Dragon Ball Super
Episode 71

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 71 of
Dragon Ball Super ?

It's time for the next dramatic story arc of Dragon Ball Super to begin. The past three weeks of goofing off were fun enough, but the show would get old pretty fast if it kept it up, so this is welcome.

Goku knows that somebody is after his life, and that person is the intergalactic assassin Hit from the Universe 6 arc. Goku and Hit had a great fight during that tournament, but since Goku threw the fight out of impatience with Beerus and Champa, they never got to finish. Last we saw of them, they seemed to have a modest amount of respect for each other as incredibly strong fighters, so a hit on Goku's head comes with a "nothing personal" spirit to it.

There's a lot of intrigue surrounding this episode. Who hired Hit? How does Goku know Hit is after him? What's going to happen after the cliffhanger, which involves Hit's assassination attempt actually succeeding? Goku's been killed before (twice), but there is something about Dragon Ball Super that's felt too fangless to do something like this, even temporarily. As of this episode's end, Goku is actually once again dead, and it's pretty surprising.

After the filler shenanigans of the past few weeks, it's nice to be reminded that this show has the capacity to be thoughtful too. The opening scenes where Goku is meditating, trying to identify Hit's presence, serve as nice quiet moments where you can just take things in. There's also another scene where we follow Hit on one of his assassinations elsewhere in one of the story's many universes. It's raining, it's stylish, and it feels like something directly influenced by classic asian crime dramas. There's a lot about the execution of this episode that I really like, and it's nice to have an episode full of visual moments that really pop, giving me lots of great potential review screenshots to pick from.

Dragon Ball Super is a tonally weird show, aiming to be neither a full-blown comedy or drama. A mixture of the two is by no means an anomaly in the shonen genre, but every time I feel the urge to say "this show is good at ______", it seems to defy me by being the opposite next week. It's definitely a comedy, and it's definitely a drama when it counts, but the further along we get, the more I find myself wishing it was both of those things a little bit more. This was a very engaging and entertaining episode, and I like the direction the story is going in, but I think there's a little bit of sincerity missing. The little details, like so many of the characters continuing to wear their classic outfits at all times, keep the show feeling too much like a commercial product and less like an actual story being told. Sometimes that's the show's charm, but sometimes this holds it back.

I don't know if this new Hit confrontation is meant to be its own little multi-parter, or if this episode is meant to eventually lead us to the recently announced "Universe Survival" arc. I'm absolutely curious to see where the story goes from here, and how far they want to lean into the Goku-being-dead angle before they bring him back.

Rating: B+

Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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