Dragon Ball is back. That sentence just doesn’t feel real. I imagine Dragon Ball fans have flashbacks of running home, turning on Cartoon Network and sitting there transfixed. For most of our generation, Dragon Ball Z was the first real introduction to anime in any shape or form. There were brief airings of Tenchi Muyo, One Piece and Gundam Wing on Toonami, but they didn’t really build up the same following; the Z Fighters started the addiction, and best of all, Dragon Ball Super is not a remake – it’s a true sequel. It’s that much more special because it does not re-tell a story with slightly cleaner frames and less filler like Kai, or offer you an alternate adventure in the Dragon Ball Z timeline like the video games; it continues on straight after the defeat of Majin Buu, and, as far as I know, completely retcons the mediocrity that was GT. It is a brand new story, a continuation of the adventure of all the characters we fell in love with as kids.
The first episode serves primarily as a catch-up on what all the characters have been up to since Buu’s defeat. The story picks up with Goku having promised Chi Chi to earn some money now that the world is safe, so he’s stuck ploughing a field with a tractor, despite wanting to teleport to King Kai’s planet and train some more. It makes you wonder, between all the world-saving fights, long-haul flights to Namek, and Budokai tournaments, how did Goku make sure Chi Chi had enough money to feed a man with the appetite of 50? It also makes you wonder, why is Goku driving a tractor when he could easily use his power level of OVER 9000 to plough a field by hand? Oh, and he lets Goten drive it for a bit, who, lacking a driving licence, goes straight over a cliff. Goku is truly parent of the year.
We are introduced to the first villain of the series, Beerus, who kind of looks like a purple Mewtwo. Of course, for those of you that have kept up, you will recognise him from the Battle of Gods movie. Potentially the least dark of the DBZ-era villains to date, he travels the universe tasting the various cuisines of planets, then blowing them up if he doesn’t enjoy his meal. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, Gohan is living with his fiancée Videl, essentially scrounging off her father’s wealth by being an eternal student. Speaking of her father, Mr Satan has received the world peace prize of 100 million Zeni by taking all the credit for defeating Buu – this guy is stealing a living. However, in an act of redemption, he offers Goku the 100 million Zeni, with Goku being the true hero behind Buu’s defeat. Goku, continuing his fine parenting streak, realises that by giving the money to Chi Chi, he might be allowed to train on King Kai’s planet, and he accepts. Chi Chi sees the money and tells Goku he can go, as long as he comes back from “time to time”. What kind of marriage is this? Chi Chi does not care if Goku isn’t around as long as she’s got money? Then again, this is Dragon Ball, training comes before anything else. And it wouldn’t be Dragon Ball without an appearance from everyone’s favourite perverted hermit. Almost instantly, Master Roshi has found out about the money, so he runs over with a suggestion; spend the money on porn. Guess how that went down?
On the other side of town, Goten moves on from farming and puts his mind to getting Videl a wedding gift. Being a little kid means he has no clue what women want, so he asks Trunks… another child. Their surprisingly good idea of getting her cosmetic products ultimately ends up with the boys presenting Videl with a bottle of ‘rejuvenating’ water, and Videl acting grateful to spare their feelings, but while low on drama, this sub-plot acts as a nice change of pace for Dragon Ball. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that even though these kids have a really high level of strength and battle training, they are still kids, and kids do really weird things on a daily basis. So far, this episode feels like a really light slice of life anime (like Silver Spoon, Bakuman or K-ON), with plenty of comedy and situations people can relate to – well, apart from the super powers.
The slice of life feel is appropriate as we catch up with all our favourite characters, and next week should be more of the same as we did not see Vegeta, among others. Though I can’t see the tone staying like this for long. Sooner or later, Beerus will arrive on Earth, taste something he doesn’t like, and Goku is going to have to step in – maybe that training with King Kai is a good idea.
At risk of sounding biased, Dragon Ball Super lived up to the hype. After 18 years, the creators still manage to keep the same vibe, and the characters look and sound unchanged. I was very surprised by how authentic they kept all the characters; the writers and voice actors have done a stand up job. The art style was perfect; they kept the aesthetic of the original show, but with better animation quality, and beautifully crisp lines and colours that added so much when watched in HD. Obviously like most long form anime, the quality of the art was not completely consistent throughout, as they usually save money for the big moments when they need to turn on the flair – anyone who has watched Naruto, One Piece or Bleach will be very familiar with this. It was just something really special, and I hope they continue in the same vein for what is slated to be a run of around 100 episodes. It feels weird not having an episode to watch every other day like in my youth, but the opportunity to watch brand new Dragon Ball material as it airs is very exciting.
Stay tuned with Vexoid every week to follow our coverage of Dragon Ball Super! See you next week!