Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 102 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
It's the magical girl show this week as the Tournament of Power shifts its attention toward the fighters of Universe 2. So far, Universe 6 (Caulifla, Kale, and others) Universe 7 (our guys), and Universe 11 (the Pride Troopers, Jiren and Toppo) have been getting the most focus, and they'll likely be the most memorable groups of the arc when all is said and done, but there are other universes who have a stake in this fight as well. It's only natural that a few rise to the top with their unique quirks and gimmicks.
With this new alien magical girl trio, the Kamikaze Fireballs, we get a set of drawn-out transformations. Toei's certainly no stranger to the magical girl genre, and they get to parody it a bit here as No. 17 launches an attack that interrupts their sequence, causing the rest of the cast to ask him to hold back so the girls can try again. Besides, it's not like the Saiyans are strangers to lengthy transformations. A large percentage of this episode's runtime is lost to this gag, since it indulges in the infamous repeated animation that magical girl shows are known for, but it works as a pretty funny joke so I don't mind.
There's also the matter of Master Roshi's role in all of this. Leading up to the tournament, he put himself through mental training in order to rid himself of perverted thoughts so that he can keep a clear head in battle. It's been unclear if this was just a joke on its own or a deliberate set-up for a later scene where his training gets undone at the worst possible moment. With the magical girls around, we spend a brief second making it clear that his training continues to be successful, which further highlights how surprisingly committed this arc is to including a wide range of female fighters without getting weird about it. Currently, it looks like there's a real chance that Roshi's training was introduced just so his trademark perviness wouldn't have to factor into the story.
The climax of the episode comes with a great showdown between No. 17 and the Universe 2 fighters. Ever since 17's return to the story, Super has aimed to sell him as a straight-faced cool guy, and I think they've succeeded marvelously. The action looks great as he delivers his cold, impersonal beat-down set to a guitar solo. His finishing blow is immensely satisfying. Plus, since Kale went crazy and blew up half the stadium, the fighting environment has lost its smoothness, and now there are all sorts of rocks and hills for the characters to zip between as they fight, which adds another physical dimension to the tournament.
We're in a good place with Dragon Ball Super right now, as we continue to narrow the battlefield to only the most interesting fighters. 17 continues to add a lot of fun to the action, and you can tell the story's getting ready to emphasize the other Universe 7 combatants now that most of the small fries have been addressed. A run of good Super episodes like this usually doesn't last more than a couple weeks, but I've got my fingers crossed that the show will continue to ride this momentum a little while longer.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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