Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 104 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Dragon Ball Super can be a tough nut to crack. I think of it as being in that awkward middle-ground between a loving return to form for the franchise and dull brand exercise on auto-pilot. It makes sense considering it's been so long since the original DBZ wrapped, and there's no way Akira Toriyama's going to be as hands-on as he used to be, so it's naturally going to develop a flavor all its own, as underwhelming as the end result might be. Sometimes I worry that I'm the crazy one because I rarely get that “It's like being a kid again!” feeling from this show.
But every now and then, there's an episode that just wakes up and jolts out of bed full of energy. I wish I knew who to credit when this happens. Is this a great writer who inspires great storyboards? Is it a director with a vision? Any number of explanations I could buy, but what it ultimately means is that that somebody on Toei's staff is speaking my language more than most, and their episodes freakin' pop.
This episode puts its focus on the Universe 6 assassin, Hit, and his battle with Universe 11's Dyspo, the Beerus-looking cat man. Even before Goku shows up for this fight, Hit vs. Dyspo strikes a fantastic balance between physical action and the more technical aspects of their powers, never spending too long to make sure we understand how their abilities work.
There's something genuinely exciting about Goku's big re-entrance, where we're shocked to see him using the basic red Super Saiyan God over Super Saiyan Blue to conserve energy, something I don't think we were even sure he could do. It's such a small thing, but it's the exact kind of fist-pumping “heck yeah!” moment that's so rare in this show. I start to wonder how scary it must be to fight a god-level opponent like him, knowing that he could go from red to blue at a moment's notice. Juggling the two forms just highlights the ethereal qualities of both, which is great because I'm not sure the blue transformation ever got much chance to feel special in the long run.
Even action works best when there's a sense of whimsy to it, all while the story stays light on its feet. The theme here is seeing Universes 6 and 7 work together against Universe 11, at least for the time being. Goku and Hit have fought each other enough times that they can trust each other in the heat of the moment, and the way they so casually trade opponents has the exact perfect energy to it. Goku fights Dyspo for a bit, then Hit gets to take him back in a “this one's mine” sorta way. It's all just snug as a rug.
I'm curious how this arc will play in a marathon format, as is often my question with these long-running shonen. A long fight in something like One Piece tends to work because there's always a developing plot or other active story elements spacing the action out, but DBZ's style of fighting will always come back around to punching and kicking really fast. Will it get tiring and repetitive if you watch it all at once? There are some left-field techniques and fighting styles that deviate from the regular brawn, but even that's not so different from the usual physical action at the end of the day. I'm not complaining since I'm having a great time right now, but I do wonder.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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