Anime Review: Dragon Ball Super

In case you didn’t already know, Dragon Ball is considered by many to be the franchise that brought anime to the US and defined a genre. It inspired thousands, if not millions, of children and adults across the world. It’s probably THE reason I’m even remotely in shape. I would do pushups and sit ups at night during the commercials and lift dumbbells during the show. After all these years I would still say it’s my favorite anime in many respects.

So a few years ago when they announced a new movie “Battle of Gods”, to say I was excited is an understatement. In fact when “Resurrection F” came out shortly after, I bought tickets to see it at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX during RTX 2015. Balcony seating baby with a whisky coke and I think a sandwich. Easily the best movie watching experience of my life.

I still remember the drive back home after RTX. We stopped at a Wataburger to get food and stretch and I got on my phone to see if a new Dragon Ball series would be coming out. Two new movies gave me reason to believe, and sure enough there were announcements coming out about Dragon Ball Super. I had two immediate reactions. Relief that GT was being written out and horror at the new style Super would be taking on.

Believe it or not, the photo above is an accurate comparison of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super’s animation. Now to be fair the studios were rushed to get Super out the door, but it’s really no excuse for some of the terrible quality scenes early in the show. Fortunately it’s been cleaned up and even those older episodes have been redrawn and rereleased. Unfortunately though it still doesn’t compare to classic DBZ. But let’s move on.

Dragon Ball Super takes place not too long after the events of DBZ the Buu saga. This means Super Saiyan 3 is still the latest transformation and Super Saiyan 4 is out the door. However it’s immediately replaced with Super Saiyan God and shortly after Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (or Super Saiyan Blue to keep us remotely sane). Wow I’m looking at this paragraph now with 7 “Supers” and 6 “Saiyans”. Just wow. Anyway I’m personally not a fan of these new transformations, HOWEVER the show’s latest 1 hour special has changed things. During his fight in the Tournament of Power against Jiren, Goku has attained a new form which appears to be truly worthy among Dragon Ball fans.

This new form – Ultra Instict – doesn’t appear to be a typical transformation like Super Saiyan forms. If anything it’s more similar to his Kaioken abilities. Of course it’s all speculation at this point, but regardless it’s the first really exciting development in DBS in my opinion. The following fight between Goku and Jiren is one of the most exciting since Frieza and Cell.

Is it enough though? Time will tell with this show and hopefully Saturday’s episode keeps up this new trend of awesomeness. Unfortunately 109-110 episodes into an anime is too long to redeem the show as a whole and I must say the majority of the show has been disappointing. However since I do so love the Dragon Ball franchise I’m not going to rate it as I do most shows.

Dragon Ball: 5/5

The OG Dragon Ball series is amazing beginning to end as young Goku travels the world with his friends in search of the dragon balls and martial arts. It will always have a special place in my heart.

Dragon Ball Z: 4.5/5

Dragon Ball’s sequel series is a core and foundation to anime. Learning of Goku’s Saiyan heritage and following adventures were some of the highlights of my childhood. I’m knocking off half a point for the Buu saga primarily for how drawn out it was. In this respect DBS actually has an edge by not spending too terribly long on one villain.

Dragon Ball Super: 3/5

It literally pains me to rate anything in the Dragon Ball series below a 4, but Super has been a major disappointment for me. It has cool moments sure, but it’s not a show I could see myself easily rewatching. Now to be fair I haven’t watched the English dub yet, which I do expect to be slightly better. Seán Schemmel, Christopher Sabot, Ian Sinclair and Kyle Hebert are some of the best in the biz and I suspect DBS has more great voice talent I’m simply less familiar with. However I don’t expect these extraordinary talents to make up for the disastrous plot holes, weak story or terrible new characters. I hope the show improves over time, but if it weren’t a part of the Dragon Ball franchise I doubt I would’ve even rated it a 3/5. In a way it makes me miss Dragon Ball GT…

Need I say more?

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