Dragon Ball Super 97

The tournament of power has finally begun! Despite some re-used animations and complete chaos, it’s a lot of fun.

“Survive! The Tournament of Power Begins At Last!!”

It’s really here. The great priest said begin, and it actually started! Fighting has commenced, officially! It feels like it’s been years of waiting (actually about 30 episodes since the Goku Black Arc finished, so like 8 months give or take?) and now we’re actually seeing it. I might be going overboard on the incredulity, but this the most filler-like material to date coming to a close. Seeing all the new faces and fighting styles is a big part to the excitement of this arc, and so far it’s working its magic. Too bad they’re all going to be erased (it’s unlikely), because this opens a lot of new possibilities for the series. On the other hand, it’s good that they’re all going to be erased (still unlikely), because this franchise has become hilariously bloated with its ever-expanding universe(s).

This review would not be complete without bringing up the current controversy surrounding Dragon Ball Super and the extreme number of animation shortcuts in this episode. Thanks to Twitter user @AnimeAjay, this video shows comparisons of a large amount of re-used animation from previous episodes and their place in this episode. It is a not insignificant amount. My greater issue with the animation for this tournament is that the background is so hilariously static that it requires zero animation during these fight scenes – it’s just the same void clouds on loop. There is some argument to be made that the training leading up to the tournament is paying off and the fighters are using the abilities that they practiced. The other side of it is that this is saving the animators for the big, important fights, and that re-used good animation is better than bad new animation. But it still feels a little cheap, considering that there is some good new animation on display.

Despite all this criticism, the episode itself is actually quite fun. Once things get underway, the action is consistent and engaging with different kinds of encounters interspersed throughout the chaos. Characters from each universe behave accordingly, following some expected tactics and, in the case of half of Universe 7, completely abandoning any strategy. In terms of setting the pace for the tournament to come, what we have here does a great job of it. We can probably expect to see lots of plotting and twists, plus the age-old standing around and staring at each other we all love so much! The pacing seems like the tournament could last quite a few episodes, considering it turned one minute of fight time in to about ten minutes of episode. If it sticks to that time-dilation, the tournament could take 24 episodes!

Episode Score
7.8/10 (Good)

Extra thoughts:

  • The Zen-oh-samas are going to have a seizure any minute now.
  • Fat R2-D2 is right, they shouldn’t have brought normal robots to a magical super powers fight among god-like beings.
  • Why the heck does Zen-oh need an iPad to keep track of this tournament? Actually, that kind of makes sense. They can play universal bingo.
  • This fight doesn’t seem like a good time to stay in your first form. I mean, none of the fights are, but this one even more so.
  • The gimmicky fighters are clearly going to be the first to go. Check out their one ability and then get rid of them is just smart writing, as it avoids repetition of their one gimmick. That means you, furry gimmick squad.
  • There’s a new ED! It’s quite good, and here are some screenshots!

Next time: “Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs!!”

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