Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 63 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Super is a unique beast, that's for sure. Dragon Ball had already gotten its own anime only sequel in the form of Dragon Ball GT, which has since been disowned by the majority of fans. While GT wasn't especially good, I remember accepting it as more-or-less canon back in the day, if only because many of the characters and transformations (cough, Super Saiyan 4, cough) were ever present among all the merchandise and video games. But then Battle of Gods came out, telling a new story written by Akira Toriyama himself that contradicted GT, and now a new continuation begins with these new movies and a new TV series.
Super grows even more odd when you learn that its first few arcs are actually retellings of Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’. A strange decision in the face of all these new questions about what's canon and what's not, since there are slight differences between the TV and movie versions, but I guess the responsible attitude was to determine a long time ago that “canon” might not be a very important consideration when it comes to a series like Dragon Ball.
As a reviewer, I'm jumping into the middle of this series pretty blind since it only just started to roll out on Crunchyroll, but I've gathered the gist through plot summaries and social osmosis. What I've gathered about the current plot right now is thus: There are alternate universes and characters coming in and out of each. The fan favorite Future Trunks returns from his timeline (now inexplicably with blue hair) trying to deal with the threat of a new enemy named Zamasu. There are currently two Zamasu's from different timelines working together, one of whom has stolen Goku's alternate universe body to become Goku Black, and is also capable of his own Super Saiyan God transformation. Also, there's a ton of Trunks and Mai shipping fodder going around
I tried catching up a little on the previous Future Trunks arc episode and reading wikia summaries to be as prepared for this review as I could, and I've determined that Dragon Ball Super's plot is actually kind of absurdly complicated. I had a friend try and prep me for that fact but I'm still honestly kind of astonished. There appears to be 17 episodes of this arc so far and the summary I tried to read made it feel three times that long. I love a good, complicated pulp fiction plot like this, but it's gonna take me a few weeks before I've got it all figured out. I think we're legitimately dealing with a story that includes both alternate universes as well as alternate timelines for each universe. And boy are the writers having a field day with that.
As for the episode itself, it centers around Goku and Vegeta's rematch against the two Zamasus. Vegeta insists on taking Goku Black as his opponent and manages to put up a good fight. Vegeta has a really great speech as to why Black will never be able to keep up with the real Goku in terms of strength: “That body, down to the very corner of its cells, was made by Kakarot's long, fierce history of combat! Only a true numbskull like him can use the Saiyan cells within it to their fullest!” Vegeta's always been on and off with his respect for Goku, but the admiration always shines through when he gets to brag about his rival as a tried and true member of the Saiyan race.
Dragon Ball Super is in a precarious position with me. I love Dragon Ball, both the manga and the anime are an ingrained part of me, but I do honestly care about the sense of canon a little bit, and there's a fine line between good writing (let's say, Battle of Gods) and filler quality writing (Resurrection ‘F’) with this series. Super at least seems to have found something unique to get really indulgent with in all the multiple timelines mumbo jumbo, so at least the story doesn't feel inconsequential. There's also the concerns about the production values, since the show seems to be a soft notch below One Piece by comparison. This episode looked fine, even pretty good in a few spots, but there's a noticeable lack of follow-through in a lot of the animation. The most interesting movement seems to often happen in-between cuts. I've also generally never been a fan of the shiny modern look for Dragon Ball, but I'll do my best to make peace with it since it's not going away anytime soon.
So that's my first foray into Dragon Ball Super. Hopefully by next week I'll have caught up on the Future Trunks arc and I'll be in tune with the plot a bit more. I'm still worried how comfortable a watch this series will be since the art direction does turn me off a little bit, but from what I can tell, the episodes themselves go pretty fast psychologically, and are over before you know it. I don't know why Toei's so good at that, but they are.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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