I think Lord Beerus said it best; Like Goku, the Dragon Ball Super Manga can’t stick a landing for its life. While I’ll admit that the ending to the Moro/Galactic Patrol arc hasn’t been the worst Super has produced, it does carry the same old problems as the other story arc’s in the series. Mainly in that, it loses its primary antagonist as a character along in the mix.
While Moro started off the story as a unique and interesting villain, it seemed inevitable that he would simply blend into the background by the time his story was over.
It’s tough for Dragon Ball to create newer and even more threatening villains for Goku and friends to contend with as the stakes for the series continue to blow past the scale of Gods and threats on a multiversal scale. It has an escalation problem for sure. Although, when it came to the creation of Moro, they managed to cook up a villain whose presence both made sense and gave him a set of powers that made him a legitimate threat to our heroes outside of simple power scaling.
When Moro is first introduced, we see him as this ancient, immortal warlock, one it took the combined efforts of the Galactic Patrol and the Supreme Kais to contain the first time he was at large. Not dangerous purely because he was strong, like every other Dragon Ball villain before him, but because he possessed powerful magic that made the very act of fighting him extremely difficult.
Which is demonstrated perfectly in his first fight with Vegeta on New Namek. While still in a severely reduced state, Moro fights against Vegeta using telekinesis, by manipulating the life energy of the planet itself to cause ki blasts and fire to erupt from the ground and by absorbing energy from both the planet and his opponents to both weaken them and strengthen himself.
Which made the direction and the outcome of the fight a nice surprise and real warning sign of how dangerous Moro could be. While the goat man was not as physically powerful as Goku and Vegeta, he ended up getting the better of them using trickery and unconventional attacks. Which meant he was an opponent they couldn’t beat with raw strength, in theory anyway. It did make him a very different antagonist in that we’d seen before in Dragon Ball at least in that regard.
Things start to take a worrying turn for the character though when we learn of his objective, which is just about as shallow a goal as any bad guy could want. Which isn’t really saying a whole lot in terms of Dragon Ball villains I suppose. It seems like Moro’s only obsession is to become more powerful, eventually becoming the most powerful being in existence. Which would also inevitably mean he would be the sole remaining being left in existence given his power work absorbing the life energy of those around him.
Outside of that, he does have a bit of a grudge against the Grand Supreme Kai, but that’s about the extent of his ill will towards any one person. It’s a rivalry that starts and ends with Moro’s overcoming of him at the end of this battle on Namek. After which they never meet again.
With Goku and Vegeta’s initial defeat, which results in Moro regaining his full magical powers from the Dragon Balls and then releasing his army of minions from Galactic Prison, everyone backs off and we get a period of training, for both the heroes and Moro himself to an extent. During this time, Moro travels from planet to planet and devours them in their entirety. Which means that by the time he comes into conflict with the heroes again, he has become immeasurably powerful.
Which sucks considering his powers were already too much for the stubborn Saiyans when he was in a reduced state. Given their insistence on fighting him using conventional tactics, Moro just plays into their hands when they fight again. As Moro became more powerful his appearance also changes, making him seem younger, also less interesting in my opinion. The gnarled old Goat-man was a cool look, but as he gets younger and sleeker, the uniqueness of his design is reduced.
As is his unique way of fighting. After having absorbed the energy of countless planets, Young Moro has become physically powerful enough that he ends up spending much more of his time fighting in a more conventional manner. Which far less interesting than what he was doing before. Like Freeza back in Z; while Moro has no combat training, he is just physically powerful enough to match up with the heroes. But this isn’t the last time he’ll forgo his unique traits to simply ripoff other Dragon Ball villains of the past.
With many of his unique traits squashed down out of sight, he becomes much of a focus in the story. With the big question being whether our heroes can do anything to counter him and his magic, initially based around whether Goku can re-attain Ultra Instinct again or not. Something he ultimately fails to do. It’s during this part of this story that Vegeta returns to save Goku in a very welcome reversal of the standard formula. Using his new Forced Spirit Fission technique, Vegeta uses Moro’s own powers in reverse and sends them back to where they came.
This would have been a relatively satisfying ending to the story for me. Moro and Vegeta had much more of chemistry in their antagonism towards one another. Goku hardly talks to Moro during the fight on Namek. Having Vegeta pull one last trick in Moro and finally getting a win would have been a welcome one for me. However, Vegeta saving the day is simply never meant to be and so Moro continues.
It’s with the conclusion of this battle that Moro starts to take on Majun Buu levels of just pulling transformations out of his backside. After absorbing the android Seven-Three, he changes his appearance once again. Taking on a look that I’ve seen every people describe as Cell envy. It’s at this point that pretty much every unique aspect of Moro’s design is pretty much gone, replaced with bits and pieces pulled from the Dragon Ball stock character bin.
It makes me wonder; in the future, when Moro is inevitably portrayed in video games, which version of him is going to appear. This being his “final form”, it seems the most likely that it’d be this humanoid version of him we’d be getting in games like FighterZ. And that bums me out no end, Moro’s design gets progressively less interesting every time it changes (planet merging notwithstanding).
At the very least, I want to remember Moro as the goat man he was, not the Cell clone he ended up becoming.
Along with his new design, Moro’s character ceases to be a real factor in the story. Now, he’s simply the all-powerful force again that the heroes need to band together to defeat. The moments we focus on and will remember from this arc by the end are Merus’s sacrifice, Tailed Beast Mode Goku and Uub becoming important again. Even Moro’s own moments in the story are overshadowed by Goku’s moronic questioning of if he ever trained and then giving him a chance to repent and go back to prison.
Things that he did to both Cell and Freeza previously.
At which point Moro, who never even comes close to repeating or thinking anything he ever did might have been wrong, gains one more transformation by absorbing Merus’s power and getting an approximation of Ultra Instinct. Which overloads his brain and causes him to turn into a gibbering wreck of a broken mind. Any semblance of character or personality he had to begin with, now long gone in favour of simply making him a force that needs to be simply overcome.
It’s a shame really. Moro was a character who seemed like he could been incredibly unique in both his perspective and his abilities but ended up getting progressively less interesting as he developed throughout the story. Replacing his original array of abilities and making him just another powerhouse.
He was a villain whose most interesting traits at the time of his introduction were his design and his abilities, both of which seemed to disappear for a good chunk of the story until the very last struggle where things arguably went off the rails a little bit.
The biggest failing of Moro by his end was that he was ultimately a very shallow character. While he had a history, he never really had any compelling motivation or drive. His prime directive was to become stronger and at the expense of literally every other living thing around him, even his own minions. But we never got to know why. It certainly makes him a bad guy, but it doesn’t make me feel invested in whether he succeeds or fails. He might as well have been replaced a giant meteorite hurtling towards Earth by the end for all the depth he had to him.
Comparatively, if we look at the other villains we’ve met in Dragon Ball Super before now, Zamasu was actually the best-developed true villain of the entire Super story so far, having his own (albeit twisted) motivations, weird character quirks (like his monologuing) and drives you can understand. It made him memorable. Whereas Moro is just another Majin Buu, just with some aspects of both Freeza and Cell thrown in there for good measure.
It’s a shame really because he could have very easily been done better. Just plucking a recent example from the top of my head: Look at Hearts from the Super Dragon Ball Heroes promotional anime. Hearts’ ultimate goal was to kill the Omni-King, knowing that the childlike ruler of all could erase all of existence on a whim. While he was certainly a hypocrite in many ways, he ultimately thought his actions would bring about a better, more secure multiverse. Which is the core most good villains, that they view themselves as the good guys in their own minds.
As Hearts died at the hands of Gogeta, he lamented that he only wanted to bring security to the multiverse and remove the fear of erasure at the hands of the childlike deity that held all of their existence in the palm of his hand. Any of that could have been implemented into Moro’s character to actually give him some character whatsoever. A relatable and understandable motivation would have worked wonders for him. I mean, sure it didn’t do much good for Jiren, but it couldn’t have hurt either.
One of the ongoing narratives of Super is how incompetent and useless most of the deities in the Dragon Ball multiverse actually are, needing the mortals to clean to do their jobs for them. Had that been a part of Moro’s story, I’d have felt that him trying to undercut the godly hierarchy could have been one more step in whatever ending point the Dragon Ball Super story is heading towards.
Ultimately though, I don’t feel like Moro did anything to contribute to the greater story of Dragon Ball. I don’t think we’re anywhere significantly different than we were before the arc started. Which wasn’t the say the entire story arc itself was terrible, but Moro being a little more than a cool design and some cool powers, both of which went away by the time the arc was half over, ended up stopping him from coming close to being one of the Dragon Ball villains that will stand up to any test of time going into the future. He’ll end up being a footnote under the many other parts of this arc that’ll stick around for much longer.
Like that scar on Goku’s chest for example. I hope that’s a permanent fixture going forward. Lord knows the Super manga need to make some kind of lasting change to the lore.