DRAGON BALL Z is a show that even non-anime watchers will remember fondly from their childhood. The signature screams during the hour-long ‘power up’ sequences, the bright energy blasts, and the dedication to the finer points of whoop-ass make the show a classic, and a damn good one at that. However, those memories are very quickly becoming boons I only attribute to the older series, DRAGON BALL. When that particular anime arc ended in 1996, there was tremendous viewership capital left over. Like most popular franchises, this meant an inevitable sequel, several movies, sporadic reboots, and a (godawful) live-action adaptation. I’ll mostly be talking about the state of the anime following the conclusion of DRAGON BALL Z and working through the reasons why it has become an abject slap in the face to longtime fans.

Plot spoilers ahead for DRAGON BALL Z and DRAGON BALL SUPER

DRAGON BALL SUPER  enjoyed moderate success by essentially riding the coattails of the Battle of Gods film. That movie experienced excellent international success and grossed $50,353,002  worldwide and introduced a new transformation for the franchise’s main character, Son Goku. His new Super Saiyan God form granted him the power to fight on equal footing with heavenly opponents. DRAGON BALL SUPER coasted along this movie’s popularity. Before I get into details, I want to emphasize that I don’t think the DRAGON BALL franchise should end. But, if a series is aiming for longevity and fan retention, there are some basic areas that need to remain consistent for future arcs to work.

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Poor Animation Quality

Modern standards of animation quality are decently high now, but DRAGON BALL Z already proved that high standards were always reachable. The movies preceding SUPER had incredible quality, so it’s quite strange for the beginning of the series (which was essentially just Battle of Gods broken into episode-long chunks) was such a huge drop in quality. I can forgive poor drawing for non-important scenes, but if Super Saiyan 3 Goku is fighting a literal God of Destruction, half the frames shouldn’t be this:

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: nikka_aloha https://twitter.com/nikka_aloha/status/630601356395425792
God of Destruction Beerus and Son Goku suddenly warp into featureless versions of themselves mid-fight.

Or this (a personal favorite):

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: nikka_aloha https://twitter.com/nikka_aloha/status/630601356395425792
I don’t even know what to say about this one.

The bigger issue with this is that half of DRAGON BALL is the visual experience. A fight isn’t good if it doesn’t look good, and that makes it pretty hard to be on board with the series as a whole. On top of that, there’s plenty of sakuga within the show too. Sakuga essentially describes a moment where animation quality radically increases to emphasize a few moments of an episode. Movements turn fluid, expressions sharpen, and shading grows detailed. Because the moments of sakuga are so incredible, there’s a huge gap between standard quality and amazing quality. For comparison, check out a brilliant sequence from a few months ago:

Granted, single episodes of anime can cost upwards of $100,000, so it’s understandable that not every scene will be crisp. But I would much rather see fewer sakuga moments if it meant a general increase in animation quality for the entire show.

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Careless Inconsistency

Next up is a portion of the show that’s more annoying than it is terrible. Inconsistencies aren’t new to DRAGON BALL, but they’re usually minor or cosmetic. Older inconsistencies were things like a shirt changing color, or minor conflicts in dialogue. SUPER’s inconsistencies break basic, long established facts.

Trunks Brief, Bulma and Vegeta’s son from the future, has always had purple hair in the anime, despite his mother’s hair being blue and his father’s hair being black. This traces back to an error decades ago when Bulma’s purple hair was mistakenly colored blue for the anime. In an attempt to rectify that earlier mistake, series author Akira Toriyama had Trunks drawn with blue hair in DRAGON BALL SUPER. One little problem—the younger version of himself still has purple hair, and the two are in several scenes together.

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: Crunchyroll
One and the same…but obviously not.

Back in DRAGON BALL Z, Goku and Vegeta used the potara fusion to become an incredibly powerful single entity. The two each donned an earring given to them by gods and became one. Vegito, the result, was a permanent transformation that could not be normally reversed. This detail was important to distinguish potara from other forms of fusion. However, SUPER creates a 15-minute time limit that pacifies the most powerful transformation in the series. Suddenly, a technique that traded your identity for incredible power is meaningless. Not only does this confuse fans who are aware of the technique, it disposes an official DRAGON BALL Z rule just for fanservice and to showcase a good fight. DRAGON BALL SUPER does things like this and takes away the meaningful qualities of the previous series to lazily create better fights.

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Lazy Character Creation

Following the arc with Trunks, the Tournament of Power saga began, introducing a few new Saiyans from a different universe. One, in particular, draws from a movie released outside of the series. Kale, also referred to as the ‘female Broly’ due to her similarity to the main villain of the DRAGON BALL Z movie Broly – the Legendary Super Saiyan, is a dangerous crossover. While I was as excited as anyone else to finally see female Super Saiyans (and strong ones at that) grace the stage of the Tournament of Power, I was annoyed at how lazy the rebranding was.

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: Crunchyroll
Kale’s Super Saiyan transformation.

For those unfamiliar with how anime usually flows, there is the canon story, including the plot of the manga, and non-canon story, including filler episodes and movies. Broly had three movies but was not canon in the slightest. So for a character to essentially be him with lipstick poses three big problems for the series.

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For one, it means that one of the first female Saiyans is just a copy paste of someone else. There was some obvious effort to parallel another Saiyan from Kale’s universe, Cabba, with Vegeta. The other female Saiyan, Caulifla, also shares some similarities with Goku. Seeing as Goku and Vegeta are literally the only two living full-blooded Saiyans left in existence, there’s nobody else to parallel, and Kale should have been her own character.

Secondly, this breaks precedent with all of DRAGON BALL Z. If movie characters start encroaching on the main story line, it makes it difficult to keep track of what’s canon. Finally, it’s just plain lazy. DRAGON BALL SUPER  has fantastic fights, but what really makes the show worth watching is the meaningful fights that lead to character development. Slapping an old character on to a new one invalidates all of that. Fights and characters really need to make sense in the context of the story.

Zero Power Scaling

The context of the characters is, by far, the most irredeemable factor of DRAGON BALL SUPER’s downfall. Power scaling is essentially the dynamic and relative strength of each character. Generally, in an action-focused anime, main characters continuously get stronger, so villains have to as well. So as not to upset that balance, side characters will get stronger, but never stronger than a protagonist, and certainly never stronger than the main villain. This is the reason why someone like Piccolo, someone who has been around since Goku’s teenage years, consistently gets strong, but not too strong. Lesser involved side characters, like Yamcha, are still predictably weak even against the weakest enemies.

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: Crunchyroll
Android 17 worked at a wildlife preserve while Goku trained with gods. Yet, they were almost evenly matched.

Here’s the problem with DRAGON BALL SUPER. Goku and Vegeta obtained a powerful transformation called Super Saiyan Blue. This form combines the power of a god with the body of a Saiyan. It’s way too powerful. It takes Goku and Vegeta into a league far beyond every other character in DRAGON BALL history because all they did in the series for years was train with a god while everyone led normal lives. So when DRAGON BALL SUPER attempts to bring back old characters like Android 17 and 18, they have no choice but to retroactively create some reason why these normally weak characters can suddenly keep up with Goku and Vegeta.

Remember that whenever the main characters of an anime get strong, their enemies have to as well. Logically, this means the best enemies of the latest SUPER arc are at or near Goku’s power level. But the entire anime can’t be 100% Goku and Vegeta fights, so how is this problem rectified?

Weak Plot Design

The answer is pretty blunt. It can’t be. Given the current tournament structure ( a free-for-all) and plot, there is no way to include multiple characters without making Goku seem uncharacteristically weak compared to them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the characters are flawed, it just means the plot should have been something else. Hundreds of anime have found ways to deal with power scaling and accepted alternatives that aren’t avoidable. Eventually, the main character gets so powerful that only they can face a certain enemy, and that’s fine. It just means that weaker characters need to fight weaker enemies.

DRAGON BALL SUPER could have structured the Tournament of Power like a classic bracket, where stronger universes fought weaker ones in the first rounds, moving up until only one is left standing. When you have dozens of new enemies, most need to be strong. If you’re only fighting one other universe each time, there are fewer outrageously strong people to worry about. Goku and Vegeta can take the stronger ones, while other characters take on who they can handle.

DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: Crunchyroll
18 and Krillin have focused more on providing for their daughter than training. They shouldn’t be fighting enemies on Goku’s level.

Writers could’ve used something as simple as a time skip to account for increases in power. Give the Z fighters a year to prepare for this tournament. The earth literally has a room in this series where you can get a year of training done in a day. Instead of making Krillin way stronger than he should be, pop him in that room for a bit and find some way to keep him there for several days.

As things are now, the plot is trying to be extreme in a way that just isn’t possible. An 80 warrior free-for-all simply isn’t compatible with the kinds of characters DRAGON BALL SUPER has to work with.

Lack of Meaningful Combat

What this all boils down to is more or less a subversion of the basic things that make DRAGON BALL as great a franchise as it is. The most incredible fights are when characters radically surpass their limits for a reason beyond just plot. In DRAGON BALL Z, Gohan had to abandon his docile nature to defeat Cell, learning that it’s okay to release his anger to protect those he loves. Goku had to sacrifice himself twice to guarantee the safety of the earth. Even Vegeta had to abandon his pride during his final act against Majin Buu, embracing his son for only a second time and detonating himself with his own life force. Every character always has a trait that needs to be tossed aside before they’re able to become truly powerful.

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DRAGON BALL SUPER Image: Crunchyroll
Goku wastes valuable time to spar with a Caulifla, a Saiyan from Universe 6.

With DRAGON BALL SUPER, I found myself struggling to justify every little inconsistency. I would hear an explanation within an episode, then see that very explanation invalidated seconds later. Goku would act strategic one moment, then waste time sparring with someone a second later. Because of this, everything seems pointless, especially since this arc doesn’t leave any room for varying options. There are only two outcomes, win and everyone lives or lose and everyone dies. Nobody can sacrifice themselves for someone else because nobody is in danger until everyone loses. It robs the fights of any complexity and reduces the story to a slug fest where characters look nice but aren’t doing much.

Hope For DRAGON BALL’S Comeback

It’s super important that future arcs are different from what we’ve seen. I wouldn’t mind seeing creative ways to interact with these new characters. The odds that at the end of this tournament every losing universe will actually get destroyed are low. After all, who else would there be to fight? Maybe, later on, we’ll have some drama with other worlds. What’s stopping Vegeta from finally realizing his identity as a Saiyan prince, and reigning in Universe 6? Who’s to say there aren’t some Rogue angels out there needing to be stopped? Or that having two copies of Zeno, king of everything, won’t cause problems? There’s a lot to work with, and I do think that with some more careful focus on story, things can improve.

At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever stop watching. I have too much respect for the old series to completely give up on it. But even fan favorites deserve criticism. Honestly, if the DRAGON BALL fan base decides to stop making excuses for sloppy mistakes, maybe things will go back to the original quality. The roots are all there, and Akira Toriyama has spun gold from crumbs before. As of now, he’s mostly acting in an advisory role, and could possibly take control and make some improvements. Here’s hoping the coming weeks will bring that spark I remember from my childhood.

Featured image from Saiyanisland.

20 Comments

  1. Patrick

    December 11, 2017 at 1:39 am

    That Goku vs Krillin scene is literally the only action sequence I liked from the whole fucking series. The fights are terrible: Too damn ahort, EXTREME censorship (Peppa Pig level) which takes out all the tension of the fights because characters look like they fell from a bicycle instead of having a fight, poor to no coreography (fights are just throwing 1000 hits per second screaming TATATATATA IAAAA and throwing a million energy blasts like retards at the end), hits have no impact or weight, it looks like they are playing instead of fighting, etc. If that wasn’t enough, the art style is pure shit and the gigantic inconsistencies are god level. Also every character got humilliated: Goku is more retarded than as a kid in DB, Vegeta cooks and dances for a fucking cat and even lowered his head and said it would be a honor to get killed by him (WTF), Tenshinhan, Yamcha and Krillin are useless, Piccolo fights like a retard (vs Frost) and his duty in the series is to shield Gohan every damn time and to be a babysitter. I hope Super ends soon and some day they reanimate it but following the manga (no retarded censorship or shitty, lame fights).

    Reply

  2. Ruben MV

    November 26, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I can’t understand how is the animation “amazing” in that scene with Goku and Krillin, yes the movement is good, and the choreography is also good, but the character models are wrong, and the shading is pretty poor, which makes it look cheap or something made by amateurs, and this is probably the best animation in the series, which is pretty underwhelming.

    Reply

  3. Eddie

    October 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    I’m kinda torn on this. On one hand I do agree that DBS has a lot of holes and problems with storyline. Better writing would help. I do on the other hand enjoy it better than GT and while that’s not saying much because GT sucked I am hopeful it will get better. I agree with Edwardz I’m not left with that “what will happen next week” feeling very often with super. I feel like some of the more important fights should be a little longer maybe not as long as some of the DBZ fights that were really long but definitely longer. Also most of the time so far I haven’t felt there’s much at stake especially because we know how DBZ ended. While I do enjoy them filling the gap at the end of Z with something I’m hopeful they will continue up to the point where Z ended and beyond giving an alternative to GT. The comment made by the voice actor of goku about reaching 700 episodes was promising, and while I know that’s in no way confirmation it will go that far I’m hoping they do have the long game in mind here and as the show progresses it will be better and more comparable to Z. If not I will be disappointed because although it’s the same characters it’s not really like the show I loved and grew up watching every week as a kid.

    Reply

  4. Jereme Weatherbee

    October 15, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Still better than GT

    Reply

  5. Edwardz

    September 21, 2017 at 7:02 am

    He stated that it pasifies the ultimate transformation, which it does. Super fan base. Spirit sword? Lmao. Even the manga was different because how Lame that concept was, I still laugh when I say spirit sword.

    Reply

  6. Edwardz

    September 21, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Amen.

    Reply

  7. Edwardz

    September 21, 2017 at 6:50 am

    False, toriyama is not in charge of the anime he is only there to tell the anime team and mangaka the basic plot (there are huge differences in the anime and manga that prove my point). He’s only and advisor ex. Toriyama will state that a tournament is going to be held among all the universes and Goku will fight female broly and Jiren…that’s it, the rest is up to the production team, seriously that’s all he does.The animation got slightly better because all he did was tweet and call the production team to improve the quality of the animation, that’s it. He didn’t drive up and say “I’m taking over this shit”. Dumb shits. I agree animes have it’s ups and downs but it’s all downs. You are saying that so far in DBS it’s been as good as where DBZ was by this episode and fighting Androids leaving you at the edge of your seat? Not even close buddy!

    Reply

  8. Edwardz

    September 21, 2017 at 6:38 am

    You are absolutely right about DBS. It is pretty shitish compared to DBZ. By this time in DBZ they were up against the Androids and would leave us on the edge of our seats, with each episode leaving you wanting to know what will happen next…but DBS is seriously for little kids. Random increase in powers, horrible story, they spend one minute fighting and next scene 2 minute garbage gags seriously kills the mood. Anyone who disagrees with your post is either young ‘doy, me likey, bright colors’ or just IDK, just don’t understand how true fans can defend the series it is WAY to different from DBZ like night and day. The animation got better? Better, yes, good? No way, it’s still not up to par with DBZ or other anime out there with decent budget. IMO the fight between the gods who tested the ring was by far one of the better fights in the series (although short). Bleach and Naruto had better fight scenes than DBS! because DBS fights are short and lame. Why is ss blue Goku having trouble with just about anyone? Why is Goku Always yelling “yayayayayaya” how lame does that sound. I loved DBZ and still watch DBS because I’m a fan but I don’t get that excited before, during, or after the episode, doesn’t leave me with that “OMG! WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT WEEK!?”

    Reply

  9. Miki

    August 25, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Waaaaah the Super it no do the power levels that I like it waaaaaaahh

    Reply

  10. ano nymous

    August 25, 2017 at 9:56 am

    huh, your 1st point is lame. The Future Trunks of DBS and the Future Trunks (the one in android saga) of DBZ are the EXACT same person. He had purple hair in Z. Plz don’t argue that he has got his hair dyed during the peaceful times.

    As for your second point, the same Gowasu temporarily promoted Zamasu to supreme kai but giving him a potara. if you apply the same logic to goku and vegeta, their fusion should be permenant too. the 1hr time limit should never even come into discussion because the second they put the potara on, they (goku and vegeta) had become supreme kais too. Also if you think my argument is void, then I will ask you why old kai hasn’t defused yet since he is no longer a supreme kai. (If you argue that old kai is still a supreme kai, then you are wrong because his corresponding god of destruction does not exist any longer.)

    So i guess you must do your research properly before wronging the author.

    It is very sad that many people DBS fanbase (not necessarily you) try to cover up all the flaws with shitty explanations instead of accepting the fact that Super is very poorly written.

    Also if anyone wonders why I am watching super if I don’t like it, it’s just because of how good dragon ball and dragon ball z were. I am just waiting patiently for the day till DBS gives me the excitement I had while watching DB and DBZ.

    PS: sry for my bad english as it isn’t my first language.

    Reply

  11. S

    August 25, 2017 at 9:53 am

    huh, your 1st point is lame. The Future Trunks of DBS and the Future Trunks (the one in android saga) of DBZ are the EXACT same person. He had purple hair in Z. Plz don’t argue that he has got his hair dyed during the peaceful times.

    As for your second point, the same Gowasu temporarily promoted Zamasu to supreme kai but giving him a potara. if you apply the same logic to goku and vegeta, their fusion should be permenant too. the 1hr time limit should never even come into discussion because the second they put the potara on, they (goku and vegeta) had become supreme kais too. Also if you think my argument is void, then I will ask you why old kai hasn’t defused yet since he is no longer a supreme kai. (If you argue that old kai is still a supreme kai, then you are wrong because his corresponding god of destruction does not exist any longer.)

    So i guess you must do your research properly before wronging the author.

    It is very sad that many people DBS fanbase (not necessarily you) try to cover up all the flaws with shitty explanations instead of accepting the fact that Super is very poorly written.

    Also if anyone wonders why I am watching super if I don’t like it, it’s just because of how good dragon ball and dragon ball z were. I am just waiting patiently for the day till DBS gives me the excitement I had while watching DB and DBZ.

    PS: sry for my bad english as it isn’t my first language.

    Reply

  12. Yasser Abo

    August 25, 2017 at 9:12 am

    YOU’RE LIKE AN RETARDED FANS OF NARUTO.

    Reply

  13. Cris

    August 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    this dude….

    Reply

  14. Ferrilover

    August 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Animation and art quality are not the same thing.

    Reply

  15. Mariano Alexis

    August 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    your soul is empty

    Reply

  16. Fabian

    August 24, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Ur a dumbass too haha seriously only she on shit if u know it’s a fact. Neither u or Mr Gibbs when know what’s going on. Trust me DBZ was and always will be the best but I’ve been watching Dragonball since I was 5 years old I’m 27 now. I watched all of Gt even tho it sucked but I’m a fan of the series and yeah I seen every episode. With super though I actually like it. Goku had to get stronger if a be series was made. The animating pissed me off at first but they fixed that shit many months ago. Frieza coming back was kinda weird but shit it works. Future trunks coming back was awesome. The universal survival arc is badass. And there’s so many nods to previous series actions from DBZ all the way back to dragonball. The series ain’t perfect but i can’t think of one that was or is. Nd no shit God didn’t make the series lol wtf!? But the original creator came back and decided to continue his story and he’s doing a good job song with help from me talent. Stop being a whiny lil sucka and enjoy the ride lol. The only thing I don’t like about super and I’ll be honest is the fact that universe 6 saiyans turned super sayian in a few episodes when it took Goku over what 80 episodes to do it lol. But even with that and them finally giving us Broly (in his Kaitlyn Jenner form lol) I’m still excited for each episode same as i was 20 years ago.

    Reply

  17. Fabian

    August 24, 2017 at 1:04 am

    I’m with you Chris I mean I’ve had problems with DBS in the beginning but this guy is speaking of problems that have been fixed almost a year ago and he doesn’t even make sense. The plot is sick af! The animation has been badass since last year! Goku only went SSB against Krillin to get him pumped (confirmed by one of the creators of the series). And no meaningful battles!? Have u even heard of the current arc!? The F u watching Jay Gibbs? Do your research before u criticise bro lol. I actually came to this page to read some legit reasons why the series sucks but u got me cracking up with ur lame examples. I really hope ur not a paid writer cuz damn bro weak af!

    Reply

  18. Anthony Sheen

    August 24, 2017 at 12:18 am

    You suck! You’re a hater that doesn’t have anything better to do! Go rant about trump or world war 3 or whatever is up your ass!

    Reply

  19. Hellunleasher

    August 23, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I agree 100% . But the fanbase of Super is stupid . Whatever the plothole , the fanbase just makes excuses to pretend that super is perfect .

    And whenever you try to criticize Super (even if its fully justified) , you just hear that you should just stop watching the show . I probably would have long ago if this series wasn’t related to dbz , but I won’t . The stupid fanbase needa to realise that Super isn’t made by God , and it could have mistakes and bad moments .

    Reply

  20. Chris

    August 23, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    You obviously never paid attention to the show when making your arguments in Careless Inconsistency.

    1. While it was obvious that they retconned Future Trunks’ hair colour to match Bulma’s in the anime, Trunks and Future Trunks are two separate people from alternate timelines, not the same person from different points in time (as it was originally believed prior to Future Trunks’ return during Android 17 and 18’s appearance back in Z). So it can be easily justified why the two have different hair colours because they’re not the same exact person. Also, MARKETING!!!

    2. Super cleared up why Vegito wasn’t permanent as it was believed to have been when introduced in Z. Universe 10’s Supreme Kai, Gowasu, tells Goku and Vegeta that if at least one of the fusees is a Supreme Kai, they will be fused permanently (hence why Kibito Kai never split back into Kibito and Supreme Kai/Shin until asking for it as a wish with the Namekian Dragon Balls). Since Goku and Vegeta aren’t Supreme Kais, Potara Fusion would only last for an hour (not this 15 minute time limit that you made up) and similar to Fusion Dance fusions, if they used too much power (e.g. any Super Saiyan form, or in the case for Super, Super Saiyan Blue) it would drain their time limit, as both Gowasu and Shin actually ponder why Vegito defused so quickly and they suggest that either Vegito Blue was too powerful and drained the time limit, or that mortal fusion time differs to Otherwordly being fusion time.

    You might wanna actually do some research to actually support your arguments next time…

    Reply

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