This was not only the worst chapter of the Toyotaro's rendition of the Universal Survival arc, but one of the worst chapters Toyotaro has written for entirety of the Dragon Ball Super manga, purely for the amount of potential that was wasted.
Now I'm not asking for all of the 80 character to be properly utilized and all have distinctive fights and intriguing character dynamics, because that is FAR too big of task for any writer, or team of writers to tackle. But with some many characters at your disposal, I feel at though you can create some interesting interactions or fights with some of them. Use some of character as devices for further character development or character progression for the main cast or the integral new characters. or just have a visually stimulating battle.
The pacing is dialed up beyond 100. I mean, I understand wanting to have a more streamlined story and wanting to trim the fat, but sometimes the narrative would benefit far more from you taking a moment or two to let scenarios evolve and sink in. Too many universes bite the dust in such a short space of time, and happened in such a cavalierly manner, that ultimately I don't get any kind of resonance or satisfaction from it. I'm not expecting some grand fanfare, but, goddamn, all of the universes that were eliminated by Kale contributed nothing compelling or intriguing in terms battles or character interactions. So I just assumed their sendoff would at least feel sombre given the nature of the arc, but they don't even get that.
Some of the character writing was very hit-and-miss as well. Dyspo saying unlike his teammates, he's a force to be reckoned with was so stupid. I mean, his teammates are gang up on, beat up and nearly eliminate SSJ Kale (which in itself is pretty dumb), the same SSJ Kale that single handedly wiped out four universe, and yet Dyspo doesn't think his teammate aren't a force to reckoned with. Either he's fucking blind or was written out of character to be just insanely arrogant for that one moment against Cabba.
And what the hell is exactly going on with Jiren? He previously showed that he was willing to help out his teammates, but as soon as shit hits the fan and Kefla starts wiping out his team, he deems it necessary to help them. I hope this actually leads to some interesting character dynamics between himself, Dyspo or Toppo, because if not, this is so out of character for him. Don't establish as helpful, heroic teammate, only to pull a 180 have him go full asshole with no build up. The anime could get away with that as it established him as aloof, distant and mostly indifferent to other until they interested him enough to act in response very early on.
I did like the character writing of Cabba, Caulifla and Vegeta. Cabba specifically was wonderfully written. I greatly enjoyed his resolute attitude to wanting to save Kale and prevent Universe 6 from erasure and the fashion of which he aided in Kale and Caulifla fusing with quite ingenious. And his conversation with Vegeta was very nuanced.
Caulifla having the Potara was far to convenient for my liking. How on Earth did she manage to steal them for the U6 Kaioshin without him noticing? And why would want to steal them in the first place? For profit? Or is it a force of habit for her to steal shit from people?
And despite being in the home stretch, and even after seeing Kale's rampage, I'm not looking forward to Gohan fighting Kefla either. That match up that feels SO random. I would have much rather had Kelfa fight Jiren. You would have thought that after Kefla eliminated 60% of Universe 11 Jiren would gunning for her, but, nope, Goku HAS to fight Jiren. And logically speaking, how the fuck is Gohan going to last more than 10 seconds against Kefla? Unless Gohan got monster power-up leading up the the Tournament Of Power, it's going to be one of the most one-sided fights you'll ever see. And with Kefla existing in the fashion she did -- with Caulifla fusing while Kale was SSJ Beserker -- it'll most likely mean Kale won't receive any kind of character arc.
Kale could have been portrayed to be a seemingly unstoppable force in battle, while utilising a good portion of the rest of the new characters introduced solely for this arc to provide some memorable fights, compelling character moments, or at the very least, some satisfactory shift in building a new personality for some of the fighters. I don't care if it may feel somewhat superfluous or "fanservicey", I just want something to get invested in or feel excited about with this story with. And unfortunately, the Toyotaro so far hasn't given me a anything substantial to latch onto.
I know people will go on about how Toyotaro still makes the atmosphere feel more like a battle royale than the anime did, but the tradeoff for that has absolutely not be worth it. What's the point of having a story told a much brisker pace, if the content itself is nearly barren with interesting fights or intriguing character evolution? Toriyama may have been a brisk storyteller, but didn't mostly forsake character development, captivating personality dynamics or compelling battles for the sake of it.