With additional writing and analysis from George Beresford
The latest DVD release for Dragon Ball Super has arrived, with part 8 featuring episodes 92 – 104 . Goku and nine companions arrive in the Null Realm, ready to take on teams from seven other universes. The stakes are high, with the all-powerful Omni Kings destroying the universes of each losing team. I wasn’t [too impressed] wit part 7, but right off the bat I’ll say part 8 is a huge improvement. Less filler, less generic dialogue and much less terrible behavior from Master Roshi!
Okay, it’s not perfect. There are still plenty of crummy fighters; humanoid animals stuffed into dungarees and uninspired aliens, but I suppose when you’ve got a design team you’re bound to end up with a dud or two. Just ask Gamefreak, they know all about it.
One thing that makes part 8 so interesting is Freiza’s introduction to the team in place of Majin Buu. At first I thought it would be the standard “bringing back a villain on the good team” trope which everyone from Yamcha to Maajin Buu has been subjected to in previous seasons. But the former galactic emperor isn’t just there to throw his weight around…he’s still his old, malevolent self, plotting, taunting and psyching out his teammates and opponents alike. It adds a good deal of tension that wasn’t there in previous episodes
Actually, the tournament of power represents something unique in the Dragon Ball franchise. While there’s plenty of low-level enmity and trash talk, there aren’t any genuine villains (except, perhaps for the grand Zenos, who cute though they are, cheerfully commit genocide on an unimaginable scale). Everyone involved in the tournament is fighting to save their own universes. There’s a scene in which the Trio of Danger fight desperately with their backs to the wall before being knocked out. It’s ridiculous to say it about a bunch of cartoon karate wolves, but it made me sad. Those poor guys were heroes in their universe. They were trying to protect themselves, their families and everything they’d ever known. And they failed.
The fights themselves are much improved too. Having multiple factions and numerous fighters dipping in and out at any time really spices things up. We don’t have to endure all the usual tedious dialogue between two fighters. Instead, we have something dynamic and entertaining.
Okay, so some of these fights are filler. The Love Maidens are kinda ridiculous, and hardly memorable characters. But these episodes aren’t as mind numbing as the filler in the run up to the tournament. There’s always something interesting going on.
My main criticism goes to Kale, the female Saiyan who acts like a 3-year-old before turning into a muscle bound hulk and rampaging around. She’s so annoying. Her English language voice dub sounds like a toddler scared to sleep without her night light and she’s so babyfied as to be totally unrelatable. That’s not a good thing for a character supposedly integral to the plot.
Fundamentally though, the part 8 DVD is an enormous step up on the previous set. Watching it wasn’t a chore, it was a pleasure. Hopefully part 9 will be even better!
Jonny Keen | [rating=4]
Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts | Japan 2018| 2019 DVD & Blu Ray |