As far as a Dragon Ball revival goes, there’s a lot of room for error. After all, the series’ fanbase were willing to put up with Dragon Ball GT. Now, depending on who you talk to, Dragon Ball Super is either utilising that room for error with its slow, gentle start, or it’s pretty much perfect. I’m inclined to go with the latter.
Last week’s cheerful opener is followed by an extension of the Z Fighter catch-up tour (that’s what they’re called, right?), with the focus being firmly on a previously-absent Vegeta and his family. Vegeta was left in an interesting place at the end of Dragon Ball Z, as he, possibly for the first time, graciously conceded superiority to Goku, and appeared (relatively) content with his life as a family man. Vegeta’s ending was part of a general theme; Z left us with a lasting feeling of peace, and since Dragon Ball is all about conflict and battle, Super’s challenge is to backtrack on that peace without it being jarring.
The show appears to use Vegeta to do this in Episode 2, as Goku takes a back seat on King Kai’s planet. Vegeta goes back into pink shirt mode, and takes on the comic relief role in this episode as he fulfils a promise to Trunks to go to an amusement park. Cue hilarious clips of Vegeta grumpily sitting on theme park rides, begrudgingly enjoying an ice cream, angrily telling Trunks to fix the buttons on his shirt, and generally being a dad in his typical Vegeta way. Before too long, however, he reaches his breaking point (I find it odd that Vegeta isn’t able to deal with mosh pit-esque nudging) and resumes his training to surpass Goku once again.
While this fits in with Vegeta’s character, it is a bit jarring that Vegeta would go from fairly content family man back into angry training mode with no real provocation. As kids, Vegeta came across as a badass on a mission, but as adults, he comes across a bit one-dimensional. Dragon Ball Z featured many character development arcs, but Vegeta’s was particularly engaging when he faced up to things outside of his ‘normal’ motivations – when he lamented the loss of his planet and people in the Frieza Saga for example, or when he sacrificed himself for the Earth in the Buu Saga.
As such, it’s nice to see his family dynamic with Bulma and Trunks. His wife and son seem to have adapted around Vegeta’s grumpiness to fun effect. Trunks’ gratitude towards his departing father was adorable and sad at the same time, while Bulma appears to feel genuine affection for her husband (are they married?). With this in mind and after his development in Z, I hope Vegeta isn’t restored to his usual self. At this point, with the fighters not realistically expecting anything stronger than the universe-conquering Buu, and with Vegeta’s increasing softness and reluctant fondness for family life, his reasons for being so angry are illogical, and his ultimate end goal of being the best warrior in the universe will be difficult for him to prove.
Luckily, that’s why Beerus is a thing. Beerus continues to be my least favourite Dragon Ball villain by trying to claim dinosaur meat from a four-eyed Minion-esque alien species. The villain is clearly powerful; he re-enacts Goku’s magic finger scene against Trunks against an alien warrior, while he destroys a whole planet with an energy blast no bigger than a sugar cube. But he comes across as spoiled, petulant and a bit of a brat – which Dragon Ball has already visited with Majin Buu. His logic also doesn’t make sense; Beerus is unable to wait more than three minutes for the meat, and then spends more time messing around with the alien warrior defending the meat, and then decides he doesn’t want it at all. For this viewer, Beerus is not ticking the right boxes, but I’ll keep an open mind.
All in all, Episode 2 continues where Episode 1 left off, and serves as a nice reminder of the characters we thought we had left behind at the end of Z. Beerus’ comprehension of the Super Saiyan God in his visions is setting the stage for what will undoubtedly be Goku’s most difficult battle, while the series does its best to backtrack on that feeling of positivity left at Z‘s close, though it’s doing it slowly. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- Vegeta’s ice cream flavour of choice is strawberry! I would have expected him to be more of a cookies and cream kind of guy. More bite.
- I knew Vegeta has a penchant for vengeance, but to consider eating a giant octopus payback for an earlier octopus he took to the face might be too much even for him.
- Is it just me that prefers Future Trunks to the kid version?
- Why is Goku wearing a shell suit to train? Stahp pls.
- Bulma, you know you’re putting only yourself at risk by driving your planes through trees, right?
- Still not a fan of King Kai’s jokes. Man, I sound like Vegeta.