Dragon Ball Super
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 98 of
Dragon Ball Super ?
About a million years ago, before Dragon Ball Super did its little recruitment mini-arc, there was an exhibition match setting up the Tournament of Power where Goku, Gohan, and Buu took turns fighting Universe 9's "Trio De Dangers". This trio of wolf bros are finally back in action, looking to correct their defeat now that the real tournament is underway. This ends up composing the bulk of the episode, though this time Vegeta gets a slice of the action and the wolves have their other Universe 9 teammates on hand.
Unfortunately, however, they don't get to survive until the end. Easily the most eventful thing to happen in this episode is that we get to see exactly what happens when an entire team gets knocked out of the ring. Does their universe get erased right then and there, or do we wait until the whole tournament is over? It's the former. It's definitely the former as we see Zen-Oh, the creepy smiling alien children raise their hands and blip them all out of existence without a second of doubt or regret. Man, and they used to be so cute.
With the Tournament of Power being such an action-heavy arc, it runs the risk of limiting week-to-week discussion. Thankfully, this episode has a clear point of focus, Universe 9, that gives it a distinct beginning, middle, and end. With last week's episode barely covering a minute of in-world time, they could easily stretch this battle out to unbearable lengths, but a significant chunk of the cast has already been removed. I expect there to be a lot of variety in how many ring-outs we see in each episode.
The main action this week looks great, even if a sliver of it is reused from the opening theme. Goku and Vegeta have to preserve their use of Super Saiyan Blue, since it drains so much energy, but I've been wondering why they haven't been using at least the original Super Saiyan. Thankfully, this week they do! Goku also comes up with a way to use his energy to form a protective shield against Lavender's poison, which is a little anticlimactic compared to the mountain of fan theories inspired by the white aura we saw in last week's preview.
This episode is solid as any action-focused Dragon Ball Super outing, but the cherry on top is its dark ending. Our perceptions of Zen-Oh and the Grand Priest have been such a rollercoaster that it begs the audience to ask questions. This tournament aims to have real consequences (even if the erased universes get wished back by the Super Dragon Balls at the end), blurring the lines between good and evil. Even Zen-Oh can't really be described as evil, since he's the closest thing to an omnipotent god in this series. He just doesn't care as long as the fighting's exciting. For the past few months, it's been easy to forget how interested Super's been trying to explore that mindset—especially with a main character like Goku. Hopefully, we'll get to see how deep the show wants to dig into that soon.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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