Before I start this review off, I just want to go on record and say that I've been a huge Dragonball Z fan since I was in primary school in the early 90s. Since then I've branched out into multiple anime and have come to appreciate and respect the hard work and art styles behind the genre. I would also like to note that this review is a non- biased account from a viewer, who enjoys a good show as well as a good story above anything else.
Before we talk about DBZ Super's story, let's first take a quick look back at the original series. At the beginning of DBZ, in a startling turn of events, you have Goku's brother Raditz come down to Earth to settle some interplanetary business with his sibling, only to later kidnap the hero's son and engage him in an epic fight to the death. More Saiyan mercenaries show up some time later to seek the dragon balls for their own personal gains, in a confrontation that ends in the tragic deaths of most of the entire crew. The heroes then go on an adventure to another planet in order to save their friends lives, leading them into an epic planetary struggle against an alien tyrant responsible for killing billions of innocent people. Then we have a dark filler arc in which a movie villain returns from the Dead Zone and converts the entire population of Earth into demonic vampires. After that, Goku and friends eventually get into a struggle of potentially apocalyptic proportions against an old enemy out for revenge and has created artificial abominations to kill the Z-fighters.
Now, let's look at what happens in Super. A cat God who is supposed to be the harbinger of death (and for some reason the cause of previously non-connected events in the series) comes down to Earth and eats a lot of food at a yacht party. We watch Vegeta act silly for a bit, more Z-fighter shenanigans, a new arbitrary Super Saiyan transformation, and absolutely no consequences take place. Then we have Freezer return in another 'this isn't even my final form' arc of unbelievable conveniences, with again no tension, stakes, or consequences, and is just put in there as a measuring stick to make Goku and Vegeta look good. Then a tournament between Gods happens between a bunch of character props and only a few main characters, with more illogical events and situations unfolding. Finally, against all common sense, Future Trunks has been shoehorned into the series, even though his story already had a powerful and touching resolution at the end of the Cell Saga.
The original DBZ set the standard to which a lot of Shonen anime has been expected to live up to, with many being a great success. What Super lacks in this respect is a story with significant weight, edge, tension, and seriousness, and has resulted to throwing in tons of fan service and tropes to keep the franchise chugging along. What made Dragonball & Z great was that we were able to watch Goku, his friends, and the show itself, take us on an epic adventure; evolving from a funny children's tale into something darker, heartfelt and appealing to young adults. What Super has done is take a step back into that children's realm and throw all the character growth that has taken place in the original series out the window. This is probably the result of the author attempting to tie in more Dr. Slump and old Dragonball elements into DBZ, and the studio wanting the series to appeal more to children, in a way that One Piece and Naruto has done. In doing so they've toned down the violence and added more slapstick comedy into the mix, compromising the once serious elements that made DBZ an epic adventure and an ever-transforming conflict. So instead of seeing an innocent person getting eviscerated by a monster or seeing Gohan shove his hand through a villain's chest, we see Gotenks head- butt Ginyu in the balls and characters doing stuff and dancing about for no reason; other than to get a few cheap laughs. The Dragonball cameos in the original series came in small doses, and were cool to see. But when the creators start throwing them onto the screen all at once, it dilutes the quality of the story and turns it into an overused gimmick that people feel the need to show clips of on YouTube.
This isn't even counting the poor animation quality. Though people think the animation is good because it's made clean and crisp due to digital technology, the truth is it's not. A lot of classic anime, including the original DBZ, was all meticulously hand painted onto cells, with astonishing attention to detail and heart. However, since the studio has brought in a new crew of animators for Super and the episodes are being speedily written up, not only are the stories and new characters lackluster, with dozens of plot holes and convenient plot elements, it is easy to tell when episodes have been rushed in order to meet the studio's ridiculous deadlines, resulting in poor fight sequences, character faces and bodies being out of proportion, and glaringly noticeable CGI elements. Even Akira himself said he was disappointed by how the show turned out.
You can't rate a series highly just because of nostalgia or because it carries the Dragonball name. It needs to be looked at carefully, and after perusing over the entire show thus far, I'm a bit disappointed. Before you rate this review, are you rating it negatively because you're a die hard fan of the show who can't see the flaws the author can, or are you rating it positively because it's the truth? In my opinion, there are far better anime to watch out there, including Fate Zero, Fullmetal Alchemist, and One Punch Man, with my personal recommendation.
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