The Various Problems With Dragon Ball Super Part 1

Before reading this, please know that I love Dragon Ball. I wouldn’t say that I’m a super huge fan of it now, like when I was 8. I’m more of a passing fan of the series nowadays. I still have yet to play the Xenoverse games, but they are something that I’d love to get into. Unfortunately, there are parts of this franchise that I can’t stand. While I love the adventures that the Saiyan Goku and his misfit band of Z Fighters get into, there’s only so much a person can take. I loved the original Dragon Ball anime, thought Z was good, though paled in comparison the original.

I found GT to be an underrated series. Sure, it’s not a good Dragon Ball anime, but I feel that its unique enough to be judged as its own thing. Plus, it’s always hilarious to hear Goku use his sexy voice every time he addresses his arch-enemy “Baby”. I know GT has garnered a fair bit of hatred, but it’s still a series that I can enjoy from time to time. The problem is that I just can’t get into Super. It’s full of plot-holes, retcons, weird plot devices, wasted characters, and the occasional bout of poor animation. While the series has gotten marginally better with the newest story arc, it’s still far from being as good as it can be.

That’s something I’d like to go over today. I usually don’t like to be a negative Nelly on my blog, but I thought I’d put my two cents into why I dislike Dragon Ball Super. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion. I still watch the show on occasion despite not liking it, but I know not everyone will have the same opinion. I’m not trying to knock down the opinions of others, only discuss my feelings about a series that could be so much more. Without further adieu, let’s get into Super!

dragon-ball-super-episode-59
No, I don’t know why Trunks has blue hair now for some reason.

What is Dragon Ball?

Before discussing the show, I feel that its only fair if I first talk about the series as a whole. Dragon Ball revolves around an alien superhero known as Goku. He loves eating, fighting strong opponents, and not much else. Sure, he has a wife and kid, but he’s barely around them in the original series. Goku often fights villains using martial arts abilities, his super alien powers, and his multitude of transformations. Seriously, Goku has gone through more hair colors than Ramona Flowers.

The original show ran for over 100 episodes, while its sequel Dragon Ball Z ran for close to 300 eps. Dragon Ball GT ran for a measly 64 episodes, nowhere near as high as its predecessors. After GT ended, for the longest time we didn’t have a new DB show. The series was kept alive by its various videogame adaptations and occasional spinoffs and specials. That was until 2015, when the series was brought back from the brink and aired once more on television with brand “new” episodes as Dragon Ball Super. And this is where our tale begins…

Problem 1: The Rehashing

There are many ways you can start off your show, you can start by telling an all new story, you can begin in Media Res, or you can just retell portions of the story people may have missed. Unfortunately for Super, it chose the third option. Look, there’s nothing wrong with retelling a plot that the audience may have missed. After all, it’s difficult to do a sequel when your audience is mostly blind to the original. The problem? Dragon Ball Super chose to start off its series by recapping two films, that came out extremely recently! Heck, Resurrection F came out just a few months before the series even started!

The first 29 episodes are dedicated to recapping both Battle Of Gods and Resurrection F. 29 episodes, that’s insane! These are brand new films so many fans know about already, why bother recapping? You spent over half a year’s worth of episodes spinning your wheels with filler and hope the audience would stick around after. If this was any other anime, people might have just left then and there. However, Dragon Ball has such a well-known name that people couldn’t really say no.

The recapped episodes do add a fair bit more depth to the original films, but they aren’t really worth watching when compared to the movies that spawned them. Most of the stuff it adds are filler sequences, the occasional new adventure, and a lot of pointless fluff. While it is true that they improve on certain plot developments from the films, they still suffer from many other problems (which we will get to) that stops it from being a good alternative.

Now, lots of series or franchises will rehash their story-lines from time to time. A good example of this was the Justice League Vs. Teen Titans film. It felt like a retread of most of the Trigon arc from the cartoon and comic, but was still enjoyable in its own way. It had problems, pacing issues, etc. At the end of the day though, it was enjoyable. I can forgive Warner Bros. for this as they don’t often rehash plots from their cartoons all that often.

Unfortunately, Dragon Ball is a series that lives off rehashing. There’s Dragon Ball Kai, which is essentially a shortened version of Dragon Ball Z with a lot of the filler cut out. Then we have the “Yo! Son Goku And His Friends Return!” special, which rehashed a fair bit of the Saiyan and Frieza saga. Then there was the new Bardock special, which felt like a pointless retcon to a great character. That’s now even mentioning the constant rehashing the games were doing for years.

I wish those were the only examples I had, but sadly they aren’t. While Japanese anime is known for reusing plots, it never got as bad as Dragon Ball. The problem with the 29 episode retread is not the content itself, it’s the fact that the entire franchise has bestowed its legacy upon this show. I don’t mean that in a good way, as the Dragon Ball series has sadly become the equivalent of a recycling bin. While its true that Dragon Ball is mostly considered a kids show, I’m still disappointed in the fact that the constant reuse of plots has gone this far. The 29 episode recap feels like just another attempt to get more money, as opposed to telling something new or interesting. It’s one of the many things hurting this show so badly.

Honestly, I recommend skipping those early episodes in favor of just watching the last two films. They tell the same story, but are shorter and just way more enjoyable over all. There’s very little substance added to the arcs aside from a ton of filler and pointless additions. You’re better off sticking with the later arcs as opposed to watching those first two.

Problem 2: The Art and Animation

Believe it or not, I’m the kind of guy that can look past the animation of a TV series. If a series looks or is animated bad, I can still overlook it if it brings something unique to the table. An example of this is Spectacular Spiderman. I hated the character designs and art-style on that show, but still found the show as a whole to be one of the best superhero cartoons I ever watched! Sadly, the animation on this show is something that can’t be overlooked.

This series has several bouts of bad animation, such as poorly drawn hands and just awkward looking characters. A good example of this is when Frieza blows up a planet in Resurrection F, it lacks any of the finesse earlier planet explosions packed. When Beerus blew a planet in an earlier arc, it looked like fireworks of death. When Frieza blows up a planet, it just cracks all over and then explodes in a very generic-looking explosion. Animation problems don’t end there as you can find all kinds of weird animation errors anywhere you look in this series.

These aren’t just animation errors you probably won’t notice on first viewing, these are in your face! There are scenes that just look awkward, or scenes that felt like they had no impact. A good example was the Goku Vs. Frieza rematch, which just fell flat. There were issues with depth-perception in several scenes, and battles lacked any weight to them. I mean that literally, as Goku and Frieza would punch each other, but you don’t get that feeling of actual combat from them. It feels like their punches lack impact, leaving the fight feeling boring. It doesn’t help that there’s a scene where Frieza and Goku headbutt each other, but it’s really a single picture just shook around to make it seem like something was actually happening.

You think that’s lazy? I haven’t even mentioned episode 5 from the first arc yet! I think episode 5 is a deal-breaker for most people, mainly due to how terrible it is. A lot of long-running anime will sometimes get an episode with animation so bad it becomes infamous. It gets worse when you consider the fact that episode 5 was the episode that had Goku and Beerus fight for the first time. This was the first time we see Beerus fight against a truly capable and strong opponent in the series.

How does it go? Horrible. Half of the animated sequences in this scene looks like they were made by a 8 year old boy in Microsoft Paint. Goku flails about awkwardly as he attempts to punch a poorly drawn Beerus. Look, I’m no artist, and I’m not going to pretend to be. I haven’t done an art-class since high-school and I have no talent in drawing whatsoever. Despite this, even I can tell that this episode lacked any finesse to it. To better illustrate my point, take a look at this picture:

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THIS AIRED ON TELEVISION?!

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is honest to goodness frames of animation from that episode. Goku looks poorly drawn in so many scenes in this episode, and Beerus is not much better. Now, if this was some kind of pointless filler episode, I could forgive it somewhat. As mentioned earlier though, this is a pivotal part of this story arc. This is when we see a fraction of Beerus’ enormous power, enough to easily overpower one of the strongest fighters in the universe. Despite this, half the episode looks like it was drawn by a chimpanzee.

Toei is primarily to blame here. To be absolutely fair, I don’t think Toei is the worst animation company out there. When they produce films, the animation on them tends to be passable to pretty good. I can’t think of too many Toei animated films that I despise, at least animation-wise. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the animated series that they produce. Back in the 80s and 90s, Toei could produce some fantastic looking stuff. However, ever since Toei discovered digital cel animation, the quality has gone down considerably.

Compare Saint Seiya Omega to Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold. Omega was animated by Toei, while Soul of Gold was simply produced by Toei and animated by another company. Soul of Gold looked amazing (despite have a couple occasional awkward bouts of animation) while Omega just looked kind of bland and lacked interesting character designs. Speaking of which, I think it’s time we discuss the character designs on this series.

Problem #3 New Character Designs

The Dragon Ball series has a lot of hit or miss character designs. This is probably due to the fact that Akira Toriyama can only draw about 5 or 6 faces. Heck, when I was a kid I would often mistake Yamcha for Goku due to their similar appearances. To be honest though, I was pretty dumb kid. Dragon Ball Z had a lot of bouts of interesting designs though, especially in its villains. Frieza and Cell particularly stood out at looking very interesting to me.

However, I think this series should earn some kind of award for having the worst designs. I know a lot of time and effort goes into designing a really good character, but it feels like the ball was mostly dropped here. You have a series that was dormant until 2008, with very few characters (Outside of maybe Beerus) who are that striking or memorable. A good example of this is Tagoma, Frieza’s main stooge in Resurrection F arc.

tagoma
Watch out, it’s purple Mr. Clean!

That’s a pretty bland design. There’s nothing memorable about this design, it’s just a random alien in a modified Frieza uniform with a scouter that stretches all the way across his face. The alien design itself is pretty bland. Let’s compare this to Dodoria, who looked like a pink fat pin-cushion. His body was bulbous and pink protrusions were spread out all across his head. We remember Dodoria because there was something interesting about his design, he felt alien. While Zarbon’s regular form felt bland, his monster form created a unique dynamic for the character. One form is beautiful and elegant, while the other form is monstrous and hideous.

Tagoma looks like a bald guy painted his skin a light shade of purple and then put on a weird outfit. Even Ginyu had protrusions that erupted from his head to give a more alien-like design. Couple that with Ginyu’s bizarre mannerisms, and you have a character that’s not only memorable but someone you could grow attached to. Also, don’t worry, we’ll talk more about Super’s depiction of Ginyu a bit later. Regardless, Tagoma’s design is just awful.

I’m not saying that all the aliens in the series have to look unique or have some interesting quirk or ability. That being said, Dragon Ball Z had so unique aliens on it! Heck, even Dragon Ball GT had a fair bit of unique and bizarre aliens that appear in its introductory arc. A good example of this was the mechanical alien life-form known as Baby, I freaking loved that villain!

Sadly, other cast members don’t fair much better. Goku and Vegeta get new outfits, but they mostly remain the same aside from a few changes. The blue part of Goku’s outfit is now non-existent, and Vegeta’s outfit has had its blood parts replaced with grey. However, the outfits are still primarily the same, but they still lack the finesse once had. Toei also realized this, and had their outfits returned mostly to normal in subsequent arcs. I say mostly, because they still carry Whis’ symbol on them.

It’s not just redesigns and new characters that the show has a problem with, but also rehashed characters. I know I complained about rehashes earlier, but there was an entire arc dedicated to Goku and friends fighting in an alternate universe tournament. This arc was notorious for having characters who were just alternate versions of pre-established characters.

Frost is just a palette-swapped Frieza, Hit is essentially a purple version of Piccolo, and Champa is just a fatter version of Beerus. And yes, I know that both Champa and his assistant Vados are technically related to Beerus and Whis respectively. However, having a sibling relationship isn’t a super good excuse for bad character designs. Gohan and Goten were brothers as well, but you never saw them wearing near identical outfits did you? You could always tell Gohan apart from Goten! This may be a nitpick, but I just find the lack of unique and interesting designs to be annoying.

Side Problem#1: Over-Hyping and Click-Baiting

Let’s be real here, hype can destroy a good series. Sadly, the hype proceeding Super’s release did not help this show in the slightest. Now, I know that that sometimes the hype can get out of control, even beyond what the creator’s intend. However, the hype for Super was just out of control. The moment it was announced, the internet went insane. People were getting over-hyped for an anime that hadn’t had a new entry in over 2 decades.

It didn’t help that the series premiered just a few months after the last film came out. Super was basically riding off the hype bandwagon from the previous film, using it as a way to get its audience over-hyped. Unlike previous Dragon Ball series, the manga started at the same time as the anime did. This meant episodes were released in conjunction with the manga, which was even more annoying. The fact that the manga was being released at the same time basically made it pointless. Why read the manga when the anime was covering the same material at the exact same time, but in animated form?

The problem is that so much hype was surrounding this show from the start, despite its immensely rocky start. It doesn’t help that various sleazy click-bait sites are adding to the unnecessary hype train. I’m not going to name any names, since I don’t want to get in trouble with any particular new outlets. Still, I want to bring attention to this extremely awful practice. You see, what these sites are doing are posting descriptions of episodes that haven’t even come out yet in the title of their articles. They use this to mainly generate clicks and traffic for their site. It doesn’t help that most of these articles feel like they weren’t even written by fans of the anime or the medium as a whole. I know that click-baiting is legal, but it’s still sleazy to do this for a kids show.

It doesn’t help that it shows up as soon as you Google search “Dragon Ball Super”. This means that episodes will be spoiled for you by the description alone, and there’s no way to avoid them because they show up at the top of the search results. I recommend not giving these click-bait sites your traffic and just going through the Wikipedia search engine and cut out the middle-man. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it really goes against what the show is supposed to be about. It’s about a group of individuals who fight in order to save the people of their planet and restore peace, never asking for money or monetary gain. And here you have a bunch of sites, who are normally very well-known for providing popular content just using their descriptions in order to leach clicks.

The reason I listed this as a “side problem”, was due to personal preference. I doubt that click-baiting would get in the way of enjoying this show, and it doesn’t hurt the enjoyment factor that much for me. I just find it detestable that websites have been trying to bank off this show since the beginning, even when it started extremely bland. If a site wanted to post articles every 10 or 20 episodes, that’d be fine. It’s just a little too extreme. Hopefully, this evens out more next year and we have less click-baiting articles. Again, I have nothing against these sites personally. They put out fantastic articles and amazing content, but they could do a lot better with providing content to its reader base.

Problem #4: A Very Hole-y Plot

Plot holes and plot conveniences can cripple a good show, but they are especially bad when  they end up in a show that already has a lot of problems to begin with. To be fair, Akira Toriyama isn’t the best writer to begin with. A good example of this are plot elements that come out of nowhere, such as Goku having a brother and being an alien this whole time. Despite this, Dragon Ball Z was never a show people watched for the story to begin with. Likewise, Super isn’t going to be a show watched for it’s plot. Regardless, this show is littered with plot conveniences, plot holes, and inconsistencies.

For example, in one of the first few episode Beerus boasts that he killed all the dinosaurs on earth. However, the dinosaurs are still on earth and they have been there for countless years. It’s entirely possible Beerus wiped them out and they all just returned at some point, but a little expansion on that plot point would have been appreciated. There are various other ones, such as Ginyu’s powers working differently without explanation or the geography of the planet looking completely different for some reason.

Let’s be real here, Dragon Ball GT also had a fair bit of plot holes and inconsistencies. While GT had a fair bit of things that didn’t make sense, Super was much worse in this regard. Heck, the animators couldn’t even get Krillin’s height right, as he is now shorter than he was before. Couple inconsistencies like that with bad off-model character design and lackluster animation and you have a show that constantly bewilders its audience.

I know I shouldn’t complain so much about the plot in a series that has almost always been more focused on animation, but it’s not like Dragon Ball Z has ever had that complex of a story. Sure, the original Dragon Ball series had some pretty good plots, but there was never anything that was truly exceptional when it came to story-telling. The fact that Akira Toriyama fails at being able to tell a story, despite writing this series for many years is very telling.

Keep in mind, I’m still essentially a writer in training. I make mistakes, my paragraph spacing needs work, and I screw up my punctuation all the time. However, I can still look at the work of other writers and see what needs improving. Akira Toriyama has done some truly amazing work, but lacks the ability to tie a cohesive narrative to his works. I’m not saying that Akira Toriyama is a terrible person, it’s just that he has had decades to improve his writing and simply chose not to.

Summing It Up

Dragon Ball Super has a lot of problems, and I mean a lot! In this little rant / review I went over a lot of problems I had with the series. Keep in mind, that even though I think this show is pretty awful, I still watch and enjoy it. It’s entertaining and fun, at least in my opinion. I mean no offense to those who like or dislike it, this is merely my opinion. I love this show and want to see it get better, which is why I tear it apart so.

Now, I know it seems like I nitpicked a fair bit. This is true, but I feel want to get more of personal gripes out of the way before getting deeper into what I dislike about this show. Yeah, we’re only on part 1 of this rant! There will most likely be a part 2 and 3, though I don’t know when those will come out. I don’t want this to become a rant blog, but I feel like expressing a bit of negativity with something I feel could be improved is strangely therapeutic in a way.

I know that lots of hard work goes into making an animated series, but I feel that this show lacks visible effort. Now, I know that the show got really good as of late, especially with the new story arc that just started. That arc is fantastic, by the way! I’ll cover all the things I like about the show at the end of this series, as there are a fair bit of things I found entertaining. Again, this is all personal opinion. If you disagree, that’s perfectly fine. I respect everyone’s opinions and I can see why people like this show. Still, I want to continue with this series and continue expressing why I don’t like it. So, stay tuned for the next part in a few weeks to a month!

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