Dragon Ball is an odd series. It has ended several times in several shows for varying periods of time. But despite it ending a few times now, it will never finish. The story will never stay finished. It is too popular to end!
But if I may be frank: it should. A story is only as good as its ending. Thus, a story that has no end is doomed to peter out and die with a whimper. Luckily, Dragon Ball has a solid place to end already!
And even better: it isn’t the ending of GT! Which, to be fair, was the best part of that show.
This is entirely subjective, of course. What clarifies as a good ending depends on the person. And all of my personal criteria are met by the Broly movie perfectly! But what are these criteria? Simple!
A good ending acts as a reflection of the story’s beginning. The hero returns to the life they knew before, but now they are armed with the experience and knowledge they gained over the course of their adventure. Thanks to their adventures, they have become better and stronger people.
For example, Frodo returns to The Shire after his journey across Middle-Earth. However, his trip to Mordor has changed him from the carefree hobbit to an adventurous young man. He set out to protect The Shire so that he could resume his normal life. But after finishing his journey, he no longer has that desire to sit still. His story ends with him sailing away from The Shire towards new beginnings.
New beginnings being the keywords. Which leads to the next most important aspect: ambiguity. A good ending is an open-ended one. One that could continue into a brand new story, but has a satisfactory enough conclusion as to not need one. It leaves the audience open to their own interpretation.
A great example of this is the ending of Harry Potter. Years after defeating Voldemort, Harry takes his son to go to Hogwarts for the first time. He’s nervous about getting sorted into Slytherin, so Harry assures him that the Sorting Hat will give him a free pass into Gryffindor if he just asks it to. However, it’s left ambiguous, so the audience doesn’t know where the story is going next. They can interpret it in their own individual way.
Until the Cursed Child came around and ruined it.
Those, to me, are the most important aspects of an ending. It needs to satisfactorily wrap up the hero’s story right where it began while leaving it open for the audience’s interpretation. So, with that in mind, let’s return to the Broly movie and how it works as an ending for Dragon Ball as a series.
First, we need to look at how Dragon Ball first started. To know why this is a good ending for Goku’s story, we need to know how his story started. So let’s break down all the important stuff from the first episode.
When we first meet Goku, he’s a well-meaning but clueless boy. He lives in the wild, surviving off of what the land gives him on his own. His only company was his kind Grandfather, who died before the story began. It isn’t until Bulma arrives that Goku’s adventures begin, and he grows to know the luxuries of modern life and gains friends. After meeting her, his personality doesn’t change. But he gains knowledge of the world and becomes a stronger, better person.
Sound familiar? It should. Because Broly’s story is the same way.
After being banished from planet Vegeta, Broly grew up on a desolate, isolated landscape with only his abusive father for company. He survived off of the wild, unaware of any of the luxuries of modern tech. He’s a kind-hearted boy, but he doesn’t know how to express it due to his abusive upbringing. He, just as Goku did, needs someone to help him grow.
Which is where Goku comes in.
Recall how the Broly movie ends. After all the fighting on Earth, Broly is sent back to his planet, where he’s picked up by his two new friends. Then Goku arrives, gives them some capsules to help them out, and offers to help teach Broly. The movie ends on an ambiguous note, leaving it open to more adventures with Goku, Broly, and everyone else.
This is perfect! Goku’s adventures have taken him all over the universe. He’s met all kinds of people. And now, after all his adventures, Goku has met someone just like he was. So, with all the knowledge and experience he’s gained throughout the story, he’s going to help him. Just as everyone else in his life had done.
Dragon Ball has always been the story of Goku as he grew up, became stronger, and learned. Now he needs to take the role of teacher.
In the first chapter, it was Goku and Bulma. Bulma had to teach Goku about the world. Now, its Broly and Goku. And Goku has to take up the role of teacher.
Do I actually think this is where it’s going to end? Of course not! The Super manga is still going, doing its own thing, and it’s inevitable that the anime eventually return. Dragon Ball, as with all franchises that reach such ridiculous highs in popularity, is doomed to keep going until no one watches it anymore. It will never have the ending that it deserves. Hell, it had the ending it deserved and they brought it back, making the ending non-canon!
There are people that are going to keep watching it. Myself included. So long as the series remains good, or at least entertaining, I intend to stick with it. But I doubt it will ever end. At least not satisfactorily.
Personally, I don’t care if the series continues. I’ll stick with it if it does. But to me, the story itself ends too perfectly with Broly.
The newer stories may be great. They may add on to what we’ve gotten already perfectly. But this is it for me. This is where the story of Dragon Ball ends.
I just hope that what we get next isn’t the Dragon Ball equivalent of the Cursed Child.