Episode 129 – “Limits Super Surpassed! Ultra Instinct Mastered!!”
The build-up to the current obligatory protagonist power-up, exacerbated by an extended broadcast break, kept viewers locked in agonized suspense. Saddle up, folks–the moment has arrived and, once again, we ride into the ever-fantasticating world of Saiyan transformations.
Before the title card scarcely has a chance to spoil the episode’s contents, one notices a substantial uptick in visual quality. In keeping with tradition, Toei showers the final battle with extra love and attention–a bittersweet Dragon Ball convention rearing its battle-worn face once again. Somehow, after the mid-episode break, the production team re-surpasses the Limits, powering up from ten-year-old fan art to something resembling Toriyama’s original intent–a veritable Super Saiyan animation transformation.
Goku approaches his “probably, no, definitely… absolute last chance” to surpass his Limits, attain Godhood, and master his most ultra of instincts (his “risking the erasure of Universe 7 for the sake of a good fight” instincts). Only a disingenuous reviewer could poo-poo the impact of the punchy-punch-kick-kick-blast-explosion-shounen-resplendence that assaults the optic nerves for twenty consecutive minutes. The audience can only nod in agreement as the Zany Zenohs mime Goku’s kamehameha, the defeated contestants ooh and ah, and every other character restates the unfolding badassery and/or comments on the battlers’ general Super Surpassing of the Limits.
Jiren, a sentient wedge of beef jerky, demonstrates his ability to pummel his opponent by simply puffing out his chest. To counter, Goku flaunts his newfound capacity for yelling in two octave tones at once (a thoughtful throwback to his Super Saiyan 1 transformation scene). Belmod and company explain that Jiren’s standard “frown and say nothing” mode actually exemplifies his uncanny ability to deconstruct his opponents’ fighting styles. As such, the Purple Pulverizer sees through Goku’s techniques and proceeds to pummel him into a steaming pile of Instict.
The Twins summarize the events for all the five-year-olds in the audience: “Goku’s super amazing… but Jiren’s super, super amazing!” Nevertheless, Goku, via his Mastery, scores some tactical headway against Jiren’s Hyper Omega Charizard mode. Incidentally, the Zenohs have mastered their signature move as well–a technique capable of spoiling even the tensest of atmospheres: The Jar Jar Binks Irritation Cannon.
The remainder of the episode surges along with some of Super‘s most intense action sequences since the show’s inception (and Toriyama demonstrates his new fondness for making his characters batter each other with mind-powers). Nonetheless, and visual effects aside, the fight follows the standard Dragon Ball End of Arc formula:
- Macho posturing/staredowns: Check.
- Increased animation budget: Check.
- New Saiyan transformation: Check.
- Confirmation of Goku’s surpassed Limits by minor characters: Check.
- A blue wall of ki pushing against a red wall of ki: Check.
- Supercharged techniques: Check.
- A new spin on the “five-minute battle” (~eight episodes by Freeza Saga standards): Checkity-check.
Toei lines up the tropes as Jiren and Goku trade their first blows of the finale. The end-result–a stunning display of kaleidoscopic combat. Yet with the sensory overload comes a nagging sense that the days of three-dimensional characterization and multifaceted plot arcs have long since passed. Toriyama’s willingness to develop his villains, drum up uncertainty, and foster a spirit of adventure remains locked away in a 90s Hoi-Poi Time Capsule. Still, “Limits Super Surpassed! Ultra Instinct Mastered!!” represents Super at its best: polished fight scenes and transformations galore–a sensationalized homage to the Dragon Ball glory of yore. And, frankly, that’s good enough.
And, please remember:
~ Don’t Shoot the Messenger