The anime Dragon Ball has been around forever (well, since 1986 anyway). Based on the manga by Akira Toriyama, the franchise has gone on to play a vital part in most childhoods. The series, especially Dragon Ball Z, is so well known and easily recognized that it could be easily considered the most popular anime of all time.
Who can forget the thrill of sprinting back home after school to watch the thrilling conclusion to the Goku and Frieza fight? Or one of the times Vegeta turned evil? Or anytime Krillin did something? All of it is firmly lodged inside our collective minds.
Dragon Ball holds a special place in my heart because it introduced me to anime. I do not consider it the best show ever (far from it), but there is no other property that fills me with so much nostalgia. Even the hated Dragon Ball GT gets a bit of a free pass simply because I grew up watching it. So, I can be a bit lenient.
Recently, Toriyama released two theatrical movies entitled Battle of Gods and Resurrection F. They proved to be a big success (especially the former.) Therefore, a new series was put in the works. Even though the series ended on a low point with GT, Toriyama did not have much of a hand with that series. With him back in the helm, Dragon Ball Super promised to be a return to form. Sadly, that promise hasn't quite delivered. Here are five reasons that Super has stumbled.
Toei Animation is one of the biggest anime production companies in the world. They not only handle all the Dragon Ball series but One Piece as well. They know how to build a franchise by giving fans an endless stream of episodes week after week.
That leads to the first problem with the series, the animation. The first three series came out at a time when animation was still rough. Although Toei reused images and were quite static in their designs and movement, there was not a huge difference between their product and the anime out at the time.
The rough visuals also added a certain grittiness to the show. It felt like the characters were dirtier and down to Earth. When they got bloodied, it felt like they were actually getting hurt. It seemed quite visceral for a cartoon.
Super falls short here. One Piece benefits from the fantastical world it is set in. Even though the animation is not great, there is still a lot of interesting things to stare at. Dragon Ball is mostly set in deserts and empty spaces. One can't help but focus on the quality of the animation simply because there is nothing of interest happening in the background.
The characters are also way too polished. It often seems like Goku has been coated in vasoline. Everything just appears way too clean, even during the fights.
It also goes without mentioning that animation has improved considerably since the heyday of Z. With shows like Psycho-Pass, One Punch Man, and Gintama on the air, the visuals of Super just feel underwhelming.
2. The Fights
This issue goes along with the animation. The fights have so far been extremely underwhelming. The battle scenes have always been the best part of the franchise. Now when characters throw down, Super kind of falls apart.
Episode five in particular has the worst animation I have ever seen in any blockbuster anime. The fight between Goku and Beerus has an appalling lack of detail in their movements. It ruined the arc before it even began.
This was the first real fight in the series, after 4 episodes of bad humour and nothing happening. This was the best Toei could give the fans, a half-hearted spar that would have felt out of place in the 90s?
Thankfully, the animation during the fights has been improving but they still fall short of what is expected from Dragon Ball. There is a distinct lack of tension in each one of these fights. This is mostly because the villains have been written as comedy characters.
There is no sense of danger and even though both Beerus and the returning Frieza threaten to blow up the world, the characters themselves do not seem all that worried (especially Goku.)
If you want fun and epic fights, watch One Punch Man.
For some odd reason, the ones in power decided that the best way to begin the new series is by adapting the two recently released movies, Battle Of Gods and Resurrection F. This has resulted in the first 25 episodes of Super being nothing more than a rehash of these two movies. And it is dull as dishwater to watch.
These two movies were fun to watch, mostly because it allowed us to watch the characters we love on the big screen. The storylines for both films were a bit underwhelming and silly, but they served their purpose for their 90 minute runtime. They are nowhere near interesting enough to be expanded to over 10 episodes each.
I am sure the thought behind this decision was that not everyone might have seen the movies. Well, I doubt anybody interested in watching the series has not. At the very least they read plot summaries. And these were huge releases, not just in Japan but also in the U.S. They were everywhere when they saw the light of day.
This leads to another problem. The animation is significantly better in the films. The series does not even came close to matching either one of them (other than when they reuse scenes from them), so what we ended up with is a much longer but weaker version of what we already had.
Vegeta, Goku, and Gohan in the Back
4. The Cast
Dragon Ball has quite an extensive cast at its disposal but Toriyama does not seem to be able to get the best out of them (after the Cell arc anyway.) GT could have been retitled Goku and Friends and Super fails to fix that flaw.
Super does make better use of Vegeta in that he at least does not have a mustache. However, Goku has been given pretty much everything to do so far. Both main arcs end with Goku doing all the fighting, while the rest of the characters cheer him on in the background.
I love Goku but Dragon Ball is about more than just him. It is a grave disservice to the fantastic cast that required countless hours of hard work and development to be merely tossed aside for the lead character. One Piece handles its cast a lot better by giving each one of the Straw Hats an enemy to fight.
Also, Gohan is just a joke now. Even Goku seems to have lost all respect for him. He got knocked out just going super saiyan in the last arc.
The biggest issue with Super is the way that Goku is written. He has never been the most complex character out there but he was one of the most likeable characters in anime history.
He not only comes across as a badass in the original series but he was noble, protective, and genuinely enjoyed a good fight. He was a flawed character (unlike Superman) but he had his priorities in check.
This is not the same Goku. In Super, his biggest motivation is his love to fight. Even beyond protecting his loved ones and the world, he just wants to get stronger. Toriyama stated that this is how he wanted him to be originally portrayed, but Super is a continuation of Z, not a reboot, so this discrepancy in the character is very jarring.
It also makes him kind of unlikeable and he comes across as even more of an idiot then he did in Z. That is saying something.
During the big Goku vs Beerus fight, the two are informed by King Kai that if they continue to fight they will destroy the universe. Goku powers up first after that warning! He would never do that in the original series. The fact that he decided to risk everything just to have a good fight makes him a borderline psychopath.
Dragon Ball Super is about to get going with a brand new arc. Finally, something fresh. I have been telling myself that what we have gotten so far is just a quick attempt to get the movies out of the way.
Hopefully, the animation will improve. The fights will regain some of the old epic feel. The cast will be allowed to shine and Goku will be slightly less of an idiot. It is now make or break for the series.
I really want it to succeed. My life is always a little better with some Dragon Ball in it.
unknown. . . on April 17, 2020:
its da best idiots
Cheed on June 28, 2018:
"kinda" - it's not kinda, it's straight up garbage and a typical corporate cash grab, don't be afraid to say what you think.
You still missed a lot of big issues that make Dragon Ball Super so bad, here's a few of them
1. Completely disregarding character growth, remember all the pain, emotional and physical, that characters like goku, gohan and krillin went through and only through that massive effort they became stronger and wiser, how we observed them go from small kids to formidable warriors? All the battles to the last breath and lying there bleeding and exhausted to the point of losing consciousness? It all doesn't matter anymore, everyone is getting exponentially stronger completely effortlessly, all it takes is focusing on the tingling in the back now. There is no character growth in super, there is a character regression where everyone starts behaving as if they were children.
2. Character design - Krillin starts training already as a kid at a shaolin temple, faces challenges above any human, fights against powerful aliens, thanks to all that he achieves a resilient and perfectly built for strength and speed body. But in super? He suddenly looks like a preschool kid. And don't even get me started on future trunks and gohan, because not only they went through similar things as krillin but they are also saiyans who are genetically determined to get awesome bodies, yet they look like wimps, the universe consistency gets broken.
3. Complete lack of seriousness, that toyrobotgod is really like a shot to the balls for a life long Dragon Ball fan, it's really toei saying "fuck it, we shit on you fans". It makes all the fights look silly and pointless, and these annoying retconns negatively impact even previous series, how can I think of frieza as an intergalactic, seemingly undefetable tyrant if know I know that he was just beerus' bitch all along?
These are only few points and I have much more on my mind, I think I'm going to write a book on how garbage dragon ball super is.
Jonathan Mason on June 14, 2018:
Possibly and forget be if I disagree with everything dragon ball super fixed it's animation the fights got really good like Z and I'm a lifetime dragon ball fan and goku is still the same as he was as in z Sorry but it's kind of true
ok on June 01, 2018:
Wonsul on December 23, 2017:
I agree with everything but the goku's point,
He always was careless and selfish, putting earth in danger
-When he let Vegeta run away just because, not caring he could come back and kill innocents again..
-When he decided to stay to fight freezer, not caring freezer could survive namek's explosion but he couldnt, who would have protect earth then? Oh, and when again he almost left him alive...
-The whole cell arc, not taking his med even tho trunks told him he would die otherwise,
accepting the 1v1 fight when they could all go in like trunk suggested,
Giving a fucking senzu to Cell before his fight against gohan, like wtf..
As for the buu arc i don't remember it that well but i think i made my point
Zeron87 on November 26, 2017:
Enjoyed reading your article, but I disagree on a few points:
You're right that the animation doesn't quite compete with other shows out there, but to say One Punch Man has better fights and tension than DBS? When the hero in one can end any fight with a single punch while Goku has to out think or out-will his opponent?
Dragon Ball Super has improved on many qualities from DBZ IMO. Gohan may have gotten his butt handed against Freeza, but he realized this and started training again instead of continuing to be his Mom's tool (character development?) Heck, they even gave Krillin a "believe in yourself" moment when he just got chucked to the waste-side in Z. The fight with Hit was also something different, because Goku and Vegeta weren't fighting a martial artist but an assassin, and his fighting style reflected that.
And when has Goku ever NOT put fighting above everything else? I completely saw it within in his character to continue a good fight despite the danger. Can you seriously imagine Goku saying, "No, let's not fight anymore because of this..." Unless he's admitted he's lost?
Again, enjoyed the article and your perspective, but respectfully disagree on some points. I think DBS is actually better paced and structured than DBZ and can't wait to see where it goes.
DBZ on October 11, 2017:
I really see super because I started to see it, I just keep waiting for something just great happening now that he tried to overcome Jiren, but I have not seen in the series a ssj3 that for me is the best transformation of Goku and I love it, apart from all the above I agree 100 x 100 with what is published
Joshua Ross on September 11, 2017:
Super is not technically a continuation of Z it is an interesting. It takes place before the end of Z
Jonsse on August 16, 2017:
I literally burst out laughing at the absurdity that Super is when Hit uttered the words "I thought that maybe I can get better, so I increased my Time-Leap to 0.2 seconds." Like WHAT?! That's the plot you're going with? The antagonist decides in the middle of a fight that any law that presided over him earlier isn't valid anymore and rewrote the script. It was already some weak ass ex machina bullshit when Frieza came back after having "trained for 3 months" to overcome all the work and strife Goku and the gang had gone through in the past 15 years. You can kinda forgive that, it's stupid as fuck, but at least we got a fun movie about it.
josef tomas on August 02, 2017:
@ N B Yomi Regardless of which dub n all the acts of goku in super are clearly more geared towards wanting to fight the strongest opponent ever over saving his friends. And when frieza killed piccolo in super sure he was upset but that anger lasted 2 minutes then he started admiring frieza's power and actually was laughing in excitement. Super's just a bad anime all around, this is coming from someone who loves dragon ball and dragon z, hell even enjoyed gt a bit but this super is even more cringy with shiny art.
Bleh on June 18, 2017:
Korrd, you hit it on the nose, i too am a huge fan of dbz...but i cant stand the way super is being made. Im watching it just for the fact i loved dbz. And that being said, im gonna stop watching it cause the show pisses me off in general. Super saiyen god? Haha, bullshit, if he was then why does he have to turn that way in every freakin fight? I dont know but the show we used to love dropped to an all time low.
korrd on May 25, 2017:
I have to say I agree with you. The animation all around is terrible. I've been rewatching the fights from DBZ, can anyone explain to me why the fight animation throughout DBZ is better than that in Super? Goku v. Cell is epic. Goku v. Buu is great. Goku v. Power Ranger Guy? Terrible. All the fights suck in terms of pacing, animation techniques, and choreography.
But what pisses me off the most is the portrayal of Goku. If Toriyama had wanted Goku to be a conceited jerk, he should have re-released all of DB and DBZ with such. Instead we have DBS where Goku is a jackass who only cares about fighting.
Let's compare him to Saitama. Everyone loves Saitama, because Saitama is conceited. And he is understandably conceited. He never acted like Goku did, and therefore if he suddenly started spouting off speeches or saying to Boros that he was evil, it would come off as a poor portrayal. Here its the reverse. Goku's attitude has taken so much of a nosedive from where it was in DBZ that he is not even the same character anymore.
I didn't like DBGT, but I could at least watch it and enjoy some of it, like the fight scenes. I can't even do that much with DBS.
JAGC on May 18, 2017:
In some point Goku got too strong for his own good since then the story sucks trying to give a better argument of improvement.
How is it possible that Goku as a kid received hundreds of bullets as if they were bee stings and in resurrection f got easiely shot off guard?
eduardo on May 10, 2017:
im really a DBZ fan but i have to say super is way lower in quality adn story than DBZ, in DBZ, even dubbed or japanesse version, the character will bring something in the table, in Super GOKU fells like a silly character, and doesnt fell as strong as he apperas in DBZ, now everybody, even krillin make goky get to Super Saiyan Blue, i dont know for me DB super is cheap and doesnt fell as great as the cell saga or the buu saga it just fells wrong
Kanna on February 23, 2017:
I didn't watch the whole series. No time for that. However, I think that manga is much better than anime.
Albert on October 27, 2016:
I think DB is great, except DB GT which sound a little cheesy
Tabari on August 28, 2016:
"Your out of your mind... I'll give you 5 Reasons you suck! All 5 dumb reasons you let out of that little brain of your's. Stop trying so hard loser..."
This is one of the most cringe worthy comments I've ever read
Panned peter on August 01, 2016:
Super sucks ! gods no thanks, multi universes ohh god really isnt one universe large enough, time travel okay this was used tastefully in the trunks arc the firat time around and it was easy to understand, if this black goku turns out to be a shapeshifter or body snatcher with no real depth "i just dont like humans" ohh okay then ! Ssgss WTFF god ki NO NO NO. Okay we all sorta hated dbgt BUT ss4 is badass and so is ss3 ! We need a ss3 vegeta, gohan, trunks and a strong piccolo super namekian ect ect. The story should have been about another race of saiyans in the same universe as our much loved heroes on another planet light years away but much much more technologically advanced and their planet could be dying due to them exhausting its supplies so they take to space in their huge and vast forces to seek out another home "planet earth" and you could say they only have the enough for a one way trip so they are banking on taking the planet because wether they are good or bad they have no choice for the sake of their people. years prior to this some of the good and noble saiyans leave their slowly dying planet to warn the people of earth of the empending attack if you like. So its basically an alien invasion and who doesnt like that as a plot. Whos better to tee off against goku and the gang ? other strong saiyans with training thats who ! Yes its sort of like the trunks arc with him coming prior to an attack but it worked well so that coupled with a host of new characters and new forms and involving all the z fighters not just the usual IMO would be brill. The arc could last many episodes due to telling the story from the Saiyans side of things and how they live ect what ya think
Lars on July 21, 2016:
Just wanted to state that I agree (almost) fully with the article, don't feel like going into details, too much of a hassle
Mark Sammut (author) from Malta on May 28, 2016:
Yeah the pacing has definitely been off in Super. To be honest, I don't think DBZ has the best pacing ever either (compared to other anime like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, its a bit of a drag), but Super seems fond of its tension reliving gags. Considering most of the arcs barely had tension, it resulted in a lot of 'who cares' moments.
For transforming to SuperSaiyan God, it was handled better in the movie. Super hasn't really managed to make any of the transformations feel big or important, to be honest. The only one that did work was in the Universe 6 arc when Goku brought back the Kaioken. Other wise, its all rather superficial.
N B Yomi from Dallas, TX on May 27, 2016:
And that's what I get for making assumptions. You'll also have to forgive me, as in being an American I don't know what the Italian standards for cartoons are.
Also no argument that the fight scenes while improved in the Universe 6 arc, still left a lot to be desired. Hell, if you've read the manga, there was a lot more action in Botamo vs. Goku than what the anime showed. In the manga, Goku and Botamo threw down classic DBZ style with a myriad to punches and kicks before Botamo started bouncing around like a Gummibear.
But another fault to Super's lack of meat in the fight and story was the pacing, which I'm surprised you didn't address. Because I can't be the only one who was irritated with how the characters would fight for a minute or two before they'd start talking, or the anime would cut to the side characters engaged in a comedy gag or some such. Whereas as in DBZ and even in Dragon Ball, the fights would reach a peak of adrenaline pounding intensity, before they'd pause or cut to another plot point.
Simply put:"In Super, they'd give a slow paced fight that would cutaway to a slow paced tlking sequence."
Oh, and before I forget... You just mentioned how after Frieza blew up the Earth, Goku seemed apathetic. Whereas in the Ressurection Of F film, he did express some frustration towards his mistake. Another thing I'm surprised you didn't mention was when he became a SuperSaiyan God. in the Battle Of Gods film, Goku was disatisfied with how he achieved the Godly power because he couldn't achieve it on his own. This was a showcasing of his pride as a saiyan and martial artist.
But I'm guesing fans must've hated that because in Super, as you saw he was impressed withthe power he acquired the charcterization he expressed in Battle Of Gods was gone.
Mark Sammut (author) from Malta on May 27, 2016:
Actually watched the Italian version of Dragon Ball Z. And the subbed version of the movies. I wouldn't say Goku was serious all the time but he never came across as someone that just didn't care about those around him (like he tended to feel in Super). For example (SPOILER): In Super when the world got blown up by Frieza, there didn't seem to be any real emotion from Goku (Vegeta was clearly shocked and mourning over Bulma).
Saying that, the show has grown on me a lot recently. I should get to writing a follow up to be honest. It will definitely be a bit more positive (although the fight scenes still leave quite a bit to desire).
Also, I'm not American. I definitely don't mind a hero who doesn't give much of a damn. Just everything felt so light and unimportant in the early arcs of super. Like: Well, here is someone for Goku to fight. He might blow up the world, but really that's not going to happen.
N B Yomi from Dallas, TX on May 27, 2016:
I hope you wrote an article giving your opinion on the Universe 6 Tournament arc, because that was the best arc in Super thus far. And your gripes against Goku's charcter, I'm assuming you only watched the Ocean Group and Funimation english dubs, didn't you? Because in the Japanese dub, Goku does come off as selfish and aloof to the gravity of a situation when fighting. These are two of the many vices to balance out the virtues to Goku's character. As Goku saves the world, not because he WANTS to, but because he HAS to. His understanding of the consequences of losing to a villain like he did when Frieza blew up the Earth, is what keeps him in check when fighting an Earth threatening adversary.
That doesn't work for the general American viewer who's been shown that heroes selflessly risk their necks to save innocent lives with no enjoyment for battle, so Ocean Group and Funimation altered Goku's character a tad in the 90s to make him suitable to western sensibilities. Proof of that is the speech Suprsaiyan Goku gave Frieza when they fought on Namek, as he doesn't talk about how he's a beaken of hope for the universe. The blunt version of what Goku said was:"I'm an angry Super Saiyan who's about to kick your @$$."
Which leads to Goku's level of humility, as he doesn't see himself as a hero. He's too humble for that, which again doesn't work for an audience who's seen heroes that acknowledge that they are heroes, but still are humble enough to not boast about it.
Mark Sammut (author) from Malta on January 12, 2016:
I decided to approve that last comment because its exactly the type of thing a writer likes to hear. Stirring an emotional reaction on something so silly, must have done something right.
Oh, by the way, insults are not an argument. They're just a crutch.
... on January 12, 2016:
Your out of your mind... I'll give you 5 Reasons you suck! All 5 dumb reasons you let out of that little brain of your's. Stop trying so hard loser...