This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 12
“Do you think you can go beyond the Power of a God?”
“Exactly. Watch me go!”
For a show that has gone on for as long as Dragon Ball has, and one that delights in introducing the Next Big Strong Super-Threat as soon as the previous one has been vanquished, there’s a natural roadblock: How much stronger can people keep getting? Goku and company are now at a stage in their lives where they’re not only fighting gods, but becoming them. While increasingly strong characters usually just translate to fancy new transformations and overwhelming displays of energy, this episode of Dragon Ball Super begins to explore the consequences of what can happen when two people as strong as Goku and Beerus go head-to-head. The startling answer that the episode posits is that basically, the universe can’t handle this mess.
Yes, after a few episodes of Goku getting the hang of his new skills and Beerus biding his time, now that these two are allegedly at full-strength, the collective force of their battle is actually tearing the universe apart. Suddenly “who’s the strongest?” is less pressing of a matter than “Let’s keep the universe from breaking.” As these two trade blows, planets and solar systems are casually swallowed up into nothingness or eliminated in drastic bursts of energy. All of these planets could be Earth-like bodies that house heroes of their own, but they’re mindlessly deleted in the fallout of this match (not to mention Earth itself experiencing significant shockwaves). Goku and Beerus are operating at such an elevated fighting level that their energy is taking on the form of dragons and warring against each other in outer space. When your aura essentially becomes a dragon that’s capable of giving Shenron a run for his money, you know that you’re fighting in pretty peak condition.
Ever the trickster, Beerus seems to be well aware of the destruction that’s being caused by the clash of his and Goku’s power. The fact that he’s so cavalier about all of this hints at the mindset that Beerus is in during this stage of the battle. He’s gotten so obsessed with defeating Goku and ending this frustrating planet that he doesn’t even care if there is tremendous collateral damage that accompanies it, as long as he still proves that he’s number one. That being said, in spite of the insurmountable stakes in place here, it’s a little jarring to see just how casual Goku and Beerus are through all of this. This might be the most important fight of Goku’s life, but it plays a lot more like two old friends trying to bring the best out in one another. They’re even cracking jokes and tips to each other.
The two Supreme Kais are the ones that clue in to the extremely dire situation that’s going on with the universe. They might not be able to communicate their SOS message to Goku, but the audience is at least able to understand the gravity of what’s going on right now. It helps the graveness of all of this that individuals as omnipotent as the Supreme Kais are starting to freak out over what might happen, too (Old Kai has even resorted to saying goodbye to all of his favorite nudie mags). The rest of the episode is a twisted ticking clock element as everyone is left to wait and see if the impossible is actually going to happen. Obviously Goku needs to win this fight or Earth gets destroyed, but if he and Beerus exchange three more blows then everything will go all implode-y, too. It’s a conundrum that the episode successfully manages to mine suspense and fear from. At no point did I think that the universe was actually going to end from this fight, but it did still have me curious for just exactly what was going to happen.
In the end, the brilliant Goku (a phrase that doesn’t get to be used too often) actually has been working on a solution to the universe-exploding problem all along. During Beerus’ previous two blows, Goku was actually studying his attacks so that on the contact of the third hit, Goku can actually cancel out Beerus’ punch by perfectly replicating its angle and momentum (ever the perfectionist, Goku was actually hoping to master this new ability by punch number two…). By doing so, Goku becomes even more of the yin to Beerus’ yang. Goku’s punches are now literally saving the universe and helping hold it together. This might play as a bit of a cop out for some, but again, were you really expecting the universe to end here? If anything, this episode acts as another strong reminder of what a good strategist Goku is capable of being. He’s no doubt stronger than he is smart, but episodes like this help prove that this dichotomy is not so one-sided.
With Goku’s Super Saiyan God powers a little further along and the stability of the universe still quite shaky, Goku and Beerus’ battle finally begins to approach its exciting conclusion. Plus, isn’t anyone else curious what Bulma actually got for her birthday? There’s a lot of gold in the next few episodes that you’re not going to want to miss. Vegeta is still eagerly watching every move of this battle go down, even if it ends up giving him scoliosis in the process. Come for the Battle of the Gods, but stay for the assessment of Vegeta’s spinal straightness.