Anime Review – Dragon Ball Super Parts 7 & 8

Dragon Ball Super parts 7 and 8 arrive on DVD and Bluray in UK stores on 12th August. The new release features episodes 79-91, following Goku and the gang as they prepare for the Tournament of Power, a battle royale featuring the ten most powerful fighters from each universe.

I’ve watched the whole thing and I have…mixed feelings on this. So I’m going to channel my inner Clint Eastwood and sift through The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

Tournaments are what the Dragon Ball franchise does best. It’s a great way to make use of the series’ large cast of characters and see different fighters in action, and when the tournament is comprised of the best fighters from multiple universes, that’s all the better!

Goku has to put together a team of the ten strongest fighters he can find, and that paves the way for some old favourites returning to the fold. It’s good to see the likes of Tien, Android 17 and Android 18 making a comeback. Personally, I find the series tends to get a little dull when too few characters are involved in the fighting, so bringing some old faces back is definitely a good move. I was especially pleased about Android 17’s return. I’ve always wondered what he’s been doing with himself since the Cell saga!

There’s some genuinely funny writing in these episodes too. The Zenos, two childlike gods constantly on the lookout for new sources of entertainment, have some funny moments. And then there’s Yamcha. Whilst I do wish he was still an active member of the fighting team, it’s undeniably funny to watch his wild confidence in his own fighting ability evaporate once his invitation to Goku’s fighting team fails to materialise.

Poor Yamcha

My favourite joke comes from a scene in which Goten and Trunks are struggling to put a nappy on Bulma’s new baby. Vegeta looms behind and snaps an order in his own inimitable style: “step aside!” a couple of flicks and it’s on. “That’s how it’s done!” says the Prince of all Saiyans.

The Bad

They’re a trio of mighty warriors from another universe! Blessed with powers most could only dream of, they’re…the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood and his two less successful brothers?

These guys aren’t the only dumb looking characters introduced in these episodes. The chief offender is heroic warrior and prospective rival to Goku, Top who looks uncannily like Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog.

“Give me the chaos emeralds, Goku!”

I just don’t know how the visual element of the franchise could have gone downhill so fast. Classic Dragon Ball villains like Freiza and Cell didn’t become iconic through actions alone. They’re specially designed to look malevolent, with sleek, sinister forms befitting their evil natures. Whacking a pair of gloves on a red wolf and calling it Basil isn’t character design, it’s laziness, and a (presumably inadvertent) copy of a popular children’s character.

“Boom, boom!” – Kicking Basil in Dragonball Super

Even the characters coming back into the fray after a long absence fall victim to some bizarre writing. Android 17 hasn’t been seen since mid Dragon Ball Z, and when Goku tracks him down he’s inexplicably managing a nature reserve. A bit of a curveball, but okay. Anyway, before Goku can convince 17 to join the squad, we must endure a tedious episode in which the two team up to take on an alien animal poacher. It’s boring, it’s ridiculous and it’s unnecessary.

The preparation for the tournament also involves a lot of training matches, as Goku tests out the new members of his squad. These test fights seemed to drag on forever; Goku vs Krillin, Goku vs Gohan, Gohan vs Piccolo. Fights we’ve all seen before a million times that mean absolutely nothing. The participants say things like “no holding back!” and “show me your true power!” over and over again. I don’t care. Do you? The franchise has always been prone to repeating itself, but it’s getting particularly tedious now.

I didn’t find a single one of the fights over these 13 episodes remotely interesting; they were all either boring rehashes or fought against absolutely ridiculous characters. A little less filler would likely go some way to solving the problem, but I suppose we’re beyond that now.

The Ugly

Um, guys. I hate to do this, but we need to have a serious talk about Master Roshi.

Okay, so I know he’s one of the franchise’s most beloved characters. And sure, he’s always had his dirty side. Some of his antics in Dragon Ball don’t really bear talking about, but I have to say he seems to be getting worse.

There’s a couple of scenes here which should never have made it anywhere near the show. A young woman arrives at a dojo inquiring about training and Roshi ogles her, making the woman visibly uncomfortable. He then picks her up and forcibly carries her away, saying he will “educate her from the bottom up”, before forcing her into a revealing outfit.

This isn’t okay, Roshi

In a later episode, Roshi forces Yamcha’s shapeshifting pal Puar to turn into an attractive woman so he can conquer his “overly amorous heart”. The two are locked in a small room and we hear Puar yelling “keep your hands to yourself” whilst Roshi claims “my grabby hands have a mind of their own”.

True, early Dragon Ball had a lot of questionable scenes but the worst of them originated decades ago. Perhaps they were considered acceptable when they were first released, I don’t know, but the whole “Master Roshi is a serial sex offender” element seemed to have been heavily toned down for Dragonball Z. At any rate, this is 2019 and we really can’t be teaching thousands of children that sexual harassment and assault is a bit of a joke.

None of Roshi’s friends object to his vile behavior, and these protracted scenes are played for laughs. These scenes should never have been written in the first place, but I’m also surprised Manga UK didn’t remove them from the regional DVD release. We really ought to think about the messages we are sending out to society with these “jokes” and I think it would be better if this great franchise was unsullied by scenes depicting serious sexual harassment and assault.

I’ve lowered my rating by a whole star because of the above two scenes. That might seem extreme, but anime as a whole needs to wake up and hold itself to higher standards. We are supposed to be moving forward socially, treating people with more respect, not portraying them as sexual objects to be assaulted at will.

So by all means, if you’ve enjoyed Dragon Ball Super so far, go out and buy the new DVD. But if you have any impressionable children around, think twice about letting them watch some of the scenes included here, at least without warning them that it is never okay for anyone to act the way Master Roshi does.

Jonny Keen | [rating=2]

Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts | Japan 2018| 2019 DVD & Blu Ray | Dir.Tatsuya Nagamine |