This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 44
“This is bad! The power of the super water is in his hands!”
“Seal of Planet Pot-au-feu” is the start of a new mini-arc in Dragon Ball Super, but unfortunately it’s such an utter slog to get through. That’s not to say that this collection of episodes is universally hated, but it’s definitely not material that people are rushing to re-watch. “Secrets of the Unleashed Superhuman Water!” seems to have good intentions and it deserves points for shifting the series’ focus to different characters, but this all just takes up a lot of time and feels like it intentionally wants to troll the audience. Comparisons to Dragon Ball Z’s “Garlic Jr.” and “Fake Namek” filler sagas are pretty apt here. Could this story seriously not be contained to a single episode?
In spite of this disappointment, none of this means that these next three episodes should automatically be written off. In fact, if audience’s head into these episodes with realistic expectations in check, they might actually really enjoy this detour. To their credit, there are a lot of solid laughs. In the end, even if you truly despise what goes on in the next few installments, don’t abandon ship. The tone of this filler saga is not at all representative of what’s to come. These episodes may be a pain, but trust that there’s the best of rewards waiting at the end of all of this. Episode 47 doesn’t just kick start a new arc that’s insanely satisfying and well-thought out, but it also brings some old fan favorite characters back into the mix in a genuinely awesome way. But in the meantime, let’s talk about potato people and water clones!
The episode kicks off in a very innocent fashion where Monaka returns to Earth to deliver a package to Bulma (it really seems like Monaka is the only employee of this delivery company). It’s nice to get to spend so much time with the character as of late, but his latest appearance on Earth leads to Goten and Trunks sneaking onto his delivery truck and they get stuck in the thing. On that note, this episode is really just a good ol’ fashioned romp as the Saiyan children get up to some hijinks. Dragon Ball is no stranger to this sort of story, but Goten and Trunks haven’t had too many opportunities to get up to mischief yet in Dragon Ball Super up until this point. Goten and Trunks find themselves on an unexpected intergalactic journey that takes them to Planet Pot-au-feu along with Monaka’s next delivery.
On this planet, some space bandits invade and plan to steal a key (which looks strangely like a pacifier) that will allow them access to Superhuman Water from the planet’s elder. In spite of Goten and Trunks’ ability to stand their ground, the bandits actually succeed in their mission. This results in them all absorbed by the mysterious purple liquid that then produces clones of them all. This in theory isn’t a terrible story idea, especially when this villainous ooze inevitably takes over and duplicates some of the show’s heroes. However, this concept of clones/dopplegangers/mirror versions isn’t exactly new for the show. It’s actually a rather common theme in this series. It’s still nice to see Goten and Trunks lead the way on this one though and their playful, naïve perspectives are enough of a filter to make this adventure feel different from previous installments.
While this episode is also nothing to get too excited about, how damn cool is it to see a young Trunks inexplicably get drawn to a sword and start to experiment with it? It’s a total tease to the audience, especially since this sword is a short-lived addition to Trunks’ arsenal, but it’s still a fun moment. Plus, it helps the audience remember that Trunks should get a sword! It’s clearly what fate wants! The character designs for Planet Pot-au-feu’s inhabitants, as well as its invaders, are also pretty unique and a breath of fresh air. It’s not a crucial detail here, but it doesn’t hurt that these new aliens that the show spends time with for a few episodes actually look fun.
There are many fun touches in this one that give it a lot of personality, even if it all is a bit of a drag. Comedic detours like Monaka listening to space radio on his deliveries (let alone getting his mail read on the air) or Bulma’s blackmail collateral on Jaco make for nice distractions. It’s always fascinating when the show decides to open its universe up a little more. It’s also an interesting wrinkle that the bad guys don’t realize that the Super Water will invade them in the way that it does. The fact that their “ultimate power” comes at the cost of their free will—like in some Venom symbiote situation—is a creative direction to take.
Bulma eventually figures out that Goten and Trunks must have disappeared with Monaka and so she asks that Vegeta and Jaco go to Pot-au-feu to look for them. As fun as the prospect of an entire episode where Vegeta and Jaco are in space together would be, the two reach their destination rather quickly here. It’s also rather convenient that the head of these space bandits happens to be the outlaw that Jaco’s been on the hunt for. This ties things together in a way that isn’t exactly necessary, but it also doesn’t hurt.
Once the rescue team does reach the planet, Vegeta gets quite the rude greeting as the purple liquid absorbs and clones him, which results in the production of an evil doppleganger Vegeta. I’m sure that many people won’t be too happy to see this depiction of Vegeta where his guard is down and he can get outsmarted so easily. It certainly feels like an off characterization that’s meant to help service the story and there could have been a better reason for how he gets overtaken. Trunks is right there! Couldn’t the Saiyan have attempted to protect his son and get absorbed in the process that way?
As contrived as this set up is, all to simply have another battle with an evil version of Vegeta, it should at least lead to an exciting follow-up episode. It’s a cheat, but a Goten and Trunks fight against Vegeta holds a lot of potential, especially since they appear to fuse and bring Gotenks into the mix. The circumstances behind it all might be terribly unimaginative, but try to have fun with the results and get the most out of this filler.