Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dragon Ball Super (Japan 2017)

With, "Super," the Dragon Ball universe is back and better than ever. The same characters you've known throughout the years with new ones that are actually interesting and a plot that centers around action. What's not to love? Well, we'll get into that.

When we first see Goku again, he's living the farm life with his wife Chichi and son Goten. A pretty ordinary existence for one of the strongest warriors in the universe, but you know that things won't stay that way for long. Beerus, the God of Destruction, foresees the coming of a Super Saiyan God, and with his right-hand man Whis, begins the search for this being. Beerus makes the rounds, interrupting Bluma's birthday party and picking fights with Buu and others, all the while threatening to destroy the universe unless he gets some answers. Vegeta seems to grasp the power of Beerus and refuses to step up to him, regardless of the chaos being brought down around them. Natrually, Goku, sensing the power from Beerus, arrives and challenges him to a fight. Beerus sees the potential in Goku and realizes that there's more to this Saiyan than meets the eye. Vegeta, not wanting to be outdone, convinces Whis to let him train with him in order to become stronger. Goku eventually follows suit and the two of them are training harder than ever to become the best. 

Meanwhile, in the future, Trunks is grappling with a threat that has managed to destroy almost everything in his world. The mysterious Goku Black is hell bent on destruction and doesn't care who stands in his way. His only goal is to annihilate everything he sees. Trunks must rely on his companions both in his time and in the past to stop Black and there are more than a few twists involved with how his creation came to be. 

Beerus' twin brother Champa arrives to issue a challenge regarding the twelve universes. Champa wants all of the best foods that Earth has to offer and in order to get it, the warriors he selects from his universe will have to win over Beerus'. You see, each universe has a God of Destruction at the helm. After a series of battles takes place for the sake of food, the event itself grabs the attention of the Master of all Universes, Zeno-sama. His interest is piqued with the battles that took place and now he wants to hold a tournament of his own. This tournament would pit 10 of the best fighters from each of the universes against each other and only the winning universe would remain in existence. The stakes couldn't be higher. Goku enlists ten of the best warriors, including Vegeta, Piccolo, Krillin, to name a few, to comprise the team for universe seven and an epic battle for survival begins. Some of the fiercest competitors will challenge Goku like never before and Jiren is a name that will live on in DB lore forever.

You know I like to keep things spoiler free, hence the gaps in explaining the story. I personally think the Future Trunks saga is a high point in Super, so I don't want to give away the details, including how Goku Black comes to be. It's a really dark side to DB that really grabs you because there are real consequences taking place. I also think finding out who Goku chooses for the Tournament of Power is a fun thing to find out as a viewer as well because there's not shortage of characters to pull from. Some choices will certainly elicit a, "Whoa!" or a, "No way!" from you. The idea of a major tournament lends itself to Dragon Balls biggest selling point, which is the flashes action sequences. There's an abundance of that here and it's interesting to see all of the different character designs for all the fighters coming from different universes. I have to point out that I love Zeno. Period. He's both adorable and terrifying at the same time. The big elephant in the room with Super is that it's 131 episodes and even for the biggest Dragon Ball fan, I think that's more than a bit much. It almost goes without saying that there is a lot of filler here. I definitely think Super could have been tightened up well under 100 episodes. A particular low point for me was the return of Gohan and his Saiyaman character. A film crew begins making a movie about Saiyaman and Gohan gets involved with the stunts and in the process proves to Vidal and his daughter pan that he's a brave man, as well as a loving father and husband. It was a weird, misplaced story arc in the middle of Super and really didn't serve much purpose in my opinion. It's well documented at this point that the animation in Super, early on, is quite suspect and looks well below the standards you'd associate with Dragon Ball. This is true, but only for the first 15 episodes of so and then there's a noticeable change. There felt like two more major changes in animation style and quality as the series progress and trust me, by the end, you'll be blow away by it. Some of those final episodes felt like movie quality animation. 

I tried not to keep this review too long, but it's hard not to when the series is so long. I think Dragon Ball fans will love Super and I also think it's really accessible for those that use Super as an entry into the DB world. It has everything you love about DB but expands on it. It can be a slog at times but I'm glad I stuck with it. (Lee)

Grade: B+

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