This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers
Dragon Ball Super Episode 61
“Shall we start, Zamasu?”
“Very well, Zamasu.”
It’s important to not let yourself be controlled too much by your emotions. This is easier said than done when you’re fighting for the safety of the entire planet, but it’s fundamental to not get distracted. It seems like an impossible task to not follow the basic instincts to act human, but it’s a difficult part of the Z Fighters’ job that doesn’t typically get explored.
In “Zamasu’s Ambition” Goku can put up a good fight, but he allows himself to get angry when Goku Black pushes his buttons and uses his family as a trigger. In a similar sense, Future Zamasu is able to manipulate Future Trunks and push him into battle by his ability to make him see red. These are the strongest fighters in the universe and the best/only chance of fixing the fractured world that Future Trunks live in, but they’re only as strong as their ability to stay in control of their emotions.
Super Saiyan Blue is useless if a dig about Bulma makes Vegeta senselessly launch into battle and miss an obvious vulnerability. “Zamasu’s Ambition” gives the audience what they want by reigniting the fight with Goku Black and Zamasu, but it also deepens this rivalry by turning up the psychological aspect of this war.
The very end of the last episode began to peel back the layers of this double Zamasu paradox, so let’s first put all of that to rest. It’s made quite clear this time around that the Zamasu that’s teamed up with Goku Black is the Zamasu from Future Trunks’ altered timeline. In spite of coming from Future Trunks’ timeline, Future Zamasu uses the Super Dragon Ball from the prime timeline to wish for immortality.
Mind you, this is already after the Zamasu from Goku and company’s timeline uses the Super Dragon Balls to wish for Goku’s body and becomes Goku Black. All of which Zamasu is able to accomplish (while also avoiding destruction from Beerus) because he’s self-appointed himself to a Supreme Kai and acquired Gowasu’s Time Ring. He then uses his new toy to cross over to Future Trunks’ world and poach his other self.
There’s some poignancy in the fact that Goku Black’s time travel mission to “fix” the world basically positions him as this warped, bizarro version of Future Trunks and his crusade. You’ve also got to love just how thorough Goku Black and Zamasu are in their villainy. After they get what they want, they go ahead and destroy the Super Dragon Balls and kill all of the remaining Supreme Kai in Universe 7 so no one can reverse what they’ve done or get in their way. Frieza and Buu get a lot of credit for how evil they are, but this is the sort of Grade-A darkness that gets results.
While Zamasu’s immortality does answer some questions, it doesn’t exactly correlate to his sudden tremendous boost in power. Immortality simply means that you can’t be killed, not that a boost of strength makes you so powerful that you can’t be killed. So it’s a little convenient that Zamasu currently appears to more or less be on the same level as Goku Black, it still translates to some satisfying battles.
It’s especially awesome to see Zamasu operate with absolutely zero regard for his safety because he knows he’ll survive (the bit where Goku Black stabs Goku through Zamasu deserves special attention). He allows himself to take energy blasts directly to the face and repeatedly throws himself in harm’s way because there’s zero consequence. It’s a radical new approach that the team needs to figure out how to overcome.
On that note, “Zamasu’s Ambition” doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the action and it wastes no time with the tension that it’s built between these opposing parties. This time around it feels like everyone wants a chance to jump into battle and get in a few good licks and it’s fun to get lost in that energy. Even though the previous installment made it look like Vegeta would be the first one to launch into the fray, if for no other reason than to prove a point, the fight begins with the predictable, safe choice of Goku.
This two against one combo doesn’t exactly seem fair here, but I’m sure there are many people out there (Vegeta included) who are far too happy to see Goku gets totally annihilated by these guys. What’s even worse is that not only do Zamasu and Goku Black physically dominate Goku, but they also psychologically mess with him.
The flashback to when Zamasu takes over Goku’s body and then proceeds to murder Chi-Chi and Gotenas their beloved Goku is one of the coldest things that the show has ever done. It’s very malicious and helps establish Zamasu/Goku Black to be even more of a terrifying threat. Super Saiyan Rosé’s energy sword is still just as badass as ever, too.
These mind games do successfully stir something in Goku and allow him to bring the pain for a brief, glorious period, but it’s not long before he’s again overpowered and knocked out. Future Trunks is left to pick up the slack, which is great, but it’s a little infuriating to see how incapable these heroes are of true teamwork. There are three of them here. If Goku, Vegeta, and Future Trunks all took on Future Zamasu and Goku Black together, they’d maybe stand a real chance here, immortality or not. Instead everyone has to be their typical stubborn, prideful selves and try to prove how much of a dent they can make on these villains on their own. God forbid Vegeta and Goku work together here because maybe their hands would accidentally touch when performing energy blasts or something.
This lack of cooperation is just especially frustrating this time around because the bad guys are working together and it’s one of the better examples of teamwork in the Dragon Ball universe. The fact that it’s a pairing of two Zamasus probably has something to do with this crazy synergy. For once though the heroes could actually stand to follow the example of the villains.
It’s a rather terrifying idea to have two of the same villain working together, even if it may seem a little redundant. A team of two different fighters might initially feel like a stronger plan, but there’s something to be said for how two of the same person would be totally in sync and on the same page with their partner. It’s kind of beautiful that the only person that Zamasu can find that’s as obsessed and nihilistic as he is, is himself. Goku and Vegeta is a powerful combo, but arguably two Gokus or two Vegetas could pack more of a punch in the end. “Zamasu’s Ambition” merely hints at the insane degree of synchronicity that Goku Black and Zamasu share, but it’s clearly a large part of their battle strategy.
Future Zamasu chooses to target Future Trunks and attempts to get in his head just like he did with Goku. He tells him that he personally holds Future Trunks and his persistent use of time travel as the cause for his Zero Mortality Plan. He even goes all the way back to Trunks’ first dalliance with time travel and argues that if he never saved Goku’s life with the heart vaccine then Goku never would have become the strong fighter that he’d eventually take over to re-shape the universe. It’s some chilling food for thought.
Future Zamasu continues to chide Trunks and tells him that their many murders and quasi-genocides are his fault. This is too much for Future Trunks to bear and the episode punctuates itself with the exciting conclusion where Future Trunks taps into some new reservoir of strength and rage and turns into a new form of Super Saiyan! Quite honestly, this looks more like it’s going to be a pseudo-Super Saiyan “half level” kind of situation; like Ultra Super Saiyan all over again. “Super Trunks” looks all sorts of cool with his fancy yellow and blue aura, but it won’t be until next episode that we’ll get to see if it’s actually effective in battle.
Overall, “Zamasu’s Ambition” is a success that features many satisfying moments. It’s definitely enjoyable to see Goku and company back in the swing of battle with their attempts to eliminate Goku Black and Zamasu, yet it also feels far too early for this to be the end of this story arc. This showdown holds a lot of potential, especially with how it properly respects Future Trunks and his awesomeness by thrusting him to a new plateau of power, but there is a residual feeling of how all of this is biding its time.
Once again, the fact that these warriors choose to settle this fight one at a time reeks of an attempt to stretch out this current material. However, this is a forgivable plot contrivance when each episode still manages to drop some colossal nugget of information about the show’s villains.
Besides, this episode features a gratuitous scene where “Goku” kills his wife and child, so even if “Zamasu’s Ambition” was terrible on every other front, it will forever be remembered as the episode that goes to that bold place.