Monday, April 09, 2018

'Dragon Ball Super' Has Brought the Franchise to New, Exciting Heights

Dragon Ball GT doesn’t sit well with Dragon Ball Z fans.  It can be even said that it is widely disliked.  Since Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama has no hand in it, it feels off as a Dragon Ball Z sequel.  There might have been some fun moments, but it’s generally bland, unremarkable, and forgettable.

Thankfully, it appears that it also doesn’t sit well with Toriyama.   So he decides to do a rightful follow-up to Dragon Ball Z.  He starts with the movies Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’, and soon continues with a new series – Dragon Ball Super.

Albeit not perfect, it at least feels like a logical sequel to Dragon Ball Z.  It offers the usual hard-hitting action, appealing goofiness, and likable characterizations.  It should delight everyone who has ever deemed the over-the-top nature of Dragon Ball Z to be glorious rather than ludicrous.
I admit though that I was initially disinterested with this show because its first couple of episodes only proceed to retell the events of Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ (plus, the animation was rushed and awful).  However, the subsequent, original arcs – starting season 3 – are genuinely great (and the animation does improve), eventually winning me over.  It introduces gods, alternate universes, and other cool cosmic revelations about the Dragon Ball universe – radically raising the stakes and challenges.  It revisits the concept of alternate future timelines (first touched in DBZ) and builds a riveting story arc upon it.  It introduces new, memorable characters while giving old, beloved characters the opportunity to shine (at the latter part of DBZ, most of the characters have not been given much to do, if not completely sidelined.  That is remedied here).  And legitimate surprises are delivered (e.g. SPOILERS Frieza teaming up with the Z Fighters, Master Roshi becoming a badass again, Android 17 winning the Tournament of Power).

Indeed, Super has brought the Dragon Ball saga to new, exciting heights – story-wise and mythology-wise.
So which is better then, Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Super?  Well, with Super still fresh in my mind, I could quickly declare that it’s the latter.  But I would need to rewatch both series to truly be sure.  Nevertheless, there’s honestly an argument to be made that the latter is indeed better.  Here are some aspects that I think are better in Super:
  1. The pacing.  I remember how the pacing gets frustratingly slow in DBZ.  An entire episode could be spent on the combatants just measuring each other or charging up.  Meanwhile, Super is thrillingly paced.
  2. The fights.  Due to the good pacing, fights immediately get down to business.  Also, the choreography have much more variety and detail.
  3. The story arcs.  Okay.  I might be saying this because I’ve just seen Super – thus, the whole “fresh on my mind” thing.  Still, again, the better pacing definitely helps.  It has 131 episodes, but it has already covered five awesome story arcs.  In comparison, DBZ’s Majin Buu arc alone almost spanned 100 episodes.  Thus, story arcs in Super are more engaging all in all.  In addition to this, while the structure of the storytelling in DBZ is almost repetitive, there is distinctiveness and unpredictability in how each Super story arc plays out.
On the other hand, I think DBZ did better with character development (especially on Piccolo and Vegeta), music (“Cha-La Head-Cha-La”), and consistency in animation style and quality.
I do hope Toriyama will continue on with Dragon Ball – whether that be a new season of Super or an entirely new series.  Seriously, there’s more stuff left to be explored.  Personally, there are three things I want to see followed up on (SPOILERS):
  1. Only 8 of the 12 universes participated in the Tournament of Power, so there are still 4 universes (which are established to be full of powerful individuals) that the Z Fighters need to interact with.
  2. Gohan said he wants to achieve a form that is different from Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue.  I want to see Gohan succeeding in that.
  3. Super kicks off with Lord Beerus wanting to fight a “Super Saiyan God.”  And with Goku achieving “Ultra Instinct”, basically giving him the power to finally go toe-to-toe with gods, surely, Beerus must want to battle him again.
Until then, we have to settle ourselves with the pleasure of the franchise being rectified (after the disappointment of GT and the atrocity of Dragonball Evolution) and brilliantly revitalized for the 21st century by Dragon Ball Super.

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