The start of Dragon Ball Super arrived with such fanfare, fans could scarcely believe they’d be treated to the continuing screen adventures of Goku and co. While the reception was overwhelmingly positive, it was hard not to feel a little aggrieved with the first half of the inaugural season retelling the events of 2013’s Battle of Gods. Still, it expanded on Goku’s clash with Beerus the Destroyer and added enough character beats to keep die-hards interested and newcomers contented. This second half finishes off that battle with Goku admitting defeat, even with his newly acquired Saiyan God powers.
Like its predecessor, the second arc retells the events of a film, specifically Resurrection ‘F’ which saw the return of Lord Frieza. This is no straight retelling with a few embiggened plot points. Oh no, this alters details, expands on others, and altogether offers a more complete depiction of Goku’s round two with one of his earliest foes.
Bringing the current epoch of Dragon Ball around to its earlier arcs is apt to demonstrate how far this motley crew have come since their inception. Who could believe that Gohan would grow up and father his own son? That Goku would be a grandpa? Family sagas with such scope are rare in pop culture, and being able to watch it unfold even now is a delight. But Goku still needs convincing, something Chi-Chi provides in spades.
As a grandpa, she argues, it’s high time he put an end to his obsessed quest for greater strength and started acting his age. For kids who grew up on this franchise (some with kids of their own now), it was a potent reminder of passing youth, and proof that these are more than two-bit characters. Still, that doesn’t mean Goku is in a hurry to get a normal job, and while Gohan adapts to life as a domesticated daddy, Goku is desperate to flex his muscles and smack down a bad guy.
Vegeta, meanwhile, is still nursing that perpetual chip on his shoulder to be the better Saiyan, and his training methods are pure masochism. That is, until he finds out that Beerus is actually second best to Whis, his foppish, dessert-slurping sensei. So the Saiyan Prince tries to curry favour by cooking up a treat, and watching an increasingly flustered Vegeta trying to crack an egg is easily the arc at its funniest. After finally winning Whis’ favour, he agrees to train him back on Beerus’ home world. Keeping up?
Once Goku gets wind of this, he throws himself into the fray until he and Vegeta are rubbing shoulders again, each desperate to be the stronger combatant. Some habits die hard. All the while, Frieza is planning the comeback of the century after being brought back from hell in a mood that’s positively genocidal. With his powers worse for wear, the pint-sized tyrant trains for the first time and ends up stronger than we – or Goku – could have foreseen.
Their original face-off was nothing short of spectacular and the weight of that first battle hangs over their rematch, as each fighter unveils their newly discovered form: Goku with his blue hair and god powers, and Frieza sporting a gaudy gold exterior. The fight proves fulfilling, with plenty of insult-swapping, one-upmanship and feints to keep fans happy. The series ends before Frieza is dispatched (for really-real this time?), leaving a cliff-hanger for the next instalment, but anyone who’s seen Resurrection ‘F’ will already know the outcome.
The clean and poppy façade of Dragon Ball Super may be at odds with the scruffy style that defined its nineties persona, but all the components that made fans fall in love with the franchise in the first place are present. The character beats, complex family lives and new threats give Super a great platform to build beyond the movies, and given it’s over a hundred-plus episodes on, needless to say it’s a welcome addition to the canon.
English dub; marathon play; trailers