Dragon Ball Super and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Funimation
As many of you might know, Dragon Ball Z was a HUGE part of my life and is one of the most important series to ever exist; not just for me but for an entire generation who grew up with these characters and what they represented. Goku as the Super Man for the modern era who was always there when we needed him and has the biggest heart imaginable. Vegeta as the manifestation of our own sense of pride and anger; reforming as the series goes on and always being taught the folly of his ways. Gohan trying to live up to the legacy of his father and trying to find his place in the world while having more than enough potential to be whatever he wanted if he could just open up and tap into it. These stories resonated with a lot of people, and while it wasn’t always great (it started fading fast during the Buu saga), it was always important, so bringing back an official series after so long is a pretty big deal; especially now that it’s back in the US with an official Funimation dub for old fans and new fans alike (though I’m PRETTY sure most who are gonna see this are in the former category) to enjoy the way we enjoyed DBZ back in the day. First though, a mea culpa. I had every intention of reviewing this series as it was originally coming out with the subs, but it became clear pretty quickly that I simply didn’t have enough time to devote a recap series of that in anything resembling a timely fashion, so I decided to wait until the dub was released and do a recap of that instead. Seems appropriate though considering I’ve never known this series outside of the dubbed version, so why would I start watching the Japanese version now? Sure… that will work as an excuse. ANYWAY! Does the return of Dragon Ball usher in a new era of anime once again ruled by Toriyama’s iconic series, or is this a desperate move to squeeze a few more dollars out of a dying cash cow? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with the new opening sequence which was specifically done for the English dub and as far as I can tell is just a cover of the song from the Japanese version of Super. It’s honestly not that big of a deal for me considering that the openings and closings were never something that connected with me in the original series either like similar shows I love from that era (Yu Yu Hakusho, Case Closed, etc), so I’m not gonna knock points off just yet. It looks cool at least featuring plenty of well-choreographed action, though I’m annoyed that we’re STILL going with the Chi-Chi as a nagging wife jokes in 2017… or whenever the hell this came out. It couldn’t have been any earlier than 2015, right? The opening also confirms we’re not picking up pretty much right after the Buu Saga, give or take a few years as Gohan looks like he’s out of high school but Goten is still rather young.
This sense of continuity is confirmed right after the opening as we get a recap of how DBZ ended with Kid Buu biting the dust and humanity none the wiser thanks to the Dragon Balls with our story picking up a few months after that. Hey, if you wanted a sequel to Dragon Ball Z, you couldn’t ask for a better starting point than right after it ended. So now that we’re finally back after at least a decade without an officially recognized continuation of the most informative television series to many of this generation, what do they start us off with to get us right back in the Dragon Ball spirit? Goku driving a tractor while wearing an ascot! Okay…
So there’s no doubt that things are a bit off with this series right off the bat. Not only is it strange watching Goku… well work at all, but we immediately get introduced to Goten who sounds REALLY off from Funimation’s prior DBZ dub which is odd because it’s still the same voice actress (Kara Edwards), and while we’re on the topic, we get to hear Chi-Chi talk as well who ALSO sounds off despite being voiced by one of the original Funimation voices as well (Cynthia Cranz). I mean sure, people’s voices change, but Sean Schemmel still sounds perfectly spot on as Goku which only highlights how… off some of the others are. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually. So what is Goku doing out here anyways? Well Chi-Chi wants him to make money so I guess he’s a farmer now. Why he’s farming on a giant cliff in a wasteland is beyond me (the hell is he gonna grow? Cactus!?) but then again Goku was never really known for his smarts in the first place. While he tries to acquire his green thumb (and get some training done in the process), we cut to Lord Beerus and Whis (Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclaire return from the movies) who are already terrorizing the galaxy. It’s a slight departure from what we saw in Battle of the Gods, in that he ACTUALLY commits genocide here (he blows up half a planet because he didn’t like their deserts) while in the movie he merely had the capacity to do so. Seems like a hard climb back up from this kind of Evil to Neutral (where he ended up in the movies), but we’ll have to see how it plays out. For now we have something WAY more important to get to!
The only character in this show better than Hercule Satan is Videl Satan, and this scene of him at a press conference continues to prove why that’s the case. Dude just straight up says that the entire galaxy is scared shitless of him which is why no new alien threats have emerged, and the public eats it up like it was a Trump rally, only this guy actually SAVED lives instead of trying to destroy them. This scene also serves as reminder that Buu (the original version) is his live in life partner after becoming best buddies in Dragon Ball Z, and it also confirms that no one remembers who the hell he is; lest the people at this press conference would be freaking the fuck out when he crashes it looking for food. Hercule naturally needs to keep up his bravo for the sake of humanity (lest they lose faith in the planet’s greatest warrior), but he makes it up to Buu later.
Meanwhile, since we’re playing catch up on the DBZ characters, we cut to Videl and Gohan who are out shopping for books (his favorite!) and we learn that he’s not all that comfortable being Videl’s mimbo considering how much she buys for her, but the sugar mama assuages his feelings (she literally says to just stop feeling guilty). Gohan by the way is still wearing those silly glasses which I’m assuming is less an admission that all those blows to the head has messed up his vision and is rather a Clark Kent homage. Oh, and we also learned that the two of them got married off screen which is KIND of a big thing to just skim over. Hell, we even got to see Chi-Chi and Goku’s wedding in the last episode of Dragon Ball, so why didn’t we get to see that here!? What we get to see INSTEAD is an annoying B plot with Goten and Trunks where the former wants to go find a good post-wedding gift for Videl… for some reason. Ugh, this whole thing just drags on for seven whole minutes of the episode (which is a third of the run time for a TV half hour) and it really doesn’t amount to much. They go looking for girly stuff (ugh… again), get directed by an old man to a secret hot spring full of super water which is cheaper than buying skin cream, and then they fight a giant snake monster for no reason.
As a fight scene, it’s not badly done (the animation is fine all things considered) but it has no weight as we aren’t advancing the plot in any meaningful way with this so it’s just a shiny distraction to fill time. They eventually pound the snake monster into the dirt and head back to Videl’s place (which Hercule bought for her and Gohan, naturally) and give her the late wedding gift. Like a champ, she pretends that it’s the best gift ever even though they just handed her a jar of mountain water, that a bunch of deer probably pee in all the time.
From there we fade into the evening where Goten has already regaled the story of his adventure that day to Goku who’s still out in that field; not accomplishing a damn thing. I don’t blame him though! YOU CAN’T PLANT ANYTHING IN A WASTELAND, AND THERE’S NO MONEY TO BE MADE IN FAMILY OWNED FARMS IN THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!! Thankfully, Hercule rides up just at that moment and offers to give Goku a big ol’ suitcase full of Zeni. Why? Well the World Peace Assembly just gave the dude even MORE money because he saved the planet a few months back. Uh… the dude is already LOADED. Wouldn’t that money be better used to fight world hunger? Goku certainly isn’t helping with that with his crappy little farm in the wasteland! Well he plans to give the money he got (totaling a hundred million Zeni) directly to Goku who they both know actually DID save the planet, but they’re all still keeping quiet about that. It doesn’t take long for Goku’s protestations at the inordinate gift to give way to his desire to not work, so he takes the money and presents it to Chi-Chi who starts to salivate on the spot.
Goku, finally seeing an opportunity to leave his family once again, instant transmissions his ass straight to King Kai’s planet to train his brains out instead of helping Goten with his homework or reading him a bedtime story. Father of the year I tell ya. Oh, and did someone say… CAMEO!?
And with that, we come to a close on our first episode of this new series. Well… there’s a small bit at the end with Supreme Kai and Elder Kai discussing the fact that planets have started disappearing which is a departure from how it played out in Battle of the Gods. In there, they were lamenting the fact that Lord Beerus had awakened even though he had yet to cause any damage. Here? He’s taking the scenic route on his way to Earth; blowing up a whole bunch of planets in the process; something I’m pretty sure Broly did and even HE managed to lose to our heroes on three separate occasions!
Well it certainly wasn’t a PERFECT start to the series, what with the annoying B plot and some awkward transitions between DBZ and this (from the tone of the series to the voice acting), but it was still fairly enjoyable and I can’t wait to see what else they’ll end up doing with this series. Of course, they decided to recreate the Battle of Gods and Resurrection F storylines first, but I’m sure we’ll get more episodes like this one that try to fill in some of the gaps and to get us used to how things will be different here than from what we remember. On the one hand, it’s kind of a foolish endeavor to hope that EVERYTHING STAYS EXACTLY THE SAME FROM OUR CHILDHOOD as we always look back on it with rose tinted glasses. On the other hand however, this is pushing that connection and sense of nostalgia REALLY hard, so comparisons cannot be helped when the show itself invites them. We’ll have to see where it goes from here, but I’m optimistic for now that we’ll be getting something interesting even if it’s not up to par with what for many of us was the best part of our childhood.