I went into the Universe Survival Arc on a high. The Future Trunks Arc had just concluded and it was great. It also had a surprisingly dark ending. Sugar coat it all you want with smiling faces, it was dark. Future Trunks and Mai basically lost everything and decide to live in an alternate reality. Still a little confused as to why they just didn’t settle in the main canon timeline. It had to be leaps and bounds nicer than the alternate version of the same broken future they just came from, but sometimes you have to let things go as an anime viewer.
Then we got to the Universe Survival Arc. I was quite pumped at first. I gleefully devoured every new episode on a weekly basis. Now I find myself watching it well after its premiere and only after I’ve exhausted all my other weekly options. What happened? Well now that we are 80 plus episodes into the series, I recognize something isn’t quite right. Whether this is due to writing or the action, I am just not as fulfilled as I once was to see Dragonball on the screen again. I actually found myself echoing the same complaints I once dismissed as nonsense when the show started.
I know a lot of people criticize the tone. There is some merit to that argument. I still say it’s enjoyable with its quirky moments and offbeat humor. It was also pointed out to me that the show doesn’t air at night like DBZ. It airs Sunday mornings in Japan which explains a lot of the tonal difference. That’s a completely different audience that you are trying to court there and I can hardly blame them for wanting to hook newer, younger viewers.
I think what a lot of people are criticizing the lack of consequence. Universe Survival is only the second original arc in the series. Kind of weird to think about 80 episodes in but it’s true. Almost the first half of the show is a rehash of the movies, but we’ll leave that for another article. You can forgive the movie rehash as those plots were pretty much set in stone from the movies. However despite the threat of erasure I have no doubts that Universe 7 will pull through more or less in one piece with little or no lasting damage to the Earth.
In the show they literally have a magic reset button that even when it has limits they constantly write in work arounds. At this point the Dragonballs are less of a McGuffin and more of a get out of jail free card. This actually started back in DBZ but was really mitigated by that shows’ darker tone and gritty fighting. In Super it’s kind of jarring as with the lighter tone, it’s much more obvious that there are no consequences for anyone. Now they even have Super Dragonballs with… well they have apparent limits yet.
Goku fighting in a tournament has become boring
I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I was never a huge Goku fan to begin with. I much prefer the saltier Vegeta. Watching Goku slog his way through enemies you know he will overcome has become boring. This could be because I am no longer that teen watching it for the first time, but it is something more than that simple explanation.
I will admit I love that his selfish reason for fighting has put everyone in danger. That’s refreshing and new. It was also one of Toriyama’s biggest criticisms of the anime over his manga is that Goku was given the hero treatment. You can hardly blame the studios as it made him super popular and them all super rich.
It doesn’t thrill me to see him crush his foes like it used to. I am actually much more entertained seeing the side characters get more action. I was never the biggest Gohan fan but even I have to admit his episodes are much more entertaining than his father’s. We even got a Father Son Galick Gun, simply amazing. So it’s actually really good when the spotlight isn’t on Goku.
I am hoping the actual battle royale will be more eventful than Goku bashing enemies with his fists. It does have promise. More strategy than brute force will be in play. Even though it is last man standing, team dynamics obviously will play a huge role. In short I am hoping for less God Kaioken time and more anything else that will bring victory.
I am actually hoping they turn this around. It could happen. This is all new material with no manga to draw from. I also want there to be some universal erasure. For all their huffing about it, it would be a shame if no one was wiped out. Plus it would teach Goku a lesson that he really is a jerk for causing the deaths of trillions of lives just so he can fight stronger dudes. Super has shown that it has the potential to thrill us still after all these years, however it can also disappoint.
As a side note one area that still thrills me is the opening. The opening is quick paced and full of action. It has the perfect song to match the tone of the opening. It really get you pumped up. Too bad the episodes aren’t as exciting as the opening. Here’s hoping the battle royale lives up to the hype.