Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 113 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
It's frustrating to constantly say "I'm looking forward to more Caulifla and Kale stuff!" and then get episodes focused entirely on them that I can't find it in me to enjoy. It's hard to know what to make of these characters, because I've found them perfectly likable and entertaining in other episodes, but episodes with them as the central focus tend to bring out the sloppiest aspects of the series, writing and production-wise. That isn't to say there isn't some strong kinetic energy behind the action in this episode, but I'm baffled that these simple character designs can look so messy. The art constantly looks like its melting, whether there's a lot of movement to compensate for or not.
Caulifla's goal this episode is to badger a still-resting Goku into teaching her how to ascend to Super Saiyan 3, since everybody seems to have gotten level 2 down pretty easy. This is a continuation of the show's problem in trying to justify the strength differences in characters, whether it has a clever way of circumventing the issue or not. At this point in the series, nobody should be romanticizing the idea of Super Saiyan 3 when there are Super Saiyan Gods flying around, but the vanilla stuff is all these girls have access to, so that's what this episode's going to be about.
On paper, the ideas behind an episode like this are sound. Super Saiyan 3 would be a benefit for Caulifla, and her ferocious fighting style is a great way for Goku to re-hone his reflexes after his loss to Jiren. I can buy that in a tournament like this, fighting someone way stronger than you toe-to-toe could quickly close the gap between yourself and your opponent as your body adjusts to the fight, and in a weird way that's what they're both providing each other. A connection is made between Goku's current reflexes and his Ultra Instinct state, so it would be neat to learn after the fact that this fight helped him get closer to unlocking it again. However, execution is everything, and the half-baked Super Saiyan talk between Goku, Caulifla, and Kale comes across limp and fanfic-y once again. No matter what logic the show comes up with to explain why fights can go down in such a way, it still just feels like Goku's holding back for story convenience.
I get the impression that Caulifla and Kale are going to be even bigger players in the finale of this arc than we're expecting, but focused episodes like this give the most whiplash between great and mediocre episodes. I don't know what it is that I'm supposed to feel excited about, which is exasperating considering how much I actively want to like these girls. They've got a great relationship and reflect an interesting side of the Saiyan coin, but I think they'd be done better justice if we didn't feel the need to see them transform all the time. They're just getting Universe 7's Super Saiyan table-scraps anyway, so the fanfare feels disingenuous. When episode 100 aired (another Caulifla/Kale heavy episode), I had similar issues, but then episode 101 followed it up in a much more satisfying way, so I'm crossing my fingers that will be the pattern here.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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