Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 76 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
We're on to part two of "How Krillin Got His Groove Back," and after a great episode last week (which has only grown on me further since) I think I may have been right to groan about stretching this story between two episodes. I have a lot of affection for slow-burn shonen, but that's usually on the assumption that it's building to something, rather than just a means of going through the motions. It's usually in the second halves of these two-parters that the neat ideas Dragon Ball Super is capable of conjuring lose their freshness.
Last week ended with Goku and Krillin arriving at a mysterious island to collect a magical plant as part of their training under Roshi, and the cliffhanger introduced us to illusions of villains past for the duo to fight. Bringing back old villains for our now much stronger heroes to fight is not new; I recall these moments already being some of the more tiring aspects in DBZ Movie 12 and even GT. This time the villains (which includes a pretty impressive variety from Frieza, Buu, Saiyan saga-era Vegeta and Nappa, as well as Krillin's original assassin, Tamborine) conveniently never speak, so we don't even get to hear their classic seiyuu in action.
So our heroes are split up and Goku, as intuitive a fighter as ever, picks up on that fact that the enemies' strength and size is created by their opponents' own fear. The moment that Goku acknowledges them as fake, the ones tracking him disappear. The hanging question becomes whether or not Krillin is able to come to the same realization. Once he is, the day is saved. It's pretty straightforward.
Sometimes I really do think I'm going crazy with this show, as I can love it one episode and then be incredibly frustrated by it the next. This episode is well-meaning, but it really is as predictable and rote as it sounds. I would have much preferred if they could've found a way to wrap this little story up in one episode, less out of impatience (although that is also a factor) but more because I really think it does a disservice to the show's strengths and self-awareness for it to keep falling back into these really underwhelming patterns.
These last two episodes serve as pretty strong examples of when I do or don't like Dragon Ball Super. I like when it's affectionate of its characters and the world they inhabit, and I like when it does the surprising and unexpected with its sense of humor. I don't like when it feels like it's telling a story just to buy time and ends up feeling exactly like all the mediocre filler episodes that fans of shonen are all too familiar with. Last week's episode had something heartfelt, and I think that's all it really needed. Sometimes adding physical conflict into a story misses the point, especially if it doesn't feel like it's coming from an honest place.
There seems to be a decent amount of publicity being pushed out for the next major story arc, so I'm hoping it ends up being as fun as it looks. I appreciate what the show is trying to do by spending all this time on smaller fun ideas before gearing up into another long arc, but I think the amount of space it's had to fill over the past few months has meant spending at least half the time with the show's weakest qualities. Perhaps if I was watching all these episodes back-to-back, and not waiting a week between each one, the lesser episodes wouldn't feel egregious, but they certainly don't give me a lot to talk about.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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