This Dragon Ball Super review contains spoilers.
Dragon Ball Super Episode 87
“Really? Space poachers?”
“Hunt the Poaching Ring!” very much banks off of the momentum that’s established when Goku and Android 17 experience their reunion in the prior installment, but this episode also feels like it’s the second-half of last week’s story in a lot of ways. “Hunt the Poaching Ring!” takes the tension and action from last week and puts it through a decidedly much sillier filter, but the results are still quite exciting since it’s all in the service of Goku and Android 17 fighting alongside each other. At the end of the day, that’s not a bad place to build the foundation of an episode of Dragon Ball Super.
After Android 17’s protests from the previous episode, Goku is finally able to twist his mechanical arm to compete in the Tournament of Power and all that it took was for him to bring up the immense wish-granting capabilities of the Super Dragon Balls.
17 officially joins Universe 7’s roster, but before Goku and his new teammate have a chance to celebrate, alien poachersinvade the island and abduct every endangered species and precious piece of wildlife. Goku puts some quick thinking to use and before the aliens are able to get away completely, he puts his Instant Transmission to use and teleports himself and 17 to the alien’s ship. Goku and 17 quickly learn that they weren’t the only victims of these aliens’ poaching and that they’ve been hot on a cross-universe animal poaching tour to acquire the most lucrative, rare beasts from the galaxy.
One of the more exciting developments from this episode is that the poachers and guards that Goku and Android 17 need to fight off on the spaceship are clearly no match for their battle skills. Accordingly, the challenge isn’t the opponents themselves, but the fragile environment that they’re fighting in. If Goku or 17 put their full power to work then they’ll blow a hole in the spaceship and doom them all.
While this technicality doesn’t generate a ton of tension throughout the installment, it’s a detail that it’s appreciated to see these fighters take into consideration. It’s also a helpful reminder that there are still more serious threats out there than the sheer strength of your opponent.
This may be the first time that Goku and Android 17 fight alongside each other, but a brief check-in with Android 18 demonstrates how well she understands both of these characters. 18 highlights how both Goku and her brother have immature tendencies and that could be a danger in battle if they’re fighting together. Sure enough, Goku and 17 momentarily squabble over which of them should be able to take on the ship’s boss and the strongest of these opponents. 17 makes a run for it before Goku really has much of a chance to protest. 17 pulls off some fancy moves to take out the boss’ fancy henchmen, but it’s a rather quick battle before Goku is able to reunite with them.
It looks like that at this point Goku and 17 will team up to deliver the final blows to the boss, but the episode instead continues to double down on how awesome of a character Android 17 can be. The poacher boss’ threats don’t intimidate 17 in the least and he swiftly sends the guy flying into the side of his spaceship without hesitation. Even when the villain continues to tease death in their faces, 17 just coolly delivers bad-ass one liners. Goku and him may be in this battle together, but Android 17 is absolutely the one who’s running the show. His final coup against the poacher boss that sends them both into the cold recesses of space is the best moment in the entire episode. Goku kind of just watches 17 dumbstruck for most of this installment.
17’s brash behavior does result in some minor setbacks, like the poacher boss detonating some explosives that could wipe out the entire lot of them, endangered species included. “Hunt the Punching Ring!” deserves some credit here because for one intense moment it actually looks like the episode goes through with this bold maneuver and executes the lot. Dragon Ball Super then pulls back to reveal that this has all in fact been a premonition of Beerus’ about what’s to come.
The episode’s second half tries to generate quite a bit of suspense from these explosives and if they’ll go off, but thankfully the poacher scum doesn’t get a chance to detonate them (nor are they a real threat). When pushed into an extremely tight corner, Goku once again remembers the value of his Instant Transmission technique and instead sends the lot of them to King Kai’s Planet (where else do you send people who are about to explode?)
There’s some rather convenient plotting that crops up once the gang touches on King Kai’s base. They basically pull a “Dende ex Machina” where the Namekian God reveals to Goku that the bomb is a dud and that the poacher is lying. Jaco soon swoops in to apprehend the guy and the galactic patrolman is straight up salty this week and it’s glorious. When all of the fighting is said and done, Goku and 17 get another opportunity to just connect as people. In a rather touching moment, 17 admits how unusual it feels to be fighting alongside someone that he was programed to kill, but Goku deflects that Tien, Piccolo, and Vegeta all started as enemies and now they’re trusted allies. 17 also further humanizes himself when he tells Goku that his wish from the Super Dragon Balls will be a 5 billion dollar luxury cruiser so he and his family can travel the world. They’re a collection of sweet moments in an episode that’s all about sacrifice and defending what can’t defend itself.
“Hunt the Poaching Gang!” illustrates how well Goku and Android 17 can work together (although the fights themselves are rather lackluster), but more than anything this episode really establishes how far Android 17 is willing to go for his beloved wildlife and animals, since he’s willing to risk dying here and leaving behind his wife and children in order to take out this threat and save the greater good. Android 17’s extreme measures ultimately don’t lead to his end, but he arguably goes further than Goku is willing to go here. Not only does that speak to the honor of this fighter, but also hints at just how much of an asset he’ll be in the Tournament of Power.
Maybe after Jaco gets that promotion he’ll loosen up a little…
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.