Anime Spotlight: Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super is an anime adaptation of the manga of the same name by Akira Toriyama (the creator of the Dragon Ball franchise) and Toyotarou. The 131 episodes of the series aired on Japanese television from July 5, 2015-March 25, 2018. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution rights for Dragon Ball Super.

The first arc of Dragon Ball Super is essentially a retelling of the Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods anime film. With the retelling, some of the details have been changed. For example, Bulma’s birthday party takes place on a ship instead of at Capsule Corp. There are some other detail changes as well with this telling. And obviously, the story of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods isn’t long enough to last 13+ episodes, so additional minor plots are thrown into the mix. The most amusing of these is when Vegeta takes Bulma and Trunks to an amusement park because of a promise he made to Trunks. Let’s be honest, Vegeta at an amusement park is a hilarious idea. However, I am a little frustrated that Vegeta’s song and dance at Bulma’s party that we see in the film was cut from Dragon Ball Super. Yes, we get Vegeta rushing to cook food for Beerus and Whis, and it’s amusing, but I still would have liked to see the song and dance remain. Beerus and Whis are interesting additions to the Dragon Ball universe. They have an interest in food like Goku, but it’s not about how much they can eat quickly. Instead, they’re more interested in trying various dishes from other planets. I think we could say that they’re the Dragon Ball universe’s equivalent of foodies.

After this arc, there’s an episode of Mister Satan admitting the existence of Beerus and claiming to be the one who defeated him. Surprising visitors from outer space nearly expose his hoax, though. While the episode is a little on the ridiculous side, it fits right in with Mr. Satan’s character. This is followed by three episodes that serve as a bridge between the retelling of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and the Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F” anime films. This bridge shows the audience how Vegeta and Goku ended up going to Beerus’ world to train with Whis, which is one of the first things that it seen in the Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F” anime film. I’m glad that Dragon Ball Super took the opportunity to fill in that gap. One of the memorable things in this section is seeing Vegeta trying to cook in order to impress Whis, because it was amusing. Another amusing thing here is seeing Gohan being the overprotective expectant father. He means well by trying to cook dinner one night, but he obviously hasn’t done it very much because he gets flustered easily by it. Wow, two humorous scenes of men trying to cook… who ever would have expected that from the Dragon Ball franchise?

While the second arc is a retelling of the Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F” anime film, there wasn’t nearly as much tweaking with the events and the story. There was some minor tweaking, but it was nowhere near as noticeable as it was in the first arc of Dragon Ball Super.

This is followed by a new story arc, which introduces Beerus’ twin brother, Champa, and Whis’ older sister, Vados. They are the God of Destruction and attendant for the 6th Universe. They make an unannounced visit to Beerus’ planet while Goku and Vegeta are training there. We learn that there are a total of 12 universes in this world, and that Goku and the others are in the 7th Universe. Champa is the God of Destruction in the 6th Universe. After fighting over which universe has better food and discovering that the Earth in the 6th Universe has been destroyed, Champa proposes a tournament where the winner will be allowed to swap Earths. Oh, and there’s also the introduction of the Super Dragon Balls, which are literally planet-sized Dragon Balls. This leads into the Universe 6 saga, in which a Tenkaichi Tournament style contest is held on a vacated, nameless planet located between the 6th Universe and the 7th Universe. Beerus insists on choosing one of the contestants but tells Goku and Vegeta they are free to choose two others. They choose Piccolo and Majin Boo, but Universe 7 loses Majin Boo when he falls asleep during the written portion of the contest and is disqualified. The tournament itself introduces some interesting new characters from the 6th Universe, including a Saiyan named Caba, Frost (the 6th Universe’s version of Freiza), and an assassin known as Hit. My favorite part of the Universe 6 saga is at the beginning of the tournament, with the performance of “The Anthem of the Universe.” It was hysterical, and I was cracking up when I saw it. But the characters from the 6th Universe that I mentioned here are important for the final arc of the series.

At the end of this arc, a new character called Grand Zeno makes an appearance. He looks and acts like a young child but is actually the “King of Universes.” Zeno makes an appearance because he witnessed what happened and wants to organize a tournament for all 12 universes. Even though the two Gods of Destruction make it clear not to displease Zeno because he has the power to destroy anything, Goku still casually approaches the Omni-King. Fortunately, Zeno was not displeased by this action. But why am I not surprised that Goku didn’t heed any warnings?

After roughly five episodes of “filler,” the next arc sees the return of Future Trunks. A new menace has appeared in his timeline that looks like Goku but is dressed in black and it should be noted also wears a special ring and a potara earring in one of his ears. Goku Black also makes it to the present time, and a battle with Goku ensues. This arc sees Goku and Future Trunks going between timelines because of Goku Black, and it was interesting to see some of the characters we’ve known, such as Yajirobe and Mai, appear in Future Trunks’ timeline. They learn the truth about Goku Black, and a major battle takes place in Future Trunks’ timeline. As part of this, Goku brings back the Grand Zeno from this timeline to become a friend for the Grand Zeno of his timeline.

After some “filler” episodes, the Tournament of Power arc (the final arc of the series) gets underway. Bulma and Vegeta’s daughter Bra is born during this arc, and fighters from the various universes gather together for the tournament. But before they do, Goku has to come up with enough participants… which ends up including Frieza being allowed to leave Hell for it. There’s a set time limit for the tournament, and when all of the members of a team are out of the tournament, that team’s universe will be erased. So the stakes are high going into this tournament, and of course, everyone is trying to do what they can in order to avoid having their universe erased. The Tournament of Power was the longest arc in the series, but for the most part, it didn’t feel like it dragged on. The last few episodes of the series get really intense, and the viewer is left on the edge of their seat during the final battle between Jiren and Goku.

I have to admit that I was a little unsure about Dragon Ball Super initially. At first, this was due to the character designs and the animation quality, but after watching the first arc, this didn’t bother me as much because I adjusted to the changes. I was also a little slow to get going on this series because the first two story arcs were simply retellings of the Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F” anime films, which I had already seen. However, after making it through those first two arcs, I found that I overall ended up enjoying Dragon Ball Super as I was able to see more and more new stories that I’d never seen before. By the end of the series, I found that I really came to enjoy it. I also appreciated that with the way it ended, it leaves open the possibility of more stories in the future. I thought this was a great idea, since the Dragon Ball Super manga is still ongoing and that there are more stories to tell if it’s ever decided to continue this anime. And even if there ends up never being another Dragon Ball television anime series, the ending also works as the ending for the anime.

I would highly recommend that fans of the Dragon Ball franchise watch Dragon Ball Super, even if you’ve already seen the last two Dragon Ball Z films. Once you make it past two first two story arcs, you’re in for some good stories and new characters for this franchise that you’ve never seen before.

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