Dragon Ball Super Episode 100
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 100 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
So historically in Dragon Ball Z, the various Super Saiyan transformations have been triggered by immense anger. Before Goku first unlocked it during the Frieza arc, it was so rare among Saiyans that it only happened once every ten thousand years. However, lots of characters came around to it, which was novel and fresh at first but in order to preserve the power-up as something "special," the story had to invent new levels like Super Saiyan 2 and 3, which one character would start off having before the others followed suit. Now we've got the various colors of Super Saiyan God, and there were those Broly movies that had a "legendary" Super Saiyan transformation that was the real deal one-in-a-million version. No for real, we mean it this time, guys.
Obviously it got pretty ridiculous and made for easy jokes. By the time the Buu saga rolled around, the series was poking fun at itself, giving the 7-year olds off-screen Super Saiyan discoveries because Akira Toriyama couldn't even pretend to care about the mythos at that point. And that's what worked about it then: they were able to hand out formerly difficult-to-obtain power-ups to new characters because they could get away with making it funny. That's roughly how I feel about Caulifla's ability to go Super Saiyan 1 and 2 purely by hearing the description, "you focus your energy by making your back more tingly." I'll admit that it's a generous shrug-off from me.
This episode puts most of its attention back on the Universe 6 Saiyans, specifically Caulifla and Kale. In theory, this is a lot more exciting than the fights we had been seeing for the past few episodes, and a lot of the action—especially once Kale transforms into her Broly-like form—looks great. However, this episode highlights a lot of the weird wrinkles and knots that Dragon Ball Super suffers from, inspiring some contemplation on what the difference between this show and the heyday of Toiryama's manga might be.
I always liked the various transformations in the original DBZ. They worked dramatically, less as a get-out-of-conflict free card and more as a way to separate the characters into different categories. You're constantly thinking, "X character can't defeat Y character in a fight, but if Z character showed up, we know he'd win and it'd be awesome!" It got my childlike imagination going, and the fact that they were constantly introducing new forms meant the dynamic never stayed in one place for long. It usually meant some contrivance had to happen in order to make up new forms, but a good writer (which I'd argue Toriyama was for a good while) could come up with something creative.
Super's doing the same handwaving the original had to in order to keep certain characters on the right level with each other, but the passion and sense of authority needed to sell it rarely feels present. Caulifla's transformations are okay by my book, but it's not the most exciting thing in the world in execution. Kale's transformation is cool too, but the extremely limp ways that the story has to try and get her into an emotional outburst don't do a lot for me. There's this awkward middle ground between trying and not trying. It's half the way to telling a dumb story in a smart way, and if there's any description I would use to describe Super as a show, that would be it.
Another issue with this episode is how ugly it is when it's not committing to its action. Caulifla has always looked like she's designed to be easier to draw and animate, and it clashes with the rest of the world around her. The Tournament of Power in general always looked like a weird mess of incomplete visual ideas, which isn't helped by that filter that blurs and crushes all the black colors on screen.
I honestly don't know what to make of this episode. I enjoy the Universe 6 Saiyans, but the writing here is so bizarre and half-baked that I couldn't tell you what they were going for. Everything with Kale before her transformation is weird and gross—when she's not being crybaby jealous over Caulifla she's being held down and punched repeatedly in the gut by some no-names—and all the banter between Caulifla and Goku is sure to leave people with mixed feelings about the Super Saiyan stuff discussed above.
I think it was awesome seeing Jiren easily wipe Berserker Kale out with ease, just to show us how far above everyone he is right now, but Kale's technically still in the ring so I have no idea what this episode accomplished other than to talk about Super Saiyans, which it did in a unsatisfactory way. Weird episode.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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