Following on from the previous episode, this episode is foremost a continuation of the setup for Bulma’s birthday party and the awkwardness over the absence of Goku and Vegeta. Moreover, Pilaf and gang are devising a plan to snatch the Dragon Balls, which are the ultimate prize for a promised bingo tournament. With that said there are a number of points I would like to make in reviewing this episode.
Firstly, compared to the previous three episodes where the pacing was fine based on everything that happened this episode gives the impression that Super is really taking its time to set up certain plot elements. For example, some of the comedy elements are being dragged out more so than what is necessary. In the episode’s source (Battle of Gods) pilaf and gang were introduced briefly before their chance to get the Dragon Balls, whereas in this episode they are shown out at sea where another obstacle phase them before they can even reach that location. Now how far this will continue in the coming episodes remains to be seen, but such elements should only be given in moderation. Comedy is fine in Dragon Ball, as the series started off as a gag manga, but it is important to divide it fairly between all characters who are important at any given time, so depending on how well each character has their say in the coming episodes will determine how well the pacing compliments that.
Additionally this was the first episode to show any sort of shift in the art style, such was the case with the thick black lines drawn around some characters, reminiscent of several 90s American cartoons. Of course this isn’t a massive issue by and large, but for Dragon Ball it is unusual and inconsistent with the animation style that has been established since 1986. Otherwise, as with the previous episodes it’s looking good, it’s very colourful, crisp and clean as a modern animated show should be.
Norihito Sumitomo’s music is also working well with the show thus far. The quiet moments may alienate some of the older Bruce Faulconer fans when the English dub is released, but for a lot of the hardcore fans accustomed to Shunsuke Kikuche it will be easier to sell. In particular the harmonious tones used during the cruise ship scenes were suited for the moment, especially when food is offered to characters and their presence is welcomed. These musical choices also provide a good contrast against the more ominous tones used towards the end of the episode during a conversation between Kaiosama and Goku where the latter is informed of the danger he may be about to face.
Overall, it’s a fine episode but if you’ve seen Battle of Gods you wouldn’t be missing out on a whole lot rather than a more padded form of the same narrative.