5 Point Discussions – Dragon Ball Super 120

by Sage Ashford

The tournament heats up again as Universe 3 makes its play to eliminate the exhausted Universe 7!

Hello all and welcome back to 5 Point Discussions. I know it’s been awhile, but I had computer problems until just recently. That said, I’ll be getting us back up to speed on Super, Garo, Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond, Black Clover and Boruto soon enough. As for UQ Holder, since that series wrapped up, I’ll be doing something more definitive for it in order to bring it to a close. For now, let’s jump into Dragon Ball Super!

1. I owe all you readers an apology for ever saying Freiza was putting in work–even the show is acknowledging how close they are to wrapping this tournament up, and yet somehow he’s still on the sidelines, despite easily being one of the most powerful members of the team.

Personally, I was kind of hoping he’d be eliminated ages ago. Thematically it would’ve fit better if Frieza got eliminated trying to defeat Caulifla and Kale. Yeah, the Ultra Instinct Kamehameha wave is probably one of the sweetest anime moments of 2017, but we still could’ve done something like it without making Goku do everything. Caulifla and Kale cared enough about Cabba to mention his brave sacrifice, that would’ve been reason enough to face Frieza. His Golden Form would’ve overpowered them both separately, but not nearly enough to beat the fusion, and then they could’ve gotten eliminated in a two-on-two versus Goku and Vegeta. But y’know, just give Goku all the major fights, I guess.

2. I definitely haven’t changed my opinion on Androids 17 and 18 though; they’re a joy to watch in every episode where they get real focus. This week, they eliminate one of the remaining fighters of Universe 3, a massive, armored alien who’s high defensive capabilities lead to him developing a strategy only he could employ: since most warriors run out of energy before they can crack his shell, he can wait until his opponent tires out and unleash his own devastating attacks due to his huge size. Unfortunately for him, 17 and 18 have infinite reserves of stamina, and their endless barrage of energy attacks result in his armor cracking under sustained pressure.

I love how consistent this series has been with their powers–time and again, 17 and 18 have made themselves useful, taking advantage of their android nature to serve as the hidden powerhouses of Universe 7.

3. It should surprise no one that Universe 3’s secret weapon is a giant combiner robot. The inspiration for most of the major competitors in this tournament have come from a wide range of anime tropes. Universe 2 was an ode to mahou shoujo/magical girl.  Universe 11 is Super Sentai (or Power Rangers) with their poses, team-based attacks, and their focus on saving the universe.  Now Universe 3 emerges as a team pulling from the Super Robot side of the mecha genre, right down to an old-school genius professor who built all the robots.

They give an exhausted Universe 7 a brief run for their money before one member steps up, but more on that later. Right now, I just want to say how disappointed I am in this robot. It’s almost literally just the originals stacked atop one another. There’s no style or flair to their combination sequence, so there’s no reason to really root for them without knowing their background.

4. Gohan fans, this is your moment. Realizing Goku and Vegeta are exhausted from doing most of the work during the tournament, Gohan steps up to the plate in a big way this week.  There’s even a “Saiyan pride” moment where Goku and Vegeta block for him long enough for a powerful final attack, and it’s probably the most satisfying thing I’ve seen involving this character in a long, long while. I’d been apart of the people who didn’t support the direction Gohan was going in for years. He’s perpetually the third most relevant guy in a series where even the second most relevant guy is consistently shit on and appears useless most of the time, an unfortunate side effect of being forced to bend the knee to editorial whims time and again.

But as much as I hate the Goku Black saga (fight me), it finally put me at peace with Gohan’s gradual stepping away from battle. For me that process started when Future Trunks went back in time to get help against Goku Black, and he visited Adult Gohan in the hopes of getting his help along with Goku and Vegeta. In that episode, it was obvious that Trunks wanted to ask for help immediately, but…there was something wrong. Gohan looked softer, he’d lost the killer edge he had when he defeated Cell. At first, you saw the disappointment in Trunks, but then he started to remember things about his old mentor.

He recalled how his Gohan wanted to be a scholar, before two heartless androids ripped his world to shreds and forced him to become that world’s last hope. It was a role that he took on without complaint, but it never quite fit him the way it did his father, and he died without ever achieving what he set out to do in saving the world.  Seeing this version of Gohan, a man who had finally walked away from the world of fists and blood in order to become a husband, a father, and a scholar…Trunks finds himself unable to drag Gohan  from the happiness that his mentor was never permitted to have. That was meant to close the book on Gohan, a character who always possessed the ability to fight, but never the desire.

…But then we get to this arc and tossed it all way because “LOL, who needs character progression, let’s fire beams at each other”, but I’m not too upset. If Clark Kent can raise a family and be a superhero, Gohan can do the same. And this arc has been gradually building him up to acceptable levels, finally leading us here: Gohan holding off an entire universe of fighters on his own. We may not ever get SSJ2 Gohan circa the Cell Saga again, but I think the writers have acknowledged the fans’ desires to see him return, and delivered as best they could.

5. Next Episode: Refusing to go down, Universe 3 has played its final trump card!  Doctor Paparoni (…Really?  Are they sure?) merges with his creations in order to put an end to Universe 7 once and for all?  Can the exhausted warriors triumph? 

Things have wound down to the very last ten minutes of the tournament. With only thirteen warriors left, it’s seeming like Universe 3 may go down without taking down much of Universe 7’s fighters at all. I’m still rooting for Universe 11 to take it, even though the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in their favor, as its only a matter of time before Goku figures out Ultra Instinct and the group’s already outnumbered.

Dragon Ball Super is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.