This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 79
“So this is Universe 9…”
After practically a dozen episodes of filler and showdowns that were more about mental lessons than physical strength and suspenseful challenges, it’s all too comforting to have Dragon Ball Super slide back into a good tournament battle and increase the stakes. Even though the past few episodes have effectively teased the no holds barred battles that await Goku and the rest of Universe 7, “Universe 9’s Basil the Kicker vs Universe 7’s Majin Buu!!” finally lets the fists fly. Not only that, but the exhibition match’s first fight is a showcase for Majin Buu, no less, someone who’s barely had a presence over the course of Dragon Ball Super!
“Universe 9’s Basil the Kicker vs Universe 7’s Majin Buu!!” wastes no time and begins with the action already in progress. This first taste of the Zen Exhibition Match is very much a satisfying use of Majin Buu. Buu’s fight with Basil hits all the necessary notes for why this character can be so much fun. Buu initially doesn’t take the fight seriously and he arguably doesn’t fully comprehend that he’s even in a fight, despite the fact that Basil ravages him with fruitless attacks. Basil��s strength lies in his speed and his kicks, but he doesn’t stand out more than any typical villain (although this is the first time a character has dispensed energy blasts from their feet). He’s at least the bottom tier of Universe 9’s trio of wolf fighters.
For a while it looks like Buu’s ignorance is going to work against him and that the Zen Exhibition Match’s first victory will go to Universe 9. Buu’s fighting spirit may take some time to really get going, but in traditional Buu fashion he requires Mr. Satan to act as his trigger so he can really go nuts and let out some steam. When an attack from Basil errantly injures Mr. Satan, Buu properly taps into his rage and this fight is able to progress to its final stage. Buu can finally show the full potential of his power and demonstrate why he was considered such a threat that a cabal of Kai had to lock him away for centuries. It doesn’t take long for Buu to gain the upper hand and even when the cocky Basil thinks he’s pulled off some coup, Buu always remains unphased. Even a gaping hole in the chest won’t give this guy any pause.
This episode also introduces the advent of the exhibition match’s unfair and improvised rules that are already working against Universe 7. It’s unclear if these rules will carry over into the Tournament of Power (probably not), but this chaotic element adds an extra layer of suspense to these fights. It’s impossible to tell what’s going to “satisfy” the Omni-Kings, so conventional eliminations are left ambiguous and no one really knows when defeated actually means defeated.
Since these fluctuating rules ultimately come down to the whims of both Zenos, what this inherently means is that the fighters need to play to the crowd and really put on a show so they know that their wins will count. It’s an interesting extra dimension to throw into the mix and while big theatrics are not a challenge for someone like Buu, it’s easy to imagine someone like Piccolo, Tien, or Krillin struggle in the area.
So even though Buu eliminates Basil fairly quickly in their fight, the Zeno duo veto the whole affair and throw him back into the ring. However, in addition to Basil’s return, he’s also given some sort of space steroids that bulk him up even more. Everyone is just beyond chill with these developments because it will result in a better fight.
This would typically be infuriating, but because these cheating efforts make no difference and Buu still comes out on top, they make for welcome wrinkles to the battle. It’s pretty great to see Beerus’ eyes bulge out as he hopelessly complains about how unfair all of this is. Beerus is often at his best when he’s in freak out mode and finds himself somehow powerless in a situation. Even though Beerus’ presence seems likely it will largely be demoted to spectator during the course of the Tournament of Power, it should still be exciting to see him consistently criticize the results of the tournament.
Universe 9 remains to be an exciting world and a nice glimpse into the many other universes that will soon enter the picture. Universe 6 is still slightly more interesting than these “Planet of the Furries” people, but we’ll likely learn more about these guys as the tournament deepens. The episode does offer up a brief glimpse of Universe 9’s Supreme Kai, Roh, who’s quite the arrogant deity. It’s also a fun detail that Basil and his brothers appear to be a Ginyu Force-esque group of warriors back home, the Trio De Dangers. These aren’t just any anthropomorphized wolf beasts! These guys are the real deal.
“Universe 9’s Basil the Kicker vsUniverse 7’s Majin Buu!!” hits all the right buttons and it delivers a satisfying fight that’s the perfect introduction to this multiversal exhibition match. Buu’s fight with Basil looks gorgeous, features some standout action, and it has a complete arc through its ups and downs. Dragon Ball Super is also smart to have the first fight from this tournament wrap up in one episode and not carry over into the next installment. It helps establish an encouraging pace for what’s to come, even if it doesn’t stick to this tempo.
The episode takes an interesting turn in its final moments because Lavendar, Universe 9’s next wolf fighter, already has an ax to grind with these guys over the defeat of his younger brother. Lavendar decides to take advantage of his rage and the tournament’s lax rules and proposes that he can win his fight if he’s allowed to go all out and kill his opponent. This is deemed acceptable and Universe 9’s fellow fighter, Bergamo, gets particularly thrilled with Lavendar’s enthusiasm.
What’s a bit of a let down here is that even though Buu wins his fight, he doesn’t carry over to fight Lavendar. One Buu fight is still better than none, but there are surely fans out there that would have enjoyed watching Buu’s rampage continue. Buu’s insane demeanor and his ability to just burst into laughter in the middle of a fight is so unlike any other character in the series (the same of which can be said for his extreme malleability). Hopefully after such a successful return to form Buu will get to stick around for a while and not just recede into the background.
Even though Buu’s early dismissal is disappointing, Gohan is the one that steps to the plate to challenge Lavendar, which is exciting for a whole bunch of other reasons. This will be Gohan’s first real battle in a long time and Lavendar’s already made it clear that he intends to murder his opponent. Gohan’s not fighting fugitive monsters on a movie set anymore and so it should be very telling to see how Gohan fares and how Universe 9 handles their first Saiyan. The next episode should be a very telling experience for Gohan fans.
Oh and keep an eye out for that “mysterious fighter” from Universe 11 who easily extinguishes Buu’s blast. The mustached enigma may play a very big role down the road.
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, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.