Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 116 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
NOTE: Tragically, news broke this weekend that the Japanese voice actress for Bulma, Hiromi Tsuru, has passed away. She was there from the very beginning, as arguably the most important character of the franchise behind Goku, and I cannot express enough how impactful her role has been. She will be missed dearly.
The major players participating in the Tournament of Power are dwindling fast. We only just recently passed the halfway point according to the in-world timer, and I don't expect to see it surprise us by ending early, but as of Kefla's defeat this week, the number of pieces for the story to move around leaves little to the imagination. Universe 7 is still winning by headcount, and Universe 6 is knocking on heaven's door with all of their strongest fighters out of the fight for good. Now I'm curious what the story plans to do with the likes of Frieza, Vegeta, and so on, because there are so few opportunities for them left.
That said, I want to stress how satisfying the fight between Goku, Caulifla, and Kale has been. This final episode between Ultra Instinct Goku and a full-powered Kefla offers all the excitement one could ask for out of this show. It'll be a while, if ever, before we see another episode as thoroughly animated and polished as the one-hour special, but the energy here is spot on. Kefla gets to show tons of personality as she bounces off her opponent, and the fight is inventive in how it uses the environment to keep the action vertical and interesting.
This episode pulls off something that we don't get to see in Super all that often: the coveted "final blow" with pitch-perfect build-up. We've been dealing with the Saiyan girls for several episodes now, letting them get stronger and challenge Goku more and more as they pull out all the stops. Even Goku's Ultra Instinct is presented with weaknesses where he needs to figure out how to deal significant damage without concentrating too hard and losing the instinct, not to mention the timer on his body as the exhaustion sets in. Goku's window to make use of his new form is closing, and Kefla's just getting crazier as she makes her last ditch effort to stay in the ring. The final moment when Goku is able to skid across Kefla's big finisher and land his Kamehameha got an audible laugh out of me, because it's such a surprising moment of relief after the show spends half the episode hammering an absurd amount of noise and color into your face.
I'm glad Caulifla and Kale, two characters who walk the thin line between being annoying and cool, got to be as fun as they were. This fight lasted four episodes and successfully built up momentum throughout. This finale is an explosive laser show set to cheesy rock music to such an extent that I don't even expect everyone to like it. It's like a person who doesn't watch Dragon Ball's idea of what Dragon Ball is, but it's so pumped up on its own enthusiasm that I kind of love it. In the past few months, Super has been churning out some of the best episodes of the series at a more regular rate than usual, and I couldn't be happier.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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