Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 74 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
Dragon Ball Super is in a position where it almost feels weird for it to be trying a comedy-of-errors accidental affair plot line. That seems like something you'd see in an American sitcom, not a shonen anime. Thankfully, unlike in sitcoms, the problem gets refreshingly resolved by common sense. The story goes like so: Barry Kahn, ever jealous of Gohan's surprise popularity as the stuntman on the set of the Great Saiyaman movie, pushes his idol co-star, Cocoa Amaguri, to entrap him in a faux love affair that Barry would then take pictures of. Cocoa ultimately has a good heart, and tries to sabotage Barry, but not without a surprise peck on Gohan's lips that she made the mistake of assuming would not get caught by Barry's camera.
Gohan, upstanding husband that he is, is about to confess what happened to his wife right away, but Barry is already there, trying to rub the photographs in Videl's face. Oh no! Even Gohan's attempt to brush the moment off with honesty wasn't enough! What drama! Except even then Videl is smart enough to know that Gohan isn't the cheating type and that there must be some kind of misunderstanding, thwarting Barry on the spot. This anti-climax is a pretty funny way to solve the problem, and I'm glad they didn't tease it out for the whole episode.
The second half of this episode comes in the confrontation of the little parasite monster (named "Watagashi") that Jaco was transporting and now trying to re-hunt. Watagashi's thing is to fuse with its host, drawing power from the darkness of their hearts to make them stronger than ever. The target becomes Barry Kahn who, thanks to the parasite, can now serve as a physical threat against Gohan. A big battle commences throughout the city where Barry keeps transforming with Watagashi's power until he looks like a massive blue space monster and Gohan dons the Great Saiyaman outfit in front of a large crowd.
The energy in this fight is surprisingly big, with a sweeping soundtrack while Videl gives a dramatic speech to Cocoa about how great Gohan is.The heart of this scene is all about Gohan and Videl's parental role towards baby Pan, where they feel they must put on a strong face in the presence of danger in order to make their child believe they are invincible. Of course, this thematic beat comes with a required "defeated" moment, where it seems Gohan is losing the fight and must summon the courage to move forward and win the battle. Stuff like this is tough for Super, because the threat of Watagashi, and these episodes' role as filler between more significant story arcs, doesn't make for especially convincing drama. The battle is fairly well directed and it's easy to get sucked into the moment, but any suggestion that the characters are overcoming an obstacle feels hollow. This show really struggles with whether or not it wants to have stakes at all, or if it's just goofing off. "Both" isn't really working for it right now.
With another decent two-parter wrapped up, I'm hoping we're getting closer to that Universe Survival arc that was announced a while back now. The next episode preview suggests, no, not yet, so I guess we're going to continue with solid ideas and good filler hooks being executed just okay. On the nerdier side of things, I had a hunch last week that Barry Kahn must have been a reference to something from one of the original series, but was drawing a blank. Now I've realized that he was that celebrity that Buu tried to imitate to pick up women! I kind of feel bad for forgetting about that. It was such a memorable scene.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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