This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 4
“I have found all seven Dragon Balls!”
Let’s just make it clear from the start here: the biggest thing that happens in this episode is Pilaf and friends get a well-cooked meal. So if you’re hoping that this one is going to be your all-time favorite episode where a ton finally goes down, well, you’re going to be a tad disappointed this week.
Bulma’s rager of a birthday party began last episode and it’s still very much the focal point this time around. In fact, other than a few asides the bulk of the episode takes place on the Princess Bulma cruise ship. This birthday material is sweet and innocent, but I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that it’s not what people are tuning into this show for. There are still some highlights from out of all of this though, and there’s something to be said for getting all of the show’s characters together in one place mingling about. It’s a bizarre gag, but Android 18 aspiring to merely win the second place prize in Chi-Chi’s bingo competition made me laugh. It’s some strange characterization that’s pretty in line with her somewhat foreign take on normal human niceties. If time has to be taken up here with lackadaisical partying, I’m at least happy to see it contain this peculiar sense of humor to guide it along.
Elsewhere on the cruise ship there’s a perfectly entertaining side story involving Goten and Trunks running amok on the cruise ship as they hunt for the bingo prizes. This in turn leads them to all seven Dragon Balls gathered together—Bulma’s grand prize for her game. Now, rather than this amounting to simply Goten and Trunks having some fun, this Dragon Ball reveal happens to act as the series’ re-introduction of Pilaf, Shu, and Mai from the original Dragon Ball. The gang has fallen onto harsh times and acquiring those Dragon Balls means a big, juicy feast with their names all over it. It’s quite something to see how drastically Pilaf’s wish goals have fallen since her Dragon Ball days. Bugging Shenron for a feast is a whole lot less destructive than seeking world domination (which really is just the ability to have as many feasts as you want for as long as you want—guy’s got to look at the bigger picture).
A surprising amount of time is devoted to Pilaf’s efforts to get onto Bulma’s Titanic-esque property to get those Balls. Hopefully you’re a fan of the guy and his whole underdog routine because these guys are sticking around indefinitely. They’re very much a fixture of the series, especially in these earlier episodes, making for an interesting comedic foil to Goten and Trunks. While Pilaf and company might not get the Dragon Balls this episode, they do get all the food that they want, so it’s still pretty much a win in their books.
This episode also marks the beginning of some really poorly animated episodes of Dragon Ball Super where there are thick character outlines with crude animations and models in place. It’s a convention of the rigorous production schedule that an anime of this popularity is forced to keep up with. Often a rather poorly animated episode will be met with a pretty gorgeous one the following week, but it’s still something that feels pretty inexcusable, especially when these dubbed episodes are airing so much later after the fact and there’s no production schedule to worry about. It can make episodes that are particularly extraneous and filler-heavy feel even more inconsequential and irritating. It’s not a deal breaker with this episode in particular, but brace yourself for it in the future. There is some truly ugly animation on the horizon that if nothing else makes you more appreciative of when the show does look slick and pristine.
-There’s some really great background music in this episode too, which at least helps counterbalance the underwhelming animation. There are a lot of super catchy tracks here that compliment some of the zanier antics that occupy this episode.
It’s unfortunate to report that other than a brief scene of Vegeta having his training interrupted to finally attend his wife’s birthday and the episode’s final scene which has Beerus and Whis at last reaching King Kai’s planet, that’s pretty much all for the action this episode. This is a very sparse episode that’s largely inconsequential to the series. At the least, now that Beerus and Goku are finally together you know that next episode is going to be pretty damn cool. I mean, the next episode previews show Goku going Super Saiyan 3, so you’ve got that to be looking forward to. Don’t worry, there is also still probably time to fit in Bulma’s bingo tournament, too.
Now I’m off to have some of Nebula 65’s chicken tartar while awaiting next week’s episode…
Dragon Ball Super’s dub continues to air on Saturdays at 8pm on Adult Swim, and 11:30pm in their Toonami block