“Mother…I promise that I’ll be back to save this world. No matter what.”
Here we go, everyone!
This episode of Dragon Ball Super is so excited to jump into this new arc that it doesn’t even begin with the usual recap of the previous installment’s events. The series is far too eager to leave Planet Pot-au-feu in the past and it puts this recap time to much better use as it launches into the dystopian future timeline of Future Trunks. Dragon Ball Super is about to bring a whole bunch of familiar faces back into play and it’s an absolute joy. Also, hooray for new credits animations! It’s always pleasant when these elements can get a bit of an update.
Future Trunks finds himself in a situation that’s very similar to his predicament all the way back in the Cell Saga. Future Trunks’ timeline is under relentless attack from an overpowered menace and his trump card comes down to Trunks and Bulma building a time machine to come to our present timeline for help. The guy’s got to be feeling all sorts of déjà vu as he goes on this mission. Dragon Ball Super isn’t oblivious to the similarities involved with the return of Future Trunks.
In fact, it intentionally creates these parallels in a way that’s not only meant to conjure up nostalgia for those glorious prime seasons of Dragon Ball Z, but also to show audiences how the show is going to up the stakes and blow previous expectations out of the water. Also, the episode flies right past it, but that rainbow gem fuel process that Future Bulma uses is pretty damn sweet, too. That’s the kind of technology that Trunks needs to bring over with him to the present timeline!
It also feels like the episode intentionally toys with the audience when it cuts away from the thrilling life-or-death stakes of Future Trunks’ situation to Goku doing mundane farm work. Nobody wants this, especially Goku, but there’s a nice balance at play here that Goku and company’s lives should be so peaceful when all of this fresh chaos is about to hit. While everyone is still blissfully unaware of the danger that’s to come, Goku tries to find ways to turn his chores into a training substitute (maybe he’s read Nathan For You’s “The Movement”?) and ropes Piccolo in for the ride.
Goku falls back on the excuse that Roshi trained both him and Krillin with this same sort of approach. This might be true, but villains have certainly gotten a lot stronger since then. It’s still a lot of fun to watch these two do yard work at an alarming, competitive rate, but it’s also like, “Hey, when are they going to get back to the Future Trunks stuff?”
The situation on Earth picks up a little pace when Goku realizes that Vegeta is on Beerus’ planet and getting training in with Whis (yet more evidence that Vegeta very well might currently be stronger than Goku). Goku’s situation changes from harvest work from homework when he basically gets more of a history lesson on Zeno, King of the Universes, who interrupted the series’ latest multiversal tournament.
Whis reiterates that Zeno is the ruler of all twelve universes, but he also explains that he has the power to erase entire universes. In fact, there were more than twelve universes for a long time, but the existing total is all that are left from various Zeno erasures. Zeno has been shown to be an extremely cute, tiny individual so it doesn’t hurt for the show to double down on reminding the audience how powerful he is. Goku and Vegeta’s efforts don’t get much further this week (although the upcoming tournament gets brought up), but rest assured that they’ll have lots to do once Future Trunks makes it over to their timeline.
There are many familiar beats to Future Trunks’ wasteland of a timeline, but then all of a sudden Future Mai shows up and appears to be Trunks’ romantic interest? That Mai—of Emperor Pilaf’s Mai and Shu goon squad. This timeline’s version of Bulma gets killed rather early on, as if to show that this new villain doesn’t mess around. She’s not the only loved one that Future Trunks loses in this episode, either.
This episode very much wants its audience to understand that this upcoming arc is about to get dark. These warriors of justice are eating cat food to survive. Then, as if to underscore that bleak point, there’s of course the reveal of the actual villain himself, an evil version of Goku called Goku Black of all things. This is meant to be flashy and exploitative and feel just a little off. There will eventually be answers that make these reveals feel less crazy, but in the meantime the episode want audiences to relish in the spectacle of it all.
“SOS From the Future!” is an introductory episode, so it’s job is to do just that. On that front, the episode succeeds and then some. All of this feels like the start of something very special that has such an energy to it. Not a lot may necessarily happen in this entry, but it’s clear that there’s plenty on deck. Not to mention, the animation with Future Trunks’ apocalyptic timeline is particularly stunning stuff.
All of the brimstone and destruction hits all the harder because the animation is just such a pleasure to look at here. Future Trunks deserves no less. The recurring piece of music that plays for Future Trunks and Bulma is also a sweet, touching ode to them and Goku Black’s theme is equally powerful.
Longtime Dragon Ball fans have seen evil Goku lookalikes before, such as Turles in The Tree of Might or when Captain Ginyu is in control of Goku’s body. Hell, the series literally just got out of a storyline where the gang fights against an evil Vegeta doppleganger, so this material isn’t exactly new territory for the show. There’s something different about this and the fact that the character’s name is so obviously a ploy of sorts.
Is this a Goku from another universe that has become a God of Destruction? Is this a grown up Goten from Future Trunks’ timeline who has gone evil? There’s something amiss here (and that Potara earing also feels like a pretty significant clue here…), but it doesn’t change the fact that the next big villain is an evil, super powerful version of Goku. This should all be pretty damn fun.
Unless this all comes down to a harvesting contest in the end, in which case, Goku and Piccolo have this one in the bag.