“Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit”
There’s No Way I Can Stay At The Same Level I Am Now!
We are here to continue my adventure in examining the relationship between Gods and Mortals in Dragon Ball Super. Last time we covered the boggling Goku Black arc and this time I am happy to say that we are covering the Tournament of Power arc. I am delighted to tell you that there is no time travel nonsense. Instead it’s just 40~ episodes of what Dragon Ball does best, fighting. Lots and lots of fighting.
I am not going to cover every single fight and detail in this by the way. I am going to cover the main events, squee a bit and try to finish up neatly.
So without further ado, let’s start looking at the Tournament of Power arc in Dragon Ball Super.
Tournament Of Power
So last time on Dragon Ball Super we finished covering the Goku Black arc and the result is we now have two Zenos in the present. We now have two toddlers with the ability to wipe out all universes if they get disappointed. This should be good.
Future Zeno is intrigued by the idea of “really cool awesome” fights but it’s ok because current Zeno was planning on holding a tournament! The Tournament of Power, in which the fate of eight universes are on the line.
After witnessing the tournament between the 6th and 7th universes in a previous arc the current Zeno knows that fights between two people are great. But what might be greater is a fight between 80 people, all at once!
So behind the scenes the Zenos and the Grand Priest (Zeno’s carer figure) sum up the “Mortal Level” of each of the universes. This score is a sum of the progression of a universe, with everything taken into account. So culture, strength, wisdom and technology are all added up and the highest three universe will be exempt from the tournament. For the poor universes left behind however, fate isn’t going to be so kind. For you see, only the winning universe in the tournament will be saved! While the rest are going to be erased from existence… What fun.
So there is to be an 80 fighter strong battle royale going on. Eight universes with 10 fighters each will go up against the 70 others fighters representing their own universes, with the fate of quadrillions of lives on the line. So it is up to Goku to recruit his friends and prepare them for what may be the most important of their lives.
So from right to left we have:
Wait a second! Freeza? The villain from a few arcs back? Wasn’t he killed?
Well yes he was, but struggling to find a tenth member for the team Goku strikes upon the great idea to recruit Freeza from Earth’s hell. Yeh Goku was never the brightest bulb in the box. Freeza agrees to fight for his universe but only on the condition that if the 7th universe survives then Goku must use the Dragon Balls to return Freeza to life, to which Goku agrees.
I will now take this opportunity to begin the squeeing. The opening theme during the Tournament of Power is incredible (you can check it out here), but there is a reason I’m not gonna display the original. It’s because there is an awesome version by a YouTuber called Jonathan Young.
Our heroes set off to the Null Realm, a space that exists in between the universes, to begin the tournament. Upon arriving Goku is eager to find a fighter he has been told about that has strength that might even rival a God of Destruction. Jiren of the Pride Troopers (think Power Rangers) from Universe 11.
Jiren might not be the “big bad” of this arc, but he is certainly the main attraction that our heroes are going to have to overcome to survive in this tournament. Jiren has reached immeasurable strength, at one point being compared to a God of Destruction. He achieved all this by training by himself, with no help from others. Which to Goku and the others just seems impossible.
So in episode 97 the tournament begins and a couple of universes are beaten and consequently erased by the almighty toddlers and a mere twelve episodes later we get some of the real action people had been waiting for, Goku vs Jiren.
During the fight Goku pulls out all the stops but can’t seem to do any damage to his stupidly powerful foe. He even amplifies his power 20 times and still can barely lay a finger on Jiren. But this is when Goku remembers his trump card, the Spirit Bomb! This technique can take energy from Goku’s allies and puts it all in one devastating attack, the only downside it takes a while to charge. It turns out though that Jiren is willing to let Goku take as much time as he needs to charge his attack.
The idea behind Jiren’s tactic here is that if he defeats Goku so completely then it will make other fighters lose the will to fight fully as Goku is one of the strongest in the tournament, and everyone knows it.
Goku fully charge and proceeds to launch the Spirit Bomb only to have Jiren block it with one hand! Jiren then pushes the attack back at Goku so Goku powers up and attempts to push the attack back towards its intended target but it’s no use, Jiren is just to powerful and he pushes it back once more.
The conflicting power levels being pushed at each other cause the Spirit Bomb to become unstable until finally it can take no more and it collapses in on itself and creates a sort of mini black hole. At this point Goku is exhausted and with all his strength spent he falls into the Spirit Bomb and it appears as if he is obliterated in the resulting explosion.
So the episode ends with Goku apparently dead from his own attack and the fate of Universe 7 isn’t looking good. That is until the whole Null Realm begins to shake with an ominous power with no apparent source. When suddenly.
In a beam of seemingly divine light, Goku explodes back onto the stage of the Tournament and looks different to before.
Goku proceeds to attack Jiren again but this time he is able to not only keep up with the powerful fighter but for a while he seemingly even seems to get the upper hand. All of Goku’s friends are confused and shocked by this, Goku isn’t using his regular fighting style and his reaction speed is incredibly fast.
As everyone tries to figure out what has happened Whis interrupts with what he believes is the answer. Goku may have achieved Ultra Instinct, a technique of mastering the body so greatly that all movement, attacks, speed and blocking are done without thinking. You are able to tap into the deepest reaches of your power, seemingly invincible. This is a technique that even the Gods of Destruction can take millennia to master. Not even Beerus has managed it yet.
However, it seems that Goku has not fully mastered this new technique and is burning through his energy to fast and shortly after the fight starts going his way Jiren is able to put a stop to Goku’s assault and proceeds to blast Goku across the ring. Goku, now exhausted and completely depleted of energy, proceeds to back off to recover some stamina and try to figure out what the hell just happened.
One of the reasons I love this exchange is that something like this has never happened in Dragon Ball. Usually when someone unlocks a new transformation they curbstomp their opponen. Yhis time it just gets defeated and trust me, as a Dragon Ball fan this was shocking to witness and it really had the impact it deserved.
Back to the plot. Goku isn’t given much time to rest however before he is attacked by Caulifla and Kale, two Saiyans from Universe 6. Luckily for Goku their styles are undefined and despite being powerful, Goku’s years of combat experience help keep him relatively unscathed from the battle. But then they prepare their trump card, fusion.
Remember when Goku and Vegeta fused into Vegito in the last arc? Well it seems that Caulifla and Kale want to give it a try as well. Enter Kefla.
Kefla proceeds to wipe the floor with Goku and pushes him to breaking point when he starts to get the silver glow in his eyes once more. Goku is able to tap into Ultra Instinct once again and it seems the field has been evened but Whis notices something, Goku is still thinking about his attacks.
Yes Goku might be tapping into Ultra Instinct but he hasn’t fully mastered it yet, his defence is automatic but he is still thinking about his attacks and thus is not utilising the technique to the fullest. But Goku gets an idea, if he charges an attack while his body dodges on its own then he can unleash the attack at the perfect moment. So Goku begins to charge his trademark Kamehameha while his body dodges on autopilot and gives us perhaps one of the greatest attacks in Dragon Ball’s history, dubbed by the fans as the “Kamehameha Tokyo Drift”.
Goku charges up his blast while Kefla throws everything she has at him and when Goku gets close enough he jumps into the air to get closer. Kefla declares that Goku “can’t dodge in mid air” and launches a powerful beam attack, declaring her victory.
But in one of the greatest things I think I’ve ever seen in Anime, Goku doesn’t just dodge the attack in mid air but he fucking grinds along it like in a skateboarding game and blasts her point blank in the face. A moment that even the animators thought was pretty cool because they show it to you from three different angles (another first for Dragon Ball).
Kefla is eliminated and the tournament continues until there are only a handful of fighters left, Goku, Vegeta, Android 17 and Jiren with Freeza also apparently knocked out of the ring. With our heroes exhausted and barely able to continue it is starting to look hopeless as Jiren is still seemingly unfazed.
Jiren launches a powerful attack on our three remaining fighters and in a bid to save is allies, Android 17 apparently self destructs in order to cancel out the attack. Leaving Goku and Vegeta to face off against Jiren. Vegeta puts up a good fight against Jiren but is eventually thrown from the stage, defeated. But in one final act Vegeta gives what little energy he has left to Goku, hoping that he can finish this once and for all.
Goku is pummelled by Jiren once more and as it seems to be over with Jiren one punch away from winning the tournament, that silver glow appears once more. Ultra Instinct has returned, and if Goku can’t finish it this time then it’s all over.
The fight continues as Goku produces more and more heat and energy, leaking out seemingly endless power. But it doesn’t appear to be slowing him down at all and just when Jiren has Goku cornered and only able to block, Goku starts to fight back. He has started to attack on instinct as well as defend and after absorbing all the previously leaked out energy and heat Goku has done it, he has fully unlocked Ultra Instinct.
Goku now has Jiren completely outmatched and even when Jiren breaks through his own limits and gets stronger, Goku still has him on the ropes. Goku says he is able to keep fighting because of the trust his friends have in him, he can’t let them down. Jiren declares this as nonsense, only pure strength can be relied on and this “trust” Goku believes in is easily erased. Jiren can prove this and he launches an attack on the stands, trying to kill all of Goku’s friends.
Goku is able to block the attack, but only barely and now he’s really pissed. Nobody fucks with Goku’s friends while he’s around. Goku then sums up his own character better than I ever could.
“I don’t think I’m a hero of justice or anythin’. But those who’d hurt my friends… I won’t forgive!!”
Goku, Dragon Ball Super – Episode 130
Goku then gives his all in a final assault against Jiren and in the process gives me a new desktop wallpaper that I am still currently using.
Goku beats the living hell out of Jiren and has him completely defeated. But just when Goku goes to deal the finishing blow something goes wrong, because of course it does.
Goku is suddenly crippled in pain as purple lightning begins to shoot from his body and he drops from Ultra Instinct and collapses. Jiren is sad that this is the way their battle must end and blasts Goku off of the stage and all seems lost for our universe. But just as Goku is going to fall out of bounds he is hit by a blast and is pushed back onto the ring by an unknown helper. The camera spins to reveal that not only has Freeza not been knocked off the stage but he isn’t alone. Android 17 is still alive, it turns out he didn’t self destruct after all and managed to survive hidden in the rubble.
The two attack Jiren but after getting a second wind the two find themselves cornered and seconds away from defeat when Goku, his body ruined from battle, appears to help them one last time. I am now gonna take this opportunity to show you one of my favourite videos on YouTube ever and no, it isn’t just the final fight. Below is a video of fans watching the fight in Latin America.
You see in Latin America Dragon Ball has never really left their screens unlike the rest of us. When the original series ended they just kept it on a loop, repeating it for years and pulling more and more fans as it did. So when this finale rolled around they made a BIG deal of it. They decided to screen the final episode in public. All across Latin America thousands of fans were going to watch the match outside as a community, literally drawing in thousands in some places.
If you can’t/won’t click that link I’ll just summarise quickly. In Machala, Ecuador, there was a public livestream event attended by over 10,000 people! And the kicker? It was hosted by the fucking government. That is the power of Dragon Ball and that is why I love it so much.
But anyway here is a video of the final fight edited to include crowds reactions across Latin America, enjoy (The guy in the orange top is my favourite).
There are loads of videos on YouTube showing similar love for our heroes as they win the Tournament of Power in an amazing final fight.
With the tournament over and Android 17 being the sole person left on the field of play it is he who is the victor and he gets the prize, a wish from the Super Dragon Balls. Android 17 goes against expectations (he wanted a boat to sail around the world in with his family) and wishes for all the erased universes to be restored. The wish is granted and everyone is shocked, nobody got erased after all.
But there is one final twist in all of this, it turns out that the Zenos had planned this all along. They knew that if a truly heroic person won the tournament then they would almost certainly wish the other universes back. And if they didn’t? Well they would just erase everything! As mortals aren’t as good as they should be… Phew… Bullet dodged.
So Dragon Ball Super comes to an end with the Zenos asking Goku a pretty meta question, “You will be back right?” To which Goku responds that of course he’ll be back.
So who wins this round between Mortals and Gods? I can kind of see the argument from both sides. The Mortals of the universes haven’t put enough effort in to justify their existence is one way you could look at it I guess? But that my friends is horseshit and I’m going to tell you why.
The whole idea of this “Mortal Level” is broken as fuck, how is it fair to compare the universes based on arbitrary concepts that might not have any relevance in some of those universes?
This is Dragon Ball right? So that means that one of the criteria for this system is almost certainly “fighting ability” or something to that effect. So what about a universe that exists pretty peacefully then? They just get a big fat zero in this situation I guess, which means their “Mortal Level” is dragged down unfairly.
The Zenos, the Grand Priest and the Angels exist outside of the systems that mortals are born into so they have no real understanding of how those lives can be valued surely?
Zeno is portrayed as a spoiled brat of a God and the only reason the competing universes weren’t erased on the spot is because they wanted to see more flashy/cool fighting. It’s all very Caesar and the Gladiators no? Someone who has complete power and control over your destiny is making you amuse him first before he decides your fate with a simple gesture.
This may have even been on purpose since when the Zenos do erase a universe they stick their hands up in the air, making a happy face as a simple gesture wipes out trillions.
The point is that despite one of these universes surviving due to “kindness”, that kindness only comes as a reward for putting on a good show. It wasn’t nice when Caesar did it and it isn’t nice when Zeno does it either.
Now let’s talk about Ultra Instinct a bit more. During the tournament Goku is able to attain this mythical state of being three times in forty two minutes, something that we are reminded can take some Gods millions of years to achieve. Goku has always been a prodigy that pushes his limits and smashes through any walls within him to achieve greater heights, but three times in forty minutes?
I’ve talked before about how Beerus and Champa come across as lazy don’t seem to understand the magnitude of the responsibility their positions hold. The fact that a mortal could come out of nowhere and achieve this state by sheer effort, willpower and all the other good buzzwords proves one of two things:
- This was a lot easier to do than first explained
- This was just as hard as we were led to believe
If Ultra Instinct was easier to achieve than we were led to believe then what does that say about the Gods of Destruction? Beerus has been Whis’ pupil for millions of years and from what we’ve seen he just seems to nap and eat, I don’t think we’ve ever actually seen him train at all. So how come he hasn’t done it yet if it’s easy?
On the other hand, if Ultra Instinct is difficult to achieve then it shows something worse in the Gods of Destruction, complacency. With nowhere above them to really aim for the Gods are to comfortable in their situations. Why aim higher when you are already at the top of the ladder? Maybe Goku and the other mortals will change something when and if Dragon Ball returns to our screens, maybe after seeing what Mortals can do it’ll be time to whip some Gods into shape and let them learn a lesson from the Mortals they rule over.
I’ve mentioned before about how Goku is the epitome of the self made man. Raised on a mountain without an education this monkey-boy went on to astonish Martial Arts Masters, Demons, a talking cat (not joking) and eventually the Gods of his universe and even their masters. Goku is an example that the circumstances of your birth are irrelevant to what you can achieve if you are willing to work hard enough. This is why Mortals are better than Gods in Dragon Ball Super and this is going to be the basis of my final thoughts… Next time on Dragon Ball Super!
Mortals: 4 – Gods: 1
So yep, next time will be my last journey into this semi-philosophical (who am I kidding?) look back at Dragon Ball Super. It’s been a long journey and it’s been really fun looking back on some of the great (and some of the bad) moments in this show. So until next time take care of yourselves. Peace.
With a new Dragon Ball came a new version of “Cha-la Head Cha-la”, the song every Dragon Ball fan can’t help but sing along to (even if we don’t know the words).