Dragon Ball Super Episode 111
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 111 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
The problem with following up last week's special is that everything from this point forward is in fierce competition with it. Those Goku vs. Jiren episodes were so good—from another universe even—that it's disappointing to go back to this show's usual schtick. We just went through the highs of a great would-be finale, but we've still got the second half of this arc to go.
So Goku is out for the time being. Last week left us off with a cliffhanger as Frieza hovered over Goku's broken body, making us worry if things were about to get worse before they got better, but in a reflection of Goku and Frieza's fight back on Namek, it's now the villain offering a bit of strength to the hero. All that's left to figure out now is if Goku can summon Ultra Instinct again.
The drop in quality between last week's episode and now is to be expected, but it really does the story a disservice. Jiren was fantastic as the stoic powerhouse whose true strength brought the cast to its knees, but so much of that difference in power was communicated through the animation. Jiren's fight with Goku has fluidly transferred over to a fight with Hit, and while it looks perfectly fine for your average Dragon Ball Super episode, Jiren doesn't pop off the screen when the animation is just okay. This seems to be acknowledged by the show, as the episode wraps up with Jiren returning to a meditative state, letting his teammates take over for a bit while the arc rises to its next explosion.
I suspect we're building off the familiar Dragon Ball cliché of putting Goku out of commission for a portion of the arc, except this time it's both Goku and Jiren, asking the audience to stay on the edge of their seat waiting for the next time either one of them rejoins the fight. That's always been a trick that I kinda liked, since I'm down for some good delay of gratification, but forward momentum in other parts of the story is the key to pulling that off, and this feeling that every episode of Super is developed in a vacuum doesn't help capture that very well.
Before Jiren takes his nap, his most important contribution is the defeat of Hit, meaning that Universe 6 is down another of its most important members. Of the universes competing, 6, 7, and 11 (and maybe a sprinkle of 2 in there) contain the characters we're most familiar with, so every fighter who drops out of those teams feels like a big change-up. It's at this point we realize how much time we've spent thinning out nobodies from the other universes, and Hit getting taken out puts us back into trying to map the rest of the story out in our heads. ("If we've got the Universe 6 Saiyans over here, and the magical girls over there, and we can assume that most of Universe 7 will get taken out between now and the end of the arc...." and so on.)
We've hit a checkpoint in the Tournament of Power arc, and I'm hoping that means a change in tone will follow, but I know that's naive. We still have quite a few characters left on the Universe 7 team, which makes me worried that we're going to spend a lot more time slowly chipping away at our main cast before the more dramatic stuff comes up again. Last week's special is the kind of thing we should be riding the momentum from, but if we're just going to go back to same-old-same-old, then it becomes more of a momentary disruption in hindsight. There are so many ways for the remaining fights to go down, and I want to see the writers having fun with it.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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