This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 77
“The Tournament of Power, huh? I’m getting excited!”
Dragon Ball Super has had a lot of fun over the latest stretch of episodes that embraced a sort of freer structure while the show recalibrated for the next big threat. Even though these episodes were some of the series’ most successful experiments with filler (I could watch an entire spin-off sports anime that was simply “DragonBaseball”), the show had reached the point that it was about time to get things moving again.
Dragon Ball Super acknowledges and plays into that restlessness to some degree with how the bulk of this episode sees Goku and company actually struggling to find things to do. The only reason that anything actually happens by the end is because ofboredom. At one point Goku literally asks the Zeno twins, “Whatever happened to that Martial Arts Tournament?” He echoes the audiences’ sentiments when he adds, “I’m tired of waiting.”
“Let’s Do It, Grand Zeno! The Universes’ Best Tournament!!” gets other important information across along the way, but it feels very inconsequential and like the only reason we’re privy to it is because Goku stumbles upon it in his aimlessness. This restless nature is both helpful and a hindrance to the episode, but there’s not much else to the entry.
Goku begins the installment in bullshit mode (you know, his beige farmer’s outfit) because Chi-Chi doesn’t think that he makes enough money or is useful enough. Accordingly, the universe’s defender has to sheepishly try to peddle produce to appease his wife and get her off his back. A simple farmers’ market run shouldn’t be one of the more dangerous destinations that Goku visits, but he inexplicably finds his life on the line when some scofflaws attempt to rob him. This minor “fight scene” isn’t that suspenseful, but there’s a surprising amount of style to Goku’s takedown of these criminals. It’s clear that the guy is starving for an actual challenge. The thieves obviously aren’t a problem for Goku to handle, but they do unexpectedly succeed in “injuring” him before their defeat.
This may seem a little ridiculous considering the level of strength that Goku has attained at this point in the series. Yet, this acts as a reminder that on this show energy operates like a shield of protection, but only when the user is aware enough to use it. So much like when Frieza’s henchman, Sorbet, pierces Goku with a laser gun earlier in the series, this is an example where strength alone isn’t enough to protect Goku. He needs to be trained in every area and while he thinks he figures this out by the end of the episode, his ignorance gets him and everyone else into an even larger problem, which speaks to how he maybe really hasn’t learned anything.
If this next run of episodes explores some humility on Goku’s part and that the incorporation of other universes shows him that there are many more strong individuals out there. Even if Dragon Ball Super only brushes up against this kind of material, it’ll still be the first time that the strong, yet irresponsible hero will be looked at in such a way.
It’s extremely gratifying to see Beerus snap at Goku’s brash, impulsive actions to get the Zenos to host a multi-universal tournament. Beerus has previously scolded Goku for his behavior with the Zenos, but it feels a lot more serious this time. He straight up tells Goku that he’ll kill him if he pulls this kind of behavior again and while this may be a bluff, it doesn’t feel like Beerus messes around when it comes to Zeno.
Furthermore, Goku just does all of this because he wants to end his boredom. He doesn’t even have a good reason. A simple tournament may not seem like a big deal at this point, but Beerus and Whis point out the dangerous combination of the Zenos innocence and power (their apocalyptic “game” during the episode’s introduction is a prime example). These guys could just mass kill everyone if the fights turn out to be too boring or not funny enough. Who knows with these guys!?
Goku’s humanizing injury makes him want to return to training in a very big way and make sure that he weed out any bad habits. It’s rather telling that Goku chooses for Goten—a child—to be his sparring partner, rather than Gohan. They’re not able to really get into any training before Goku gets sidelined and goes off to greener pastures with Beerus and Whis, but it’s still nice to see the show get some use out of Goten. The character has been given a pretty short straw in Super and it unfortunately doesn’t look like there are going to be any major developments for the character before the show is finished (along with young Trunks, too). He’s consistently cut out of the picture, so even though it’s brief, it’s still a treat to see his dad give him this opportunity here.
Goku’s original plan is to train with Vegeta on Beerus and Whis’ Planet, but Vegeta chooses to opt out for an extremely surprising reason. Bulma’s pregnancy with Bulla has finally reared its head, which is something that fans were starting to worry may not end up happening in Super.
Bulla is fully-grown in Dragon Ball GT, but even if you don’t take that as canon, the character is still present in the final few episodes of Dragon Ball Z that jump forward in time. It’s exciting to see that final piece of continuity finally click into place, but it also signifies that Dragon Ball Super is perhaps approaching its finish line. Accordingly, this last story arc promises to be the biggest and most action-packed yet (and gotta’ love that new opening!).
It’s a minor detail, but Vegeta’s behavior to stay behind with Bulma during her pregnancy instead of train with Goku demonstrates how fundamentally different he is from Goku. Shockingly, Vegeta is exceptionally better at being a husband and partner even though he was a former villain who’s maliciously killed presumably hundreds of people.
Goku doesn’t even know how to kiss Chi-Chi and even in this episode they’re at each other’s throats! The development of Bulma’s pregnancy also implies that ever since things calmed down after the defeat of Zamasu, Vegeta has been “celebrating” this quiet time with Bulma enough to get her pregnant. Goku is off seeing middle of the road Saiyaman films and getting Master Roshi weed while Vegeta just appreciates the holiday. It’s beautiful.
On the topic of holidays, this new storyline kicks into gear entirely because of Goku’s meddlesome, naive nature. He effectively not only ends everyone’s holiday, but conceivably puts the safety of the entire universe up in jeopardy in the process, too. The reason for all of this is that as much as Goku enjoys his training with Beerus and Whis, he’s still bored beyond belief and decides to put his intergalactic pager into use and contact Grand Zeno. In Goku’s good fortune, the two Grand Zenos (who are now roomies since we last saw them) are also deeply bored and looking for some entertainment. Because of plot, Goku unsubtly reminds the Zenos about that pesky tournament between all twelve universes for supremacy and the two are extremely receptive to the concept.
For the record, it’s only the Zenos and Goku that are excited about this new way to prove strength. Beerus and Whis are already extremely cautious about the endeavor and once Goku heaps the news on everyone else, there will likely be similar reactions. It should be interesting to see how they respond to the fact that Goku asked for this conscription of tournament combat to take place. “Let’s Do It, Grand Zeno! The Universes’ Best Tournament!!” ends with the official announcement of the upcoming “Tournament of Power,” but this is all mostly a tease for what’s to come. The final hurdle is now clear so Goku can stop tending to crops and both he and the show can get serious for what’s next.
Additionally, and it may have just been me, but this episode featured particularly wonderful background music. Dragon Ball Super’s soundtrack work is always on point, but there’s a lot to love in this installment. There are several instrumental versions of the show’s opening and closing themes that casually play in the background of both lighter and more action-oriented scenes that really add some flavor to them. It’s nice to see that extra level of effort go into episodes that are perhaps slower in actual plot development.
On the whole there’s nothing wrong with “Let’s Do It, Grand Zeno! The Universes’ Best Tournament!!”—and in fact it pretty much does everything right—but it’s just too inconsequential in the end to bear that much importance. The “slice of life” material between Goku and Vegeta’s families is fun stuff, but it makes no effort to hide that it’s there to run the clock. Goku’s confrontation with both Zenos only happens when he suddenly remembers to get in touch with them. Nothing triggers it.
Even still, it’s exciting to see the makings of the show’s next big tournament come together, but it looks like it’s still a ways away from actually happening. That being said, this just could have been another filler episode about Goku’s exploits at the farmer’s market, so this is still an improvement over that. The next episode when the selection process (Tien! Android 17!) and rules start to come together should be a more fulfilling installment.
Dragon Ball Super takes next week off for Labor Day weekend because even Super Saiyans need to take breaks.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem and his perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.