Dragon Ball Super Episode 1
A Peacetime Reward: Who Gets The 100,000,000 Zeni?
It's crazy to think that Dragonball Z (DBZ) began airing in the US over 20 years ago, beginning in 1996. It, along with Sailor Moon, was the equivalent to my “gateway drug” for anime. It was my very first anime and it will always pull at my nostalgic heartstrings. I remember coming home from school and plopping down in front of the TV almost every weekday afternoon to watch it, including marathons on some weekends. I even have a DBZ themed tattoo, so my hype level for Super is over 9000! I never expected a new series to happen. Not only are Goku & company back, but series' creator Akira Toriyama is back in the creator's hot seat and overseeing things for this series unlike the now erased Dragonball GT.
Dragonball Super takes place during a very specific time period. It starts six months after the defeat of Kid Buu at the end of DBZ, but before the 10-year jump that was shown at the very end of that series. At the beginning of the episode, we find out that Goku has now become a radish farmer who squeezes in a bit of training time whenever possible. This is the same child-like Goku that all DBZ fans have grown to know and love. I feel like I've grown up beside Goku my whole life, so it was a joy to see his personality kept intact. It seemed to me that all of the characters carry over their respective personalities very well, with the exception of Gohan but more on that in a bit. We see that Goten and Trunks are still up to mischief-making. Mr. Satan is his usual self and still has the good Majin Buu at his side. The only character that seemed remarkably different was Gohan. He has basically been neutered by fiance Videl, along with all those years under Chi-Chi's guidance. He is now a scholar just like his mother always wanted him to be. I enjoyed seeing this evolution of Gohan, but it was hard to believe that he was the same super-powered Saiyan that wielded the “Z Sword” during my childhood. It's way too early in the series to see if this is how he will remain. I'm predicting that he will eventually have some time, and reason, to shine. I'll be very disappointed if I'm wrong. Gohan is a great character who I don't want to see go to waste.
While most of this episode is just about catching up with Goku and family, Toriyama does take a moment to introduce us to two new characters. Beerus, the God of Destruction, and his companion Whis. Fans that are familiar with the Battle of the Gods DBZ movie will already know exactly who these characters are and what their motivations are at this point, but if you haven't seen that, this episode isn't going to shine a ton of light on the duo. Beerus is shown to have little patience and ends up snapping a planet in half just over a taste test gone wrong. I loved the Battle of the Gods film but thought it felt a bit rushed. With this being an ongoing series, I'm excited at the prospect of the creators really digging in with these new additions to the Dragonball universe.
I can't review this episode without telling you all how the actual animation holds up. I'm happy to report that this is the ultimate way to see the Dragonball characters. The modern HD colors pop off the screen and everything just seems to flow so much better. There is a brief moment where a little bit of original DBZ footage is thrown in and it is a night and day type of difference. I feel like they put that footage in there just to highlight how far the visuals have come in two decades. Couple these visuals with a reunion from most of the voice cast of DBZ and you have a product that is undeniably Dragonball.
As I stated earlier, not a lot is going on in this episode. It's a game of catch up with the characters. The only action we get is Goten and Trunks fighting a giant snake, but the episode doesn't suffer due to it. Dragonball has always been a bit of a slow burn and I don't want to see that change. I love these characters and I am just happy to have them back in my life. Episode 1 of Dragonball Super made me feel like I was welcoming home some really important people from my past who had drifted away with time. The episode definitely played off my nostalgia hard and hooked me instantly. I'm excited to see where the series goes.