5 Reasons "Dragon Ball Super" Kinda Sucks
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.