With Dragon Ball Super coming to an end after 131 episodes, five story arcs, and two mini-arcs, it’s time we took a look back on the sequel that came seemingly out of nowhere. Beginning with Battle of Gods in 2013, Dragon Ball’s revival has been an unforgettable journey filled with ups and downs. We’ve suffered through horrible animation, been graced with the most creative video games in the franchise, and welcomed more new merchandise than ever before. Seemingly running on a never ending tank of nostalgia, Dragon Ball Super has been milking the series for everything it’s worth.
As fun as it’s been, and it genuinely has been fun, DBS hasn’t been the most graceful follow up. The original series had problems, sure, but it had an artistic identity, a vision. Toriyama wrote and drew Dragon Ball on a weekly basis for ten years. For all its faults, it was still a work of art that reflected Toriyama’s mastery of his craft. Written by committee with only a brief outline from Toriyama to lead the way, Super brought with it problems the original series didn’t have and exaggerated the issues it did have. It’s a fun anime with plenty to enjoy, but it’s also a bit of a mess.
25 Goku’s Track Record Is Worse Than Ever
Goku losing to Beerus at the end of Battle of Gods is one of the most refreshing endings to a story the franchise has ever had. Despite attaining a new transformation, the main villain could not be defeated. While a novel ending, Super seems to have taken quite a liking to the format, refusing to give Goku a single, definitive win against the anime’s new villains. The man who had one of the best win rates in Dragon Ball now has one of the worst.
If Goku loses to Jiren, he’ll have lost against every main villain.
Goku loses every fight in Battle of Gods, does not defeat Freeza in Resurrection F without Whis’ assistance, only wins one match in the Universe 6 tournament, and cannot defeat Zamasu or Goku Black on his own. If Goku loses to Jiren, he’ll have lost against every main villain. Dragon Ball Super effectively took a creative ending that helped develop series’ core themes and ran it into the ground. It’s not refreshing if Goku loses all the time. It’s just boring.
24 The Continued Tarnishing Of Freeza’s Legacy
As fun as Freeza’s been in the Tournament of Power, the overall handling of his character has been poor to say the least. In the original series, Freeza was the naturally strongest antagonist in the universe. The Androids were modified, Cell was a science project gone wrong, and Majin Buu was a magical being with a questionable background. That leaves Freeza as the strongest, naturally born villain the heroes ever had the displeasure of squaring off against.
Freeza’s role is so influential that he’s used as a benchmark in the Android arc and referenced by Kaioshin as a galactic danger during the Buu saga. Come Super, however, all tension involving Freeza is gone. Resurrection F is basically a play date that Beerus and Whis can break up should things go south (which they did,) and Freeza can be subdued by Goku during the Universe Survival arc should be out of line. Freeza has a more active role in Super than he’s ever had, but it’s at the expense of the legacy associated with the character.
23 Toppo The Destroyer: Good Concept, Awful Execution
Toppo becoming a God of Destruction by betraying his ideals is one of the best conceptual developments for a character in the entire series. After spending an entire arc going on about justice, Toppo decides he can no longer fight for justice, instead embracing a destructive power that goes against everything he once stood for. On paper, this should make Toppo one of the most compelling characters in Dragon Ball. In execution, however, very little is done with this ideological shift.
Slowing the plot down to make an intimate episode where Toppo struggles with his rejection of justice would have been an excellent payoff to Toppo. We know how much he loves justice, so seeing him struggle with accepting his role as a destroyer would allow us to further sympathize with him. What we got, however, was a destruction crazed Toppo who barely resembles his previous personality. There’s no real buildup, which makes the entire transformation unfortunately underwhelming.
22 Goku’s Characterization
Goku is not a superhero. He doesn’t save people just because and his main priority in life is to fight strong opponents so he can get stronger. This does not mean he isn’t heroic, however. Goku cares about his friends and he will fight on behalf of others should he feel they need him. While he doesn’t seek out being a hero, he doesn’t reject heroic responsibilities when they come up. It’s also worth mentioning, Goku isn’t as dumb as he seems. He’s actually quite a dynamic character, but you wouldn’t get that from just watching Super.
Dragon Ball Super has played up Goku’s naivety and heroiclessness to an extreme.
For whatever reason, Dragon Ball Super has played up Goku’s naivety and heroiclessness to an extreme. He doesn’t know that people kiss on the lips, he wasn’t around for Gohan’s birth, and his actions are incredibly selfish at times, more than he was ever depicted to be in the original series. He was immature at times, but he was also wise. His character has gotten better in this last arc, but the first half of Super flanderized Goku way too much.
21 Jiren Is The Blandest Villain In The Entire Series
Let’s not mince words here, Jiren is boring. Underdesigned, devoid of personality, and the most overt obstacle Goku has ever faced in the series, Jiren stands out poorly in a franchise where characters, both good and bad, stand out as fairly developed and defined. Jiren’s one defining feature is that he’s just strong. This is rare for villains, every main antagonist has been defined by their strength, but they had other traits to give them actual personalities.
King Piccolo was obsessed with being evil, Vegeta was a pride obsessed prince with a fragile ego, Freeza was sarcastic and sadistic, Cell was conniving and narcissistic, and Majin Buu was effectively a child with no concept of right or wrong. Jiren is strong. That’s it. All his actions are defined by his sheer strength, and that’s incredibly boring.
20 The Retelling Of Battles Of Gods
What was easily the best part of Dragon Ball’s revival became one of the worst stretches in Dragon Ball Super. Battle of Gods was a film that, at most, could have been broken down into around five or six episodes. In that amount of time, the plot could be expanded while also keeping the pace intact. When it came time to retell the movie for Dragon Ball Super, Toei stretched the plot out for fourteen episodes. Naturally, this hurts the arc more than it helps.
Toei stretched the plot out for fourteen episodes.
Battle of Gods thrived on its brisk pace and clear three act structure. Beerus is introduced and defeats Goku, Vegeta tries to keep Beerus in check on Earth, and then Goku has his final showdown with Beerus where he loses. All this is accomplished in an hour and forty-five minutes. By stretching the story out, the action feels halted and stiff. Vegeta spends far too long appeasing Beerus and the final fight drags where it once didn’t. The less said about the horrendous animation, the better.
19 Vegeta’s Regression As A Character
Vegeta’s been getting an awful lot of praise for his character development in Dragon Ball Super, which is fine as his relationship with Cabba is refreshing, but his character regression from the end of the original series deserves to be acknowledged. At the end of the Buu arc, Vegeta has completely reconciled his rivalry with Goku. He finally admits to himself that Goku is stronger, ending their rivalry on a satisfying note. After years of obsessing over him, Vegeta finally frees himself from living in Goku’s shadow.
Then Dragon Ball Super starts and basically ignores all of Vegeta’s development at the end of DBZ. What’s especially frustrating is that the film versions of Battle of Gods and Resurrection F don’t dwell on Vegeta’s feeling towards Goku as a rivalry. They’re equals by the second movie, but it’s still clear Vegeta isn’t as intent on surpassing Goku like he used to be. DBS brings that trait back, regressing a part of Vegeta that has no right returning.
18 Gohan’s Character Arc (Or Lack Thereof)
As one of Dragon Ball Z’s main characters, you would think Gohan would play a more active role in Super. He does very little in Battle of Gods, is made a mockery of in Resurrection F, doesn’t participate in the Universe 6 or Goku Black arcs, and has very little character work in the Tournament of Power despite playing a major role. It’s frustrating to see so little of Gohan, but it does make sense considering he has one of the clearest character arcs in DBZ. The problem is Toei trying to force a new arc for him without following up on it.
Gohan has constantly been portrayed as someone who needs to get back in shape. He’s mentioned his desire to train with Piccolo again, but never ever comes of it until the Tournament of Power. When we get to the ToP, Gohan seems to reflect on the nature of erasing other universes, but this isn’t followed up on, at all. He’s setup interesting arcs, but nothing ever happens with him.
17 Frost: Diet Freeza
Frost could have been so much more than he ended up being. Introduced as a good version of Freeza, Frost was our first sign that things would be different for Universe 6. He’s kind, polite, and a genuine hero in his universe. When Goku fights him, we’re even supposed to sympathize with Frost to an extent. All that is thrown out the window, however, when Frost cheats and reveals himself to be a warmonger just as bad as Freeza.
Frost being a genuine hero would have meant him losing early to Goku, but it would have kept him interesting.
While he may not commit genocide, Frost rigs wars on planets so that he can show up and liberate them. By creating conflict, Frost can solve his universe’s issues and establish himself as a hero. Needless to say, it’s a disappointing twist. The idea of a good Freeza is an excellent. Frost being a genuine hero would have meant him losing early to Goku, but it would have kept him interesting. At it stands, he’s basically a sugar-free Freeza.
16 The Retelling Of Resurrection F
Dragon Ball Super’s retelling of Resurrection F might genuinely be the worst story arc in the series since the entirety of Dragon Ball GT. Already a problematic film with some pacing issues in the last act, Toei drags the movie out for fourteen episodes, yet again, to cannibalize a movie that actually could have benefited from a retelling. Ginyu is thrown in for no reason, Gotenks shows up to slow the once well paced second act to a crawl, and Goku’s fight against Freeza is horrifically animated. The only saving grace is that Vegeta’s beatdown of Freeza still looks great but, even then, the film version looked better.
15 Goten And Trunks Do Nothing For Five Arcs
Remember Goten and Trunks? Toei sure doesn’t. After playing prominent roles in the Buu saga and starring in the key fight during the JSAT special, Goten and Trunks have been reduced to glorified background characters in Dragon Ball Super. While they participate quite often in filler episodes, they play virtually no role together during the individual story arcs.This isn’t a problem exclusive to the Super anime, either. Both the manga and the two films effectively ignore their characters in favor of others.
Just look at how they’re handled from the Universe 6 tournament onwards. It’s especially jarring in the Goku Black arc where it would make sense for both of them to appear often. The main villain looks exactly like Goku and Future Trunks is back. It’s a perversion of the Goten and Trunks friendship in many ways, but only Kid Trunks appears. Even with his appearances, he plays a very minor role despite this being the perfect opportunity to develop his character.
14 Vegeta’s Dominance During The Universe 6 Tournament
The Universe 6 tournament has a lot of problems, but few are as bad as Vegeta’s total domination of Universe 6. Despite being a five on five tournament with a rotation that would naturally lend itself to a variety of creative fights, Vegeta ends up fighting four of Universe 6’s opponents. This is all mainly because Piccolo frustratingly forfeits his match against Frost so Vegeta can jump in and have his chance early.
In no world should Vegeta fight 80% of a team.
In having Piccolo drop out, Vegeta ends up fighting Frost, Magetta, Cabba, and Hit. Keep in mind, Buu was supposed to be a part of the tournament but ultimately didn’t participate. Vegeta’s a good character and deserves some limelight, but this tournament went too far with him. In no world should Vegeta fight 80% of a team. It’s an unfortunate imbalance that stripped us away of some potentially great battles.
13 The Tournament Of Power’s Abrupt End
For an arc that’s really slowed the plot down to focus on the minorest of minor characters, the Tournament of Power is coming to a surprisingly sudden end. While a lot can happen in just a few episodes, it honestly doesn’t feel like Goku’s last match with Jiren will get the attention it deserves. Of course, they fought earlier in the arc which helps reconcile their final bout, but that also leaves the resolution’s pacing up in the air.
It’s hard to see how the last episode will be satisfying.
One of them (read: Goku) is going to win the tournament and grant their wish on the Super Dragon Balls. The problem is the amount of time left to give us a proper ending and satisfying conclusion. We know that the fight with Jiren lasts up to 130, the penultimate episode, which means the last episode will be dedicated to the resolution of the arc. Dragon Ball Super has never been very content heavy on an episode to episode basis, however, so it’s hard to see how the last episode will be satisfying. For the final arc of the series, Super’s end feels very haphazard.
12 Super Saiyan: Every Color Or The Rainbow
Super Saiyan God, while not the most creative form on paper, was a breath of fresh air the series was very much in need of to kickstart its revival. Instead of beefing up with blond hair, Super Saiyan God actually slimmed Goku down. Not only that, it didn’t make his hair any spikier, opting to keep his classic look. Along with the red aura, SSG invokes feelings of Kaioken, arguably Goku’s first major transformation. It’s a refreshing form that came at the right time with the right context.
You can justify the recoloring, but it’s hard to deny that it’s starting to feel lazy.
Super Saiyan Blue, Rosé, and Ultra Instinct are different stories altogether. Blue was actually fine initially when Toriyama intended it to be the only form Goku and Vegeta were to use, but the Universe 6 tournament shot that down immediately. Rosé, while aesthetically pleasing, doesn’t really make sense and feels more like merchandise bait. Toriyama literally just traced the Super Saiyan God concept art for Ultra Instinct’s mastered form. You can justify the recoloring, but it’s hard to deny that it’s starting to feel lazy.
11 The Waste Of Buu
Majin Buu, just like Goten, Trunks, and Gohan, is wasted in Dragon Ball Super. Unlike the three half-breeds, however, Buu never really had the chance to become a main character on account of being introduced as the main villain of the original series’ last story arc. Theoretically, as a sequel, Super would be the perfect place to explore Buu’s character, develop him, and maybe even make him a proper main character. The problem? Dragon Ball Super is too reliant on nostalgia.
To make Buu a main character would mean to upgrade him from the supporting cast the ended the series on. The last fight of DBZ involved Goku and Vegeta so, naturally, they became our main characters. Other characters have come back in the limelight, but Buu was introduced so late that the nostalgia also doesn’t work in his favor. Now, I don’t think Buu deserves a whole arc dedicated to himself, but it would have been nice to see him get the Android 17 treatment.
10 Tien’s Poor Performance In The Tournament Of Power
For a story arc that loves paying homage to the original series and drowning in its own nostalgia, the Tournament of Power was honestly pretty cruel to Tien. Krillin had a graceful exit, Roshi got multiple episodes dedicated to himself, and every other member of the team made it to the second half. Tien Shinhan, though? He got knocked out in a bad episode that barely even focused on him. Of all the characters in Universe 7’s roster, Tien is the one who’s been the most disrespected by the ToP.
It’s especially frustrating because it seems the writers have forgotten that Tien is actually quite the talented martial artist. He actually beat Goku in the 22nd Budokai, and was the second strongest hero from his introduction to the start of the Saiyan saga. In Super, though, he’s basically bald Yamcha. Which is another issue in and of itself since neither character was looked down upon so blatantly in the original series.
9 Merged Zamasu: A Boring End To An Interesting Villain
Zamasu and Goku Black feel like characters from an entirely different series at times. They’re sadistic, introspective, and arguably right in their desire to wipe out all mortals. They’re extreme antagonists who want to commit universal genocide, but their motivations are presented in a way where the audience can sympathize and understand their goal. Dragon Ball has never been shy to complex characters, but Zamasu and Goku Black are easily the most dynamic villains when it comes to motivation and backstory.
Cue Merged Zamasu. Who was once two interesting characters suddenly became one boring, overdone villain. His demeanor became manic revealing just how over the top his goals actually were, and his personality was flushed down the toilet in favor of the “I am a god” nonsense you can find in any JRPG. Merged Zamasu feels like a character from an entirely different series, and not a particularly good one.
8 Piccolo’s Pathetic Treatment During The Universe 6 Tournament
The Universe 6 Tournament has a serious issue when it comes to character balancing. Vegeta gets four fights while poor Piccolo gets one mediocre battle against Frost where Goku straight up tells him he doesn’t have a chance at winning. Honestly, there’s no actual reason why Piccolo had to only have one fight and lose. Vegeta’s fight against Magetta could have easily been given to Piccolo. There’s also no reason why Piccolo couldn’t have legitimately beaten Frost.
Honestly, there’s no actual reason why Piccolo had to only have one fight and lose.
Simply tweak the events a bit so that Goku wears Frost down enough for Piccolo to knock him out. Of course, that would mean not having Vegeta take out a Freeza look alike, but Piccolo deserves a legitimate win more than Vegeta deserves some catharsis. Even if Piccolo lost the very next match after Frost, it would have been significantly better than having him forfeit his win so Vegeta could punch Frost once.
7 Trunk’s Pseudo-Blue Form
If anyone deserved a new form during the Goku Black arc, it was Trunks. He suffered non-stop at the ends of Zamasu, lost his mother, and had his entire timeline erased. When Trunks triggers his Super Saiyan Blue-esque transformation at the end of the arc, it should be a big, triumphant moment. Unfortunately, it has virtually no buildup and basically defies all the established logic behind God Ki.
It really is a shame, because it’s conceptually a great idea that has a fair deal of emotional payoff in regards to Trunks’ arc. Without the necessary setup, however, it comes off awkward and frustrating. It also doesn’t occur in the manga which likely means it’s a Toei fabrication to keep Trunks active in the final battle. It’s nice they wanted to give Trunks his due diligence, but they really should have at least tried to build up to the transformation. At least it isn’t as jarring as the Genki Dama Sword.
6 The Tournament Of Power Recruitment Arc
Tired of telling a well-paced story? Want to slow your anime down with poorly written content that may as well be filler? Boy, do I have a story arc for you. As has become tradition with Dragon Ball Super, the end of the Future Trunks arc gave us a considerable amount of spice of life episodes before starting up the Universe Survival arc. The difference with this chunk of pseudo-filler, however, was that it transitioned into a mini-arc that suspiciously still felt like filler. Probably because it was filler.
In the anime, Goku spends 18 episodes recruiting Universe 7’s roster.
In the manga, the recruitment only takes roughly three chapters. In the anime, Goku spends 18 episodes recruiting Universe 7’s roster. The anime has always been known for slowing plot down, which worked in the case of the Saiyan saga, but the slowdown here feels grueling. One episode for each character would have more than sufficed. What’s worse, the recruitment setup story elements that wouldn’t be followed up on and took away 18 episodes of content that would have been better spent fleshing out the other universes or offering us a satisfying epilogue to Super.
5 The Goku Black Arc’s Ending
The ending to the Goku Black arc is bold. Perhaps too bold, honestly. Downer endings aren’t exactly new to the series, but the Goku Black arc goes quite far with its conclusion. Instead of giving the heroes some sort of hope to cling to, Super erases Trunks’ timeline, confirms it’ll never come back, and strands him in a new, alternate timeline where he has to coexist another Trunks. It’s a dark shift for the series that could very well hit hard, but it isn’t handled with the most grace.
Despite Trunks’ entire timeline facing erasure, the characters don’t lament on this nearly as much as they should. His timeline is technically the original, untouched timeline and it’s wiped out along with his entire universe. Trunks does grieve, but it doesn’t seem like anybody cares all that much. Case in point, Whis offers to send Trunks to a brand new timeline where he already exists and it’s presented as a good alternative instead of the morbid compromise it really is.
4 Time Travel Returns And It’s Just As Confusing
If you thought time travel was hard to understand in Dragon Ball Z, get ready for how convoluted it becomes in Super. Originally, the timelines were not on a parallel plane. When Trunks went back to the past in DBZ, he didn’t need to wait three years to travel back for his second visit, just eight months. In Super, though, this has been changed to both timelines sharing a passage of time. If an hour passes in Goku’s timeline, Trunks also experiences an hour, effectively contradicting the earlier use of time travel in Z.
Along with this change, Super introduces a new concept where changing the date or time on the time machine creates a new timeline basically meaning Trunks’ second visit in DBZ could not have happened since he would have only gone back eight months after he originally left instead of three years. Time rings are also brought into play which come into existence each time a new timeline is created, but they serve little purpose outside of letting Zamasu jump between timelines.
3 Vegetto’s Return Is Shameless Fanservice
There are many kinds of fanservice present in Dragon Ball Super. Goku getting his trademark Gi back after the Universe 6 tournament is harmless fanservice. Future Trunks returning after so many years is welcome fanservice. The potara fusion being retconned to only last an hour so Goku and Vegeta can fuse into Vegetto is disgusting, shameless fanservice that does absolutely nothing to benefit the Goku Black arc.
Vegetto is disgusting, shameless fanservice
What does Vegetto actually accomplish against Merged Zamasu? Absolutely nothing. For good reason, too. Toriyama never intended Vegetto to return. Until Toyotaro suggested the return of fusion, the arc’s final battle would have had Goku and Vegeta take Merged Zamasu on themselves. By tossing Vegetto into the mix, it makes the erasure of Trunks’ timeline all the more frustrating. Even with an overpowered fusion, our heroes still lost. Were it just Goku and Vegeta, it would have at least been believable.
2 Universe 7’s Continued Dominance
If there’s one thing that justifies the manga’s shockingly slow existence, it’s how Toei approached the battle royale aspect of the Tournament of Power. Instead of making it a proper battle royale where there’s an even distribution of knockouts among the eight universes, Universe 7 simply dominates the entire tournament, racking up more eliminations than every other universe combined. While the main characters were inevitably going to take center stage, it is disappointing to see Toei put them in a position where they’re hardly ever in real danger as a group.
The other universes have powerful opponents, but their feats don’t even come close to matching U7’s. Hit and Jiren make things tense, but they don’t actually go around knocking people off or eliminating universes. There’s a lot of potential that can be done with a battle royale, but the anime just isn’t being creative with the premise. Thankfully, the manga’s already changed much about the arc. Here’s hoping Toyotaro can salvage something readable from the Tournament of Power.
1 Vegeta’s New Super Saiyan Blue Form
While we won’t know for sure until the manga gets to it, Vegeta’s new form does feel like a Toei invention ala Trunks’ Super Saiyan Blue-hybrid. With virtually no build up, Vegeta got a new transformation in an arc all about Goku mastering Ultra Instinct and, honestly, it’s not all that great. Conceptually, sure, give Vegeta a new form, but maybe don’t do it in the same storyline where Goku is putting everything on the line to trigger UI whenever he needs it.
Honestly, it’s not all that great.
Aesthetically, the darker blue isn’t doing Vegeta any favors. It would have actually paired nicely with his Resurrection F armor, but the Cell saga armor clashes with the color scheme. There’s also the ambiguity of how strong it actually is. It seems to be about on par with Goku’s Kaioken-Blue, but it also should be stronger since Vegeta fought equally with GoD Toppo. Hopefully the manga will omit the form entirely and just give Vegeta UI down the road, but only time will tell.