This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 15
“Our hero, Mr. Satan, has arrived!”
Dragon Ball Super this week is essentially a huge wish fulfillment episode for Hercule Satan. It’s not the first time the show has pulled off such a move. He’s practically the Earth’s de facto deus ex machina for explaining the many times the Earth has avoided annihilation. Mr. Satan showboating works towards the necessary cool off period after the show’s first arc wraps up. As much as viewers might be anxious for more fighting and new enemies, this episode helps set the table for what’s to come.
A lot of your enjoyment of this installment is going to hinge on whether you’re a big Mr. Satan fan or not, as his shtick is in full bloom this week. The image of Mr. Satan in Super Saiyan mode defeating “God of Destruction, Beebus” is a ridiculous visual to throw at you (it also might be the funniest that Dragon Ball Super has ever been), but that bold scene acts as a pretty strong distillation of what’s going on in this episode. Either you’re going to love this old wives’ tale of an entry that helps re-ground the show, or you’re going to be perpetually rolling your eyes at its actions and thinking, “Maybe it wouldn’t have been that bad if Beerus blew all of this up…”
Mr. Satan is an interesting character because he’s someone who cares purely about the glory and credit of being strong, but not about actually being strong. Goku and Vegeta on the other hand have absolutely no interest in the spotlight, but are merely concerned about their strength. They care about the private, individual image of themselves while Satan is only concerned about how he’s perceived by the public. In a show that’s so much about simply becoming stronger, someone who’s interested in the opposite of that isn’t exactly a bad idea (he also skews to the anime’s comedic sensibilities while Goku and Vegeta embrace the series’ action aspects). It’s just that Mr. Satan has been doing the same routine since he entered the picture (although his relationship with Buu has provided some welcome depth to the shallow character). Some people are going to need more than that at this point.
The episode does happen to shift its focus a little bit to show how some other characters are staying busy this time. The most jarring is certainly Goku’s life with Chi-Chi. Goku quickly sees the ultimate threat of the universe shifting from Beerus to his wife. Her behavior towards Goku is pretty insufferable here. Not to mention, she’s somehow managed to spend the 100 million Zeni that Satan gave to Goku at the start of the series.
I seriously don’t know how this is possible. What has she been buying? Ingredients for Bulma’s birthday? New tractor parts. It’s not as if she has a granddaughter on the way and maybe should have been saving some of that money…With Chi-Chi now feeling the strain of her purse strings, she orders Goku to stop his training and find a new job to help support his family.
Gohan is also woefully de-fanged at this point. I know that many viewers (both of the dub and where the anime is actually at in Japan currently) have been anxious for Gohan to “awaken” and become the formidable warrior that was present during the Cell Games and that we got glimpses of during the whole Mystic Gohan situation. Well get ready to keep waiting. Gohan’s characterization is one of the most frustrating in all of Dragon Ball Super, but rest assured that it does feel like the series is interested in turning him back into a serious fighter…it’s just something that’s way off in the horizon. While it’s somewhat appreciated to see this show depicting a fighter that has turned their back on fighting and accepted a different sort of lifestyle, did it really have to be Gohan? The show is exploring the same material with Krillin and it even resonates a little more with him.
On the opposite end of all of that, there’s just a sole Vegeta scene, but it’s pretty characteristically great. The guy is just fuming over how Goku is once more stronger than he is and how he’s got to do something about it. It’s a miniscule touch, but it appears that Vegeta is also doing this brooding at the spot where he and Goku shared their first fight back in Dragon Ball Z. I’d like to think that Vegeta is returning to this pivotal spot where he first learned that Kakarot was stronger than him to have this angry self-reflection.
“Valiant Mr. Satan, Work a Miracle…” isn’t Dragon Ball Super’s most exciting episode. In fact, it even feels a bit duller than it should be due to the big act from last episode that it has to follow. Figuring out how to make an Earth that’s safe still interesting is a dynamic that Dragon Ball has always struggled with to some degree. It’s easy to fill a deadly battle with plenty of story beats and cool scenes to keep people happy, but what about when the dust settles and everything is back to normal? People need more than moments like Chi-Chi scolding Goku for not finishing his chores or Goten for not keeping up with his studies. The benefit here is that because Goku and Beerus’ clash was so significant, many of Earth’s citizens are aware that something major was just happening to the planet. This is a situation where some sort of answer is needed for the public rather than our heroes being able to just go off and party. And when the public needs some sort of answer or a voice to make them feel safe, it usually means that Hercule Satan needs to get involved, for better or for worse.
This episode has fun with the lying, showboater that Mr. Satan is in the best way possible. After Beerus’ defeat, other aliens throughout the universe have come to Earth in order to thank whoever is responsible for this great triumph. While the visitors from planet Sunak are happy to stroke Mr. Satan’s ego, they eventually require him to prove his strength by fighting their planet’s greatest warrior. As Hercule scrambles for a way out of this scenario, he briefly is able to enlist Goku’s help in the situation, but it quickly becomes another dead end. Right when it looks like Mr. Satan is about to meet his end, the Sunakians flee in terror and Hercule’s bravado doesn’t suffer any damage.
The rather ridiculous explanation that Mr. Satan has to thank for all of this is that the Sunakians are incredibly terrified by dogs. Well, conveniently the invaders spot Mr. Satan’s canine and all of a sudden can’t leave the planet fast enough. It’s an absolutely absurd conclusion to all of this, but a resolution that embraces the silly insanity that so typically accompanies Mr. Satan (it’s also cleverly hinted at in the aliens’ first scene, too). Sure, Goku just as easily could have solved Satan’s problem for him, but at least the show’s cynophobe solution is something that nobody can say that they actually saw coming. I’ll take a surprise (even an outlandish one) any day over tired, monotonous plotting.
It’s also an ending that’s consistent with this just being a straight out funny episode of the show that makes it a lot more entertaining than it would be otherwise. Whether you’re a Mr. Satan fan or not, all of his material develops in a Larry David-esque fashion where you just truly wonder how he’s going to get out of this (you could play the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme after his Satan Punch to beautiful effect). But other touches like the Sunakian tribute dance and Goku’s exit upon being discovered by Chi-Chi both had me laughing.
All in all, this episode of Dragon Ball Super might not feel like a fundamental entry, but it does great work with what it does while still being an appreciated take on how the rest of Earth views the super-powered exploits of Goku and friends.
Next week has fighting and plenty of Vegeta. I promise.