Dragon Ball Super
Episode 96

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 96 of
Dragon Ball Super ?

It took about thirteen episodes, but we're finally beginning the actual Tournament of Power. No more recruiting, no more last-second delays, now it's just time to start the fight. As far as my understanding goes, this past recruitment mini-arc was serving a similar role to filler, giving us a more low-key story for a while so that the staff could get all their ducks in a row for the real arc. If that's the case, then I have high expectations.

The bulk of this episode centers around the various teams arriving at the fighting stadium in the void between universes, sizing each other up to determine the most interesting and threatening competitors. There are a lot of scrub-types that I don't expect to see much of over the next handful of weeks (there are about 90 fighters in this battle royale). The main attractions are Universes 6 and 11, with the former being bolstered by the new Saiyan ladies and the latter being Toppo's team. Alongside Toppo is the mysterious Jiren, the one who's supposedly far stronger than Goku.

It's hard to really get a grasp on the rules of this tournament and how they're going to play into the flow of the arc. This battle is only meant to be 40 minutes long in-universe, and while Dragon Ball is no stranger to stretching things out in spite of time limits, it's hard to imagine what the story is going for here. Is this meant to feel like a massive burst of action followed up by something else? Or should I be taking the forty minutes at face value? The stadium also inhibits unnatural abilities like flying (unless you're already a winged creature), but as far as I can tell, energy blasts and Super Saiyans are still going to be a thing. They're just trying to enforce the ring out rule, I suppose.

Frieza also has me scratching my head once again. It's great to see him arriving to meet the rest of the group and exchange trash talk with Vegeta, but once they're at the tournament, it looks like he's already scheming with his Universe 6 counterpart, Frost, and that makes me nervous. Frieza as a begrudged good guy has been some of the most fun I've had with this show, and I'd be disappointed if he just ended up betraying us. That would be a predictable turn for the sake of something I really don't want in the first place.

This episode is the calm before the storm, letting us stretch our legs before the tournament kicks into high gear. It's a necessary beat, and thankfully it doesn't feel like one step too many getting between us and the action we've been waiting for over these past few months. Seeing Goku interact with Caulifla and Kale was fun, but I could do without the Frieza/Frost stuff, as well as the time killing battle between the three Gods of Destruction we know nothing about as they give the tournament ring a test run. As always, I'm super curious what this long-promised tournament is going to amount to, and it looks like the fight's finally going to go down next week.

Rating: B

Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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