This month marks the fifth anniversary of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F,’ the final anime film during the Dragon Ball Z era. Predating the premiere of the follow-up anime series Dragon Ball Super later in 2015, the events of the film were adapted into the second major story arc of the series, expanding on the core narrative while setting up future storylines. And, outside of narrative, the film also informed the creative tone and direction for Super, as it forged its own continuation of the franchise beyond the events of the final two Dragon Ball Z movies.
While the preceding anime film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods introduced the concept of Goku attaining the power of the gods themselves, Resurrection ‘F’ doubled-down on the concept, literally, by having Vegeta join him. Trained by Beerus and Whis, the two longtime frenemies not only mastered Super Saiyan God but debuted the new Super Saiyan Blue form to combat a resurgent Frieza. And, in the face of this new threat, Gohan resolved to longer let his training fall by the wayside and opted to defend his growing family, as he found himself hopelessly outclassed by the Z Fighters’ old foe.
The idea of divine combat energy and the increasing role of the gods with the Z Fighters’ adventures was prevalent across Dragon Ball Super‘s entire run. Goku and Vegeta even went up against a god themselves when they reunited with the Trunks from an alternate future to fight Zamasu, the villainous Supreme Kai of Universe 10. Goku and Vegeta continued to find new levels of their godly combat powers as the series progressed, culminating in Goku transforming into Ultra Instinct. However, the idea of Super Saiyans finding new godly transformations was introduced in Resurrection ‘F.’
True to its title, the film also marked the heightened prominence of Frieza. While the film and anime adaptation would have Goku kill the interstellar tyrant once again by the storyline’s climax, Frieza later returned to play a pivotal role in Super‘s concluding Tournament of Power, working alongside his sworn enemies to ensure Universe 7’s survival. For his timely aid, Frieza was resurrected, seemingly for good, reclaiming his empire and serving as a background antagonist in the first, canonical Dragon Ball Super film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
And tonally, Dragon Ball Super moved away from the more light-hearted tropes that had followed the franchise starting with Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return and Battle of Gods. Some of the violence is notably more brutal than its immediate predecessors and there is heightened emphasis on action. While Super has its own filler episodes, most of the series’ pacing and tone — especially in the series’ larger story arcs — largely took thematic cues from Resurrection ‘F.’
More well-received commercially and critically than Battle of Gods, Resurrection ‘F’ set the stage for greater things to come and provided that, over 20 years since its debut, there was still widespread global interest in new, canonical stories for Akira Toriyama’s fan-favorite franchise. A much more tightly focused, action-oriented film than its immediate predecessor, Frieza’s return was also a return to form laying the foundation for Dragon Ball Super‘s own creative direction across its 131-episode run. And while Frieza may have met his untimely end again in the film, the sinister despot is alive and well once again, plotting his next revenge against Goku and Vegeta for constantly besting him in battle.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' did more than provide Dragon Ball Super its second story arc; it set the tone for the whole series.