This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 11
“Ready when you are, Super Saiyan God.”
Now we’ve got a Battle of Gods on our hands!
This episode of Dragon Ball Super covers the whole emotional spectrum of a battle, only condensed down to a single episode. The true see-saw of power between Goku and Beerus gets into play, and this episode is all about the back-and-forth struggle of their strength. In some ways that leaves this episode feeling a little like an uneventful interlude where these two basically just both establish how powerful they are.
After so much build up, it’s rather satisfying to actually see Goku land a number of combos on Beerus and send him flying through the sky. They might not leave much of a mark on him, but Goku is finally holding his own against the God and that actually translates to compelling content. At one moment Goku basically acts as a black hole to an energy blast of Beerus’, crushing it under his own power. Moments like this where even Beerus is surprised by Goku’s strength are the highlight of the episode.
In spite of the new-found groove to this battle, it does largely play out with the two going back and forth with their blows. Goku gets the upperhand on Beerus. Beerus gets the upperhand on Goku. Repeat. This might be due to the fact that Beerus is still trying to help cultivate the true powers of the Super Saiyan God, but it does get a bit repetitive in nature. Even still though, sequences like Beerus’ “Kick the Goku” onslaught are pretty damn exciting to watch.
On that note, I re-watched Goku’s fight against Beerus in the Battle of Gods film the other day and I had forgotten just how beautifully animated their battle is. There is some truly glowing visuals to look at (like the portion that sees Goku and Beerus tearing through clouds before leaving the Earth’s atmosphere) that genuinely got viewers excited for the climactic showdown that was happening. Not only is this a tremendous showcase of fighting power, but the animation also rises to the occasion to help you realize how important all of this is. Of course the budget of an ongoing television series shouldn’t be compared to a one-off feature film, but the representation of Goku and Beerus’ fight within Dragon Ball Super just feels lacking. Granted, I wasn’t expecting something of the same quality from the movie, but was still hoping for a little more.
There are a number of viewers that have already seen this material via Battle of Gods, which you would think would lead to some new tactics being resorted to in Dragon Ball Super. The battles don’t play out exactly the same across the two mediums, but the larger beats are all identical. Going in a whole new direction and inventing some new “middle” to Goku and Beerus’ battle might have been the better approach here. At the least, different content here would have less people inevitably comparing the animation between the two.
There is also a lot of Beerus toying with Goku this week, with him still holding back his full strength. Ironically, this is all being done as a means of motivating Goku to fight harder and coax more power out of his opponent. While Goku largely gets his ass kicked this week (with Beerus literally removing him from the Earth’s atmosphere in order to make his point), he’s no worse for wear at the end of things. The new Super Saiyan God merely powers up, somehow heals himself in the process, and is now ready to give Beerus another go. Nothing is ostensibly changed since last episode, only that these two are a little more aware of each other’s abilities, but this episode can end up feeling like a tease at times.
In spite of it not amounting to much, Vegeta continues his bad ass watching from the wings in isolation routine. The rest of Bulma’s party is all huddled together on her aircraft, acting as the necessary pressure release from the more action-heavy scenes between Goku and Beerus. They mostly provide the episode’s more comedic moments (although Beerus is very funny this week), with Piccolo continuing to play the role of color commentator, often reflecting on the dire state of the battle going on above them. Also, an interesting piece of data is learned that after performing the Super Saiyan God ritual, Gohan, Goten, presumably Vegeta, and the rest of the Saiyans involved are so weak from energy depletion that they’re unable to even fly. It’s not a detail that changes the outcome of the battle in any way, but it still makes for curious food for thought.
When Goku is no longer holding his own against Beerus, things get genuinely tense as Beerus once more begins talking about destroying the Earth, and even produces a colossal ball of energy (or more like a couple hundred) to prove he’s serious. In spite of the tremendous demonstration of power that Goku pulls off to counter Beerus, the episode still nearly ends on a rather grim note (you have to be really strong to give something a flaming punch that doesn’t extinguish when underwater). The past few episodes of this show might have felt like a lot of false starts of this battle finally beginning before something else would manage to knock it down a notch, but next episode has these two truly at the peak of their power. There’s no turning back now.