This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers
Dragon Ball Super Episode 50
Dragon Ball Super has been on a bit of hot streak ever since it started its Goku Black arc. There’s been an excess of enthusiasm that’s fueled the previous episodes, but this installment really gets things moving. The past few installments have all been super exciting simply due to how much new material and familiar faces have joined the party.
That being said, “Goku vs. Black!” is the first episode where it really feels like some of these threads begin to come together. The past few episodes have acted as a very successful tease of what’s to come in this new arc, but this entry is when the series actually begins to deliver. After plenty of build up and a few “practice” matches, Goku Black finally lets his hair down—figuratively speaking—and begins to show to the Z Warriors just how powerful he is.
“Goku vs. Black!” is basically split into two halves and the episode’s first section just occupies itself with a battle. However, it’s a well-paced fight and one that comes at the right time. At this point in the arc the audience is already intimidated by Goku Black, so it’s time to follow through and put him in action. While there could certainly be more that goes down in this installment, it’s satisfying for Dragon Ball Super to indulge in this action, especially when it’s built such high expectations for all of this.
Goku Black finally meets up with the Z Warriors and it’s clear that fighting is on everyone’s minds. Future Trunks is eager to take on his rival, but Vegeta talks him down from the impulsive decision. This however doesn’t stop Goku from ignoring his better judgment and choosing to face off against the new villain. Goku and Goku Black’s fight is pretty explosive stuff, but it’s also fairly low stakes here. Neither of them go all out and once Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan he’s actually able to overtake Goku Black fairly easily.
Future Trunks is desperate for Goku to just finish the job and eliminate this threat before he has the opportunity to escape, but Goku of course blows this shot. In fact, the episode explicitly calls Goku out on his tendency to waste time and not go all out at the start of battles, even though it’s been a strategy that has blown up in his face numerous times before. Future Trunks even freaks out over Goku’s naïve approach to Goku Black, which turns into a nice moment where he gets to share the audience’s frustration.
It’s nice to see that the days of wondering whether a momentous fight will suffer from lackluster animation are long over. Dragon Ball Super continues to stick the landing with its stunning art. This fight is a pleasure to watch and even though it largely consists of Goku and Goku Black trying to feel out the other’s style, the fight choreography is still impressive.
Goku Black gets to fire off a crazy amount of powerful energy blasts that put Goku on the offensive while also looking fairly awesome. The show even realizes the importance of having the two lookalikes sucker punch each other at the exact same time in order to make their even strength as clear as possible. This show knows what it’s doing.
After the fisticuffs Goku Black manages to escape back through the time portal that he arrived in, but not before he also destroys Future Trunks’ time machine so the group has no means to follow him. This leaves both sides at a standstill of sorts since neither one seems to currently be able to travel to the respective company’s timeline. Goku Black is especially pleased that Future Trunks is locked out of his home.
At the same time, both Goku and Vegeta don’t seem that worried about the Goku Black situation. If a regular Super Saiyan is a fair match for this new villain, clearly Super Saiyan Blue would obliterate the guy. However, there’s still a lot more to this villain to figure out.
The episode also makes a point to illustrate how Goku Black appears to get stronger the more in contact that he is with Goku. It’s almost like his body can learn from Goku’s example. When Goku turns the heat up and becomes a Super Saiyan, Goku Black suddenly seems to also be able to tap into new reservoirs of strength. It should be interesting to follow this development in the balance of Goku Black’s power. Super Saiyan Blue is an incredibly strong transformation, but it might not make a difference if Goku Black can also siphon off that energy.
While the beginning of the episode is interested in its showdown, its second half deals with the team’s attempts to unravel the mystery of Goku Black. Whis makes a telling observation that the time portal that Goku Black arrives and escapes in is actually a method of time travel that is only privy to the Supreme Kais. Goku Black’s Ring of Time is something that only Supreme Kai’s should be in possession of and even then they’re not allowed to go back in time with them.
Beerus and Whis throw back and forth theories on this, but they just can’t figure out why a Supreme Kai would look like Goku. This is obviously all quite suspicious and Dragon Ball Super begins to hint at the much larger mystery behind Goku Black’s original identity and motivations. It’s also pleasant to get a little more world building in the sense that even Supreme Kais are not allowed to go back in time due to the disastrous butterfly effect of such an action.
Dragon Ball Super thankfully understands how much of a headache time travel stories can be. In a last ditch effort Krillin also addresses Whis’ ability to turn back time that saved the day back in their fight with Golden Frieza. The gang proposes that Whis uses that same ability to go forward in time and bring the fight to Goku Black, but Whis clarifies that it can only be used to rewind time and only for three minutes, at that.
Future Trunks’ malaise temporarily subsides when Bulma has a revelation of sorts. Even though Future Trunks’ time machine is now gone Bulma shows off her amazing memory and reminds everyone that there actually might be another time machine that they can use. Also, what a powerful sequence it is to watch “Hope!!” go up in flames as both Future and present Trunks take in the moment.
Bulma brings up how Cell used a time machine to travel to their timeline and maybe they can locate that and make it operational. These deep cuts and attention to the show’s sprawling mythology are always quite satisfying and this new arc is already full of fun fan service in that regard.
Vegeta also gets to bond with Future Trunks in a really beautiful, albeit brief, scene. These moments will be few and far between, but it’s still far too entertaining to watch Vegeta be sentimental towards his (future) son.
“Goku vs. Black!” helps establish the new standard for this arc and there’s plenty to love in this episode. There’s an exciting battle that leaves everyone eager for the inevitable rematch, the story progresses in some considerable ways, and the stakes of this new arc begin to sink in.
“Goku vs. Black!” makes the audience hungry for the next episode and to find out what happens next, which is exactly what a lengthy anime like this is supposed to do. The series has returned to addictive storytelling rather than meandering through obstacles.
The final moments of the episode return to Goku Black’s ravaged future timeline and Future Mai regains consciousness. It certainly might have looked like Trunks’ partner was out of commission, but suddenly the future doesn’t look so bleak.
Just like the knowledge of a second time machine fills the Z Warriors with hope, Mai’s resurgence hints at the fact that these characters might actually be able to take down all of this darkness and set the world back on track.