This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 9
“Why does it always have to be Kakarot?”
At some point or another, Dragon Ball became a property that is largely reduced to the ludicrously powerful transformations that its characters go through. As soon as Goku hit the plateau of Super Saiyan back in his fight against Frieza, the series has quickly been trying to figure out crazier transformations — with even crazier hair — to help battle evil. While these transformations would somewhat pigeonhole the anime into a repetitive pattern (how often has the solution to beating the next Ultimate Evil revolved around some new tier of Super Saiyan being discovered?), it didn’t stop them from being any less exciting for the audience. With the arrival of a new Dragon Ball series, the expectation of receiving a new transformation along with it is pretty logical reasoning. Dragon Ball Super has made a lot of fuss over this “Super Saiyan God” that Beerus has been searching for. For those hungry for that new level of power to be unlocked, this episode is a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, by the end of the installment the mystery of the Super Saiyan God is finally unlocked, but it takes the entire episode to slowly reach that point.
After Goku’s arrival at the end of the last episode, the gang pretty much immediately kicks into gear his surprisingly smart idea to enlist Shenron’s help in getting to the bottom of this Super Saiyan God business. Some rather clever writing also exposes Shenron’s abject fear over Beerus and in some wonderful role reversal, the mighty Shenron is suddenly stammering and making apologizes to the God of Destruction over things like floating in the sky in a position above him. Dragon Ball Super is also a series that will in time heavily expand its boundaries and show off the many other universes that are out there. Shenron’s interaction with Beerus makes for a good primer on what’s to come. For the longest time it seemed as if Shenon was the ultimate source of power within this show. Along with Beerus comes a much larger scope that continues to redefine where pre-established characters stand. It’s a nice way of mixing things up. Kudos for the episode summoning Shenron within minutes, but the rest of the entry hardly operates at the same clip.
The big revelation that Shenron offers up this week is that this Super Saiyan God isn’t actually a person, but rather a transference of power that’s performed by Saiyans (it’s also a great little dig when Bulma criticizes Vegeta for not being aware of this). The transformation requires five kind-hearted Saiyans siphoning off their energy to another Saiyan that is pure enough to accept the burden of this added power. Any guesses on who they end up selecting? You just know that Vegeta is chewing the inside of his cheek raw as Goku steps up to accept the responsibility here. It’s appreciated to also receive a bit of discussion on whether Vegeta actually qualifies as “kind-hearted” at this point, since it seems like a pretty natural thing to address.
This information from Shenron doesn’t end up changing that much from what was already assumed. It basically just confirms that there isn’t only one Super Saiyan God and that more are capable of achieving this level given the right ingredients (which basically just feels like the show is winking at you and saying, “Yeah yeah, we know. Vegeta will eventually reach this transformation, too. Calm down.”) Plus, you get that nice added visual of a bunch of Super Saiyans holding hands together as their energy goes kablooey. It makes for more variety then yet another Saiyan simply screaming and pounding his fists until electricity starts to bounce around them. Although it is pretty convenient that this transformation requires six Saiyans—a fairly random number—with that being the exact amount that are left on Earth.
On that note, the six Saiyan issue isn’t exactly so cut and dry. With there only being five Saiyans present, Videl uses this opportunity to drop the bombshell on everyone that she’s pregnant. If you’re familiar with the rest of Dragon Ball’s history, this marks the first “appearance” of Pan (although it’s good to know there’d be a Gomen to play along with Gohan and Goten if it were a boy) and it brings some levity to the dire situation at hand. As the Saiyans collectively troubleshoot with their Super Saiyan God rain dance, Beerus’ impatience over how long this is taking begins to show. He’s still not past blowing up the planet if these guys end up wasting too much of his time. It’s a nice balance of extremes between Beerus screaming about destruction and Krillin congratulating Goku on becoming a grandfather.
Preconceived Pan might feel like a little bit of a cop-out as qualifying for the sixth Saiyan that’s needed here, but it sees Videl getting to save the day and becoming involved and how often does that happen? Remember when Videl was introduced and she was actually a decent fighter? A lot sure has changed. Then again, you could say the same thing about Gohan, too.
While it feels great to be at this point in the narrative, I’m still not sure if ultimately an entire episode was needed for Goku and company to stand in a circle holding hands waiting for their power to rise. It’s no doubt a powerful sequence, but one that feels entirely beholden to the schedule of stretching a two-hour movie into fourteen episodes of television. The whole Super Saiyan God procedure might take longer than needed, but at least it’s achieved by the end of the episode (and does look pretty damn cool). Plus, all of the Shenron material acts as a healthy, humorous counterpoint to the transformation fodder. Seriously, more flummoxed Shenron is needed immediately. A filler episode that puts Shenron and Beerus in some buddy-comedy scenario would be one of the greatest things ever (Maybe Bulma uses the Dragon Balls to wish that the two of them need to be roommates? Spring Breakers?).
Five episodes remain in this adaptation of Dragon Ball Z’s Battle of Gods feature film, with this overpowered showdown being the bulk of their focus. For those viewers that might have been frustrated over the lack of action that Dragon Ball Super was delivering on, these next episodes are for you, as Goku literally battles a God for the fate of the planet.
I swear pudding doesn’t even come up once.
…Well, maybe once.
Dragon Ball Super’s dub continues to air on Saturdays at 8pm on Adult Swim, and 11:30pm in their Toonami block.