This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 17
“I ain’t letting her become a martial artist, no matter what anyone says!”
And so marks the official introduction of Pan in the Dragon Ball Super universe. Let the endless debates over whether a female is capable of turning Super Saiyan begin!
One of the fun aspects of Dragon Ball Super’s decision to be set after the defeat of Majin Buu but before the conclusion of Dragon Ball Z is that it allows for some fun gaps in the timeline to be filled in. Funnily enough, “Pan is Born!” even made me think about Better Call Saul a few times. That show is impeccably connecting the dots and filling in blanks between itself and Breaking Bad. Dragon Ball Super is hardly operating on the same level of ambition, but getting to finally visit moments like the birth of Pan still make for pleasant detours.
The introduction of children into a family naturally sees certain questions of child raising being put in the spotlight. With this being Dragon Ball, these parenting questions unsurprisingly include what sort of martial arts Pan should take up as she matures. Before anyone is able to get too far into the conversation, Chi-Chi effectively slams the brakes on all of this, as she’s terrified of what’s going on. She simply won’t tolerate Pan’s life being ruined and her granddaughter being turned into a “mindless fighter like Goku.” That’s what she actually says!
This season has already featured plenty of moments with Chi-Chi being the rare combination of both unbearable and overbearing, but this episode is the culmination of those impulses. This installment even uses Bulma and Android 18 to play in contrast to Chi-Chi, which truly highlights how insufferable her ways are. Everyone else on this show is so much more chill than she is regarding martial artists and the freedom of their significant other. Plus, Pan isn’t even her child! She’s surrounded by people that are echoing the same thing, yet she continues to be the wet gi in the situation. The Dragon Balls are coming back into play soon and I really wish that someone would wish that Beerus’ slap to Bulma all those episodes back actually happened to Chi-Chi. Boy would that be cathartic as hell. Plus, seeing Goku fail to raise a finger and likely act the complete opposite of how Vegeta did would be all too beautiful.
This ends up amounting to be a rather light episode, but its impulses about what to do with Pan aren’t exactly wrong. There’s a substantial sequence that’s basically a mock fight between Hercule and the Great Saiyaman, all for the purpose of trying to make Pan laugh. That might not be the most exciting material for some people, but it fits in perfectly here. If anything, Pan’s father and grandfather are proof that martial arts can be fun and silly, and not the constant source of aggravation that Chi-Chi paints it to be.
It’s also totally an inconsequential moment in the episode, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the bonkers gags where Krillin’s cellphone ringtone is the ”We Are!” opening theme song to One Piece. This is a little in-joke since Krillin’s Japanese voice actor is the same person who voices Luffy in One Piece, but it’s still a perplexing “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. It’s just jarring enough to work.
All of this Pan-centric material and discussion of training ends up in Bulma spilling to Goku that Vegeta has been away with Whis in fighting boot camp for the past six months. This also makes for the episode’s funniest visual gag where Goku literally throws himself through a wall in order to make sure that he heard Bulma correctly. This thankfully allows Goku to kick things into gear, joining up alongside Vegeta to receive this Godly training. All of this is going to lead to some thrilling action sequences and displays of power that have sorely been missed over the last few episodes of Dragon Ball Super. That being said, you’re still going to have to wait until next episode to get any of that fun. Chi-Chi spreads her poison even further by finding some time when she’s not trying to control Pan’s future to forbid Goku from getting any stronger.
For those that are quick to defend Chi-Chi’s ways, this is really where she goes too far. Her behavior here is actually having a negative effect on the universe. Forcing Goku to not train and better himself literally could result in the Earth being destroyed. It’d be one thing if the stakes were lower and she was coming on less strong, but very real consequences could result from the members of her extended family following her advice. It’s hard to believe that Chi-Chi was a fighter herself at one point and that that’s what Goku fell in love about her in the first place.
Then, the icing on the cake of all of this is that Chi-Chi doesn’t even learn her lesson at the end of all of this! She’s still oppressive and not understanding to who Goku is. She simply goes along with Goku’s disobedience because she knows he’ll eventually be back when he gets hungry. It’s an unbelievable conclusion that more than anything else underscores how much Goku and Chi-Chi should not be together.
“Pan is Born!” might feel like one of the less essential entries of Dragon Ball Super, but it ends up leading to some fairly heady territory regarding parenting, whether that’s its intention or not. Its humor works for the most part, but after following last week’s especially funny outing, this one ends up paling in comparison. At least this entry also passes along the important mental note to not bang up Bulma’s car.
Get ready for more bingo, guys!