Series Review: Dragon Ball Super – Episode 130

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Episode 130 – “The Greatest Showdown of All Time! The Ultimate Survival Battle!!”

What follows a “Final” Transformation in Dragon Ball? A staredown. And commentary. “Ah, so that’s Ultra Instinct!”, “Well, we’ll see how he does against Full Power Jiren!”, “I wonder how this battle will conclude?”–thank you, minor characters, for tapping into the hive-mind and saving us from original thought!

The academic discourse hovering over the impending skirmish fades fast, however, and Toei catapults us into the series’ second-to-last episode with ki flurry fury. Super takes a page from the One Punch Man playbook, loosening up lines and emphasizing action with impressionistic attack animation–pure Dragon Ball hedonism and exactly what the Doctor (Slump) ordered.

1
*munches popcorn*

The fight develops with unabashed unpredictability:

  • Goku, freshly transformed, hammer-punches Jiren’s alien face.
  • Jiren, perturbed by his thrashing, counter-transforms into Incredible Hulk Jiren.
  • Incredible Hulk Jiren unleashes his Infinity Fire Blast Cannon and beats back Goku’s kamehameha.
  • Goku (wait for it) survives, setting up the Battle to End All Battles: The Persistent Bastard vs. The Emotionless Bastard!
  • The audience dangles over the abyss in heart-stopping suspense–who will emerge victorious? The Absent Minded Heat Lamp or the Grape Laffy Taffy of Justice?
2
*opens Milk Duds box*

Super excels when it keeps things simple, focusing on fights and flash. Unfortunately, Toriyama continues his penchant for baseless power-up rationales, appealing to Jiren’s fabricated traumatic past–The Memoirs of an Emotionless Bastard.

3
Jiren’s character development consists of four images.

Unlike Toriyama’s previous excuses for baddy power-ups (i.e., “Guess it’s time to use 100% of my power” or “I absorbed your friends and now I’m unstoppable”), Jiren’s relies on a disingenuous facade of poignancy. To pour salt in the wound, the Justice Warrior’s transformation looks exactly like Toppo’s–Universe 11 must’ve attended some sort of Transformation Seminar in which they train themselves to elongate their torsos, incinerate their shirts, and grow extra rows of abs.

0final
Animators: “What are we doing for the Jiren transformation?” Toriyama: “Stretch him out, make him topless, add muscles.” Animators: “B-but we did that for Topp–” Toriyama: “Silence! I ran out of transformation ideas twenty-five years ago!”

While the disqualified Z Warriors’ passionate expression of trust in their friend warms the heart (and leads to a montage nostalgia grenade), one can’t help but recall that Goku caused this whole mess by befriending Zenoh (against Beerus’ explicit instructions), asking the Supreme Child-Emperor of the Cosmos to organize the tournament (despite his knowledge of said Emperor’s habit of playing Ping-Pong-Planet-Boom-Boom when bored), and forcing every Universe to lose their entire population in a black hole of death for the sake of a good fight. Oh well! Water under the bridge–go get ‘em, Goku!

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Actual character development.

Episode 130’s second half straps the Drama Llama onto a Saturn V rocket and propels it into orbit. Jiren finds utility for his lack of dimensionality after all, evolving once more–this time into a Double Bastard (emotionless and ruthless), sending a flying murder disc into the stands to demonstrate the transitory nature of friendship. Goku retaliates with a swift and unforgiving torrent of retribution. Jiren apparently never watched the Freeza saga–hell hath no fury like a Goku scorned.

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*does a Coca-Cola spit take*

Here, a reviewer must pause and reflect back on his prior discussion of the “limits.” The limits–spat upon, double-crossed, and categorically molested–return to take their revenge on Goku. As Whis aptly summarizes, “The limit-breaking power of the gods… I didn’t think the toll would be this great.” Indeed, our hero falls to the Periwinkle Pal Hater and–

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Toei one-ups itself in the animation department yet again–a satisfying barrage of bliss-bombs aimed straight for the feels-cavity. The Power of Friendship wins the day, upping the Dragon Ball fandom’s collective dopamine levels to unhealthy levels. Thanks to a few semi-surprises, Toriyama maintains suspense for next week’s finale. Despite the Creator’s tight grip on shounen clichés and conventions (most of which he invented), one anticipates Super’s end with sadness. After all, who will break the limits when Goku bids farewell?

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17: “How was your nap?” Freeza: “Fantastic. And yours?”

Rating: B+

And, please remember:

~ Don’t Shoot the Messenger

 

 

All screenshots and promotional images are the property of Toei Animation and Funimation. The AniMessenger does not claim ownership.
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22 comments

  1. I loved the fight scenes in this episode, but I did think the whole Ultra Instinct took a toll and that’s why Goku couldn’t finish the job was a little weak narrative wise. I also don’t understand why nobody from universe 11 reacted to the fact that Jiren almost killed them in the process of making a point to Goku.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that bit was a bit flimsy–however, the staff wrote themselves into a corner by letting Freeza survive. Goku getting sapped of energy is probably the lesser of two (three, four) evils. To your point about the Universe 11 reaction–there was like a two frame shot of them with a 😲 face, but not much else. Honestly, I’m relieved when we don’t have to pause the action to take stock of all the ancillary characters’ responses, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, they’ve done a poor job with Freeza this whole time but this does give him a chance to shine at the very end. Normally I’m with you on the ancillary characters, but if I was someone in Universe 11 I’d be pretty ticked and very expressive about it lol.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Right?!? That part when he reached his limit – I was literally at the edge of my couch with my mouth hanging open. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I can’t believe they messed with my heart like that bringing 17. Back. I’ve been missing him and just get so sad even thinking about that moment when he was took that blast – this episode was sooo lit.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That moment when you look at the fandom’s reactions and you’re like: “Huh?”
    Took my sweet time socializing but I can only agree with you on the review.

    I still think that the “plot twist” both came expected and unexpected. I expected Freeza but not… him. It kind of made his entire “death” scene pointless and his great return was depending on the press of a button. Why do they spend the last few episodes stretching out content and now they rush it like crazy? 😀
    I loved the action though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the great comment! Indeed–I admit, my “plot twist pic” was laced with a little sarcasm, but I WAS semi-surprised. You’re totally right about 17’s earlier “death”–kind of sapped of poignancy now! I seem to remember a “plot rush” at the end of the Future Trunks arc, too–a bad habit on Toriyama’s part 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just hope the ending will at least contribute to anything. What did Super exactly… do? New characters sure but if I remember correctly, then there was nothing of any real consequence for our cast. Future Trunks is still in the future and now that A17 is still alive, I wonder, what exactly did Super do that really affected our cast?
    With the exception of Power Boosts (I’m counting 6 new transformations, 7 if you count Vegito in) and new characters (of which most are dead now, supposedly), the only things I can think of are OH GODS NO, IT’S ZENO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Exactly! It greatly (over)expanded the DB Cosmos and its roster of characters, definitely. And a whole lot of nostalgia and/or fanservice! In the end, I’m glad Super exists–I’ve still got a little fanboy left in me 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m really gonna miss Super. This arc has just been a source of nonstop hype and excitement for me. Hopefully the next episode ends on a high note as well. As soon as Goku beat Jiren I knew that this would go down as one of my all time favorite episodes

    Liked by 1 person

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