This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 53
“Here’s your tea. Please enjoy.”
Dragon Ball is a series that is full of tools that have been used to weed out evil or signify a character’s righteousness. There’s been the Flying Nimbus, the Evil Containment Wave, the Z Sword, and many other tricks that Goku and company have put to use. However, when it comes to Universe 10, the way to measure purity is with tea. Suddenly Goku’s search for the greatest villain that the Dragon Ball franchise has ever seen comes down to hot water and leaves.
Tea is the litmus test for Supreme Kais that are in training and the proof of whether an apprentice is worthy to reach the next level and take on such a colossal responsibility. The episode doesn’t shove this trial in the audience’s face, but what it does focus on is Zamasu’s troublesome disposition. When this does become a problem, it will be the tea that tips everyone off in the end. It’s going to be such a bitter brew, you guys.
Beerus, Whis, and Goku continue their voyage from the previous episode and they finally arrive in Universe 10. It’s here that they get cozy with the universe’s Supreme Kai, Gowasu, as well as his apprentice, Zamasu. Gowasu is the model of what a Supreme Kai should be. He’s someone who’s benevolent, fair, and kind-hearted to all individuals. On the other hand, Zamasu doesn’t share the same sensibilities as his Master.
In fact, Zamasu looks to be a fairly awful pupil and not the best applicant to be a new Supreme Kai. Zamasu holds a huge grudge against all mortals, but he’s specifically resentful towards humans due to how wasteful and negligent they are as a species. Their inherent nature of repeating humanity’s mistakes over and over is repulsive to Zamasu, whereas Gowasu waxes on about how this is just the way of a fallible species.
This also opens up a glorious discussion on what the best leadership style is in order to create success. Zamasu is anxious to just wipe out humanity and correct their mistakes for them, but Gowasu insists that a Kai and a Supreme Kai are meant to nurture and create, not destroy. More than anything else, they’re not meant to intervene with humanity in any way. This is the toughest concept for Zamasu to wrap his green head around and while he may be a strong warrior, his principles and moral compass have Gowasu beginning to worry over whether he belongs in the pantheon of Supreme Kais.
Zamasu’s bitter MO (in conjunction with the visual cues that the past few episodes have provided) makes it seem pretty obvious that he’s somehow in Goku Black’s good graces, but the team from Universe 7 still struggles to figure out how all of these dots connect. Zamasu has the same stubborn rage that Goku Black does, but they’re unsure how they can both exist at the same time. In spite of this, Beerus and Whis are able to conclude that Zamasu’s aura is nearly identical to Goku Black’s, so even though all of this might not make sense at the moment, they’re confident that they’re headed in the right direction with their suspicions.
“Uncover Black’s Identity!” also provides some helpful background information on both Zamasu and the inner workings of the Supreme Kais. Zamasu started as a regular Kai, but he started to show such promise as a fighter that he began to receive this special training from Gowasu to become a Supreme Kai. There’s also discussion on the Rings of Time as well as a little more context on how they work for the Supreme Kais. On that note, the art design on Universe 10’s Supreme Kai Planet is some impressive work. It really stands out in its minimalist nature, but the way in which it reflects this meditative, peaceful Zen lifestyle is really effective. The idea of a psychotic warrior that grows up in this environment is even more fascinating.
This episode also excels with how it pushes this great feeling of foreboding tension that can happen in time travel stories when too much meddling is done. It feels like everything that Goku and company do here actually contributes to and sparks the cause for the whole Goku Black epidemic that assaults them from the future. Beerus and everyone do their due diligence here in Universe 10, but there’s a very real sense of dread that’s present through this episode where it feels like these guys inadvertently become the architects of their own destruction. It’s worth pointing out that Zamasu is totally clueless when the Rings of Time get brought up, but now they’re absolutely on his radar because of what Beerus and Whis ask of him.
Goku, in traditional Goku fashion, is eager to battle against a Supreme Kai and see how he holds up against the deity. Zamasu has no interest in trading blows with Goku, but the two eventually square off after Gowasu pushes Zamasu to follow through with the fight. This match is rather short-lived and incredibly one-sided. Zamasu doesn’t stand a chance against Goku (who only has to resort to his Super Saiyan form) and the crushing defeat seems to only have the Supreme Kai-in-training more spiteful towards Goku. Zamasu seethes so much here that it wouldn’t be surprising if he suddenly decides to stoop to some drastic actions (like stealing someone’s body, wink wink) to get his revenge.
The fight itself leaves a lot to be desired in the animation department, but this is a battle that’s much more about getting a good read on Zamasu, not the results themselves. It fills its purpose and the group learns what they need for this unusual situation. Before the episode even gets to the fighting, it’s also beautiful to see just how much Goku’s jubilant, carefree nature clashes with Zamasu. He immediately hates the guy and it’s a fun dynamic to see the episode play with, even though Goku is oblivious to it all.
Outside of all of the business that goes down in Universe 10, there’s still a bit of excitement to be had on Earth. Future Trunks has very much been in the spotlight over the past few episodes, but he continues to get some enlightening development here as he strives to figure out where he fits in. The biggest news here is that Future Trunks gets to catch up with Android 18, not to mention her and Krillin’s adorable daughter, Marron (he’s probably relieved that her temperament is a whole lot better than Pan’s)!
This encounter almost results in Trunks slicing Krillin’s wife to pieces, but it makes for a pretty wonderful moment. It also intelligently plays into the show’s longstanding canon and how much these characters have all been through. It’s not a pivotal scene by any means, but it’s a smaller moment that really works well and has fun with its growing cast.
Oh, and young Mai really starts to crush on Future Trunks. Pilaf says it best, “The relationship between man and woman is very complicated.” That’s even an understatement in this circumstance. All of Pilaf’s insistences to act as Mai’s wingman are highly entertaining, especially when it just attracts young Trunks in the process.
Overall, “Uncover Black’s Identity!” is a fast installment that just flies by, but it ultimately feels a little expendable. Even though this is an episode that gives up some useful answers and has some fun in Universe 10, it still feels like more could have gone down in this one. That being said, it’s clear that this arc is beginning to really pick up its pace and that after more of this Goku Black and Zamasu mystery gets worked out it won’t be long until everything goes bonkers.
Dragon Ball Super begins to ask the question of what everyone should do with Zamasu, like if he should just outright be destroyed or if they should take more time to study him. The group’s response to all of this as well as Zamasu’s actions after his humbling by Goku will likely be the focus moving forward as more of this predicament unravels. Zamasu asks the questions, “Are humans truly worth protecting?” and he’s about to learn the answer the hard way.