Reviewby Sam Leach,
Dragon Ball Super
Blu-ray - Part One
Time has passed since the evil Majin Buu was defeated, and now a new era of peace has arrived. However, quiet days can't last forever, and before long a new foe in Beerus, the God of Destruction, awakens from his slumber. Even under normal circumstances, defeating a god threatening your planet would be a tall order for our heroes, but what the almighty Beerus wants to fight is something Goku and friends have never even heard of before: a Super Saiyan God.
It feels appropriate that after finishing off the Final Chapters of DBZ Kai, I'm watching the beginning of Dragon Ball Super, the anime-original sequel series that picks up almost immediately where the last show left off (aside from the epilogue that's still ten years down the line). The dub opens with Doc Morgan's narration, recapping the climactic Buu fight as if nothing has changed. However, Super is a much different beast, a fact that hits you pretty hard when you see how shiny and new the animation is compared to the stuff being remastered for Kai.
More than being a retcon of the previous TV sequel, Dragon Ball GT, this particular set of episodes is an episodic remake of Battle of Gods, the big theatrical comeback for the franchise after the world had let it rest for a few years. Battle of Gods is a fantastic movie, so the thought of expanding its 90-minute story into a full arc on a TV budget was a mixed bag if ever there was one. That movie's story was tight, had a simple message, and its final battle was animated up the wazoo as the perfect cherry on top. Infamously, these early episodes of Super summoned the ire of anime fans for their lackluster production values. A lot of that stuff has been cleaned up for the Blu-ray release, but TV animation will never truly be able to compete with the theatrical quality of the original.
That said, if you're going to continue the story of Goku and company, it's best to have all your ducks in a row, and telling someone to finishing watching Z and then move on to Super is much easier than telling them to watch a couple of movies in-between. But then it's also a big headache to remember that we've now got the movies, the TV version of Super, and the manga version of Super competing with each other for canonicity, and they all vary in how much detail they lend each arc.
So, which version's the most canon? None of them, honestly. Super is coming from such a different place compared to Akira Toriyama's manga that I can't heartily endorse it as anything more than its own thing. The Battle of Gods arc is a good place for the new story to start, since it has something earnest to say about the “there's always someone stronger” spirit of the original, but it's competing with the extremely mild, sitcom-like nature that makes up the show's default.
“Mixed bag” continues to be the only perfect descriptor I can muster for Super. Battle of Gods absolutely does not translate into a thirteen-piece arc (unless you really want to see Goku and Beerus fight in nothing but the blackness of space for four episodes) but the Super Saiyan God fight does succeed in getting more engaging as it goes on, to the point where I barely miss the tighter, choreography-heavy version from the movie. Having Vegeta quietly watching from the sidelines, trying to learn whatever he can from the battle, makes the poignancy of Goku's ascension work quite well. Even in mediocrity, that charm shines through eventually.
This Blu-ray release continues the quality dub that Funimation has struck a balance with in recent years. Jason Douglas as Beerus and Ian Sinclair as Whis are as welcome to the cast as their characters, and I get the distinct impression that Sean Schemmel is molding his performance after Masako Nozawa's more than before. Extras-wise, the main content on offer are a couple of features where Sonny Strait and Chris Sabat sit down with their real-life children and explain the plot of Dragon Ball in a comedic attempt to catch them up for Super, which is honestly one of the cutest ideas for a Blu-ray extra I've seen in a long time.
This set ends just before the Battle of Gods arc can conclude, meaning that it'll be a bit before the series reaches the original content that comes after the Resurrection F arc. Even with the “fixed” animation, it can still be a troubling show to look at aesthetically, promising a consistency and polish that's distinctly Toei's. That said, watching all these episodes in a row is where the fun tends to be, and even a fight as drawn out as Goku vs. Beerus starts to work because you're on the edge of your seat waiting for the next highlight. It's an okay show that struggles to be funny or cool, but it has its moments.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : B-
+ Beerus and Whis are fantastic additions to the world, genuinely great moments buried in the Goku vs. Beerus fight
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