Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 126 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Last week introduced us the new and improved God of Destruction Toppo, leaving Universe 7 with two unbelievably powerful opponents to fight in this final stretch of the tournament. Up until now, this has been mostly Android 17 and Frieza's fight, but it looks like Vegeta's ready to step up and fight Toppo one-on-one.
Vegeta's entire position in this story is emblematic of one of my most dramatic disconnects with the Tournament of Power, which is that I ultimately don't care who gets to beat who, as long as the story maintains momentum. Vegeta's here so that fans can be happy that the Saiyan Prince finally got to "do" something, but the journey to that point is deliberately a faint echo of stuff that went down in the original DBZ, so it's hard for me to get too excited. His final blow is a callback to the big self-sacrificial explosion he created in his fight with Majin Buu, but he's gotten so much stronger that he can survive the recoil. I'm past the point where I expect Super to scratch the same itch as the original series, but it's hit and miss whether I'm getting something out of it regardless.
Toppo's relationship with justice gets called into question this week, and since he's the character who cares the most about morality and righteousness, it's definitely interesting to see the show try and go somewhere with that. Via this fight, the argument gets made that Vegeta's actually the one with the stronger moral fiber, since he never gave up or "cast aside" anything that he was fighting for, but I don't think the show makes a firm case for this. My misgivings about last week's episode aside, it seemed crystal clear that Toppo adopting God of Destruction powers was a sacrifice that he was making to protect his universe, which is something to admire the guy for. He says things like "If justice can't protect our universe, then it's worthless!" and it's framed as a mistake in judgment on his part, but he's sacrificing justice for justice at the end of the day, and that makes him cool in my book. Vegeta's motivation, on the other hand, is an attempt to show how much he's grown and how he fights for others like his family and the Universe 6 Saiyans, but the show only gives lip-service to these things when it wants to sweeten the pot and make a certain moment work. Not that I need to see everybody's personal motivations when the universe is at risk, but if you're going to go there, go all the way.
These past few episodes of Super remind me of a problem with this arc that I hadn't been having recently, which is this feeling that every episode is written in a vacuum. The Tournament of Power made it apparent from the get-go that it was interested in what good and evil meant for the various characters, a fact made all the more potent when you consider that our antagonists are decidedly not evil. I had almost forgotten that Goku being the "evil" one in the other universes' eyes was a spin that they were imbuing the arc with at the beginning, but it never amounted to much. I get the impression that these themes were heavily underlined in story notes, but the staff never locked down any concrete dilemmas to express them through, so they end up at the mercy of each episode's screenwriter.
From there, it appears Jiren's gotten to me a lot more than I realized, because it was the point after Toppo's defeat with the remaining Universe 7 fighters turning to their final opponent that my imagination was lit ablaze once again. Toppo failed to take out any of our guys, meaning the rest of the tournament is going to be four against one. Are our guys going to win by head count? Or is Jiren going to pick everybody off until it's just him and Goku? Or maybe it's not even Goku who's the final combatant?! (Though who are we kidding?) We're nearing the finale of the Tournament of Power, and with Toppo finally defeated, I don't see myself feeling strongly about his fight one way or the other. Vegeta vs. Toppo is functional if a bit clunky, and it's nice to see Vegeta putting the power of his new Super Saiyan Blue to use, but I'm ready to move on to whatever Super's got planned for us next.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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