This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 43
“Well, maybe it’s time to take a break from all the fighting and spend some time taking care of your granddaughter.”
Dragon Ball is no stranger to questionable, nonsensical storylines, but this episode is bound to go down as one of the series’ most unusual detours. For those that wonder if the overpowered fighters of this universe can get “ki sickness” and if their energy can go all wonky, well, this one goes out to you.
Dragon Ball Super continues to enjoy its time off from saving the world. The show trades in its recent doom and gloom mentality for unbridled silliness and physical comedy. As a result, “Goku’s Energy Is Out of Control?!” certainly feels like non-essential Dragon Ball and if there’s any episode to miss this season, this is the one. At the same time though, it’s a little exciting to see the series experiment around more with tone and form as it takes itself less seriously. The last installment of the series also takes a similarly comedic direction too, but this attempt feels much more imbalanced than the “Monaka Scheme” that everyone gets caught up with in the previous episode. Furthermore, the mini-arc that the next three episodes explore is really the nadir of Dragon Ball Super filler. Rest assured though, the arc that follows it is some of the best material that the series produces. Hang in there. It gets better.
This entry sets itself during a rather interesting period in Dragon Ball and takes two seemingly unrelated events and pairs them together with successful results. Back during the show’s recent multiversal tournament, Whis and Beerus both make reference to how much Goku overexerts himself with his “Kaio-Ken Blue” gambit. The maneuver seems to shred Goku’s muscles apart and render him useless by the end of the battle. It’s a grim outcome, but one that’s still better than the possibility of death that’s put on the table. Now that some time has passed since Goku’s battle against Hit, it appears that while his body may be back in fighting shape, there are still some residual kinks that need to be worked out.
This development sees Goku’s energy and power levels wildly fluctuate and he’s left with no real control over his body (let alone an appetite, which is seriously worrisome). Goku decides that the best solution here is simply to relax, stay out of people’s ways, and just wait for his “delayed onset ki disorder” to subside. This plan would work perfectly, however due to Gohan and Videl sticking Goku with their daughter, Pan, this mundane babysitter situation quickly gets out of hand. It’s also pretty damn discouraging to see that Gohan and Videl’s business is not some martial arts tournament or training session, but rather an important lunch with a professor from Gohan’s university. Gohan’s redemption is still a long ways away, but rest assured that eventually these nerd studies summits will come to an end.
It’s another small throwaway moment, but the conversation snippet that reveals that Chi-Chi has not actually spent all of the family’s money and tournament winnings is some helpful backpedaling, too. Apparently Goku’s wife and Beerus share a common trait in knowing how to properly motivate the Saiyan through lies. This discussion doesn’t lead into anything bigger, but it is nice to know that Goku’s family isn’t destitute and that Chi-Chi isn’t terrible with finances. Goten might be able to afford a post-secondary education after all!
This perfect storm of bad timing for Goku’s family only gets worse when Pilaf, Shu, and Mai decide that now would also be the best time to plan an ambush on the sick Saiyan. Goku’s unpredictable energy patterns leave the guy out of commission this week, which surprisingly gives Pan most of the adventure and focus in this episode. Although, with the bang-up job that Piccolo does taking care of Pan, I kind of hope the series eventually delivers a Pan and Piccolo babysitting adventure.
Pilaf’s villainous efforts result in Pan’s accidental kidnapping and exodus into outer space. This whole spaceship sequence is an utter delight and some of the better physical comedy that the show has turned out. Furthermore, the absurdity of all of this is aided by the fact that Pan is a baby and cannot talk and that Pilaf and his crew are just so used to failure at this point. Goku jokes about how Pan will grow up to be a Super Saiyan, but it almost looks like she’ll transform in this episode. She totally holds her own and kicks a lot of ass. Just to reiterate, a toddler defeats these bad guys and simultaneously saves their lives, too. At that point, how can you continue to carry on as villains? Maybe the gang would be better with part-time jobs from Monaka’s delivery company…
It works in this episode’s favor that its jokes are actually entertaining, but its lightweight plot still holds this one back from real greatness. All of this is certainly a lot of fun and there are straight-up weird jokes here like the ultra kawaii selfie that Pilaf and his gang take. Or Goku’s unexpected turn as a peeping tom on Bulma. Hell, even Arale from Dr. Slump makes a brief appearance, which is something that I honestly wasn’t sure would remain in the dubbed version. These bizarre moments definitely made me laugh, but it’s still hard to imagine this entry as anyone’s favorite episode of Dragon Ball Super.
As “The Struggle to Look After Pan” concludes, the episode ends right where it began with Pan safe and sound and no one the wiser to her ridiculous exploits, especially Goku. The warrior’s “ki sickness” conveniently clears up—and will surely never be mentioned again—and he anxiously awaits his next challenge. Little does Goku know that his granddaughter is quickly on her way to becoming just as strong of a fighter as he is. Let’s just hope that she has more common sense than her dear old dad.