Dragon Ball Super
Episode 129

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 129 of
Dragon Ball Super ?

Much like the tournament itself, the clock is ticking on Dragon Ball Super as the final battle with Jiren has only a couple of episodes left before it's time to wrap up. The big surprise for this episode has been featured heavily in advertisements and in the next episode preview from last week, so I was surprised how little of an impact it ended up having on me. I was ready for something completely adrenaline-pumping bananas, but Goku's new Mastered Ultra Instinct doesn't arrive with quite as much fanfare as his initial power-up. At least not yet.

This episode ends up being a meditation on the journey with Ultra Instinct. We've been in total fanfiction mode for a while now, but I did always think the transformation was pretty cool in a pure-id sort of way. We see Goku and Jiren at it once again with both fighters going absolutely crazy, and the supporting cast off to the side wondering if Goku is even capable of winning. As we've established earlier in the arc, the downside to Ultra Instinct is that while Goku is excellent at dodging and blocking, he still hasn't reached the point where he can go on the offensive, since the power-up is all about turning your brain off and letting your body make all the decisions. To make matters worse, Jiren seems to be keeping up with it, having observed Goku closely throughout the arc.

The best material this week ends up being the conversations on the bleachers. There's the usual chatter among Universe 7, but Vegeta is surprisingly the one sticking up for Goku the most adamantly. He's made his peace with his stake in the fight, and now it's entirely on Goku to win. Beerus and Whis are also beaming with a sense of twisted pride that their guy has accomplished so much. Even if Jiren still has the edge, the speed at which Goku can close the gap has everybody amazed, even the Gods of Destruction.

Despite the heavy amount of action, there isn't much new to walk away from this episode with. The fact that I've seen some of the more animation-savvy fans in my peripheral vision complaining about excessive bank animation is probably skewing my perspective, but there were a lot of reused shots that even my untrained eye would have picked up on, and it all feels pretty repetitive. I think overall I have fewer qualms with the production and more problems the next big turning-point of the fight—Goku's new white-haired version of Ultra Instinct—only making an appearance at the very last minute. I shouldn't be too surprised, but then what else is there to talk about in an episode like this? Also, I can't tell if they're genuinely trying to pull the wool over our eyes with Frieza's absence, or if they're just not drawing attention to him until he's ready to make his big surprise comeback. We know he's still in the ring, guys!

Somewhat alleviating the problem is the fighting ring itself, which has managed to become one of my favorite aspects of the arc. It's been getting smashed to pieces since early on, even getting blown clean in half during the Toppo fight. The desperation to stay in the ring pushes the fight vertically, with our combatants taking advantage of all the floating debris that still technically counts as "safe". The big set piece of the episode features Goku and Jiren trading lightning fast, long-distance punches with Goku at an awkward angle looking up from the very bottom of what used to be the fighting stage, and it just feels tiny compared to the ferocity of the light show that commences.

So we end this episode with Goku finally mastering his Ultra Instinct, meaning he should be able to fight offensively from now on. Sadly, it sounds like there's yet another break next week, so seeing it in action will have to wait. Knowing that this show only has two episodes left has been pretty sobering, since it's become such a staple of my week, especially once the Tournament of Power began. As an episode sandwiched between breaks, this could have been a little more satisfying, but my breath remains held all the same.

Rating: B

Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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