Dragon Ball Super Retrospective Part 3: Universe Survival Saga

With the Future Trunks Saga and all that entails out of the way, we now move onto the Tournament of Power Saga. Or as I call it, Goku talks the two Zenos into making a tournament where most universes have to fight and he’s become universal enemy number one except not really. Ok, that might be too long of a title so that’s in the editing stages. Don’t write that title down anywhere. Related to being too long, this is portion that is the largest segment of Dragon Ball Super because it’s 55 episodes total in length. There is a ton of build up in this arc along with other characters getting into action that we haven’t seen fighting since Z. Yeah, it’s mostly been Goku and Vegeta fighting through out this arc. Considering that this saga starts at episode 77, that’s a lot of run time. Let’s jump into this because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

As I mentioned before two weeks ago, the Universe of Dragon Ball has twelve different universes. You know, until they add some more for some reason. Not all of them are going to fight in this tournament. Instead, there is a mortal level benchmark that is played up to. One of those “if you aren’t this tall, you can’t ride the ride” sort of things except this time it decides whether or not your universe needs to fight for it’s survival for a 45 minute free for all fight. In this tournament are Universes 2,3,4,6, 7, 9,10,11. None of them made the cut from a mortal level perspective. So what happens? The tournament is pushed as Goku’s idea since he was the one that reminded the Zenos of this idea from a long time ago AND no one can’t blame Zeno at all if they want to live longer then five second. Fun times all around for sure and a cool idea that could make Goku more interesting. Unfortunately, it never sticks or makes sense for the reason why it stuck to these God’s points of minds. More on that later.

Showcase Tournament Arc

The Trio of Danger!

The first thing that took place in this huge saga was the small showcase or preliminary match between Universe 7 (Goku, Gohan, and Buu) vs Universe 9 with their trio of danger. This little tournament is pretty short in the grand scheme of things so I won’t cover it too much. I will say that Universe 7 did win and it got Gohan back into the game of fighting again sort of. It’s been a while since he’s fought so he didn’t have his complete abilities on call, but he did his best given the situation that he was in. The most important part was all the universes hating on Goku AND a small bit of rivalry between universe 11 and 7 being established here. After Goku defeated the last member of the Trio of danger, there was a little bit of combat between Top of Universe 11 (a universe of heroes) and Goku which ended in a tie with a mention of Top being the second strongest in his universe. All of this pays off mostly in spades in the Tournament of Power arc itself. For a short thing, I really liked this portion.

The Recruitment Arc

With the need for five more fighters, it’s time to jump into the recruitment arc. I honestly feel like this arc was the best portion of this saga. Mainly because this is where we see the return of the Z fighters in fighting form because not everyone is going to be all powerful in this tournament. Gohan asks for the power to fight for his home and thus asks Piccolo to train him again. So basically, it’s nice to see best dad Piccolo show up and give his son some advice to obtain his untapped potential again. Also the two work on some combo moves off screen which show up later on. Seeing Gohan force Goku to become God mode with Kaioken most have been proud moment for both fathers involved. I also like seeing Piccolo given some grow up from a power perspective. He was able to hold himself up to Super Saiyan Two Gohan which at least shows that Piccolo’s training has at least made him stronger despite not having any power ups. It’s a nice though. Let’s jump to more cast members for Universe 7.

One of my favorite things was seeing Krillin getting back into the mood of fighting again. He hasn’t fought for a long time on any serious level, so he’s constantly afraid of being over powered. Something I don’t blame Krillin for considering that he and Goku started equal but Goku flew away along time ago. That battle in a mysterious woods focusing on Krillin (with Goku in the background) fighting his fears was good material. I also like the fact that since no flying is allowed in the Tournament of Power, Krillin figures out some tricks to keep a super saiyan Goku at bay. Plus, Android 18 was there and completely supported her husband on a physical and mental level. That’s pretty fantastic if you ask me. They really are the best husband and wife combo in this series. Yes, I’m saying that despite the fact that Vegeta and Bulma exist.

With that, more Z fighters were recruited onto Universe 7’s team. Master Roshi was open so he had a small amount of training regarding his usual, ummm, life style? You know, learning to resist going after hot women. Yeah, that is honestly pretty horrifying to think about. Also pretty outdated thinking for 2019. Still, this is apart of shonen still and had to show somewhere, right? Tien also joins into the fold and I can’t help but think about how Dragon Ball Super really hates him. Is it because he is Chinese or based on Chinese mythology somehow? He’s a lousy teacher who hasn’t taught his students anything and now he’s taking the butt monkey stick from Yamcha for this arc. Despite Tien continually training himself, Tien is still weaker then Krillin. I can honestly feel the hate through the screen. Remember when he was one of Goku’s villains and actually cool? Yeah, those days are long over.

The first unexpected member of Universe 7’s team is Android 17. Man, we haven’t seen that guy in a while so we don’t know anything about what he’s been up to. Turns out he has a wife, some kids, and protects rare animals at a forest reserve for a living. The two are also equally matched somehow, which makes no sense to me. 17 originally refuses the offer of fighting, but after spending some time with Goku where the two fight against an evil space poacher, 17 accepts the offer. Trunks and Goten will watch over the island while 17 is away. I never thought I would get much out of 17’s character considering he hasn’t been on screen in the Dragon Ball universe that much, but he is a very genuine and intelligent presence that I don’t mind seeing on screen at all.

Lastly, a surprise rears its head. Buu won’t wake up in time for the tournament, so Universe 7 needs to find another team member or else they just get erased. The only thing they can think of is summoning Freiza from Hell to fight in this arc. How? With a deal to bring Freiza back IF Universe 7 wins this fight. Man, what a way to not only end this good arc with a flipping cherry on top, but to replace the lost amount of power they got with Buu with even more power. Goku is usually a flat character, but it’s nice to see the radiating hate between Goku and Freiza just fill the screen. I also like how other members of the team just feel as uncomfortable as possible just with Freiza’s presence alone. Something that this team will have to deal with moving forward. Man, such good stuff. Not a flawless arc due to Roshi and Tien, but it’s generally solid with some good moments.

The Tournament of Power Arc

With that, the Tournament of Power really starts. You know how the jokes of “are we still on Namek?” or “Namek Five Minutes” is heavily prevalent through the Dragon Ball fandom. There better be a Tournament of Power joke for that now. I’m serious. The whole tournament is 48 minutes in length but lasts for episodes and episodes and episodes. The later portion of the arc has each episode be one minute of the tournament’s run time which is completely ridiculous. What is it with Dragon Ball’s time limits? You can literally just say “we will keep going until there is only a fighter from a single universe standing” and nothing from this arc would change at all. Dragon Ball, just stop having time limits. You don’t know how to do them right.

But anyway, other contestants. I’m not going to cover all of them because there is too many for me to remember specifics from. Universe 6 is very Universe 7 like in form and they’ve brought more saiyans onto the party from two sagas ago, the rest of their fighters, namekians, and so on. So there is no uniformity in their guidance. Universe 11 is the primary antagonist of this arc with Top and now Jiren (the strongest fighter in the tournament) who are a team of heroes that fights with justice. I suppose there is some thematic connection to our fighters who are mostly reformed villains and one that isn’t reformed yet. The Trio of Danger is back from Universe 9, there is a magical girl universe whose techniques reference different anime series in a cool, and some other opponents that I completely forget about. This arc is honestly too big and full of characters for me to name out loud. Sorry for not being specific.

Universe 11

The Tournament of Power itself is a no rules brawl besides flying and killing, but that’s not exactly how it was structured on screen until the last episode of Dragon Ball Super. Each episode would feature different members of universe 7 fighting against other universe in some capacity. Some of them resulting our universe losing a member just for the sake of taking a powerful opponent or many opponents with them. Those moments can be measured on different levels. This structure is good because it allows all of our cast and others to get great moments and development in some form or another unless the show doesn’t like you, but it’s also pretty messy. It’s easy to forget what is going on sometimes because of how bloated the tournament was in run time. I do like seeing different characters playing with each other in different ways so I think the pay off is ok.

I like Goku’s new power up in this saga. Why? Because all we’ve gotten are power up multipliers in Dragon Ball so far. The Kaioken ability gave Goku the ability to multiple his current power by a limited amount due to the strain on his body. Super Saiyan is the actual power up to that where strain isn’t pushed on the body that much unless you do it wrong. The upper level of saiyans are extensions of that with Super Saiyan Three and Super Saiyan Blue being harder to control and process. At least that’s what we thought of the Blue form but no one really knows. Ultra Instinct is something different. I suppose that’s a power multiplier too, but it’ based on a different concept. Instinct. A fighter can move their body faster without even thinking about it and that’s what Ultra Instinct is about to boost a fighter’s ability. Not emotion here, but a lack of emotion or thought instead. Very fun to see develop.

Universe 6

A lot of moments that stuck out to me in this tournament of character and fighting soup. Seeing Freiza and Frost plotting together then Freiza’s blatant betrayal of Frost while faking beating up Gohan was pretty great. Loved that Freiza move to death. I also liked the Husband and Wife moments between 18 and Krillin while 18’s love for her husband was being challenged by a superficial magical girl who doesn’t know what was love it. Piccolo and Gohan fighting together was good too, but Goku and Gohan launching Kamehameha Waves at the same time (but at different opponents) and coloring the entire ring blue for a while was wonderful.

Of course, the interactions between Universe 6 saiyans Caufilia and Kale and Goku were pretty fun too mainly because of Kale’s Broly likeness, Caufilia as female goku and gaining abilities, then the two working together. I’m sure there were other moments too, but last fight where 18, Freiza, and Goku frantically attacked Jiren to win The Tournament of Power was amazing from a character and animation stand point too. There were other moments too, but these are one I remember particular out of the soup of things that happened. Once again, the weakness of having a lot of things happening at once.

Non Mastered Ultra Instinct Looks Way Better Then the Completely Mastered

With all those good things are more then a generous amount of bad things. Vegeta being pushed to the side is one of them. Vegeta did have some moments with Cabba and he has his moment of pride near the end of the series where Vegeta gained a new level of strength from fighting Top that just looks like his Ultra form in the Cell Saga but blue, but that’s about it. Why? Because nothing he did really stuck at all. He powered up and fought against people? So what? It wasn’t even him that saved Cabba in the end, someone else did. In the end, he was on the sideline cheering on Goku instead. Yay. Such excitement. At least he wasn’t Tien who just lost shortly after entering the tournament OR Master Roshi who is everyone’s creepy grandpa who sexually assaulted a competitor to win. Vegeta got off easy compared to those two because at least it looked like he was helping when he wasn’t. Woo.

One of the worst thing was our main antagonist Jiren. Why? He is nothing more then a wall of power that everyone fights and yells at. That’s it really. How does he exist in a team like Universe 11 that is a super hero team full of colorful characters and personalities. I feel like most of his scenes revolved around Goku and Vegeta emoting to the best level that they can only to have Jiren looking like he’s waiting for his line from someone off camera or just staring at them. His power level and constantly getting strong as our fighters do isn’t the problem here; it’s just the fact that he’s such a nothing with a generic backstory which does nothing either. This is why I didn’t mind the dub giving Jiren an extra edge to him because it’s obvious the adr director behind this show didn’t feel anything from Jiren either. All complainers can just go home because I’m not going to listen to you. If you want your boring antagonist, then you can have him. Give me someone with a personality.

At the top of this disappointment list was the push of Goku as the antagonist of this arc from other people’s perspective which amounted to nothing. Why? Partially because the ending dismissed this claim. Universe 7 wished the other universes right? There was a quick statement brought up at the end stating if this tournament didn’t happen and the other universes weren’t wished back, then everyone would be deleted from existence. Something which would have happened anyway if the tournament didn’t exist. In the end, that concept is just wasted space which did nothing. The entire arc is based on a lie which is really dumb. All of which means that Dragon Ball Super has an antagonist problem.

Conclusions

As a whole saga, everything in Tournament of Power felt like it’s own series. It has it’s own opening sequence and theme that none of Dragon Ball Super had before it. Considering that almost nothing connects this saga and Future Trunks Saga together. you can just ignore Future Trunks or the rest of Dragon Ball Super and just start at the beginning of the Universal Survival Saga. How exciting is that? Probably not at all.

As a saga in itself, The Universal Survival Saga was alright. From an entertainment stand point, its definitely entertainment that one can watch weekly and not being disappointed by. It was full of characters from the Dragon Ball series fighting once again to obtain glory once again against other unique characters from other universes. Obviously, some characters and arcs are better then others and having all of that thrown into a soup of whatever where you can’t separate everything in anyway doesn’t help matters. Especially since the main villain is extraordinarily boring. Still, the good outweighs the bad here. So yeah, it’s ok. That’s the same feeling that I have for Dragon Ball Super as a whole. A lot of good things outweighing the bad mostly. Mostly. I wish there was something more stellar for an old franchise like Dragon Ball that came from Super, but there was an attempt.

Oh I suppose the stellar is appearing next week. Keep an eye out for Dragon Ball Super: Broly review next Friday. It’s a blast of a film! Oh, maybe I shouldn’t say that before I review it. Too late probably.


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3 thoughts on “Dragon Ball Super Retrospective Part 3: Universe Survival Saga

  1. The dub definitely did a great job of giving Jiren a bit more personality. Ultimately I thought he was a good villain, but not in the same league as Black or Zamasu. I was a little disappointed with how Frieza became a punching bag near the end after keeping up with Goku so well during the recruitment arc. I still feel like something happened with the writers near the end.

    Omen Goku is awesome, I think part of why that form was so cool is how emotionless he is. In the mastered form he seems like he’s back to normal so it doesn’t have that same impact. Hopefully Vegeta will get a super form of his own when we get a sequel show someday. (I’d rather he doesn’t just copy Goku and get Ultra Instinct as well)

    Liked by 1 person

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