It’s one of the most beloved anime franchises in the world.
And Dragon Ball Super: Broly was released in the U.S. on Wednesday, the twentieth film in the Dragon Ball franchise and is a follow on of the Super TV series.
The film follows titular Saiyan Broly, an iconic villain from the series who first made an appearance in 1993 film Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan.
New story: Dragon Ball Super: Broly was released in cinemas across the US on Wednesday… as the return of the villainous Saiyan warrior continued to bolster the pop culture phenomenon
In the new drama, a deadly power awakens within the character as he goes up against heroes Goku and Vegeta in a quest for revenge.
The Saiyan with an evil streak has been one of the series’ main adversaries, but the version of him that appears in the Super film is a reworked iteration of the character.
Dragon Ball may be a Japanese-born anime, but the series has had a major pop culture influence for decades all around the world.
Intense: In the new drama, a deadly power awakens within the character as he goes up against heroes Goku and Vegeta in a quest for revenge
Rappers sprinkle references in their rhymes, athletes channel the character’s super powers when making big plays, and the franchise’s star even made a towering appearance at November’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The franchise spans video games, six animated spinoffs and more than 500 TV episodes, all starting in 1984 when Akira Toriyama created the best-selling manga series, also known as a Japanese comic book.
De’Aaron Fox, a 21-year-old Sacramento Kings guard who owns a pair of Dragon Ball Z-themed basketball shoes, said: ‘I’ve been a fan for so long, and I know a lot of others are too. It’s like a cult following.’
Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen and Golden State Warriors player Jordan Bell are also fans of the anime who have worn custom Dragon Ball-themed shoes in games in the past.
Iconic: A pedestrian walking past a mural depicting Caulifla by artist Jake Merten inspired by the Dragon Ball anime series in Los Angeles
The franchise stars Goku, an alien who lands on Earth as a child and trains in martial arts through his adulthood, venturing across the globe to find seven orbs, known as Dragon Balls.
He and other human-looking aliens, known as Saiyans, occasionally transform into Super Saiyans with enormous power that unleashes a glowing aura and random arcs of electricity around them. The transformation turns their black spikey hair blonde.
Fox continued: ‘Dragon Ball really made an imprint on the world, particularly in entertainment. You hear so many references in songs, mostly from hip-hop and rap. Athletes are coming out as fans as well. Like People are saying they want to become like Goku. It’s a big deal.’
Its crossover appeal was evident during the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade , when a 56-foot-tall, 70-foot-long Goku balloon floated above Manhattan, making the front page of The New York Times.
Universal appeal: A 56-foot-tall, 70-foot-long Goku balloon floated above Manhattan at Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, making the front page of The New York Times
Many have followed ‘Dragon Ball’ since they were kids, and the more famous fans incorporated it into their work, too.
Chris Brown has posted an image on social media of a Dragon Ball tattooed on his leg and Goku’s face painted on a red Lamborghini, while Chance the Rapper has mentioned the anime in two songs.
Before a wrestling match, Ronda Rousey wore a shirt with her favorite character and ‘cartoon crush’ Vegeta, the prince of the Saiyans who is an ally of Goku.
The Super Saiyan form is also popular in the hip-hop community. Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball along with Big Sean, Lil Uzi Vert, The Weeknd and Childish Gambino has rapped about achieving Super Saiyan status in their songs.
Cosplay: Participants at Anime Boston, Threa Srey (left) dressed as Bulma stands with Linda Thach (right) in character as Vegeta, both characters are from anime classic Dragon Ball Z
After Cleveland Browns tight end Darren Fells scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders this season, he and David Njoku performed the fusion dance . In the anime, the fusion dance merges two or more bodies together to form a powerful entity.
The self-professed Dragon Ball experts practised the dance during training camp on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
‘We worked on it in camp and we do it here and there in practice,’ Njoku said. ‘If I score or he scores, we’ll do it. We put it all together in the Raiders game.’
When Fox reaches a higher level on the basketball court, he uses the phrase to compliment himself, as he said: ‘When I’m ballin’ like crazy on the court, they say I’m going Super Saiyan.’
Pop culture phenomenon: A pedicab driver dressed as Goku from the anime franchise during Comic-Con International in San Diego
While artist Jake Merten has also created several murals dedicated to Dragon Ball characters in several cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City and Denver and plans to create a new one to celebrate Dragon Ball: Broly this week in LA.
‘As a kid, I liked the good-versus-evil story, but I was drawn in through the different aesthetics that were used,’ said Merten, 30. ‘It was completely different than American cartoons. Even as a child, I appreciated the art direction and the way the TV show took on a different form than other cartoons, animes or movies.’
Sean Schemmel, who has voiced Goku in the English version since 1999, said Dragon Ball stacks up better than other anime.
He admitted: ‘I believe a hundred years from now, there will be no anime bigger than Dragon Ball. There’s a bunch of anime coming out of Japan, and we work on a lot of them.
‘But in terms of the epic scope, and the crossover mass appeal, it’s going to be hard to beat Dragon Ball. It’s a special show that inspires those who don’t have a voice.’
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is also set for release in the UK and Ireland through Manga UK on January 23, 2019.
Cultural impact: Artist Jake Merten has also created several murals dedicated to Dragon Ball characters in several cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City and Denver