With the Tournament of Power Arc finally kicking off in the Dragon Ball Super Dub, I figured now would be a good time to remember the Arcs that came before it. Is that a good thing?
Despite it’s wildly varying quality, I still have a soft spot for Super. The first episode aired on July 5th of 2015. Why is this important? Because I first discovered Dragon Ball on July 5th of 2012. This whole show felt like a Thank-You letter from Dragon Ball to me.
Is it? Certainly not, but I will always pretend it is.
Still, love letter or no, this show had a rough start. That start being the Battle of Gods Arc. Or as I like to call it: the DBZ movie but bad. Y’know. Because that’s exactly what it is.
This Arc is really bad. The animation is abysmal, the pacing is terrible, the fighting is the most forgettable in the franchise, and it did so little to expand on what the movie introduced. In fact, it kind of ruins several of the things that the movie did.
With the most major insult being what they did to the Arc’s central antagonist: Beerus.
Movie Beerus is one of the best characters in the entire franchise. He’s goofy, yet sophisticated. Friendly, yet intimidating. Kind of lame, yet incredibly cool. And to top it all off: his power is more immense than every other villain the Z-Fighters have ever faced. Combined.
But what makes Beerus so memorable is that he isn’t really a villain. Yes, he nearly destroys the earth, but he doesn’t do so out of malicious intent; he does so because that’s his job. He is a God of Destruction; his job is to wipe out the old so new life can emerge. As so, he is mostly justified in his acts of destruction. He isn’t evil; he’s simply on the clock. This makes his conflict with Goku and the others so much more memorable than if he were simply a villain.
Like he is in Super.
Sure, Super did mostly maintain his personality, but they did so much to spoil his ambiguous nature as an antagonist. When we first meet Beerus in Super, he blows up half of a planet out of simple distaste for a single dish. Right off the bat, they don’t make him out to be an antagonist; they make him out to be a villain. This only hurts the Arc further, as it makes the main enemy far more forgettable than his movie counterpart.
Speaking of movie counterparts… oh god, the Resurrection F Arc. How do you fuck something up this badly? Sure, they did Freeza’s (I refuse to spell it with an I) character better than his movie counterpart, mostly by preserving his torturous and sadistic nature, and the inclusion of Ginyu is a nice bit of fan-service, but that’s where the positivity ends.
The animation in this Arc is so bad that it makes the first season of RWBY look like a Miyazaki movie. The pacing is complete garbage, the ending is even more unsatisfying than in the movie, and there is a complete lack of tension throughout the entire Arc. The fighting is easily the worst the franchise has ever seen, and worst of all: this is the only Arc where Mr. Satan dies along with the Earth.
Mr. Satan is not allowed to die. 0/10, worst Arc.
Luckily, the next Arc was a good step up. The Universe 6 Tournament Arc is… okay. Half of the fight scenes are really bad, but the other half of them are really cool. It introduces a whole bunch of cool new characters, including the deadly assassin Hit, who is a personal favorite. It also sets up for the Tournament of Power at the end after introducing Zen-Oh. Overall, it’s an okay Arc that got me just invested enough to keep going after the atrocious previous Arc.
Then we got the Goku Black Arc. Now, before I say anything else, let’s give credit where it’s due: Goku Black himself is pretty cool. Let’s face it, Evil Goku is a stupid idea, but they did a great job of making him cool, intimidating and unique. Y’know; until Zamasu comes along and ruins all of that.
This Arc is better than the previous, but it’s still pretty weak. Future Trunks and Vegeto coming back is super cool, Goku Black is a cool new villain (for the first half anyways), the animation is much better, there are a few new music tracks that are pretty cool, and these fight scenes are some of the best in all of Super. However, the Arc is bogged down by wildly varying pacing, inconsistent storytelling, and a god awful ending. Still, it’s a fun enough Arc that should be remembered.
Then, after that, we got my favorite Arc in the series: the Tournament of Power. This one does a whole lot to make me love it. It introduces a ton of new and interesting characters, the animation is a huge step up (especially in the big fight scenes like Goku VS Kefla, Vegeta VS Toppo, and the finale fight of Goku, Freeza and 17 VS Jiren) the music is spectacular, featuring the two best songs in all of Dragon Ball: the opening Limit-Break X Survivor, and my favorite insert song in all of anime: Ultimate Battle.
Or as I like to call it: MOTHERFUCKING HYPE SONG SON!!
It also introduces the coolest new transformation in Super, and one of the coolest in all the franchise: Ultra Instinct. This shit looks cool, sounds cool, and it changes the way Goku fights in such a dramatic way that it completely sets itself apart from every other transformation in the series. Plus, just being a Goku transformation that doesn’t start with ‘Super Saiyan’ is enough to make me love it.
It also featured some of the best fight scenes in all of Dragon Ball. Excluding the ones listed earlier (because those three are the best) we got some great fights featuring Androids 18 and 17, Gohan and Piccolo, hell even Master Roshi gets in on the action! All of them have some truly great battles, such as Roshi VS Frost, 17 and 18 VS Ribrianne, Gohan and Piccolo VS the Universe 6 Namekians, and Freeza and 17 VS Toppo. All of these are hype as hell and super memorable.
Sorry Tien and Krillin. You guys aren’t allowed to have anything cool. Especially not you, Tien.
Still, it’s not flawless. There are a few duds among the fight scenes, the power levels don’t make any sense (granted they never did, so fuck it) and several characters get knocked out in super unsatisfying ways, such as the aforementioned Krillin and Tien. Some of the new characters are cool and interesting, such as the Universe 6 Saiyans Caulifla and Kale (and before you call Kale Fem-Broly, remember: she was canon first, which makes the soon-to-be canon Broly Male-Kale), while some of the others are super annoying and unlikable, such as Ribrianne from Universe 2.
And the biggest flaw of all: Zen-Oh. Or more specifically, the two Zen-Ohs. These little brats are the worst part of the Arc. Literally every time something awesome is happening, we cut away from it to see a reaction shot of the two Omni-Kings gawking and saying ‘Wow, how cool! This is so cool!’. They serve to tell the audience how to feel and react, when those reactions of hype and excitement should be coming naturally. I completely despise the inclusion of these two.
Still, this is the best Arc in all of Super. The music is spectacular, most of the new characters are cool and interesting (oh yeah, Jiren was a thing; he was boring and I hated him, moving on) and the action was both hype as hell and super well animated. I’d recommend watching Super just for this Arc, if I can be perfectly honest.
In the end, all Arcs considered, Dragon Ball Super is an okay show. It had some duds, but for every one of those we got a hit. Will this show make a non-Dragon Ball care about the series? No way. Will it do anything for long time fans of the franchise? Well, that boils down to the fan. Some may hate it, some may love it. Personally, I liked it a lot more than I hated it. As a follow up to the classic series, this show did just enough for me to say it was a good time.
Now I just need to re-watch it Dubbed while I wait for the new movie.