This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 33
“What about my final form?”
“Final form, my ass!”
After much anticipation, this tournament between universes is finally ready to begin. A lot of time has been spent setting all of this into motion over the past few installments and this official kick off does not disappoint. In fact, it’s one of more satisfying episodes of Dragon Ball Super in some time and a strong reminder of how fun this show can be when it really gets going.
While it might have been more interesting to build up to Goku kicking his way through Universe 6’s collective asses, I can also understand the temptation of having him be the first one to represent Universe 7. It’s a decision that also logistically means that he will be losing because why bother going through such an ordeal of assembling a team and figuring out its order if you’re only going to have the first member having any fun?
When the fight between Goku and Botamo begins, there’s some appropriate lameness and plot conveniences going on, like how someone such as Goku that should be way stronger than Botamo is initially showing signs of struggling during the early stages of the fight due to having “overeaten” on their trip over to the Planet With No Name. Thankfully indigestion doesn’t cost Goku the match. Plot contrivances aside, anything that leads to Goku and Botamo’s fight being more balanced ends up resulting in a match that’s a lot more engaging than if Goku just beat the guy in one blast. Let’s have some fun with this, right? This is also the first fight. Universe 7 has to make a name for themselves, after all.
Last episode saw Majin Buu getting disqualified from the proceedings, but Botamo’s bouncy, rubber-like nature feels like it has much of the choreography of what one of these fights with Buu would look like. Only Goku gets to fight the guy. Unsurprisingly, Goku is much faster than this Winnie the Pooh reject, but in spite of superb speed, Botamo’s mass seems to be absorbing every attack that Goku throws at him. It’s also all too cute that it’s Vegeta that gives Goku his winning strategy here (while still managing to be insulting) and inspires Goku to simply throw Botamo out of the ring. It’s that sort of thinking—that Goku is so often in capable of—that makes these tournaments so interesting. It’s not just strength; it’s strategy.
After Botamo’s rather quick defeat, Frost is the next one up from Universe 6 and it’s nice to see Dragon Ball Super not making us wait to see this character in action. Of course we want to get to that bizarro version of Frieza! Who cares about weird robots! Frost’s early appearance is a welcome surprise here, as well as getting his glorious backstory that he’s some sort of super philanthropist for Universe 6. The mini-montage he gets regarding his charity work (that’s right) is a fantastic gag and yet another reminder of why this multiverse concept is the most interesting thing that the Dragon Ball universe has done in a long time. Even decisions like making Frieza’s double ultra-nice instead of being a murderous tyrant are super obvious, but still deeply satisfying.
The episode even goes as far as to have Frost deliver a lengthy speech that’s the equivalent of, “Yo, sorry we’re all in this fight against one another because violence really isn’t the answer.” The whole reason the guy is even fighting in this tournament to begin with is so he can rid his world of war, so, dude’s definitely on the glass half honorable side of things.
Once the battle between Goku and Frost gets underway, it’s pretty glorious to see Goku and Vegeta obviously being well aware of Frost’s many transformations and forms due to their heavy experience with Frieza (the guys are the preeminent experts on Frieza extermination at this point). Goku tells Frost to quit wasting time and to just transform already and get it over with, a request that takes the wind out of the alien’s sails pretty quickly. Vegeta also straight up insults the laborious nature of “final forms” in a beautiful nod to the audience over the wasteful, drawn out nature of the original battle with Frieza on Namek. This is the sort of self-aware Dragon Ball that I’m looking for. Play into the meme culture. You know what you are.
It’s also a small touch, but it’s really satisfying to see Frost laying focus into Frieza’s third transformation, which is not only the most Cronenberg looking one of the lot, but the one that’s been given the least amount of attention throughout the show’s run. A lot of this stuff may feel like rampant fan fiction and wish fulfillment in some ways, but hey, when a property has been around for this long, it’s not surprising to see the creator and staff building the same desires of the fanbase.
This all leads to some pleasant, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine” between Goku and his opponent. Goku responds to Frost’s third form by going Super Saiyan (yawn), to which Frost finally goes to his final form. Apparently this guy doesn’t know how to “go gold” yet. While Goku just going Super Saiyan here might be a little underwhelming, it does showcase a smart aspect of this tournament in which this is an endurance match. These guys need to conserve their strength. The series has spoken at length to which the ways in which Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue can drain the body of its faculties. To see Goku playing it safe in these early stages rather than being arrogant and wasteful of his energy is encouraging (it’s also a strategy that Frost is slyly trying to put into practice, too). Besides, none of this power conservation talk ends up mattering anyway because even though a simple Super Saiyan makes swift work of Frost, Goku suddenly takes a turn for the worse and Frost is able to knock him out of bounds.
That’s right. The tournament’s just begun and Goku is already out of the picture.
Furthermore, how is anyone else going to stand up against this guy? You’d think that some sort of cheating or foul play would be afoot here (especially with that telling reaction shot from Jaco), but the episode spends so much time establishing how peaceful Frost is, it just doesn’t fit his MO. Don’t worry, Piccolo’s ready to get some answers next week.
When it comes to the actual fighting that’s present in the episode, the two battles here both have a lot of thought put into them. They’re exciting, quick moving fights that are often quite beautiful to look at, too. If you were in the spectator section with the rest of the Earthlings, you’d definitely be entertained by these matches…that is, if you could actually keep track of their movements, of course.
All in all, “Surprise, Sixth Universe!” is smart to have someone getting eliminated here right from the start. It makes for a nice gesture towards the audience as well as acting as a statement that says that these fights aren’t all going to be super long and go into the double digits. Not only that, but Goku is already gone! If there’s any way to get people’s attention right out of the gate, that’s how to do it. A succinct, grueling tournament is often the best way to boil down the excitement and onslaught of action that Dragon Ball is capable of generating. It may still be early, but so far this latest arc for the series is approaching all of this in the right way.
Now just hopefully these guys won’t take forever to get Cabba, Universe 6’s Saiyan, into the fray.