Before we even get into this, I want to say one thing: this movie is terrible. Dragonball is a cult-status manga (Japanese comic) about a hero, Goku, and his quest to collect the seven dragonballs to prevent Piccolo (an evil God) from acquiring them and having the ability to raise Ozaru (an eviler God or an evil assistant God) from the dead to destroy the world. Complicated? Yes. And the movie doesn’t help you figure it out because it provides no information whatsoever. Why are there dragonballs? Why does possessing them give the possessor powers? Who lost them? How did that happen? Why does Piccolo have a green head? Why is an evil God named Piccolo anyway?

Goku’s grandfather has told him all his life that he needs to be “one with himself.” Of course, this does little to make up for the fact that, like all high-school heros, Goku is woefully unpopular, despite his good-looks, quick wit, and expertise at supernatural martial arts. When Goku’s grandfather is killed, Goku is charged with collecting the dragonballs and saving the world from Piccolo.

Goku eventually gets the dragonballs stolen from him, and they fall into Piccolo’s hands. Goku comes face to face with Piccolo for the the final showdown, declaring that he is “here to defeat Ozaru.” Piccolo, with a chuckle, says, “Defeat Ozaru? You will become Ozaru.”

In the midst of this incredibly flawed film is a wonderful insight into the meaning of life. Apparently, you don’t have to ask a yogi, sitting on a mountain top…you just have to sit through 85 minutes of Justin Chatwin’s and Emmy Rossum’s terrible acting.

The point, theologically speaking, is that Goku has to come to grips with the Ozaru side of himself in order to have the power to defeat Piccolo. This is old-school, philosophically speaking. Jung called it the “shadow self,” Freud called it “the id,” and Walt Kelly might have put it best: “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.” For the theologically-inclined, Luther posited that humans are simul justus et peccator: simultaneously justified and sinner.

Goku (justified/righteous) must become “one with himself” (the sinner, Ozaru) in order to defeat Piccolo.

The FINAL WORD: The more a person is aware of and honest about their sinful selves, the more they will rely on the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The one who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:41-43). Far from a process of “becoming more like Christ,” this spiritual formation is a continual discovery of how much we need Him. This is true sanctification.

Great movie no one has ever seen: American Splendor, 2003 (Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini)