Dragon Ball Super Episode 85
by Sam Leach, Apr 9th 2017
How would you rate episode 85 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
As it stands, it does seem possible that Super will dedicate time to each of the ten fighters enlisting for the upcoming Tournament of Power. For example, we see Goku taking a short break from his search for No. 17 to spar with Buu, who has trained himself to be lean and buff like his "Super Buu" form from forever ago. I doubt he's going to keep this shape, though. Likewise, the episode also teases Gohan reaching out to Piccolo, and I'm starting to sweat over how much time we plan to stay inside this recruitment arc. Our heroes only have forty hours to put their team together, but Goku sure seems to be taking his time.
Thankfully, this episode mixes things up by focusing on the other universes preparing for the the tournament as well, with the majority of the attention on Toppo from Universe 11 and his Pride Troopers. Like the Hit episodes just prior to this arc, it's nice to see some of these weird alien characters' daily lives. Seeing Toppo in a suit and tie as he wanders through the city under stylish noir lighting felt particularly fresh, and the banter between the various Supreme Kais and Gods of Destruction is illuminating.
As it stands, Toppo and his teammates are the heart of the non-Universe 7 combatants. After all, everybody in this situation views Goku as the villain, and the Pride Troopers are honorable defenders of justice. In any other scenario, these are the kinds of heroes you'd like to see win at the end of the day. Among his team are Dyspo, a cat man who looks to be from a similar species as Beerus, and Jiren, the mysterious man that Toppo has been talking up as even stronger than himself. Jiren also seems to be that white alien guy who stars in the current opening, just to drive home how big of a deal he is. If we're keeping track of relative strength: Goku and Toppo are on a similar level, and Jiren hovers above both of them.
Also interesting are the different ways that the various universes are planning to tackle the tournament. Fans have been in constant discussion about strategy versus innate power level as the show sticks its neck out for the likes of Krillin, and it turns out that the Supreme Kais are on the same page, with some universes boasting pure strategy (with a glasses-wearing Supreme Kai to really drive home the "we're the nerd universe" message) and others boasting pure strength. This reminds me about the mystery surrounding Zen-Oh's "mortal level" assessments a few episodes back, whether that's a reference to basic power levels or if it's a combination of multiple factors.
Next week's episode seems to be the No. 17 recruitment one, and it looks great so far. This recruitment arc is doing a respectable job keeping things varied between comedy, family moments, smart fighting, and all-out brawls as the characters spar and warm up for the upcoming tournament, but it's currently standing on thin ice with me. There are a lot of factors that prevent me from seeing this time spent as crucial, even from a purely structural point of view rather than a "there's only so much time in the day" sort of way. There are a lot of teases and ideas that would strike me as more interesting if they were practiced in the middle of tournament itself, instead of every little thing being prepped ahead of time. I'm imagining a version of this recruitment process where Goku, Gohan, and Beerus just round everyone up in one place, tell them the story, and get it all over with. This one-at-a-time thing feels very artificial.
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