Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 89 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
The past seven weeks of this Tournament of Power recruitment arc have been quite the ride with a lot of ups and downs. There were gems in the lot, the first Android 17 episode comes to mind, and Goku and Krillin's rainy rooftop sparring session was pretty good, but the weird balance that Dragon Ball Super gets to juggle between filler and not-filler has been getting to me. The time spent finally gathering this ten-man team did not make a compelling argument for why we should build up to the tournament instead of jumping in much sooner. I'm a patient guy, but you have to give me something to chew on, at least!
As of this week, our ten people have been gathered with the inclusion of Tenshinhan/Tien and Master Roshi. The training isn't over yet, but it feels like we're over the biggest hump. This episode focuses on Tien's life now that he's running his own martial arts dojo, and here to burden him with trouble is a mysterious young woman who's got some past beef to settle with him. This woman is Yurin, and the episode goes on to depict her use of witchcraft as she possess Tien's disciples and runs amok on the local village.
Leading up to the mayhem, however, is a lot of repetitive humor with Roshi constantly acting perverted towards Yurin. The original Dragon Ball days had a lot of raunchy humor, and Roshi's always been that classic lecherous old man character, but it's just so aggressive and unfunny here that it takes a lot away from the episode. It's nice to see Tien again, and it's also cool to see the show return to a more traditional East Asian type of setting, but that only goes so far. Yurin actually seems like a pretty fun character when Roshi isn't in the mix, but just by the nature of the story at hand, it's not like she has any room to become a regular side character, since we're going to be off to save the universe in an otherworld tournament soon. Even if she does stick around to train with Tien like the end of the episode leads us to believe, I doubt we're going to come back to this dojo very often.
Similar to last week, the most exciting part comes from the Universe 6 Saiyan stuff. We get a short continuation of Cabba's conversation with Caulifla, and now that we get to see Caulifla's crew a little bit more, I wish I had gone with my gut and not assumed she was the female Broly that the show has been teasing, as we now realize there's another girl who fits that description a lot better. The implication seems to be that Universe 6 will be bringing not just one, but two Saiyan women to the Tournament of Power. As it stands, I love Caulifla a lot so far. She's genuinely cool, and once the story gets a little further into this other Saiyan girl, I'll have to start fessing up to how much of an easy sell I was on the original Broly as a kid. So that should be fun.
The bulk of this episode, the Tien and Roshi stuff, is still more of the same when it comes to this recruitment arc. I still find it a little frustrating that a lie about prize money felt necessary in place of just telling these fighters what's up with the universe deletion threat. As a result, the story always feels like it's bending way out of shape just to create a scenario that's believable for the characters. This episode exists so that Tien's dojo and village can get destroyed, and thus he has a need for the prize money. Tien would fight to save the universe if he knew that's what was up! Why can't Goku just tell him?
All that said, it's dawning on me how consistent the production values in Super have been. Overall, this is not a strong episode, but comparing it to this week's One Piece (an example of Toei's rougher output), it's shocking how much this show has held together in the past few major arcs, especially considering how much backlash the production got in the early weeks. I'm glad the animation seems to have found its comfort zone, and now hopefully the writing can hone in on its strengths and keep the hits coming again.
The recruitment arc is so close to ending, I can taste it. I don't want to sound so worn out by this show, but this intermission between the higher stakes set pieces was never going to be the most exciting stuff to begin with. I almost wish some of these recent episodes were outright bad, so that I could have something interesting to say. I wish they could have cut a few of these episodes out completely, but maybe they couldn't if they really needed some time before the real tournament began. It's been such a mixed bag that I just want to see something cool again. Thankfully, I think we're in the final stretch here.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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