The issue with obsessing over a TV show when you’re a kid is that when you look at the same show when you’re older, you spot all sorts of flaws – flaws that would probably end your interest in the show if you were a first-time viewer now. This is very much the case with Dragon Ball Z, whose lax approach to explaining why Frieza was allowed to rule the universe when stronger enemies existed, or its clumsy attempts at the multiple universes and time travel theories, recently left me reconsidering my younger self’s choices. After watching Dragon Ball Super, however, I can’t help but think that Z managed to do things a lot better than they’re being done now.
What Dragon Ball Super does is portray its characters badly. I’ve not taken to Beerus at all, even preferring the seemingly random Emperor Pilaf deviation in Episode 4 to spending any more time with the incredibly spoilt and hungry God of Destruction. Goku is, for lack of a better phrase, an absolute moron, while Vegeta is becoming increasingly one-dimensional. In Episode 5, for example, Vegeta ends up attending Bulma’s birthday party, but then wants to be left alone – behaviour presumably justified by the fact that that’s just how Vegeta is. But then why has he attended?
That’s not important, though. Episode 5 focuses on the meeting between Goku and Beerus, much to King Kai’s chagrin. Following Beerus’ unsuccessful attempts to obtain information on the Super Saiyan God, Goku openly ignores King Kai to challenge Beerus to a fight. Bear in mind that at this point, Goku has been told that Beerus is a god, is comfortably one of the strongest beings in the universe, and is a vital part of the actual forces that govern existence as a whole. Why wouldn’t you challenge him to a fight? Idiot.
This Goku contrasts with Z’s more astute Goku; the one who acknowledged that Gohan, rather than he, would be best placed to defeat Cell, the one who sensibly opts to not be wished back to life after his death since he attracted threats to the Earth, the one who begged Vegeta to fuse with him to improve their chances of defeating Buu.
It doesn’t seem right.
Goku then treats us to a demonstration of his varying Super Saiyan forms, which are nice to see again. Each form proves to be ineffective against Beerus, however, as the god simply dodges all of Goku’s attacks. Super Saiyan 3’s complete ineffectiveness jars in this instance; remember that this transformation was considered to be sufficient to defeat Kid Buu, and simply transforming into SS3 had atmospheric effects on the entire Earth? I understand that Beerus is meant to be the strongest being in the universe, but at this point, if a known being exists that completely nullifies the effects of even Super Saiyan 3, it doesn’t make sense for the first Super Saiyan form to have been a legend across the universe.
Similarly, Beerus’ continued emphasis on Frieza doesn’t make sense. Frieza was comfortably outclassed by both Goku and Trunks in their basic Super Saiyan forms. Beerus appears to be surprised that someone was capable of defeating Frieza, but a good number of the Z team would probably be able to defeat Frieza now. It would make more sense for Goku to resonate with Beerus as the warrior that defeated Majin Buu, a warrior at the level of gods, and one who actually killed several of them; note that Frieza was not deemed enough of a threat for the Supreme Kai to get involved, while Majin Buu was. Better connection of plot threads is required.
My final criticism of this episode, and probably the episode’s most unforgivable misstep, is the dip in animation quality when Goku and Beerus square off. The show has so far showcased beautiful high-definition shots of our heroes, shots that seemed unimaginable until Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit on the PlayStation 3 in 2008. However, the animation quality dips to a level even lesser than that seen in the considerably older Z.
Dragon Ball is known for its high-octane fight scenes, and these are often used to showcase the talent of the show’s artists. If I’m being blunt, parts of the fight between Goku and Beerus wouldn’t look out of place in a web comic, and are certainly not at an appropriate level for a Dragon Ball show.
I’ve spent the majority of this article chewing the episode out, so it may seem a bit of a surprise when I say that I felt that this was one of Super’s better episodes so far. There is an active effort to move the plot forward and set events into motion, and it’s good to see some of the action that the series is renowned for, as the gentle pace of the first four episodes was starting to feel tedious. Beerus is the most interesting he’s been in this series, as he responds to Goku’s gentle provocation appropriately, contrasting with his completely irrational destruction of a planet when the food was too greasy. The viewer is also given an accurate depiction of Beerus’ power as he defeats Super Saiyan 3 Goku with two powerful blows; as he travels towards Earth in search of the Super Saiyan God, Beerus is bound to be a big problem for Goku and his friends. I can only hope that Beerus’ story doesn’t keep me longing for Dragon Ball Z.
- Vegeta even sunbathes in his Saiyan armour. Seems legit.
- It struck me as odd that when King Kai wanted to instruct the fighters on Earth to not engage or upset Beerus, he would contact Vegeta, the one most likely to engage or upset Beerus. Remember how he challenged Frieza? Remember how he challenged Cell? Remember how he challenged Buu? Oh, I’m sure Vegeta won’t engage Beerus.
- Goku’s response to finding himself in a fight with the strongest being in the universe is to start the fight in his base form. Goku in Dragon Ball Super is a freaking moron.
- King Kai’s planet was destroyed by Goku again. He should really consider giving Goku a fake number or something.
- The preview for Episode 6 shows that Yamcha pisses Beerus off by slapping him on the back. Does Yamcha ever do anything useful?