This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 29
Dragon Ball Super continues to move full steam ahead—well maybe half steam ahead is more appropriate—with the centerpiece of its newest arc, a fancy martial arts tournament. Champa and Vados continue to shack up in Universe 7 as the logistics of this multi-universal gamble are hashed out. After agreeing to the tournament, the first order of business is naturally to decide on its rules. The fights will take place on a neutral planet that’s equal distance between universes with each universe having a team of five warriors at their disposal. Beyond that, Goku suggests that the structure of the World Martial Arts Tournament—no weapons, no killing, and falling out of the ring is a disqualification—be put into place. Vegeta brings forward a rather interesting addendum where a written entrance exam is necessary for any participants. This will ensure that there will be some sort of standard in place and that the rules will actually be understood and followed. With that, Goku and Vegeta are left with five days to assemble their team and do some sort of training before the tournament begins.
Last episode saw the Super Dragon Balls becoming a rather important element to the story, with their powers being required to pull off the crazy theatrics necessary to make the intricacies of this tournament between universes possible. In an interesting turn of events, rather than Bulma modifying her Dragon Radar to be able to detect Super Dragon Balls, she suggests that it’d probably just be easier to summon Shenron with the regular Dragon Balls and simply use their wish to have him tell them its location (even Beerus is simultaneously impressed and condescending towards Bulma’s quick thinking here). Well, surprise surprise, the Super Dragon Balls are a notch above Shenron’s security clearance and it’s something that he’s not able to grant. This leaves the team falling back onto their original plan of needing Bulma and her trusty sidekick, science, to solve their problem.
While it might not amount to much, this little check-in with Shenron manages to be a lot of fun. If nothing else, it gets to provide another awkward exchange between Beerus and Shenron. I’ll say it again, have those two rooming together in an apartment! Sitcom gold. That’d be my Super Dragon Ball wish. Not to mention, Beerus’ impromptu wish for Shenron to simply go away is pretty damn fantastic. Especially when immediately after Goku remembers that King Kai is still dead and that people continue to forget to bring the poor guy back to life. Guess he’s going to have to keep on waiting.
It’s a minor detail, but it’s also nice to finally get to see the Super Dragon Balls this week. It helps allow for their tremendous weight, both figuratively and literally, to sink in with the audience. It’s crazy to think that things as big as these are being used as bargaining chips. This installment brings forward the idea that Bulma holds a lot of power as the only one that can create this locator for the final Super Dragon Ball. It flirts with the interesting development that Bulma might go rogue and acquire the Super Dragon Ball for herself, in case Universe 7 loses the tournament and things go sour for them. Of all the original Dragon Ball characters, it’s kind of unbelievable, but also deeply fitting, that Bulma is certainly the character that has retained the most relevance in Dragon Ball Super up until this point.
Bulma seems to be pretty set on locating Universe 7’s Super Dragon Balls so that Beerus can’t use his wish on Universe 6’s Super Dragon Balls to possibly annihilate the world on a whim (he is a God of Destruction after all). Goku’s whole “Yeah, cool, whatever” attitude to Bulma’s plan is also wonderfully cavalier. As long as Goku’s still able to fight some new people, he doesn’t care what happens. There’s a really great shout-out to Bulma’s sister, Tights, who only previously appears in the Jaco the Galactic Patrolman Special (don’t worry, Goku and Vegeta have never heard of her before either). She makes for a welcome face here, and don’t worry; she plays a much larger role a few episodes from now in episode 31.
While opposite sides of this tournament are trying to figure out some sort of strategy, Champa reaches a rather exciting conclusion. Since he’s been impressed with the power of Beerus’ Saiyans in Universe 7 and since Champa simply can’t let his brother have anything that he doesn’t, he decides that he should recruit some Saiyans from his own universe for the tournament. It’s this reason alone that this tournament and multiverse concept are so important. It allows the show to suddenly throw new Saiyans—and Super Saiyans by proxy—into the mix, which is deeply refreshing after the same old characters have given some audiences fatigue after so long.
It’s also hard not to smile at moments like when Vegeta is super upfront about how this tournament is his new opportunity to prove that he’s number one and stronger than Goku. Gotta love the guy for being consistent. He gets another great moment in this episode where he dashes off with the Dragon Radar and collects all seven Dragon Balls over the course of a few minutes. Such a task used to be something that could take up an entire season of this show. These guys are truly all grown up at this point.
On the topic of assembling teams, Beerus also heads off to find the person that will be the leader of Universe 7’s team, Monaka. This is pretty damn great because Goku gets a huge kick to the ego in the process by Beerus’ reveal that Monaka is the strongest opponent that he’s ever gone up against and therefore stronger than Goku. A lot of the fun with this sort of tournament is in the decision making over which beloved cast members are going to make the cut, but to suddenly throw a wild card into the mix is a great approach to take. Also, this is supposed be a collection of the strongest warriors in all of Universe 7. It’d be extremely suspicious if the entire team happened to be located on Earth. Monaka at least opens up the realm of plausibility that there are also other strong warriors out there in this vast universe.
“Combat Matches Are A Go!” does spend a lot of time on merely establishing the parameters of the tournament. The next episode is devoted to Goku and Vegeta assembling their team and these two ideas ostensibly could have been combined into a solo entry. That being said, just watching this group of characters hash out the specifics of this very important tournament and seeing this narrative move a little further along is really quite satisfying. Dragon Ball can lose its head getting caught up in fighting episodes and admittedly that’s the main reason that a lot of people are tuning in. When so many episodes can simply be the various stages of a fight, entries where characters are doing anything else weirdly gain a strange sort of power to them, too. “Combat Matches Are A Go!” isn’t anything groundbreaking, but this tournament is going to be a lot of fun and this episode helps properly build excitement towards it.
Also, not going to lie. Pretty envious of the people in the audience that get to enjoy the tournament’s concession stand food. Those purple hamburgers look delicious!
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