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Dragon Ball Super [Episodes 66 -91]

In an alternate timeline's future dystopia Goku, Vegeta and Future Trunks take on Fusion Zamasu in a final battle for the fate of the future. These episodes originally aired between November of 2016 and May of 2017, and are released across two volumes, Dragon Ball Super Part 6 and Dragon Ball Super Part 7 by Manga Entertainment in the UK and Funimation in the United States.

The first collection (comprising episodes 66- 78) opens with the conclusion of the Future Trunk arcs. This storyline has overall been by far the weakest arc of the series so far. Initially, the mystery of the identity of Goku Black was intriguing but after the big reveal it felt more like Dragon Ball on autopilot.

The conclusion of the arc is similarly unimpressive. There's a pretty memorable sequence where Zamasu makes one last attack, leading to some cool imagery but it's all resolved in one of the most hand-wavey deus-ex-machina fashions found anywhere in the whole franchise.

The majority of the rest of the volume is then taken up with shorter stories- standalone episodes or two-parters. Some viewers may label such episodes as "filler", referring to the times when long-running anime bide their time with inconsequential material waiting for the source manga to get ahead. But that's not accurate here, as there was no source manga to adapt from -the Super manga actually came after the anime. But it's also missing the point- these are actually "character" episodes, and if you love the Dragon Ball cast, then it's fun hanging out with them. And without investment in these characters, then the action set-pieces don't mean a damn thing. So for some viewers (myself included) it's these episodes that are actually the heart of Super.

So things pick up as we zoom through a new series of entertaining stories. Goku and Krillin head to Master Roshi's for some training, and end up being sent off on a race to a mysterious island.  Goku faces a mysterious threat on his life. The destroyer gods Beerus and Champa organise a baseball game between the warriors of their respective universes. And in a highlight for the true Akira Toriyama fan, Arale returns in a crossover episode with Toriyama's 80's gag manga Dr Slump.

Along with an appearance from Jaco The Galactic Patrolman, this volume feels like it's chock full of rewards for the long-time fan. The volume ends with the start of the next major arc, as the long looming tournament between universes finally kicks off.

Well... sort of. As we head into the second collection (comprising episodes 78-91) we head into a mini-tournament, the Zeno-Expo, pitting Goku and a team of fighters from Universe 7 against a team from Universe 9 for the entertainment of the Zenos. It's presented as a precursor to the main event.

It's the sort of thing Dragon Ball can do in its sleep, exciting, action-packed and well-paced. We get to see some characters we haven's seen for a while (hi Majin Buu!) and there's an interesting twist that sees Goku fighting a battle it'd be better for everyone that he didn't win.

It's not straight into the Tournament Of Power though. Instead, it's time for some more character-based episodes as Goku returns to Earth to try and assemble the best team to represent Universe 7. Meanwhile, there's some domestic hijinks as everyone prepares for the arrival of a new baby.

There's a fair bit of action here too, as Goku's quest to recruit the best fighters for the tournament leads to some 'friendly' matches with some figures from Dragon Ball series past, plus tussles with alien poachers and a vengeful sorceress.

This might prove frustrating for the more impatient fan that just wants them to get on with it. But if you appreciate the series equally for its characters as for its action then this collection of episodes is a great mix. Dragon Ball Super is much faster paced than the original version of Dragon Ball Z and is much less prone to dragging as a result.

Across these two volumes, there's rarely a dull moment as it covers a lot of ground. The animation and design quality varies pretty wildly (typically for a Toei production) but when it's at it's best it looks great.

Each volume comes complete with a handful of extras. Alongside the requisite trailers and clean opening and closing sequences, are some featuring the popular English dub cast.


IN A NUTSHELL: A precursor to the main event it may be, but as warm-ups go, this is about as entertaining as it gets.