, but of course she sneezes before she gets too far and is captured along with the rest. As it turns out, the huge diamond can be powered up by the full moon to fuel a big weapon, but for whatever reason, Lucifer has only now decided to use that to destroy the sun and bring about eternal darkness. The full moon has another effect, though, and Goku sees it and turns into his giant werewolf-ape form, going on a rampage but setting everyone free until Puerh cuts off his tail. They are then able to confront Lucifer at last, and contend with the terrible new weapon.
Apart from the huge question of why Lucifer has never used this huge laser gun before, when meddlesome warriors weren’t running amok in his castle, the plot is simple and workable enough and it’s a nice alternate introduction to Lunch. There are the usual laughs based on stupidity and perversion, and some big silly monsters to have exaggerated fights with. The standard of art and animation are really no better than an average episode of the series, but it was still a worthwhile addition to the anime and had rather more substance than the first short movie adaptation.
One more Dragonball film to come, then one made much more recently, then I’ll move on to DBZ at last!