This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 82
“If I’m evil, then you must be the hero of justice…”
The above line is ostensibly the first thing Goku says to Top before they face each other in combat, but it contains a much deeper significance than simple trash talking. “Goku Must Pay!” carries over the previous installment’s idea that Goku is actually the Tournament of Power’s biggest antagonist. If that’s true, then Top becomes the de facto “good guy,” which is a strong energy to build this episode on. Top simply wants to protect his universe from being destroyed and have the person responsible for this big mess get erased in the process. That’s hardly an unreasonable wish and it’s difficult to begrudge the fighter when his terms are so honest.
As Goku’s latest fight advances, it becomes obvious he has his work cut out for himself against Universe 11’s Top. This requires a lot more focus than Goku’s relatively leisurely battle that he just had with the Trio De Danger’s strongest fighter, Bergamo. Top is an interesting rival for Goku and while he’s clearly strong, he still keeps a lot of his power and secrets to himself. Goku fares well against Top, but I’d be curious to see how someone that’s more aggressive, like Vegeta, would have performed here.
One of few details about Top that he does make public is that he’s a member of Universe 11’s invaluable Pride Troopers (think a more competent, honorable Ginyu Force). Accordingly, a lot of the things that Top says happen to involve justice in one way or another. It’s also too perfect that Gohan admires the guy’s “questionable” style and sees the character’s inner Great Saiyaman. Gohan at least understands the importance of some well-placed pomp and circumstance in battle.
Furthermore, on the topic of fight theatrics, Goku’s pre-battle banter with Top is actually pretty damn witty. The guy is sharp and it’s nice to see that beyond a strong sense of justice and physical strength that the mustachioed fighter is damn funny, too. Ray Hurd does a great job here bringing Universe 11’s gruff Pride Trooper to life in the dub and it won’t be the last time that you hear from him in Dragon Ball Super.
When it comes to the fight itself, Top starts off strong by how he not only quickly dislocates Goku’s shoulder, but pulverizes him with precise acrobatic ability. The guy has a Dr. Robotnik-like physique, but he’s as nimble as Sonic the Hedgehog. His strength doesn’t just lie in his speed and agility either as he assaults Goku with a barrage of powerful energy blasts before he ultimately goes in for the kill with a bone-breaking bear hug. Goku is trapped in this vicious, painful maneuver and if not for his Super Saiyan Blue capabilities then he surely would have been defeated here.
It’s been a while since Goku has been stuck in a fight where most of his attacks are reactionary, but he’s certainly on the defense here as Top dictates the fight’s tempo and keeps Goku on his feet. Additionally, the other universes actively cheer for Top to shatter all the bones in Goku’s body, so he finds himself overwhelmed both physically and mentally before he turns the fight around. All of the other Supreme Kai and Gods of Destruction patronize and mock Goku through these proceedings. This is likely a glimpse of what’s to come and the larger attitude that will be present during the actual Tournament of Power.
Goku’s need to resort to Super Saiyan Blue strength may not seem like that big of a deal, but Beerus is determined to reveal as little of Goku’s powers to the other universes as possible. In a battle that doesn’t even have any real stakes other than honor, it arguably may even be the smarter move for Goku to throw the battle rather than a win that comes at the expense of his opponents learning more about his fighting style.
Once Goku draws the Super Saiyan Blue card he begins to turn the tables on Top, but he’s still not the clear winner here. A savage Kamehameha levels the tournament’s ring and just as Goku and Top attempt to really get invested in this battle, they’re forced to prematurely shut things down. There’s a dark moment where it temporarily looks like Goku has perhaps overdone it with his attack and accidentally killed Top, but the reveal that he’s very much alive only gets Goku more pumped for the future. Clearly the purpose of this bonus battle is to properly create suspense over Goku and Top’s rematch in the upcoming tournament, but Top also teases that there’s someone from Universe 11 named Jiren that’s even stronger than him. While these warnings may be causes of concern for most people, this information just gets Goku excited about the impossible battles that await him.
On this note, Goku’s cavalier attitude once again turns into a point of contention for Beerus. These tiny explosions the God of Destruction keeps having over Goku are usually played for comedic effect, but the fact that they’re becoming more regular may be cause for concern. Apparently he’s still struggling with the news that this tournament makes him susceptible to erasure, too. It’s highly unlikely that Beerus will just snap one day and impulsively erase Goku, but it’d make for a fun filler installment where Whis has to briefly rewind time and hijinks ensue!
“Goku Must Pay!” delivers a fun, albeit slightly pointless, battle that puts a nice cap on this pre-tournament tournament and tries to underscore Goku’s infamy as he heads into the Tournament of Power. Goku’s fight with Top looks beautiful, especially its finale, and hopefully the rest of the fights within the actual Tournament of Power carry the same intensity and style. We’ll find out in forty hours.
Next week it’s recruitment time! Start your Tournament of Power drafts, everyone!
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.
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