Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 84 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
During these past few episodes, as we're gearing up for the Tournament of Power and collecting our ten fighters, there's been a sore concern as to what role the weaker characters on the team will play. Krillin, Roshi, and maybe even Tenshinhan just seem light-years behind the others in terms of potential power. I had already been saying that the "no killing" rule would likely be a factor, and this episode seems determined to prove me right.
The focus this week is about trying to recruit Krillin and No. 18 (and No. 17 by extension, since he comes up in the conversation) into the game. Goku and Gohan are still terrified to tell anybody that the consequence of losing the tournament is universe deletion, so they fudge the truth a little and claim that there's a big money prize. No. 18 doesn't seem convinced, but she goes along with it anyway. From there, Goku and Gohan have concerns about Krillin's strength not being enough, because it's been hundreds of episodes since he's been able to put up a fight with anybody of note in this series.
"This fight isn't a no-rules fight to the death. It's a martial arts tournament with proper rules." Krillin makes sure to tell Gohan before they have their test fight where he's able to push Gohan out of bounds with a series of smart, tactical moves. I understand what they're going for here, and I'm not laughing at Krillin's inclusion in the ten-man lineup, but there are certain things about this Krillin vs. Gohan fight I have to reject. I just assumed that combative strategy was always a factor with our universe-shattering heroes, it's just that their intuition and reflexes are so far beyond what our human brains can comprehend that it doesn't manifest in what we see on the screen. There's an element at play here where Krillin's strength comes from fighting experience, rather than Gohan's absurd power level, and we even see Gohan show humility and admit that he still has a lot to learn. Again, I get what they're going for, but I find it very unconvincing. These feel like fighting life lessons Gohan would have gotten out of his system when he was eight.
However, the strength of this episode is not in the Krillin vs. Gohan sparring match, but rather in Krillin's fight with Goku. It's a super dramatic setting: a city helipad in the rain. A lot of the same themes apply as Krillin tries to get the upper hand on Goku by using tricks, but even that's not going to get you far with this legendary opponent. The backbone of this whole episode is that Krillin has his family watching. I can't imagine the show creating a scenario where Marron has to watch her dad lose, and obviously No. 18 holds her husband to high standards. Eventually, the fight concludes with No. 18 stepping in and assisting Krillin against Goku's Super Saiyan Blue. In the same way that they can take advantage of the no killing rule, they can take advantage of the Battle Royal factor of the tournament as well. This is by far the more impressive revelation of the episode. Suddenly, I'm way more interested in seeing how a husband-wife tag team fares than I ever was in seeing the show come up with strategic tricks for its weaker characters.
For the most part, this is a pretty nice-looking episode with some cool animation in both of its main fights. The dramatic, sportsmanlike fight in the rain was also a nice atmospheric touch, and it made a great location for the most heartfelt side of the episode: Krillin and 18's mutual respect for each other. I'm always teetering on the line between cool and lame when it comes to the softer family stuff in this show, but this final scene of the episode fell firmly into "aww" territory for me. Krillin and 18 are a cute couple, and I'm especially excited to see 18 in action in the tournament itself, since I've always been sad to see her on the sidelines of these major conflicts. It looks as though Dragon Ball Super is treating these recruitment/before-the-storm episodes as their own little mini-arc. I look forward to the rest, as long as they don't dedicate an entire episode to each of the ten fighters (which thankfully looks not to be the case). I'm excited for the Tournament of Power to get started, but I'm not impatient enough yet to skip any episodes like this one.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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