I wasn’t going to talk about Dragon Ball again this soon after spending a full week talking about GT, but I just caught the latest chapter of the Dragon Ball Super manga and felt compelled to say something about it. Especially considering it begins to delve into new story lines after the Broly movie. I don’t want to be in danger of purely being a Dragon Ball blogger, but hey, write about what you love.
Previously, I spoke about how I feel the manga’s version of the Tournament of Power story arc lacked the intensity, the drama or the pure hype of the anime, despite actually being a better told version of events from a storytelling perspective.
Tournament ends in Victory
The first half go this chapter finally deals with the events ending the tournament, and much like the previous chapters, it makes a number of changes to the way things play out, mostly for the better.
It details the final confrontation of Goku and Vegeta against Jiren. We get a more coherent reveal of Jiren’s backstory, as well as the reason behind the way Jiren behaves. It also portrays the plan of Freeza and Android #17 taking out Jiren being much more premeditated than we realised. Which is both cool, but also kind of a bummer.
It also does the standard clean up duty; making sense of the logical inconsistencies we got from the anime. For example, #17 points out ridiculous the notion of him blowing himself up was when Krillin used the Dragon Balls to remove his bomb at the end of the Cell Saga.
Not just that, it made Vegeta feel a lot more important to events, especially compared to the anime. In which he really got the shaft in terms of his contributions towards the final events of the arc. The fact that he and Goku fight incredibly well together, as a united force felt earned, as it’s the thing Whis had been drumming into them all along. Something that never relay amounts to anything in the anime.
At least not yet anyway.
The manga though, it just lacks… something. The final, post Ultra Instinct battle with Jiren was one of my highlight moments of the entire Super series. Let’s ignore the fact it was one of the best animated sequences in the entire series, along with a killer piece of music: the battle was desperate, it felt triumphant. After so many episodes of detailing that tournament, the final felt climactic, like a release.
The manga, it simply lacks all of that. The winning tactic, it felt clinical, underhanded. Which works fantastically for the character executing it. But from a storytelling standpoint, I felt blue balled. Goku and Vegeta were ultimately never strong enough to defeat Jiren, as they probably weren’t in the anime. But in that version of events, there was a feeling of last ditch, desperation. In the manga, I kind of feel bad for Jiren getting screwed over.
It’s difficult to know how to feel about it. No doubt the manga tells the story far better. But it just lacks that over the top anime hype that had me buzzing for days after seeing it. Maybe it’s just a inevitable factor of the medium, and the reason I don’t often read the manga for anime I enjoy.
After this get a time skip, a single panel that let’s us know that the Broly movie happened, with no lasting consequences apparently. As Goku and Vegeta meet up to train at the beginning of the next arc.
I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything overly dramatic to happen as a result of the movie. It’s just another example of Dragon Ball undercutting its own stakes and tension.
Galactic Patrol Arc
We don’t get very far into the next arc, but it already does some things I’m interested in. It involves both the Galactic Patrol and Majin Buu getting taken away by their #1 agent: Merus, who is apparently a huge bad ass.
He’s able to take out both Goku and Vegeta with a single shot of his blaster pistol. Without any shenanigans. Maybe the two were vastly underestimating the Galactic Patrol and were taken by surprise. I don’t know, but both Goku and Vegeta are so catastrophically powerful at this point that it’s always surprising to me that someone from within their own universe can manage to get the drop on them like this.
The patrol need Buu because a dangerous criminal has escaped and they need the aid of the previous Supreme Kai, the fat and jolly one Majin Buu absorbed millions of years ago which resulted in the fat “good” Buu.
I am really happy with this turn of events so far. One of the things about Dragon Ball that kind of irks me, and many fans like me, is that it rarely revisits things. It just adds more lore, piling it all on top of what came before, meaning that the likelihood of continuity problems and retcons all the more common.
The fact that the manga is not only doing something with the Galactic Patrol, but also revisiting a relatively minor (but potentially important) character from the manga’s past, it’s great, it’s obvious the manga is being written by someone who cares about and understands the lore of Dragon Ball a lot more deeply than the collective writing team at Toei, and maybe Toriyama himself to some extent.
I wonder if this story arc is just exclusive to the manga? or if this is going to be the next story in the anime when it (presumably) starts again next year. It makes me hopeful, that the anime has a solid, well written manga to base its events on again. I have a lot of faith in Toyotarō to really revitalise Dragon Ball after a very uneven revival in Dragon Ball Super’s anime. I am really excited for the movie and whatever comes next after it.