Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 115 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Last week brought forth Kefla, the fusion of Caulifla and Kale. Since the girls merged thanks to their Supreme Kai's potara earrings, a few questions have to be raised: Will the Zen-Ohs approve of yet another illegal device like they did with Master Roshi's Mafu-ba (Yes), and what's stopping the other universes from incorporating fusion into their own strategies, since they all have access to the same kind of earrings? Universe 7 decides that they don't want to risk losing two fighters at once if a fused combatant gets knocked out (though they entertain the amusing idea of 17 and 18 fusing to become "No. 35"), and Universe 2 tries to go for it, but the earrings accidentally break in the process. Obviously, Universe 11 doesn't need to bother while they still have Jiren on the field.
Fusion has always felt a little silly, even for Dragon Ball. It screams of the type of thing that young fans would fantasize about as they mix and match various warriors in their heads. Was it something Akira Toriyama ever included with artistic fervor? I doubt it, but I guess I can't help that I was one of those kids once upon a time.
The use of potara fusion in the Tournament of Power represents a storytelling wrinkle that Super deals with often, which is the question of how much the show should play by its own rules. The tournament has regulations that were laid out plain and simple at the beginning, but several times now we've seen characters break them with little consequence. For some viewers, this might get frustrating, but I tend to enjoy the meta game where the actual goal is to work within the confines of what Zen-Oh might think is cool. And since Zen-Oh is basically a child watching a violent cartoon, the world is our oyster. The tournament only really has rules when the show can't think of anything fun to do.
This episode is about Kefla pushing Goku all the way into Super Saiyan Blue and even giving that form a run for its money. I'm very skeptical when a weaker character can compete with Goku at his strongest, and "power scaling" is always a hotly debated topic, but Kefla's a good example of a character that I buy, especially when you take into account that fusion adds a multiplier to a pair's strength. I was already won over by Caulifla and Kale's onslaught last week, so Kefla's cool as far as I'm concerned. Animation-wise, this episode isn't much to speak of—it's presentable, but flat—yet there's enough interesting momentum to pick up the slack. Once Blue is exhausted, Goku gets pushed one step further and reignites Ultra Instinct, making this a shockingly important fight in the arc. We're still trying to figure out when and how Goku will get a grasp on this new form, and I was expecting the next time we'd see it to be in his rematch with Jiren.
This is an example of an episode that can find that spark of energy within modest production values. Kefla appropriately feels like a big deal with a fight that's going to continue into next week. Even before Ultra Instinct, we're reprising that Akira Kushida song just to keep that adrenaline pumping a little longer, and the level at which the characters watching on the sidelines feel engaged is effective. I've heard a number of complaints that Super has been too Goku-focused lately, but considering that he seems to bring the best out of the action-heavy episodes, I certainly don't mind.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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