Finally got around to listening to this tonight.
My little Jiren post (maybe mixed in with some others) got a shoutout, so as a way of clarifying: I'm enjoying Jiren specifically because of how much he breaks from Dragon Ball conventions. Previous antagonists, and I absolutely think this is one of Toriyama's strengths, have been varying shades of flamboyant, colorful, and possessing of their own various visual or technical gimmicks. Even Tenshinhan has his connections to the Crane-Turtle rivalry, the visually bizarre Chaozu, and off-the-wall techniques like the Volleyball Fist. Hit is a walking visual riff on any number of action-media assassins, has his visual gimmick of keeping his hands in his pockets while fighting (well, in the manga anyway), and of course relies on his bizarre time-stopping techniques. (I actually find Hit a lot of fun.)
Jiren is ... just strong. That's it. Everything about him, from his personality to his design, is intentionally stripped down. As Kaioshin said last week, "He's strong. Plain and simple." And that's new. That's untrodden ground for Dragon Ball. He isn't a conniving, overly polite villain, or a slick assassin, or an arrogant bug man, or a bubblegum demon. He isn't afraid of rice cookers. He doesn't have visual twists. He's just a brick wall.
That's impactful enough, I think. In another series, he might be a dull norm. Here, he's a rather refreshing exception, however many arcs in.
Of course it helps that the presentation sells that strength. I also thought Meri's comment about the visuals not selling any sense of escalation or power was interesting. Episodes 109 and 110 were the first time I felt sold on an escalation of power in quite some time. A lot of it was just due to clever use of previous "big" attacks -- Jiren pushing back a Boo-arc-sized Genki Dama, powered by Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken Goku, with only his eyes, for example. It's a bit of a visual cheat, but we also had sufficient pyrotechnics to make it work. Then there's Jiren's little shotgun eye technique (??), etc. I don't know. This is the first time since the Boo arc started trotting out weirder techniques that I felt convinced I was seeing something on a new level of power. Before that, the last time would have been the original Goku vs. Freeza fight. This at least wasn't just the same punches, just the same kicks, just the same contained collateral damage, which is an issue that's plagued Super so far. I bought it.
Finally, I got a bit of a kick out of Meri commenting even as a half-invested viewer that the characters don't seem to be taking the stakes of the tournament seriously, as it's an oft-repeated criticism even from invested weekly viewers. I like that the latest episode (111) finally gave us a glimpse of a character expressing doubt about the fate of their universe, but holy hell, where has that been for the past few months? I understand Super is, for the most part, an upbeat kids' show, so I'm not asking for total doom-and-gloom, but Toriyama was always deft at allowing both off-beat humor and genuine horror their space (because he treated the characters sincerely, and no matter how absurd things got, they treated their circumstances sincerely). I'm really longing for the Boo-arc-esque breakneck switches between zany comedy and dire character-based tension I think this arc could and should have, though the last three episodes have finally begun to show hints of it.
Anyway, I too am transformation-fatigued. I just have to hope that the content surrounding the transformations is interesting. It might feel better if they'd kept the pre-Super conceit that Goku and Vegeta had ditched every form but a new, stronger base and Blue. Ah well. That's in the past.