Not much needs to be said about Dragon Ball at this point. Hugely influential manga and anime franchise that’s still going strong after all these years. In 2013, Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods was released, which was the first Dragon Ball movie in over 17 years. Also, Akira Toriyama, the series’ creator, was heavily involved in making the movie and it’s canon to the universe. The movie was a hit and was followed up by another hit Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. With this, an anime series was announced that was going to continue the Dragon Ball story and thus, here we are. So how is this series? Well, let’s find out. This is Dragon Ball Super.
Dragon Ball Super is the sequel to both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z and continues where the latter left off. Which further solidifies Dragon Ball GT as non-canon. Thought to be fair, Akira Toriyama had no involvement over the creation of that series, it was Toei Animation making up their own story. But we’re not here to talk about GT, we’re talking about Super. The first two arcs of the series are extended retellings of Battle Of Gods, which introduced the God Of Destruction Beerus and gave Goku a new transformation, and Resurrection F, which brought Frieza back from the dead and introduced another new transformation for Goku (and Vegeta). Some of the early episodes of the series suffered from lackluster animation, especially in the fifth episode, but they’ve improved upon that, giving us some impressive shots and fight scenes. That’s something the Dragon Ball series excels at and I’m glad that they kept the tradition going.
In terms of characters, the entire original cast remains the same as they were in DBZ. Goku is still simple-minded and is only concerned with training and fighting, Vegeta still aims to surpass Goku, Gohan is pretty much underutilized along with the rest of the Z-Fighters, etc. Let’s talk newer characters. We have Beerus, the alien cat God Of Destruction who only cares about two things: food and destroying shit. He’s so powerful that Goku can’t even beat him and the only reason he doesn’t destroy Earth is because he (alongside Whis) enjoys the food that comes from it. He’s accompanied by an angel named Whis, who’s even more powerful than him and occasionally trains Goku and Vegeta.
The series is split up into five sagas. I already talked about the first two. The third saga, Universe 6, introduced Beerus’ brother Champa, who’s also a God Of Destruction, but in a different universe. They both hold a tournament pitting their best fighters against each other and we’re introduced to more new characters. It ends with Beerus’ universe winning the tournament and they get the Super Dragon Balls, which are like the Dragon Balls, but planet-sized. The next arc brings back Future Trunks, who’s up against an enemy named Goku Black, who looks just like Goku. The final saga of the series and the longest one is the Universe Survival Tournament where ten of every universe’s best fighters compete to survive with the losers having their universes wiped out. My main issue with Dragon Ball Super is that despite the massive stakes, there’s not much weight to it and it feels unsatisfying at the end, especially with the final arc where Goku’s universe does win the tournament and all of the other eliminated universes are brought back. Also, they dragged the Future Trunks arc out for way too long thanks to the same shit happening over and over: our heroes get their asses beat, they retreat to lick their wounds, they go back for a rematch, rinse and repeat. To wrap things up in a positive note, there’s numerous callbacks to moments from DBZ and even from the original Dragon Ball series. If you’re a longtime fan, you’ll get a kick out of that.
And that was Dragon Ball Super. It delivers a lot of what you want and expect out of a Dragon Ball series, a whole lot of action and some pretty good animation. But story-wise, it doesn’t really amount to anything and despite raising the stakes, it doesn’t leave that big of an impact nor was there that much character development. It seems more focused on fan-service more than delivering a satisfying story. It’s why I’m mixed about the series. I’m glad it happened and I did enjoy the series, but in my honest opinion, it could have been better. All 131 episodes, subbed and dubbed, are available to watch on all the streaming services that hosts anime. Also, check out Dragon Ball Super: Broly if you haven’t. It’s awesome. Next time, we’ll get into some science with Dr. Stone.