Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the episode.
It’s all about the Super Saiyans this week as Goku is forced into battle with the ladies from Universe 6. The action was delightful, with the golden warriors throwing fast punches and intense Ki blasts. Unfortunately awesome fights can’t make up for the fact the action made little sense as we watch a warrior with decades of experience barely hold back two brand new warriors.
Flashy is one thing Dragon Ball has always done well, and this episode is no different. Caulifla and Goku both looked awesome as they battled in Super Saiyan 2, although I was particularly impressed with Caulifla. The attention to detail on her during the fights was wonderful, and her strange red Ki blasts are a wonderful counter to the sharp golden ones that Goku throws. Kale stepped in later, and although her time in this episode didn’t hit the same peaks as Caulifla’s, the attention to detail was no less. The way her and Caulifla fight together is great, bouncing Goku between their attacks and splitting his attention so he can’t focus on one person at a time. Their teamwork reminded me of Goku and Vegeta, making me wish we could see our two primary heroes someday work together in the same way.
While the animation is done well, the underlying reason for combat seems quite flimsy. Caulifla recognizes that Goku can help her ascend to greater strength, but it’s her rapid ascension of strength that raises more questions than anything else. For countless years it was established that going Super Saiyan was a big deal, and that achieving anything above it was an almost impossible feat that only the most dedicated warriors could achieve. Caulifla throws that all out the window. In her introduction earlier in the series she obtained Super Saiyan 1 and 2, and now she’s already chasing the Super Saiyan 3 dream. Caulifla doesn’t exist in a bubble, and there’s been countless hints that both her and Kale are gifted in some way. They possess a hidden potential much like Gohan that will allow them to reach greater strength than any other.
The problem that Super faces currently, and going forward, is making sure that power feels earned. Dragon Ball has often struggled with this, but we saw great examples of how it could be done right during the many episode lead up to the Tournament of Power. Countless characters received minor or significant power boosts, but they nearly all felt earned and justified for that character. Caulifla never feels justified in her rapid strength growth, and Super needs to find a way to fix that — possibly with whatever Super is alluding to with her hidden potential — or else Super is missing an opportunity to make her a better character.
As the episode was nearing it’s end, I found myself wondering how Goku couldn’t simply take Caulifla out in an instant as he’s a veteran of combat. It’s near the end that we learn that Goku isn’t fighting because he wishes to help Caulifla, but is instead using the combat to power himself up. This seems to be counter-intuitive to what we know about going Super Saiyan, as it’s supposed to slowly drain your stamina. It’s interesting now that Goku is finding ways to regain it while actively fighting as a Super Saiyan 2. Ultra Instinct has done something to him, and what it means for his future is wildly unknown, something that has me quite excited.