This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 74
“I can feel it! I’m going to film the greatest movie ever!”
What is it that makes someone a hero? Is it being the star of a big budget film, committing simple acts of kindness, or just being a role model for your kids? Gohan is undeniably a hero. He’s saved the Earth directly and indirectly numerous times over now, but this episode really tries to deconstruct the idea of what makes someone a hero and breaks down Gohan to his many different components, whether that’s devoted husband, big time movie star, or even innocent bystander.
There’s much evidence in this entry as to why Gohan should be seen as a hero, but even if none of that were true, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a hero in the eyes of his daughter, even if all he does is rock her to sleep or make silly faces.
Gohan thankfully does a whole lot more than that in this episode, but it all comes together as a strong reminder of what makes up Gohan’s character and why he should be in the spotlight a lot more often. For instance, the dynamics between Gohan and his family are considerably deeper and more interesting than Goku’s family dynamics. This episode gives a good indication of what Dragon Ball Super might look like if Gohan was the main character and it’s not exactly a bad thing.
Gohan, or more specifically his superhero alter ego, the Great Saiyaman, begins this episode as a fugitive, but don’t expect him to spend this installment on the run like he’s some target from the Sokovia Accords. The first half of this two-parter ends with the Great Saiyaman positioned as a pariah and threat, but it only takes a few minutes of explanation for Jaco to realize that he and Gohan are on the same side here.
A Great Saiyaman and Jaco buddy cop team-up effort is something that I never knew that I needed in my life, but it makes for such a natural, easy fit here. The two aren’t together for too long, but their scenes together carry great chemistry and it also puts Watagash on Gohan’s radar.
The previous episode had the Great Saiayaman film as its centerpiece, with Gohan and Videl’s relationship drama occupying the B-story. “The Indomitable Great Saiyaman!!” flips this breakdown and while the Saiyaman film is still front and center, the film’s behind the scenes turmoil becomes the focus.
The last episode focuses more on Barry’s obsession with Videl, but this entry shifts over to Cocoa’s continued infatuation with the Great Saiyaman. Cocoa actually makes progress with the oblivious Gohan and she even manages to plant a kiss on the guy. This is exactly what Barry hopes will happen and he wastes no time to use this collateral to try to break down Videl’s resolve and get her to leave Gohan.
There’s a tense moment where it looks like this manipulation has maybe gotten into Videl’s head and she has genuine doubts about her relationship and her future with Gohan. However, because this is Dragon Ball and not something like Love Hina, the tense moment quickly subsides and Videl finds her confidence and remembers her love for her husband.
Videl’s verbal beat down of Barry is seriously one of the character’s greatest moments from all of Dragon Ball. The show doesn’t treat her like a fool and instead she blindly supports Gohan and doesn’t fall for Barry’s bait. Videl knows that Gohan would never cheat on her and so she completely ignores the “evidence” and instead assumes that her husband has some sort of explanation. This could have gone in a bunch of different directions, but filling Videl with this degree of confidence is ultimately the best play. Barry’s the celebrity here, but it’s Videl and Gohan that have the stress-free happy ending.
Once the personal drama is out of the way and Barry doesn’t have a leg to stand on with his attempted blackmail, the second half of this adventure turns up the action. The show decides to resolve all of the emotional conflict with a high-powered battle between Gohan and Barry Kahn, who is now possessed by the parasite, Watagash. It’s the perfect way to externalize all of the pent up aggression and tension that’s been going on between Gohan and Barry for these past two episodes.
This episode’s decision to wrap all of this up with a big fight doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, but what isa shock is how creative the series gets with this showdown.
The fight begins in Pan’s nursery of all places and puts the infant Saiyan in danger in a way that adds some severe stakes to the battle (although at this point most of the audience knows that Pan, even as a baby, could still probably take out Watagash-Barry without even getting a scratch on her onesie). Once the battle leaves the safety of Gohan’s household, its scope increases in some drastic ways. Gohan and Watagash take to the streets, but Watagash’s possession of Barry becomes more extreme and the fight takes on Godzilla-like proportions.
The most satisfying aspect of this fight is how cinematic it all looks. This episode never forgets the irony that there’s supposed to be a superhero movie that’s being filmed while it simultaneously presents a climactic battle that would easily fit into any giant Kaiju epic.
The shooting schedule for “The Great Saiyaman Versus Mr. Satan” faces impossible production problems, but the massive fight that takes place during the final act works as the perfect conclusion to the superhero film that they’re working on. It basically Bowfingers the whole thing and it’s a strong meta direction for the episode to adopt.
It feels like the sort of conclusion that would take place during a Wonder Man movie. All of this results in Gohan’s secret identity remaining under wraps and the movie meeting its release date, with the public thinking that all of this craziness has just been some thorough movie magic.
The episode delivers a beautiful, exciting fight, which doesn’t disappoint. Even though Gohan is fairly out of practice at the whole superhero game, he still holds his own here. Furthermore, even though Gohan ultimately saves the day, the episode understands that it’s a much richer ending when Pan, Videl, Jaco, and even Cocoa play a role in Watagash’s defeat, too.
This is a joint effort that reminds Gohan not only what it means to be a defender of justice, but also that he shouldn’t be afraid to rely on the help of others, especially when he’s out of his league. Besides, Jaco’s Macrocosm Cannon is just an awesome weapon that deserves to get used.
It’s also just nice when Dragon Ball can get away from Goku and Vegeta for a little while. Goku only appears with just enough time left in the episode to get chastised by Chi-Chi for falling asleep during the Saiyaman movie. Jaco also remains eternally consistent and just when it looks like his life may be back on track, his ineptitude at his job rears its head once more. Maybe he actuallycouldstand to use Gohan as a galactic patrol partner.
“The Indomitable Great Saiyaman!!” is a satisfying conclusion to what the previous episode sets up, but it feels like it lacks a little of the same impact that the first episode provides. The installment delivers in all departments and still dips into territory that’s a little melodramatic by Dragon Ball standards. It succeeds in the task of redeeming the Great Saiyaman and the next time he shows up he definitely won’t be met with as much disdain.
Oh, and don’t bother staying after the credits during “Great Saiyaman Versus Mr. Satan.” The post-credit scene where Jaco recruits Arale to join the Z Fighters right after Bulma, Mai, and Dr. Briefs are all turned to ash is so obvious.