Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 70 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Before things head back in a more dramatic direction, Dragon Ball Super has enjoyed spending the past few weeks goofing off with little joke episodes like this. First it was the cast arguing over who'd get their banal wishes granted by Shenron, then it was the Dr. Slump crossover, and now it's our favorite Super Saiyan Gods playing a friendly (if not destructive) game of baseball. This all harkens back to the filler episodes we would occasionally get, like Goku and Piccolo trying to get their drivers' licenses.
The story is that Beerus' brother, Champa, suggests a morale-building sports game between the strongest of Universes 6 and 7. Really, this suggestion is just an excuse so Champa can hang out in out Universe 7 and feast on delicious earth food, but a game of baseball commences nonetheless. Aside from Yamcha, who leads the Universe 7 team due to his actual experience with the game, baseball proves to be a difficult sport for the likes of Goku and Vegeta to figure out. Our cast is made up of people who can punch planets to smithereens, so nailing down how to pitch just right is not an easy task.
Of these three filler style episodes, this one's probably my favorite. Yamcha is a character who has no role in the story to fill these days, and yet his inclusion here feels fresh. "It's the one thing he's good at," Bulma says at one point. Yamcha's the character who ends up being the butt of a lot of jokes among fans, but not normally in the show itself. His brief time in the spotlight, the homage to his humiliating death from the Saiyan arc, etc, all feel like examples of the show is nudging the audience with its elbow going, "Huh? Huh? See? We're cool too!" It's dumb, but it's hard to deny that it's also a little bit fun.
Keeping these characters out of their element is an important aspect to the comedic side of this series. Obviously, super powers come in handy in a game like baseball, but the story needs to do whatever it can to keep us on our toes. Since almost every successful hit of the ball is going to be a stratosphere-breaking home run, the goofs come from the pitching, and trying to keep the characters familiar with the rules (which has had to include a "no destruction" clause for obvious reasons.) My favorite scene in the episode is when Yamcha gets pelted by Vegeta's pitch because Vegeta literally didn't know that you're not supposed actually hit the batter. Both Goku and Vegeta are shocked to learn this rule halfway into the game. What do you mean baseball isn't supposed to be violent?!
The comedic heart of Dragon Ball Super is an interesting thing, because I'd almost never describe it as especially clever, but I would call it charming. The premise being strung by Champa's desire to eat earth food is a little flimsy, but you also know that deep down the show doesn't actually care. There are a lot of ways this show could be stronger, both as a drama and as a comedy, but the boldness of it remains all the same and it's hardly stopped me from having a good time.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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