It’s time to finally take a look at Dragon Ball Super. It may have finished a very long time ago over in Japan, but Toonami only finished airing it rather recently. It’s definitely a show that’s been pretty polarizing in many aspects, but overall it’s great to have Dragon Ball back. The show has significant issues to be sure, but it did bring us some big elements like Goku Black. Hopefully we do get that next show announcement by the end of the year, but the year is ending fast. Lets take a deep look at good ole Super.
The first two arcs recap the movies that came out. The first one where Beerus arrives to destroy Earth and find the legendary Super Saiyan and the second one where Frieza returns to exact his revenge. These stories are old so there’s no reason to really go into them again. Unfortunately both adaptions were not quite as good as the movies they were told in. This is mainly because the show has to pad these stories out to buy a lot of time. I’ll really be starting my story look through with the next arc, the big universe against universe showdown!
Basically Champa has challenges Beerus to a battle. The winner gets to claim the Super Dragon Balls and can make whatever wish they want. Beerus accepts and for his fighters he wisely chooses the power hitters like Goku and Vegeta. There is a mysterious Monaka fighter on the roster, but Beerus insists that he fights last. Meanwhile Champa’s team has a mysterious individual known as Hit which could get a little tricky for the heroes. It’s a fun way to really start the show off because we get to see some new characters and the first opponent to actually defeat Super Saiyan Blue. Hit vs Vegeta is definitely one of the best fights in Super and it really raised the stakes. If this random guy could beat Blue then who knows how many other guys could possibly take down Goku and Vegeta.
This arc may not have life or death stakes the way that the Z arcs had, but it was still a great kickoff event for the show. We got a lot of big fights and no real wasted time here. Hit vs Goku was also great and it was nice to see Vegeta take down Frost. It did start off the power level issues a little more, but I’m going to be tackling that after covering every arc because that’s a big topic that’s going to need its own section. This arc really let you ease into the new characters and just enjoy some nice fights.
Next we have the Goku Black arc which is definitely the best arc in the series. Trunks arrives from the future and we find out that in his timeline Goku murdered everyone. The heroes figure there must be more to it than that since turning evil isn’t really Goku’s thing. The guy shows up and easily beats Vegeta and Goku when they first fight. Black continues to get stronger with each fight which makes him incredibly dangerous. He also has an ally in the immortal Zamasu and they make for a great tag team. There’s also a bit of mystery here because we just aren’t sure exactly who Goku Black is. There are definitely a lot of people he could be, but it’s hard to get that definitive answer.
Part of why this arc is so good is because it’s the only big arc in Super to really have high stakes. The Tournament of Power is an example of the stakes not being existent because of how high they are, but more in a moment. Goku Black and Zamasu are here to destroy everyone, they aren’t following any rules and since we’re in the future there isn’t a Beerus or Whis to suck the tension away. It’s just a brutal battle among Saiyans and we get a lot of great scenes here. Trunks being around is also great. I do like the contrast of how he’s always ready to charge in and attack while everyone is still gloating. Trunks always goes for the finishing move, it’s just a shame that he doesn’t have the power to carry it out most times.
Finally we have the tournament of power. With the exception of two universes everyone else has been instructed to fight. Each universe gets 10 members and they all have to fight within 40 minutes. Each episode is roughly a minute and so we naturally get a ton of fights. The main threat appears to be a man named Jiren whose power is basically absolute. Super Saiyan Blue won’t cut it here so Goku will need an entirely new level of power if he wants to even get close to this guy. Can Goku really master such a form in such a small amount of time? Meanwhile his allies will have to try not to hold him back.
This is the longest arc of the series I believe and it does benefit from the animation upgrade Super got in the second half of its life span. It’s very noticeable how the animation improved and some of those final fights will likely live on forever as some of the best in anime. The concept of the arc is great since we have so many fights here and a lot of the best themes in the show appear here. Goku’s Ultra Instinct is definitely incredible and it felt like so long since he last had a super form. It was definitely worth the wait. There’s a lot of action and excitement to be had here for sure. While it may not be quite as serious with the stakes as the last arc the nonstop action definitely really helps to keep it at a high level.
The reason why there are no stakes here is because you know it won’t stick. The rules are that every defeated universe will be eradicated. That means Goku would be murdering untold amounts of people if he won the tournament. There’s just no way that could possibly stick so while you enjoy all of the fights it’s more of a friendly tournament at the end of the day. I love all tournaments so it’s not a big deal, but it does help to give Goku Black’s arc that slight edge. It’s really the only high stakes arc post Z and I’m hoping a sequel series brings back that tension by bringing in the demons and having foes who can defeat Beerus and Whis. That will really throw us back into uncharted territory.
The animation in Super is definitely solid. I know the show got a lot of mocking back in the day for how off model everything is, but it still looks good. Sure, it’s nowhere near the big shows nowadays like Fate, Bleach, or something like that, but it still looks good enough. The big battles also get a boost and then with the tournament of power the animation really got elevated. Towards the end there we finally get back into the high-end level of anime. The fight with Kefla, Jiren, Toppo, they were all quite solid. Once the animation goes up it actually manages to stay there for the rest of the series which is very impressive. The animation is definitely not a real concern for this show, it’s definitely very impressive and again, that boost at the end puts it up there with any anime it would like to face.
Then we have the soundtrack which is absolutely top notch. Super has one of the best OSTs that I’ve seen in a very long time. Pretty much every theme is one that you’ve just got to listen to. We have suspense themes, battle themes, emotional themes, you name it and the show’s got it. It’s easily a 5 star soundtrack and very few anime can even get on the same level as this one. I don’t know exactly where I’d put it, but I’m confident that it would make top 10.
Goku is the lead here once more but he may be a little different than you remember. Interestingly he is the most flanderized of the characters compared to the DBZ days. He has a very tough time taking anything seriously and is more kid-like than usual. To an extent this is because the old Z dub made him extra heroic but it’s also just the show dialing him back a bit. It’s a shame because he is an awesome character in Z. He’s still solid in Super to be sure, but not quite up to par with his normal self. He’s at his best when bantering with Frieza or Vegeta. That’s when he is back at his peak. Goku’s battle intelligence is also unaffected as seen by his plans against Hit and Jiren. His destructo disc plan against the latter was very impressive even if it ultimately did not work.
Naturally Goku did get some new forms here so how did they stack up? Well, I definitely loved the Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken form mainly because I would always question why Goku didn’t use it more often with SSJ. Certainly it takes a larger strain but it would help him take down any foe. The form also just looks really cool with the blue and red colors blending together.
The big form is Ultra Instinct though. It’s got two modes, Onen and Mastered. Both forms are incredible. I’ll give the latter form the edge with how stylish the white hair looks. It feels more complete but I can also see why people love Omen mode since it’s more mysterious. Goku acts like his SSJ4 form where he is completely ruthless and just wrecks his opponents. Whenever Goku transforms into Ultra Instinct form it’s an epic scene. Surprisingly his first transformation scene is the weakest of the group, but I’m going to have an editorial on that soon. Personally the most impressive appearance of that mode was against Kefla. Either way I look forward to this form continuing to show up.
Then we’ve got Vegeta and the show really does an excellent job of portraying him. Yes the first arc with Beerus makes him look terrible and the running gag of Vegeta being scared of him does continue for a bit. Fortunately that starts to get dropped by the end because otherwise the show really depicts how Vegeta has changed over the years. He’s more of a family man than Goku and is always doing his best to protect Bulma. He’s kept up his Saiyan pride and no matter how many power ups Goku gets Vegeta is right behind him. Vegeta never loses sight of his drive to be the best. He may lose all of the important fights in the show, but he always puts up a good effort.
Trunks is always a lot of fun so it’s nice to see him return even if just for one arc. He gets a crispy new super form and is no nonsense as always. His battles with Goku Black are great and I do miss having him around. The show really missed a big opportunity by not keeping him around at the end. It would have made perfect sense to have brought him over instead of going to another world with no real benefits. Perhaps he’ll still appear in the future some day.
Beerus is an enjoyable character even if he does come at a big price. He has good banter with the rest of the characters and Beerus is super competitive so that leads to a lot of great dialogue as well. The show retconned the fact that Goku in SSG mode was close to beating him, but even so it’s hard to imagine that the heroes can’t beat him at this point. They’re basically just friends now though so I suppose the point is moot. The only problem about having Beerus and Whis around is that there is rarely a sense of danger. You know that the villains won’t be able to compete with Beerus which is a shame.
As for Whis, he’s portrayed as being even stronger than Beerus. Everything is a joke to him, but at least he doesn’t threaten to destroy the world nearly as often as Beerus. Whis is content to just hang out and enjoy whatever is going on. I hope to see him fight seriously someday. Then we’ve got some of the original Z fighters like Krillin, but there’s not a ton to say about him. He’s still not very strong, but at least Goku does put him on the final team roster so he gets to have a few fights.
Bulma gets a good role here. As always she is the genius of the group and develops a lot of great tech that helps the heroes out in their battles. Without her they would really be in a serious pickle. She may not fight, but her constant advancements in weaponry and armor have helped the team a great deal. Then we have Piccolo who is also not one of the stronger fighters anymore. He does help Gohan out in the tournament though and still has good tactical awareness. He’s also just a fun character to have around.
Gohan let his skills slack off once again for the first two arcs, but fortunately after that he finally takes fighting seriously again. He even re-unlocks his mystic form and gets back to his peak strength. While he is unable to pass Vegeta or Goku by the end (Nor should he since they never stopped training) he does get to be a serious threat once again. His best showing is probably when he took on Dyspo. Gohan was actually keeping up pretty well. I’m definitely up for seeing more of Gohan in a sequel show.
Android 18 joins the fray in the final arc. Unfortunately she has not gotten any stronger from the Android saga unlike 17, but she still contributes quite a bit in the various fights. She may be quite harsh to Krillin at times, but at the end of the day she really just wants the money to help out the family. Android 17 is one of the surprise hits of the series. Apparently being a park ranger can multiply your power level hundreds of times over. He went from being an Arc 2 villain to suddenly having power on the level of the gods. He’s a really fun character and I always like his dead pan approach. His best scene is probably when he caught the light speed power ranger in time to prevent him from landing a hit on 18. It was just a crispy scene.
Naturally Frieza has a really big role here. He is instrumental in the tournament of power arc. He’s definitely one of the all time best Dragon Ball villains and Super really handles his personality perfectly. He’s constantly messing with the heroes but fortunately he also has enough raw talent to back this up. He has the best strategy out of all the heroes in that he waits for everyone else to get tired and waste their energy before he steps in. Unfortunately the show does drop the ball with his character by the end. The entire time it is heavily implied that his power level is on par with Goku and Vegeta’s and his scenes support this. Then he suddenly looks terrible in the last few episodes. I’ve heard that it was a change of writers or something, but when watching the show it makes no sense. Dyspo and Toppo should not have done nearly as well as they did against him. It made all of his planning futile in the end.
Then there is Buu but in contrast you can tell that he got the raw end of the stick here. He is around for the first tournament and then gets a training episode for the second, but is quickly written out of the show. The whole sub-plot is rather bizarre. Maybe there was a plot that was intended for him at some point and then it was scrapped. It’s too bad because there was a lot of potential here. I do think he would have been a bit overpowered for this arc though. Healing and a high power level go a long way.
Goku Black is one of the most ambitious characters in the series and it was really great to see him step up to the plate. He certainly deserved his own arc so that was great. His regal personality makes for a great contrast to Goku’s design and his whole getting stronger the more damage he takes stick is also great. The end of the arc may not have been the most satisfying for his fans, but at least he got a lot of fights before then. He quickly rose up to become one of my all time favorite villains as well and I’d put him second behind Broly. Black is just that good.
Meanwhile I also greatly enjoyed Zamasu. His whole obsession with disliking the mortals is handled very well. You can feel his disdain in every scene that he is in. While his power level may not be too high, it’s nice to see his immortality in action. I always said that immortality is not a power I would want because if you’re weak then it just means that someone can beat you up for eternity. Since he has a partner in Goku Black it is less of an issue though. Otherwise he definitely would have been in a whole lot of trouble.
Jaco and Champa are two of the comic relief characters running around. Jaco’s a decent enough guy even if he is super weak. I mean, that’s basically the point. Champa is harder to take seriously because we’re meant to believe that he is about as strong as Beerus and I find that hard to believe. Not working out at all and getting super overweight should absolutely hamper your fighting ability. I just can’t see how it wouldn’t. Then we have the Grand Minister who is likely extremely powerful but we never get to see him fight. There are a ton of fan videos where he ends up challenging the gang and I must say that this would be a rather awesome turn of events.
Zeno is a high above being who can end reality with the snap of his fingers. He’s not my kind of character as I prefer actual fighting ability to triumph. He also has a habit of just repeating everything other characters are saying which gets old very quickly. His scenes are basically just around to save budget on all the recycled animation and to pad out the time. Now lets talk about some of the bigger characters in the tournament of power. First up is Frost and I really like the concept here. He’s basically a lower version of Frieza. His power level is considerably lower, but he can fight which is really all that I need. The guy has a good future if he ever appears again.
Then we have Cabba who is a Saiyan like Goku. He may not be super strong yet, but given how easily he was able to reach Super Saiyan 2 I could see him becoming a truly powerful asset at some point. In the meanwhile we have Caulifla for that. She’s a great character with a very considerable power level. I like her aggressive personality and she is always spurring on her allies to get even stronger. She really helped Kale improve for example. Kale isn’t quite as solid, but I really like her Broly form. Then when the two become Kefla they are easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise.
Hit is definitely a warrior with a lot of hype and it is deserved. His ability to time skip makes it so that any opponent going against him is going to have a bad time. Unless you are extremely fast there is really nothing you can do against him. He’s also important because he was the first fighter to take down Super Saiyan Blue. It would have been nice to see him do more in the Tournament of Power, but his fight with Dyspo was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to see a ton of fights where various universes fought each other without Goku’s team jumping in which is part of why it was so solid.
Then we have Ribrianne whose power level was jumping all over the place. You have to give her points for resilience because she just kept on getting up no matter how many times everyone would beat her down. Her super form is also pretty cool. I do prefer her human form to the transformed mode, but her Shojo powers were a nice homage to the classic anime. Then we have Dyspo who is part of Jiren’s main 3, but less impressive power-wise than the other two. There were quite a few times he was nearly eliminated. I do like the fact that his speed is so off the charts though. By the end of the series he’s going to fast that even other characters who are FTL have trouble keeping up with him. Dyspo definitely rounds out the trio quite well.
Nearing the end is Toppo, a pretty tough guy who doesn’t have too much going for him. His opening fight with Goku during the prelims was a lot of fun and in the tournament he gets his share of battles. He definitely did become one of the strongest fighters even if Vegeta wasted a lot of unnecessary energy in defeating him. His super form was just great and you can see why he is the 2nd in command on the team. He could have been even cooler, but as it stands you do have to respect his power.
Finally there is Jiren, the wall of power. The guy is portrayed as basically being invincible throughout Super. The writers really wrote themselves into a hole with how strong he is. Attacks on the level of Super Saiyan Blue literally could not hurt him and he was taking full shots from everyone at different points. You can see how he noticeably gets nerfed as the show goes on, but by the end you still know that he’s one of the strongest. His fight with Ultra Instinct Goku is great and I don’t think he needed more personality. A lot of people thought he was too much like a literal wall in Goku’s way, but that added to the mystery. All I need from a character like Jiren is a bunch of good fights and a solid design. It’s also worth noting that a lot of his lines were pretty great. He’s definitely a super solid villain.
Super’s writing is decent. The characters do act like exaggerated versions of themselves at times, but the plots are engaging. The music and graphics are definitely top notch so there are no complaints there. Really the big deal here are the power levels. It’s finally time to take a look at them. DBZ was not perfect, but for the most part it was very consistent in telling you exactly where everyone stacked up. This series throws that out the window almost immediately. Hit being able to tag Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but then being countered by base Goku is already crazy. The difference in speed is thousands, if not millions of times apart there. Super Saiyan 1 is a 50X multiplier, SSJ2 is around 2.5, SSJ3 is X4, SSJG is unknown but way higher than SSJ3, and then SSB is 50X that. When you multiply all of these things together with the original power level you can see how that makes no sense.
It would only get worse in the next arcs. Trunks goes from having SSJ2 level power to being in god mode and holding his own with Black and Zamasu. That’s definitely not going to make any sense no matter how often you look at it. Then the biggest offender is the Tournament of Power. Krillin and Roshi are able to trade blows with some fighters and their power levels are absolutely terrible. They’re so low that they should literally lose the instant that the match starts. The reasoning for not letting Goten and Trunks into the tournament was also terrible since their power levels are way higher. Then you’ve got the whole Frieza debacle.
Almost every show has power level issues, but I’ve never seen any as massive and obvious as Dragon Ball Super’s. It’s just completely unrelenting and you can’t help but think about it in every episode. Even if you’re not a huge DBZ fan you’ll likely be able to notice this. It’s just hard not to with the show throwing it in your face the whole time. It’s likely just a writing issue when you think about it. The show did struggle to get that DBZ vibe for most of the show. Really the only time it actually got that serious air again was during the Goku Black arc and then during the climax of the TOP.
The single best moment in the entire show is when Goku got up after being knocked out by Kefla and re-awakens his Omen form. With the narrator there as well it felt like the kind of cliffhanger you would see in DBZ. A good narrator makes a world of difference with how much hype he can bring to the table. Goku’s transformation into the finalized form of Ultra Instinct also gets a similar vibe. It’s just great to have such a powerhouse on the hero side and it’s also believable when Goku is holding his own and even beating Jiren. At least with that there were no power levels to think of.
Overall, Dragon Ball Super is a great show. We can do the “What if” game forever of course, but ultimately you can still be satisfied with what we got here. The show had a pretty good life at 130+ episodes and it kept the saga going. I’m definitely not in the group that says this should replace GT or that says GT is significantly worse than Super. It’s still a great sequel as well and I’d still say it takes place after Super. Super does have the advantage of being longer and keeping the Z Fighters though. Once you watch this show be sure to watch the Broly film since it takes place after the tournament of power. Hopefully the next show doesn’t re-adapt it, but no need to wait for that since Broly is available right now.