The Super Re-Read

Discussion specifically regarding the "Dragon Ball Super" TV series premiering July 2015 in Japan, including individual threads for each episode.

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GreatSaiyaman123
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Mon Jan 09, 2023 4:32 pm

Magnificent Ponta wrote: Sun Jan 08, 2023 7:47 am I personally try not to make a habit of using my reading to make comparisons between the two media. I find it has previously been kind of limiting to look at the manga strictly in comparison to the anime, because then one starts automatically thinking in terms of direct contrast of approaches rather than necessarily evaluating the approach each has chosen on its own terms (i.e., 'does it have merit for itself and do I like it as it is?', rather than 'is it different to the anime and do I like that better because (arbitrary reason x)?').

I haven't tended to find that the approach yields much insight; it more typically just feeds the Super Manga-Anime Tribalism that occasionally rears its head (most apparent in this arc, of all the arcs) and leads to tiresome stuff like grousing about individual character 'showings' and whether or not the elimination of every made-up nobody from Universe Whatever is documented in excruciating detail, rather than looking at whether the overall approach taken suits the story they're trying to tell and is a source of enjoyment in itself. I don't think I've really changed my mind about all that from when I originally wrote the Re-Read for this arc.
Well, that's why I think they complete each other: If I want to see Kuririn or Kefla fighting, I can just watch the anime; if I want to see Goku and Merged Zamasu duke it out, I can just open the manga... It's good to have two different takes on the story, although I admit this is besides the point of the thread :lol:
Actually, I'd say Jiren is pretty taken with Goku for a little while after the Hit fight; not with his talk, nor by any threat he might pose (nothing threatens Jiren, obviously), but he's intrigued by his capacity for insight. Goku being able to notice something about Jiren that he didn't expect makes him curious enough to see whether there's anything more to Goku than the initial unimpressive showing.

As it so happens, around 15-20 minutes further in, Jiren's concluded that there really isn't anything more to Goku than there seemed at first, and he's preparing to eliminate him all over again ("The same moves, time and time again...if that's all you've got, this is a waste of time. Allow me to end it."). That's because Goku's just been grinding himself down on Jiren by trying to best him along a criterion where he can't be beaten (that is, pure conventional Battle Power terms); he's not really using the insight that Jiren was curious about and is perhaps hoping to see a little more of. That comes next, with a little help (and of course piques Jiren's interest all over again).
That seems like an awful amount of time to lose, Goku let Freeza go wild on him and then was already leaving the planet within 5 minutes. But since the fight is left for imagination, I assume Shunkan Ido might have saved Goku many times here; I doubt that's what's implied (Toyo himself doesn't seem to have given this much thought when he was busy with other plots), but I've seen many people complaining about how Goku doesn't use Shunkan Ido as much as he should.

Maybe he also tried some Kienzans or Ki Mines (There I go with the anime comparisons again :roll: ), but I fell Jiren would've finished Goku for good if he ever got that threatened.
As you might expect, I can't agree with this; I think it lands slightly askew of the point the Chapter is trying to make. Roshi isn't teaching Goku some sort of 'greater mystery' that he's held back from him or something, and Goku hasn't regressed; Goku has indeed moved on to bigger and better. That's both the mark of his talent and the nature of his problem. Roshi is just reminding Goku of something more basic that he already knows full well, but has lost sight of because of the specific nature of the challenges he has had to face in recent decades.

Goku has been going toe-to-toe with an escalating Battle Power among his enemies (hence Roshi's "Who taught you that? Vegeta? Freeza?"), and has found various means of dealing with this that worked for him at the time (techniques and transformations: he even tries pulling a version of Kaio-Ken out in this same story beat), and are genuine progress in themselves, but this has its limits, and in this particular circumstance, a Strength-versus-Strength approach gets Goku nowhere (because Jiren is the pinnacle of that approach) and it limits him, because he already has everything he needs to get over the "wall" he was talking about earlier in the arc. It's about himself, making the best use of what he's already got.

Super likes bringing out fundamental lessons that make for genuine and new progress even at the pinnacle of power, because these are keys to making sure that the main characters stay true to themselves; that's the spur of progress. The Granolah arc will run with this kind of insight again, albeit with totally different foundations: not simply focusing on what Goku has learned as a fabulously talented Martial Artist, but also drawing in his nature as a Saiyan and more broadly as a fighter, and being able to integrate his whole self into that.

One of the things I appreciate most about the Super manga is that it takes what could have simply been a flashy, empty nostalgia trip for fanservice and nothing more, and actually makes productive and creative use of the past of the franchise and its characters in constructing the story and laying down its principal themes and beats (like in Chapter 39); it actually makes an out-and-out virtue of that stuff. That's how I feel about it, anyway.
Having thought some more about it, there's definitely a interesting theme about masters going on. Goku is fighting alongside his own master and still taking lessons from him, Jiren is fighting to revive his master while missing the point of his lessons. There's also some minor stuff like Vegeta saying he never had any masters, and minor character relationships like Piccolo/Gohan and Caulifla/Kale (Do the later two even count?).

When you think about it it's a very interesting parallel between Goku/Roshi and Jiren/Gicchin, but I'm afraid having Roshi just go there and do something he would've never managed earlier in the series, without any mention of him having trained to hone this technique in recent years, was a bit of a bold move to say the least.
Anyhoo, next Granolah arc instalment should be coming later on Monday, all being well! See y'all then.
I myself should be getting on with the Moro Saga before that, so hopefully I won't be making everyone retread whole sagas before.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Mon Jan 09, 2023 7:12 pm

The Super Re-Read: Chapters 71 – 74
Part 1 (Chapters 71 and 72)

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Howdy.

We return, once more, to The Super Re-Read! We're covering Volumes 16 to 17 of the manga in this instalment, as the Heeters put the finishing touches on their plans for dominance, and the battle between the Saiyans and Granolah begins and escalates!

Thanks and credit to Kanzenshuu and its contributors for the info they've gathered, and to the Official Dragon Ball site. Make sure you check 'em out.

But for now, let's get re-reading!

Chapter 71 – The Heatas’ Plan/The Heeters’ Plan
21 April 2021
Chapter Notes
  • Since 超 #70 ended on “Fate” bringing Granolah, Goku and Vegeta together, and this Chapter ends on the same basic beat (But this time for real you guys), this is probably a good time to talk about arc structure. There’s been speculation in both directions: some suggesting that the arc was cut short by editorial fiat (citing its abrupt-seeming finale across 超 #86-87), and others considering it may have been dragged out to keep churning out Dragon Ball media and maintain ‘hype’ (citing the slower Chapters in the second half of the arc, and the delayed release of Super Hero from 22 April to 11 June 2022 as a possible catalyst). The Dragon Ball Super manga has had latitude to tell stories in its own way since the Future Trunks arc, and story structures have varied accordingly:
    • Future Trunks arc (超 #14-26, 13 Chapters): One can see this arc as either rough thirds (超 #14-18: introduction and set-up leading into first confrontation; 超 #19-21: first confrontation and retreat/regroup; 超 #22-26: second confrontation leading to climax and resolution) or else as two distinct halves, with the arc midpoint Chapter at 超 #20 (full revelation of antagonists, end of first confrontation and retreat), and each half of the arc is further broken down into halves, with their own midpoints which are important to the arc (超 #16-17: introduction of Zamas as the real antagonist; 超 #23-24: Fusion of Zamas and beginning of arc climax).
    • Universe Survival arc (超 #27-42, 15.5 Chapters): This arc has two distinct phases (after 超 #27, which can be seen as an arc-interstitial/prologue Chapter), divided in a rough one-third/two-thirds split (超 #28-32: introduction and set-up; 超 #33-42: combat phase leading to resolution); arguably one could split the combat phase roughly in half around 超 #38, which divides the ‘early-game’ and ‘late-game’ phases (when Kale eliminates most of the field, leaving the final three competitive Universes).
    • Galactic Patrol Prisoner arc (超 #42-67, 25 Chapters): This arc has a fairly clear, simple, and even Three Act structure (超 #42-50: introduction and set-up leading to initial confrontation and retreat; 超 #51-58: preparation leading to opening confrontations between hero team and villain team; 超 #59-67: confrontation with main villain leading to climax and resolution).
    • Granolah the Survivor arc (超 #67-87, 20.5 Chapters): This arc has a very clear centrepiece, which is 超 #77, with the revelation of Bardock and the events of 40 years ago – the set-up and initial confrontation belongs to 超 #67-76, and the confrontation with the true arc antagonists leading to the climax occupies 超 #78-87. Each half of the arc is further divided into halves with clear midpoints (超 #67-71 sets up the arc; the join between 超 #71-72 ends the setup and begins the confrontation with Granolah, running from 超 #72-76; in the second half of the arc, the initial confrontation with the Heeters runs from 超 #78-82; the midpoint of the second half of the arc ends this phase of combat and initiates the climax by revealing the details of the Bardock/Gas confrontation across 超 #82-83; the climax of the arc runs from 超 #84-87.
    This seems to be decisive evidence of a logical, highly-planned structure that is laid out in schema and doesn’t really allow for ad hoc change in the back half. It’s clear that Toyotarou wants the introduction of Bardock to be the ‘vital point' that changes the course of the arc; from that standpoint, it makes good theoretical sense that the number of Chapters on either side of it should be practically equal to incorporate narrative set-up and initial confrontation prior to the centrepiece revelations on the one hand, and shift of confrontation to the true enemy, climax, and resolution on the other (there’s around 15 to 25 pages difference between these two halves of the arc in total, depending on where you reckon the arc begins). So, in my opinion, attention should be given to the intrinsic structural features of the arc to explain its course rather than indulging speculative appeals to extrinsic factors.

    Of course, whether planned and structured equality of narrative bulk marked out for the story is tantamount to good narrative balance in the telling is another question entirely: in structural terms, this arc seems comparable to the Future Trunks arc, but the key difference is that that arc tells its story in just 13 Chapters, whereas this arc apparently needs 20. While the Future Trunks arc has storytelling issues of its own, it’s pretty on the money when it comes to pacing – The Granolah arc could probably have afforded a couple of abbreviations on both sides of the divide, but given more opportunities spring to mind in the second half of the arc, it’s fair to say that the arc doesn’t get its balance quite right, and the overly-precise segmentation of its structure has a clear impact on its overall pacing (and on some related features of the storytelling, such as the sense of repetitiveness). We’ll definitely get into this more, further down the line.
  • The story finally comes out with the word “transformation” to describe how Goku manages to use Ultra Instinct – points awarded to the relevant chaps further up this thread. But Whis immediately goes and decouples the technique from transformations again – and Goku’s training to be able to use Ultra Instinct normally in this Chapter is an inconspicuous but crucial step that allows his later development of Ultra Instinct to make sense, in spite of it seeming to violate the established requirements of a tranquil heart (超 #52, 64): although Whis still talks about this requirement, the training also begins the accommodation of Ultra Instinct to how Goku normally is, rather than the accommodation of Goku to what Ultra Instinct apparently requires (which is what happened in the Moro arc). And one gets the feeling that Whis’s curious statement (which neither Goku nor Vegeta understand), “Your rivals should be yourselves from the previous day. Work hard to grow stronger than your past selves”, points towards this because it makes the self the focus of growth, rather than a technique. Goku completed Ultra Instinct as a technique already, but he has more to do in order to align it with his own true self – perhaps that’s why Official material has taken to calling his transformation in 超 #85 真の身勝手の極意: the “True Secret of Selfishness”.
  • Although this Chapter is a bit filler-y for my taste when it comes to plot progression, it does at least give us a good look at The Heeters, and I really like the interaction between Elec and Gas in this Chapter in particular. So it’s probably a good time to do a close-up view on them. In my view, the Heeters can be seen in three related ways: through their Roles within the Unit (tending towards a kind of extended body metaphor); through their Natures and Convictions (their thematisation, including their “poses”); and through their personal interactions (drawn variously from the foregoing).
    • The Heeters are a Criminal Gang who are also Siblings, and as such each member fulfils a particular role in the story and in the Family Unit, which does much to characterise each of them:
      • Elec is the “Brains” of the outfit. His focus is immediately apparent when he tells Granolah “The one with the most intel controls the Universe” (超 #68). That this has always been his opinion is clear from 超 #77, when he declares that the Heeters will oust Freeza with “Wits, wealth, and intel”, and he exploits his intel by hatching schemes (e.g., his plots to have third parties off Granolah: Freeza in 超 #68, Goku and Vegeta in 超 #70), which often have a strong “insurance” angle: in 超 #68, he plots to off Granolah to forestall the risk he might become too strong to handle, as “hedging risks is the rule of business”; he talks about the “worst-case scenario” of letting Gas fight Granolah (超 #71) and says, despite Gas’s resolve never to lose again, “…Never hurts to have insurance” (超 #77). Elec’s specific schtick, therefore, is Calculation (and, ironically, this often leads him wide of the mark): he assumes that Granolah will go off after Freeza half-cocked if he knows he has been revived (超 #68); he figures on Granolah trying to take Freeza’s place as Universal kingpin if he kills him, and also on him dying in a two-on-one confrontation with Goku and Vegeta (超 #70, 75); he calculates that Gas will handle his Inner Nature because “the Universe’s strongest fighter should have greater control over his own power than any other” (超 #80), and also computes that the wish will have given Gas enough power to kill the Saiyans and Granolah before Freeza shows up and before his life span runs out (超 #81; 85; 87). Like any “Brain”, Elec also commands and controls the functions of the rest of the Heeters; we see it constantly, from simple instructions, to broader commands to “follow the plan” as he lays it out (超 #71), restraint, manipulation, and regulation of actions and mindsets (超 #70, 71, 78, 80), and direct and forceful compulsion (超 #85) – as Gas puts it, “Elec’s will is absolute” (超 #82). At least, to the Heeters it is.
      • Oil is the “Eyes and Ears” of the Unit: mostly a receptive (and slightly colourless) role, accruing and recording intel for Elec to use. He’s introduced checking the authenticity of OG73-I, and he runs the data analysis on its memory (超 #68); he records Zuno’s co-ordinates (超 #69) and records the questions Elec wants asked of him (超 #71). He says nothing during the visit to Earth (except “…”), leaving the job of acting to Macki, but he serves as lookout while she finds Bulma’s Dragon Radar, and he monitors Vegeta and Goku on the screens during the journey to Cereal (超 #71); after that, he goes to “spy” on the battle on Cereal, to “give you the play-by-play” (超 #72), periodically updating until Gas is ready to enter the fray (超 #75, 78). He passes occasional observations on what he sees and hears (e.g., that Goku and Vegeta won’t follow Elec’s expectations by fighting together; Granolah’s attacks on Goku’s vital points, etc.); it’s interesting to note that his observations are often interchanged with Vegeta’s early on – and Vegeta learns more; but when he shares his conclusions, Oil hears and relays it all (超 #73), including the relationship between Goku and Bardock (“I heard ‘em mention that earlier”: 超 #78) and the transformations Goku and Vegeta use (“I saw both of those forms when they were duking it out with Granolah”: 超 #84, though he botches the names); he remains a spectator throughout, but when Goku and Gas vanish in 超 #82, it’s predictably Oil who has the tracking tech out, reporting their locations, and when the heroes retreat after Goku makes it back alone, Elec orders Oil to “Keep an eye on them”, and he reports on Gas’s return (超 #84).
      • Macki is the “Face” of the Unit, or perhaps the dissembling “Mouthpiece”: during the arc, she (re)presents the Heeters to others by word and expression. She’s certainly the most expressive of the four: when we meet the Heeters in 超 #68, Macki is the only member who smiles in every panel…until she has bidden Granolah a friendly farewell, and it immediately vanishes. She is also vital to the execution of the plan in 超 #71, drawing Goku, Vegeta and Granolah together by playing the part of a cringing supplicant on Earth (“Thank you! This will save the lives of so many poor helpless people!” – even Oil thinks she’s laying it on thick; “Yes ma’am? How may we be of service?”; “If there’s anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to ask”, etc.), and that of a helpful ally giving important intel to Granolah, characterising Vegeta and Goku as “Freeza’s assassins” and making sure to note that they are Saiyans, to ensure that conflict is engineered. But of course, it’s all lies; everything she says in this phase is plausible, well-seeming falseness. As with Granolah in 超 #68, as soon as she’s not observed, she shows her true face: usually, a mocking smirk (超 #71, when she leaves Bulma’s sight) or a vicious grin (超 #72, after Goku and Vegeta set off). She’s particularly expressive when (unseen by her interlocutor) telling Granolah that “Freeza’s assassins” are Saiyans, licking her lips and grinning savagely at the killer line that she knows will get his attention. “Am I the only actor in this family?” (超 #71) – Sort of, yes. But also she can be extremely blunt with her words and forthright in her expressions (e.g., the whole scene with Zuno, unable to hide her outrage), and when the Heeters’ plan is revealed, she speaks with harsh, mocking frankness (“Now that our plan’s in motion, all that’s left is to take out the trash”; “You idiot! Gas’s wish came after yours, which makes him stronger, duh!”: 超 #78), her face twisted in a grin. Sometimes she will speak impulsively, without thinking (“You sacrificed your life just to beat Freeza?! That’s insane!”; “If he ices Freeza for us, we can do our job without havin’ to kiss that jerk’s butt. Not a bad deal, right?”: 超 #70; “Should we unleash our inner natures and fight them?!”: 超 #82), or will speak out of turn (“This is clearly a bad idea! When our instincts are unleashed, we lose all sense of self!”: 超 #80; “Quit it, Elec! Look at him! That isn’t normal!!”: 超 #87); and of course, when she’s partnered with Oil as a spectator, she’s usually verbalising what’s going on (e.g. “It ain’t that Gas can’t wield his newfound power the right way…he just doesn’t wanna”: 超 #79).
      • Gas describes his own role in the Unit: “I provide enough muscle for the Heeters” (超 #78). He’s the ultra-powerful enforcer of the group – only, despite the fact that he has trained for the last 40 years (超 #83), honed his techniques (超 #79) and “become strong” (超 #77), he doesn’t actually get to use his prodigious power to do much enforcing, since historically he hasn’t been able to withstand “the full extent of the power slumbering in me”, which emerges with the unleashing of his Inner Nature (超 #83). So, with the exception of petulant aggressions against Granolah to remind him of his place (超 #68), Gas doesn’t initially get to fulfil his role at first (despite assurances in this Chapter from Elec that “I’ve got no doubts about how strong you are”) – after the wish, it’s a whole different picture; but there’ll be more to say about Gas when it comes to the Heeter Natures, Convictions, and Personal Interactions.
      So taken together, the Heeters not only form a literal unit, but also a metaphorical “body”, in which the functions of the other three are subordinated to Elec’s controlling intelligence, as if they are his appendages. This is a new twist on Dragon Ball Super’s tendency to oppose the organic unions of convenience that converge around Son Goku with antagonists presenting alternative constructions – distortions? – of Oneness. Champa’s Universe 6 is an “identical twin” of Universe 7 (“almost exactly alike”: 超 #5); Zamas and Black are the same person in different bodies, and merge together with a single soul in an unstable fusion (“I am…the one and only God. One God is plenty enough. We are one..!”: 超 #25); Jiren belongs to a team but is entirely Solitary (“Jiren’s always been a Solitary fighter. It was Gicchin who had him join the Pride Troopers”: 超 #41); Moro is the composite product of his many thefts of life force from countless beings (“Moro is known for absorbing the life force of planets and turning it into his own power. In that sense, his very energy is a mass of slaughtered souls”: 超 #44); and the Heeters are 4 individuals acting as a single ‘body’ with particularised roles to fit the metaphor. So, when one studies the Heeters as antagonists, one has to reckon with this kind of ‘unity’; isolating (say) Gas or Elec as characters to appraise them alone doesn’t really work, or is at best partial (though to be fair, the story doesn’t always help itself here, as it leaves Gas dangling out there on his own a little too much at times).
    • The themes of the arc are relevant when conceiving the Heeters both on the corporate and individual level: What makes them who they really are? Obviously, the aforementioned body metaphor feeds into consideration of their Nature. The Heeters as a “body” are defined above all by the control exerted by the cerebral functions over the other members (Elec, constantly backseat-driving) – and this is a diametrically opposed concept to, say, Ultra Instinct, where Goku’s body acts without any mental input whatever (or even Ultra Ego, which trades on mental stimulation, but more like a rising fervour than the conscious control that the Heeters go in for), so wholly fitting in its opposition. But the Heeters aren’t just a bodily metaphor – they’re also written as individuals, which sometimes works with, and sometimes against, that metaphor.
      • The Heeters have one obvious link to the idea of Nature – each of them have a vicious, powerful “Inner Nature” that is artificially kept in check by the talismans they wear: “When our instincts are unleashed, we lose all sense of self!!” (超 #80). Arguably, Gas is special in that 40 years ago, he seemed able to operate rationally for a time even when progressively unleashing his Inner Nature, and was even able to consciously control its emergence, rather than needing the talisman – although Elec seems irked (“Ugh…He went and let his Inner Nature loose?”), it also seems as though he had higher hopes for Gas’s capabilities: “I didn’t think you’d lose control after unleashing yourself…a real shame…We’ll have to double down on training” (超 #83). Given that Elec’s schtick is about conscious control of people and events by means of one’s intelligence, it should not be surprising that he might take special note of Gas’s ability to still use that intelligence even when his Nature comes to the fore, and to lose faith in his brother (as Gas fears: 超 #82) when Gas is overmastered by it after all.
      • For the last 40 years, then, it seems the “muscle” of the Heeters has been basically idle, his function outsourced to others like Granolah (much to Gas’s disdain and resentment), rather than the Heeters looking to their own ‘Nature’ to achieve their goals. This is an issue with the corporate Conviction of the Heeters. Elec in particular has a problem with Conviction; it’s not his thing at all – he much prefers Calculation, hedging his bets and manipulating others, and the places where his Calculations usually come undone, or are totally off-base to begin with, are due to his issues with the Convictions of the people he’s dealing with, which he mostly doesn’t ‘get’. For instance, we already noted his calculations that Granolah would recklessly get himself killed by Freeza (but he misunderstands the depth of Granolah’s convictions, and so it comes as a total surprise when Granolah instead recklessly shortens his life to become #1); he continues to misunderstand his foe in calculating that Granolah would replace Freeza as the Universes’ kingpin if he were allowed to kill him (a totally bizarre assessment, from the standpoint of what Granolah is like as a person); he calculates Goku and Vegeta will attack Granolah together and kill him (but doesn’t understand that their Convictions lead them to fight alone wherever possible, and that they aren’t in the business of contract-killing); even in the past, he calculates that the Saiyans “are just in this business for the carnage. Battle-crazed diehards”, and so doesn’t understand when Bardock acts out of Conviction to protect the last survivors (“What’s really going on? Is he working for Freeza or isn’t he?”: 超 #77); even his faith in Gas in the late arc seems to rest on his logical Calculations that the wish will have done what he asked (超 #80; 84), rather than true Conviction that he can trust his brother to get the job done. This preference for Calculation over Conviction makes Elec a man of “poses” throughout the arc; as he says, “There’s the hand you show, and the hand you don’t” (超 #83). He is variously a “loyal” “business partner” with Freeza (but has plotted for decades to overthrow him and take his army), a friendly and considerate employer to Granolah (but truly the author of all his woes, holding him and Monaito as hostages to do their dirty work, and perfectly happy to off him whenever), a caring and devoted brother (but constantly downplaying his brother’s Convictions until they are of use, and using his brother to replace himself with a ‘muscle’ Elec can have more faith in), and the formidable Big Boss who dominates the super-powered Heeters (but really the weakest of all of them: a “pose” so well-struck that the truth shocks even the rest of the family).
      • Elec isn’t the only member of the Heeters striking a “pose”: Macki, for instance, does it all across 超 #71 as part of the Heeters’ plan (to “pose” is basically her job); Gas reveals in 超 #82 that the only Convictions he holds are those which can be subordinated to Elec’s will (“I seek power for Elec’s sake alone…I was once the weakest among us, but Elec raised me to this level. I would do anything for him…Elec’s will is absolute”), and the way Gas is acted upon to advance Heeter goals seems at various points to be (ambiguously or not) unnatural. There is, of course, the wish using up Gas’s lifespan, just like with Granolah (超 #87), but prior to this, it seems as though Elec has consciously shaped Gas to be something he would not Naturally have become, if he followed his own Convictions. Gas acts like the stereotypical Toriyama Ultra-Powered Silent Stoic Badass™, and haughtily acts like he’s a big important grown-up, to boot, but 超 #82 shows us this is a ”pose” because he was originally “the weakest” Heeter, and despite his ageing up on the Dragon Balls, he’s just a kid pretending to be like an adult, and Saganbo’s goons remember Gas as he used to be (and sort of still is: “Remember the first time we met him? He was so scared he wet himself…Nah, you totally wet yourself. All ‘Big Bwother! I’m scawwed! Help me!’”). Gas is just a kid, despite his prodigious power and formidable mien, and he just acts that way because his role (as per Elec’s will) demands it – and because all kids try to act like grown-ups. Moreover, his own personal Convictions, even when they are aligned with his role, often run counter to the overall plan. Gas is meant to use his newfound power to sweep the board immediately, but he stubbornly inhibits himself because he wants to use the opportunity “to kill you with the technique I’ve honed” (超 #79); after all, he’s convinced that “I’m fine just as I am…” even before the wish is made (超 #78). Even when he gives in and uses the true power he seems to have at his disposal, this is done without much Conviction (as he admits in 超 #81: “I was conflicted earlier”), and even his power is a “pose”, and so he is defeated: most of his Natural power is still sealed away behind the talisman (超 #80). Even at Gas’s own personal junction-point between his powerful Nature and his Conviction that he would never suffer defeat again (超 #80; one of the few times Elec recognises the truth of another character’s Conviction – predictably, so he can exploit it), which triggers his own Awakening, he is ironically then most directly controlled by his brother in that moment, doing his bidding like a puppet. And when it all comes apart and Goku surpasses him, Elec’s forcing violates Gas’s Nature by moving his power beyond what is merely bodily, and instigates a death-spiral; Gas’s unnatural power begins rapidly to degrade him (“It’s like fighting something already dead…It’s like a curse. Cursed to be the Universes’ Strongest…”: 超 #87) and kills him.
      So, just like the other main Characters in the arc, questions of Nature and Conviction, the failure to be true to themselves, the numerous violations of Nature and the reliance on poses in place of Convictions are always with the Heeters; only fleetingly do they manage to achieve anything more, because of the turmoil within and between the members of their “body”; as purposive, conscious thought increasingly attempts to exert control to find success, the more elusive it proves to be, and the more fault lines open up between the Heeters as individuals.
    • Which leads us to the final way of looking at the Heeters, at the most ‘characterising’ level – which is to say, on the level of their Personal Interactions with each other; particularly between Elec and Gas (most indicative of the mind-body duality in the group). These are conflicted, frustrated interactions, genuine and caring (Natural, for family members) and yet reprehensibly, ruthlessly exploitative and false; they draw further depth and nuance from the body metaphor and from the themes of the arc, exposing the ruinous consequences of a divided ‘self’, particularly when set against the success of Bardock and Son Goku in integrating their own Natures and Convictions to pursue victory.
      • Elec is a ‘know-it-all’ big brother, and Gas is a stubborn (but quietly worshipful and implicitly trusting) little brother. Those of us with siblings can easily relate. Accordingly, Elec makes decisions in the teeth of Gas’s expressed preferences (超 # 78: “I will see your wish fulfilled, Gas.” – “I’m fine just as I am…” – “Don’t be silly.”), exerts emotional pressure that clearly manipulates him into doing what Elec wants done (超 #78: “All our plans rely on you. You know that, right?”), and casually violates his autonomy whenever Elec thinks it’s the right way to go, or suspects his brother is in some way at fault for not achieving the best outcomes (e.g., 超 #80, when he unilaterally removes Gas’s talisman, or 超 #86, after forcing him to find the resolve to die: “See? He gets the job done once he starts trying.”). Of course, insofar as the goal is to raise Gas’s power to the limit, Elec is right, but from a more holistic perspective where he might be expected to care about his brother’s well-being in the way that an ordinary person would understand, Elec doesn’t know as much as he thinks.
      • But is he just using Gas? He’s ruthlessly offing him for his self-cleaning operation; it’s indisputable that no sense of brotherliness stops him (超 #87: “Gas’s lifespan is about to run out! Making him far and away the strongest in the Universe meant sacrificing that much of his life!!”). However, it’s worth considering that in his interactions, Elec is also addressing a deeply-felt need that Gas himself experiences. Much of his reassurance, manipulative though it is, speaks directly to how Gas feels (“I wish you had let me fight him as well” – “I’ve got no doubts about how strong you are”), invests a great deal of attention in him (note that, per 超 #83, Elec has devoted decades to training Gas respecting both his personal strength and his Inner Nature), and, Gas concedes, is right when it comes to making him the Strongest. He resents it (超 #78) and stubbornly tries to do without it (超 #79), but also is “grateful” for it (超 #81); he even loves it and is exhilarated by it, it’s everything he wants (超 #86). Elec is certainly cruelly using his brother, and protestations like “You’re the pride and joy of our little family” (超 #68) or “I’d do anything for my dear little brother” (超 #81) lay it on thick, and are obvious parts of the manipulation – but he also expresses confidence in and support for his brother (“You’ve changed a lot since then. It won’t be like last time”: 超 #72), and even under extreme pressure, rejoices in his success in ways that speak to what Gas cares about (“Go on, Gas!! You’ll be the strongest of all right up until the second you die!!”: 超 #87). The ‘loving brother’ sentiment Elec has is highly twisted, subordinated to his precious calculations, and is fundamentally a “pose” – but like all the best and most convincing “poses”, there’s a truth to it.
      • Fundamentally, the pair’s interactions are guided by an unspoken lack of Conviction between them, related to but distinct from Elec acting as the “Brain” and supplying the “will”. 超 #82-83 reveals that, 40 years ago, Gas’s defeat to Bardock fatally damaged his brother’s faith in him; as noted above, Elec has since relied on hired muscle like Granolah to play Gas’s role in the Heeter unit – what is it like, for a ‘Brain’ to demonstrate no faith in the power of its ‘Body’, and to relentlessly control it? And how would a ‘Body’ respond, to know that? Gas is almost inexpressive until he gets the opportunity to act like the muscle he knows himself to be (超 #78), but we see glimmers of resentment (超 #68, 77, the flashback in 超 #78, and the interstitials between 超 #78, 79, and 80), longing (超 #71), and determination to prove his worth, even at the expense of broader goals (超 #79). Elec, for his part, is ‘trading up’ for a ‘Body’ he can really believe in, and his frustration mounts and he presses harder, against natural brotherly sentiment (超 #80, 86) as time drains away and his brother jeopardises the overall unit goals by consistently failing to live up to his promise and all the planning Elec has invested in it (超 #81, 87) until it finally boils over and he calls him “worthless scum”; little does trusting younger brother Gas suspect that, though he understands the broader longstanding goal, his brother would be willing to sacrifice him on the altar of Heeter supremacy – predictably, he is stunned and devastated at the betrayal, and his other siblings are outraged (超 #87).
      I really, really like the interactions between the Heeters – particularly Gas and Elec: they’re believable as brothers, with the tension between their care and closeness and their mutual resentments and antagonisms finely balanced; there’s nuance there that doesn’t need laborious exposition to work, just like in their conversation in this Chapter – and their construction as a unit, as a body metaphor, and as bearers of the themes of the arc, work well for me on multiple storytelling layers. Gas on his own isn’t anything much. Elec on his own isn’t anything much. But taken together, I find the Heeters are a really enjoyable arc element.
  • Toyotarou uses Macki and Oil for a “lighter” scene with Zuno, ending up with the offer of 10 questions (or 30 with the offer of another 10, per the interstitial for the Chapter). There are Shinto touches around Zuno I hadn’t previously noted – for instance, the floating Torii gate, and vermilion bridge to his residence, perhaps based on the Shinkyo bridge to the Futusaran shrine. We also see the Shide (folded paper streamers) dangling from Shimenawa (knotted hemp ropes) – these are found at Shinto shrines (and other spots) to mark ritually-purified spaces, which makes Zuno’s trade the more amusing and incongruous; one might think on the incongruity between his space as a Honden (a sacred space where a Kami traditionally resides; a mirror is often found there to represent the divine presence – they represent truth, since they reflect what is shown, which compares productively with Zuno’s schtick around questions and answers) and his design inspiration (a Fukusuke doll – a good luck charm historically found, among other places, in brothels). Personally, I feel it cuts across Zuno’s basic gag to have him actually get off on the kisses he receives, or to write him refusing to receive them based on preference; I thought it was much funnier (because sillier) to think that Zuno offers answers for kisses all day long when he doesn’t even really want them that much (though his stating that he has a “type” in 超 #7 means this had to come up at some point).
  • We get a neat training montage, which also gets the nod for Favourite Art (the weirdly serene panel of Beerus tossing logs into the stream is a nice piece, as is the surprise reveal of the giant tree trunk) – Vegeta gets a bonk on the head for wrecking Beerus’s planet with Hakai, so both the heroes catch a skull-bashing during their training in this Chapter. To crowbar another Daoist note into things (I won’t be doing this all the time, promise), trees and uncarved wood are often used as a symbol of potential, in contradistinction to tools crafted from them for what Humans conventionally think of as “useful” purposes but which, equally, are limiting because now those things cannot become anything else; the potential of what is natural is fundamentally superior to the limited scope of what is purposively constructed and ‘complete’. Goku and Vegeta aren’t complete yet (and Goku never wants to be: 超 #39), and even though Goku has “completed” Ultra Instinct, there’s more he can do with himself to continue his journey with it.
  • Chi Chi notes that the 100 million Zeni Mr. Satan gave Goku in 超 #1 is already running out (if that occurred in late AGE 774, around 6 months after the fight with Buu, and we’re now around AGE 782, then that’s 7 or 8 years of Son family household expenses at around $125,000-$150,000 a year). The Heeters later offer to pay Chi Chi her weight in Sky-Gold for Goku’s services, which gets the cute joke that she’ll fatten herself up to increase the payout. Jaco #3 showed us that a Kilo of Sky-Gold costs 76 million Yen (at the standing 1.5:1 exchange rate, that’s over 50 million Zeni); According to the Super Exciting Guide, Chi Chi weighs 50 kg, so the Heeters were effectively offering her 2 and a half billion Zeni (or at the current consumption rate, 2 centuries of Son family expenses). Pity it’s all a scam.
  • Goku and Vegeta kick off with some answers to the thematic question of ”Why do we fight?” when they learn of the “Strongest in the Universe” (we already know that Granolah’s answer is ‘to avenge ourselves’): Vegeta gives the answer of ‘to claim superiority’ (he’ll return to that in 超 #72), and Goku answers with ‘the fun of it’ (which he initially brings to the fighting in 超 #72-73) – and also, given the foregoing, ‘for money’, I guess. Cocky Goku also briefly emerges to annoy Beerus by telling everyone he’s never gonna lose, and they’ll all see how his training paid off – but this is actually Goku’s key “pose” in this arc; later Chapters (超 #73, 84) will reveal that despite the big talk, Goku weirdly lacks faith in his power when it comes to Ultra Instinct.
  • Beerus tells Vegeta that the earring marks out users of Destruction, which is a neat little expansion. But we know that even among the Gods of Destruction, the earring isn’t ubiquitous. The breakdown goes like this:
    • Earrings: Champa, Beerus, Liquir, Rumsshi, Belmod
    • Earrings?: Heles, Arack (he doesn’t have ears, but he arguably has the equivalent of earrings on his facial tendrils)
    • No Earrings: Iwne, Mosco/Mule, Quitela, Sidra, Gin
  • Oil notes that Cereal is 18 days from Earth. Far-flung Yardrat is only 10 days distant (超 #60), and Freeza Planet #79, 5 days’ travel from Namek, is also 18 days away from Earth (DB #246, #264; according to the Daizenshuu, they appear to be in a different galaxy to Earth), so Planet Cereal is likely to also be in a different Galaxy (assuming the Heeter vessel, Freeza Force craft, and the Galactic Patrol ships are all about as fast as each other), though this is not stated.
Chapter 72 – The Saiyans and the Cerealian/Saiyans and Cerealian
21 April 2021
Chapter Notes
  • Favourite Art: There’s a bevy of good stuff in this Chapter, kicking off a run of high-quality action art across the arc. Goku’s dodge of Granolah’s first snipe has great immediacy to it; the panels showing Goku dodging multiple blasts using Ultra Instinct are particularly effective in showing off the technique sans transformation (both in Base form early on and in SSjG later; the latter is particularly good, with its fun use of a multitude of quite casual-seeming figure poses to show off the dodge); the first panel of Granolah’s assault on SSjG Goku is a really cool piece; and there’s something about the two perspectives on Goku’s SSjB transformation that really speaks to me, both at different elevations and with good use of foreshortening to match. It’s a really pretty Chapter at its best. Also, Colour Watch (a thing I literally just made up; who knows whether I’ll keep it?): The panel with Goku and Vegeta getting engulfed by Granolah’s Destruction really pops, with the interaction between the fiery blast and the thick-outlined, more magenta-red lettering across it.
  • The sequence of Granolah’s back-and-forth sniping was a little jarring on first publication, but is in retrospect a neat little way of teasing the idea that there’s more than one of him, which will get its payoff in 超 #73 when it’s revealed that Goku has been fighting a copy with a portion of Granolah’s real power. In turn, this becomes Granolah’s first “pose” of the battle: pretending to be two weaker versions of himself to save energy for his revenge, instead of attacking the Saiyans forthrightly.
  • Granolah hits a “Vital Point” (Kyūsho, 急所) on Goku’s neck in the early stages of the encounter, and follows it up later with a strike in the midriff. In the latter instance, he only lands what “looked like a little tap”, which has the delayed effect of dumping Goku out of his transformation (the same happens to Vegeta with a seemingly identical strike in 超 #74). This makes Granolah Dragon Ball’s first true pressure-point fighter. The most famous example of such a fighter in the medium is probably Kenshiro, protagonist of Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) and legitimate successor to the ancient assassin’s art of Hokuto Shinken, a fighting style that relies on the striking of “Channelling Points” to take effect by disrupting the flow of Chi through those Points. Usually this is simply lethal (and in keeping with the painfully post-apocalyptic bleak edgy 80s-ness of the title, is invariably excessively gory), but can cover an absurd range of effects, such as making the target body move against a person’s will, inducement of hypnotic states, healing various kinds of trauma, etc. It is universally effective (except on Holy Emperor Souther who, significantly, has a congenital condition mirroring his vitals from their conventional placements). The writer, Buronson, took his main influence for this fictional Martial Art from an old book on Acupuncture/Acupressure that he encountered one day, and from what we see of Granolah’s attacks, his strikes are the same sort of thing (though much less flashy, with single pinpoint strikes from a distance, in keeping with his framing as a sniper – and, of course, with much less gore).

    The foregoing trades on Meridians, a concept used in Traditional Chinese Medicine rather than scientific Biology (though some of the points Granolah strikes can also be intuitively seen this way) – the idea is basically that there are channels within the body through which Qi flows, and there are points along those channels that can be manipulated by, e.g., pressure, to induce proper Qi flow and maintain balance and harmony in the body as a whole. By such reckoning, there are 12 ‘primary’ meridians in the Human body, and 8 ‘extraordinary’ meridians. The 8 extraordinary meridians are apparently crucial in Qigong, and by all appearances Granolah’s first two strikes on Goku hit along the centre-lines of his body, back and front: these correspond to points along the so-called “Governing Vessel” (dorsal centre line: the nape of his neck sites Point 15, 啞門 Ya Men, “Mute’s Gate”, a “Sea of Qi” point affecting Qi flow in the body, and a ”Sky Window” point impacting Qi flow between body and head specifically) and the “Conception Vessel” (ventral centre line: midriff, Point 12, 中脘 Zhong Wan, “Central Venter”, a “Hui Meeting” point which has a broader effect in this area of the body). He strikes other meridians in 超 #73 – on SSjB Goku, he seems to strike either the Small Intestine meridian or the Triple Heater meridian (geddit? Anyhoo, this would be around Triple Heater Point 16, 天牖, Tianyou, “Celestial Window”; or alternatively Small Intestine Point 16, 天窗, Tian Chuang, “Celestial Windows” – both are “Sky Window” points in acupuncture); and when Granolah can’t perceive Goku’s Vital Points thanks to his full transformation, he hits Goku square in the heart area, maybe on the Pericardium meridian (Point 1, 天池, Tian Chi, “Celestial Pool”; another “Sky Window” point), but more probably on the Kidney meridian (Point 23, 神封, Shenfeng, “Spirit Seal”). Perhaps apropos of nothing much, you can see the “Kami” symbol (神) in this name – so, a “Seal of the Gods” – and Google translates 封 as 印, meaning a ‘seal’ in the sense of an identifying symbol or mark, and Granolah strikes Goku dead-centre on Whis’s signature. I’ve mocked up a little chart that should give a decent idea of where Granolah is striking each time (click to expand!):

    Image

    Granolah’s able to perform these pinpoint strikes thanks to his Cerealian Nature; his evolved right eye (powered up beyond what is natural, but still peculiarly innate to him) is able to read into Goku’s own Nature to determine where his Vital Points are; weak points that are simply inherent to how Goku is ‘built’ as a biological organism: “I observed your blood flow and muscle movements, and I learned exactly where to strike”; “Even a flawless fighter cannot hide his Vital Points” (超 #72). And Granolah is able to tell when Goku is using Ultra Instinct because this changes these natural flows: “Your blood flows and the movement of your cells have changed. You must’ve activated that evasion technique” (超 #73). Goku will eventually overcome this assault in 超 #76 by shifting himself ever so slightly, so that Granolah’s attacks fail to strike these Vital Points on Goku’s meridians: still hitting him, but not critically. In this sense, then, where Granolah uses his (special, particular) Nature to attack Goku’s (general) Nature, the fight between the pair unfolds tightly around the thematic topic of Nature.
  • On that note, there are a couple of extra Nature touches in the dialogue between Goku and Granolah just before the fighting starts: Goku mentions Oozaru is no longer possible for the Saiyans (despite being their natural transformation), and that their transformations now are the product of their training (we duly get another “I thought all Saiyans had black hair” bit: see also 超 #2); Granolah retorts that one of them (SSjG) is “at odds with the savage nature of your kind”.
  • But despite the prevalence of Nature, this is also a battle where Convictions are clearly relevant. Despite Goku’s cocky bravado in 超 #71, these Chapters begin a trend that will be identified in 超 #84: that is, Goku’s own lack of Conviction when it comes to using his power (betrayed as it is by his Nature in this fight). He starts by agreeing with Vegeta’s assertion that “You rely on Ultra Instinct too much! If you haven’t perfected it yet, then dodge using your mind!”; he suggests fighting together with Vegeta as soon as Granolah shows his power; he hesitates for a long beat when Vegeta says he should fight Granolah first; his first thought when Granolah manages to strike a Vital Point is “I slipped up…”, and when Blue can’t evade his attacks, Goku concludes “If anything’s lacking, it’s gotta be my training” (超 #73); he agrees he won’t be able to beat Granolah even after nullifying his Vital Point strikes (超 #76); he tries reasoning with the Heeters to avoid fighting (超 #78 and 81); when the possibility of using a Senzu comes up, he assumes that Vegeta will be the one to take it so he can beat Gas (超 #78); he’s reduced to playing cheerleader for Granolah for a time (超 #79-80); even at his most effective, he plays “Defence” (超 #76, 82).

    It’s a tricky line to tread to have Son Goku, man of Conviction, handle a crisis of confidence without looking artificial in its characterisation, but I think the arc does a decent job of it overall – not least because much of the foregoing seems, in the moment, to look like a reasonable enough set of reactions, and not totally unprecedented for Goku either. It’s only when one compares with Goku’s usual excitable emotional states around fighting that admitting he just can’t win against Granolah despite devising good countermeasures (超 #76), or trying to reason his way out of a fight with the Heeters since he needn’t fight them (超 #81), starts to look ‘off’ (as it should). This general lack of Conviction (particularly over Ultra Instinct) came up in 超 #66 briefly, when Whis told Goku “You have already acquired Divine Power. Have faith in your own strength”, but Goku appeared to have anything but – perhaps seeming more doubtful than ever (as BWri perceptively noted at the time). He follows that up with the supposition that he can’t mimic Merus’s feats because “I guess I still don’t have enough God Power!”, but this arc reveals that the real issue is that Ultra Instinct forces Goku, a man of Convictions, to surrender them, and so become less like himself; he reverses this trend in 超 #85.
  • Granolah mixes techniques throughout the arc. Some are specific to his schtick as a Cerealian sniper, as Toyotarou noted that he wanted to “show his special skills” as part of unpacking what “Strongest in the Universe” means (Timestamp: 11:35 to 11:45), but others are familiar to our heroes (or, at least, seem to be more generalised versions of techniques seen before):
    • Shunkan Idou (超 #72, 79, 80)
    • Destruction, Splashy Dust Version (超 #70)
    • Destruction, Explosive Version (超 #70, 72, 74, 75, 80)
    • Planetary Geyser Attack (超 #73)
    • Shishin no Ken (超 #73, 80)
    • Telekinesis (超 #75)
    He also uses a Shield in 超 #75, but as this is by command, it seems to be something that Oatmeel does for him rather than a technique of his own. But given that Gas uses a barrier in 超 #79, and Son Goku tosses them out with abandon in 超 #85-86, there’s no real reason why he couldn’t, I guess.
  • We’ve already mentioned the motifs of sight and blindness around Granolah; a choice example pops up when he declares, “This right eye of mine is the sharpest in the Universe. It sees all”, which is highly ironic, since Granolah is unaware that he’s been tricked by the Heeters into fighting Goku and Vegeta, and wilfully ignores Goku’s confused cues in order to pursue his revenge. He sees all – except the truth.
  • Vegeta mentions Ultra Instinct is more accurate when Goku uses it in conjunction with an SSj form – it’s not immediately apparent why this should be, apart from giving Goku new opportunities to cycle his transformations and try gaining the upper hand with Ultra Instinct in an escalating battle, until he has to use his Divine Power form. Probably the simplest explanation is that with a body with better all-round capabilities to work with (e.g., strength and speed), Goku can use Ultra Instinct to better effect than might otherwise be the case. So, even as his transformations have a multiplicative effect on his natural characteristics, this translates in the same way to the improvement of his ability to use Ultra Instinct – which, in turn, has a biological effect on Goku even without his Divine Power transformation, and which improves his attacking and evasive ability yet further (Granolah notes both these things in 超 #73), without itself being a conventional ‘power-up’.
  • At the end of this Chapter, we get the slightly confusing Return of The Blue Aura, which went out with 超 #24 when Son Goku completed SSjB by sealing his power in his body. The aura attends the transformation sequence on pretty much every occasion after this (超 #35, 49, 50, 58, 66, 72, 78, 81), and we have seen Goku with the Blue aura in flight (超 #49 – and later, in 超 #81), which accounts for much of what we see here and in 超 #73; it’s also true that the aura isn’t always present during these fighting sequences – that said, it’s markedly more present in the fight here than it has been hitherto (though Goku manifests a Blue aura in the late stages of his fight with Moro when using Omen Ultra Instinct, in 超 #60). This may be an accommodation to other media where the aura is a highly visible feature (see Dragon Ball Super: Broly), but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s more likely to heighten the intuitive visual contrast between Goku using SSjB only, and Goku using SSjB and Ultra Instinct together. When he does this, he never has an aura while fighting.
  • And we end on a fun little ‘Jurassic Park’-esque moment, with Vegeta walking in the footsteps of his race. Apart from just being a cool panel to end the Chapter on, this is a literal thing that’s going to become metaphorical (and more obviously meaningful) across the arc, as Goku and Vegeta take the part of Bardock in what is essentially an expanded re-run of the events that took place 40 years ago, which partially structure this arc.
Well, there's Part 1 all wrapped up: hope y'all enjoyed it. We'll be returning for Part 2 toward the end of next week!

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LoganForkHands73
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Tue Jan 10, 2023 6:54 pm

Re: Ultra Instinct
Although I was in favour of designating Ultra Instinct -- the silver-haired form, at least -- as a transformation, this arc's emphasis that Ultra Instinct is a purely state of mind for Goku to realize his true self is vastly more satisfying. I like that there have been hints that Goku really isn't as comfortable with Ultra Instinct since his "empty-minded" nature only stretches so far.

Re: Super Saiyan Blue aura
This is one of those things where it feels like Toyotaro tries to appeal to a broader audience and using more basic visual language to convey his ideas (reminds me of the infamous "Goku getting punched down from Super Saiyan God to Super Saiyan 3" panel from the last arc that would be intuitive to 99% of readers but only annoys nerds who know that ackshually, the God forms are a separate transformation path I mean come on Toyotaro pull it together). Most people probably recognise the manga's rendition of Super Saiyan Blue with the blobby aura design, so that's what Toyotaro harkens back to. He again uses it to illustrate the difference between Goku using the "basic" Blue and a calmer, stronger evolution of Blue, just not quite the same one we've seen before.

Re: Hakaishin earrings
Back when this plot point was first revealed, I assumed that there would be more of a pattern between Hakaishin with earrings being the ones with T&T's design input, but there's only some consistency there. Toyotaro's designs seem more likely to have the earrings, so maybe he placed more importance on that detail than Toriyama ever intended. The Hakaishin are all so diversely designed that figuring out any identifying feature they have in common besides the patterns of their robes would be a challenge, but I always assumed that was part of the point -- unlike the heavily uniformed Kaioshin and Angels, anybody can be a Destroyer and they're all fiercely, chaotically individualistic to a fault.

Re: The Heeters
Really solid analysis of the Heeters here. Your hypothesis of them being four quarters of a complete body is certainly an interesting one, but I think that summarises why they've never fully clicked with me. I'm generally not a huge fan of teams or groups of characters that aren't well-rounded enough to ever be separated as individuals. It's a broad and overused trope that I really struggle to care for these days, though like any trope, it can be used well at times. As you mentioned, the story potentially undercuts their appeal as a group unit by having Gas go solo for such a stretch towards the end, when he doesn't quite have the strength of personality to carry that burden for as long as he does.

Conceptually, the Heeters are among the most original and interesting Dragon Ball villains, but I feel like they're severely limited simply by being stuck in this kind of story. One where no amount of Machiavellian scheming, intel-gathering or grubroll munching is allowed to make much of a difference unless a really BIG power level is involved somewhere. It's unfortunate because pretty much all of my favourite fictional villains are intelligent schemers and Elec is built up as the Brain of the operation, yet his planning skills leave much to be desired. I had my suspicions that there wasn't much more to Elec's goals than what we'd been told (i.e. kill Granolah, kill Freeza, take over the universe, profit), it was disappointing that his entire plan really did boil down to "use Gas to kill Granolah, kill Freeza, take over the universe, profit" with no real plan B.

Re: Daoist principles, TCM Meridian pressure points, et al
Just wanna say, I love when people bring in traditional cultural reference points to these sorts of discussions. I won't pretend to have the slightest understanding of it all, but it looks like you put a lot of care and research into these parts so... keep it up.

Big Boss's monologue actually makes some sense now.

Re: Granolah's stolen moves
The whole concept of Granolah and Gas being able to mimic these techniques without ever seeing them has never exactly sat right with me either, but it's one of those things I learned to roll with. I just guessed, as you did, that Toronbo is basically the Steelman of wish-granting dragons, giving his summoners the most generous possible interpretation of what they wished for, which includes the necessary skills and techniques to truly make them "the greatest warriors in the universe". I think Granolah's shield move is just his own ki technique, as I doubt it would be able block attacks from Ultra Ego Vegeta however briefly if it was a function of Oatmeel.

Re: Toccio the Angel creature designs
Nice catch with these, Toyotaro must have a real fondness for Toriyama's whole library of works, he sprinkles in these crossover references all the time. I must read Toccio at some point, seems like a right old laugh.

Speaking of references though, there's one I feel must have been very deliberate even if the presentation is quite different from the source. Bringing it back once again to the Future Trunks arc, I always saw the Babarians as parallels to the prehistoric primates from 2001. A primitive, barbaric species whose evolution we see in an accelerated form (a Time Ring rather than a Monolith, in this case), yet they only use their intelligence for further violence (though Gowasu notices they've developed some civilised traits like writing and reverence for their tribe elder).

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by batistabus » Mon Jan 16, 2023 11:08 pm

Every time I read your summaries (really good, by the way) I just think of things I want to comment on for later in the arc!

I will say that Beerus giving Vegeta the earring felt like a huge moment. There's so much in Super that builds up to it. You have Vegeta's (IV/III/planet) history with Beerus, Vegeta making a damn fool of himself to try to save everyone, and "my Bulma". Then you have the sparring session where Beerus says - both as an insult and a compliment - "you could probably be a candidate for God of Destruction in another universe...". Not to mention the fact that Beerus babysat Vegeta's daughter. Their relationship has come a long way, and Beerus' acknowledgment (even though it's framed as a bet with Whis) of Vegeta (something Jiren never got, apparently) felt entirely earned and satisfying. Whis matching the challenge was a nice bonus.

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Wed Jan 18, 2023 3:34 pm

Just caught up with the GPP Saga. I hated it when it was coming out, and the Black Hole effect didn't help; nor did the release schedule, which meant me and the boys had a full month to pick the chapters apart over the most trivial stuff, which would often get explained in the next chapter anyway.

In the years following it's conclusion, the saga aged like fine wine for me. Toyotaro makes it a terrific melting pot of beats and themes that already came before both in his own work and the original manga. It's the manga's first proper epic narrative, and in that sense I can forgive it's length even if the way he finds to prolong the saga in the 2nd act is rather contrieved and artificial.

On top of that, I think there was a lot of padding because Toyotaro wanted a big battle set-piece (Like an Avengers movie) and so everyone could get a minute of spotlight, for both the Saiyan Saga callbacks (Yamcha and Chaozu are back) and for pure fanservice, which I can also forgive. Tien and Chaozu vs Bikkura Quoitur turns out to be my favorite of the mook fights, even if just because it's the most characterization they've gotten in ages. Tenshinhan wanted to be an assassin, but in reality he's a pretty soft guy; he pulled a 180 on this dream within a day of meeting Goku. Chaozu on the other hand is still as nasty as he was when he fought Kuririn, and actually gets his first canon W ever (And even counting filler, it's just the second W).

The final battles with Moro are good, too. I don't think there's much that could be done with 17 and 18 since Moro doesn't even need magic to beat them, but 17 feels nerfed here. I can't quite put a finger on why, but he looks on pair with 18 and weaker than Piccolo, like he used to be before the ToP... But anyway, they do what they can.

When Goku and Vegeta fight, it's all done perfectly (except maybe Goku straining himself for power again, but you already covered that). Vegeta getting snubbed is a bit underwhelming, but we needed to make room for Goku and Merus to finish their own arcs, plus Vegeta still got to play his part in the end. Regardless, the whole saga gives Vegeta a much needed character development he hasn't gotten since the Boo Saga. I dare to say Toyotaro can write Vegeta much better than Toriyama can; after all, doesn't Toriyama admitedly dislike Vegeta?

Talking about Vegeta, I do think Piccolo's line made no sense. Whether he underestimates his enemies or overestimated himself is a Potato vs Potato dilemma, and from what Piccolo has seen (4th form Freeza, Androids, maybe Cell but he couldn't predict that, maybe Hit?) Vegeta does misjudge things quite a lot. Him saying he could win the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai without transforming is also debatable at best.

The way Piccolo writes off fusion is also contrieved, since it leaves one wondering if Moro should even be capable of touching (let alone damaging) Gogeta at all, and it's a Gogeta who'd also have Spirit Fission, mind you. This saga writes UI as stronger than fusion, even though Broly establishes both as at least equally powerful (With fusion probably stronger)... This also seems to break the whole "learn to wield your power" thing from UI since it's just writing UI as astronomically stronger than Sign.

Surprisingly, I don't mind the Senzu Bean scene at all, but I can see why people were pissed with it given the Cell and Goku Black cases, which you covered. I think UI's calm mind might have made Goku too relaxed and confident, not unlike when he got drunk on power with SSJ on Namek and SSJ3. It's also similar to how mastering SSJ (Said in both the series and guides to make the user calm and tranquil) made Gohan more than a pacifist than he ever was in the Cell Games. He didn't have problem fighting folks in the Namek and Android Sagas (He even kills a Freeza goon on Namek).

And my biggest issue with this saga: Dai Kaioshin. It's just too convenient he wakes up right when needed, falls asleep when the fight is over and wakes up again for the finale? It's implied Jaco woke him up but he can't even do that and he's just standing clueless next time we see him. Dai Kaioshin being so powerful is also confusing - I initially assumed it was Boo's own potential or some kind of fusion, but then the manga goes out of it's way to not only say this is Dai Kaioshin's power, in fact it's just a fraction of it! Hasn't the FT Saga already explained Kaioshins aren't supposed to be powerful in the first place, and that Zamasu was already pushing it?? And turns out the guys who lost to Boo were SSJG+ character all along? Come on.

All in all, I think this is good, best we've seen the manga in fact, but not great. Toyotaro probably had to stretch it out because he and Toriyama hadn't finished the bare bones of the next yet.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:56 am

The Super Re-Read: Chapters 71 – 74
Part 2 (Chapters 73 and 74)

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Greetings to you, good fellows, and welcome once again to another instalment of The Super Re-Read! This second part begins Volume 17 of the Dragon Ball Super Manga, with the clash engineered between Granolah and the Saiyans well and truly getting into full swing, and showing us Vegeta's Awakening of new power in the face of the Greatest Warrior in the Universe!

As ever, thanks and credit is due to Kanzenshuu and its contributors (on the site and the forum) for research and observations that go into the Re-Read, particularly the Translations archive. Additionally, the Dragon Ball Official Site has become a hub of important background information for the arc as a whole, with Interviews and Plot Summaries that give important extra dimensions to a reading; check those out if you have the time. You can also find a convenient listing of Storyboard releases and lot summaries in English and Japanese in This Post further up the thread. Hope it helps!

As an additional note, this instalment marks the first steps in a slight increase in attention on the original Japanese wording of certain concepts that this arc seems to lay down. As a disclaimer (and Health Warning, I guess), I'm not a reader or speaker of the language, so I've been reliant on other resources to help me out with reference (such as Jisho.org, an online Japanese dictionary, judicious use of Google Translate, and of course referring to observations from people who know better, where I can), and have restricted myself to observations that seem either quite safe and basic when important to the main thrust of the discussion, or on occasions where I've been slightly more speculative and 'out there', they've been included more for fun and interest to think with than anything, with appropriate caveats where I've done so.

Since I find myself unaccountably not bumping up against the character limits of the forum on this occasion, I also want to thank y'all for contributing thus far, including when focusing on previous arcs. Since prepping the Re-Read proper for each instalment takes a lot of time and work (around, y'know, my actual life and work), I don't always have as much time to maintain back-and-forth discussion on other observations as I'd like, so I just wanted to note my appreciation for your taking the time to engage; I appreciate it (and I'm sure other readers do too), as these too are an important part of what makes The Super Re-Read what it is. Thanks again, y'all!

Anyhoo, that's enough preamble. Let's get Re-Reading!

Chapter 73 – Goku vs. Granolah/Goku vs. Granolah
21 June 2021
Chapter Notes
  • One thing I appreciate about the battles in the first half of the arc is the lengths Toyotarou goes to in siting them in interestingly varied and scenic areas, which are also more than simply backdrops: in this Chapter, we get a lengthy portion given over to a forest battle; in 超 #74, a lot of the fight takes place through a river, waterfall and lake; 超 #75 and 76 will take us into cities, both old ruins and pristine cityscapes. The second half of the arc uses little combinations of each of these, but the scenes are mostly sited in a conveniently adjacent clearing, and so end up looking fairly nondescript by comparison (with the exception of the zany location-hopping of 超 #82, which is lots of fun). The locations themselves also could be seen to tie in with the Classic Chinese Five Elements: most obviously Wood, Water, and Earth; arguably the Cities and the Space Scenes also provide Metal (see 超 #81, for instance, where Gas uses the scenery to whack Goku with some big ole trains), but could be seen as being supplied to the scene by Gas’s conjuring powers, which invariably produce metal weapons (the coloured manga seems to reinforce this in the way they’re represented); Fire also appears throughout the arc, thanks to the various attacks by the characters (particularly the destructive Hakai, but also things like the energy geyser of this Chapter), and Vegeta’s flaming aura using Wagamama no Goku’i.
  • Colour Watch (It’s a thing now, I guess): It’s strange to see Granolah’s lime, almost neon green aura become orange across Chapters like this. I assume there are a couple of reasons: firstly, the official colourist is now able to work off of Toyotarou’s own art as a reference (Granolah’s aura is orange on the Volume 17 cover art), rather than just guessing and layering Granolah’s already green-dominated colour palette with more greens; secondly, the contrast of colours between blue and orange is simply more artistically intuitive and visually striking since these are complementary colours – the colour manga elected to do the same in 超 #60, with Goku and Moro’s aura clash likewise relying on the contrasts of orange and blue (despite Moro’s aura being depicted as pink previously). On another note, the deep purples of the foliage on Planet Cereal also play pretty nicely in the overall colour scheme, maintaining the variety and visual interest.
  • Favourite Art: Toyotarou said that he “went all out on the illustrations” for the beginning of this battle (Timestamp: 11:00). Something about Toyotarou’s action art has come a long way in this arc, even when compared with previous excellent showings like 超 #41 and 超 #59, and I feel like at least one thing can be identified somewhere in his linework. The exchange of blows between SSjB Goku and Granolah in the forest has a hefty thickness and frantic roughness in the linework that I find really pleasing and which really sell the intensity, even in small throwaway panels like Goku’s “Haah!” after kicking out at Granolah. A long time ago, Toriyama gave Toyotarou the advice to draw his action "with a rough touch" as a way to advance the quality of battle sequences, as opposed to Toyotarou's natural slightly fretful over-care. The smack Granolah takes on the panel on the left of the same page has a roughness that reminds one a little of Toriyama's own later work (see DB #459, where Goku gets similarly smacked by Vegeta).

    Toyotarou also does a good job of selling momentum and impact when Goku goes for his head-on assault with Ultra Instinct, but I also get the feeling that the panelling leading up to it makes the reading experience ever so slightly slower than how the pace of events is meant to be conveyed. That’s not so surprising, since Toyotarou needs to be able to kick the speed of Goku’s movement up another notch later in the Chapter, which he does effectively by lengthening the panel beats before conveying movement, which then duly appears all at once - he'll do this a lot in the action to come, and later on in the arc this will extend to plot beats also, which is an interesting development. I also think there’s some truth to Uchida’s observation that “The switch over between attack and defense is so quick” between the pair, thus helping sell the intensity through sheer rapid turnover as well (Timestamp: 12:40). But the winner of the nomination for this Chapter just has to be Granolah’s finishing blow on Goku’s Vital Point – such an impactful piece of work, and it helps that all the panels around it are excellently judged to sell the centrepiece panel’s effect still more, with the long beat beforehand as Goku reacts, and the radical impact on the page and a half that follows.
  • Not quite out of the realm of artistic choices yet – I just wanted to note my appreciation for the panel where Granolah says “My right eye will always lock on to your Vital Points”. It’s striking to choose to obscure half of Granolah’s face with the speech bubble, so only the goggled eye is in frame – obviously it makes it a natural focal point, but since we also can’t see or connect with anything anatomical behind the goggle, it is doubly arresting to forego the sort of connection people naturally rely on with eye contact, to depict Granolah’s innate strength as something alien and hostile. Though it’s a small thing, I really like it.
  • I realise that part of the point of Goku’s portrayal here is to seed the issues he has with his Convictions vis-à-vis Ultra Instinct, which is the key to his ability to challenge the Strongest (so we shouldn’t expect to get the kind of supremacy we’re used to seeing from Goku in his prime), and that he will actually come up with a credible countermeasure the next time he goes up against Granolah in 超 #76 (so he’s still learning and showing us what a gifted fighter he is). But part of me still longs for the kind of on-the-fly, insightful immediate counter that Goku would’ve pulled in, say, the 23rd Budokai. The second Granolah told him about how his eye would always lock onto Goku’s Vital Points, part of me wanted to see an immediate Taiyoken followed by “That’s weak spot number one – Your eyes are too good!” (DB #179). I also feel like, in a series of arc battles where the strengths of the characters tend paradoxically to betray their weaknesses, that sort of Nature-focused turnabout could’ve worked well. Would’ve done my heart glad
  • They’re only throwaway beats when taken on their own, but I do like the repeated return to the terrified Sugarians reacting to this destruction that they can’t understand: in 超 #72, they feel distant tremors from Goku and Granolah’s battle, and see the drift of smoke; here in 超 #73, they see the pillar of fire and mushroom cloud from Granolah’s geyser, and start to evacuate; in 超 #74, we see them fleeing, and their vehicles teeter when Vegeta uses Destruction; by the time we get to 超 #76, combat has entered their colony and Vegeta and Granolah start wrecking their city. It seeds the first half of the arc with a steady drumbeat of advancing destruction that will lend plausibility to the overall emotional heft of when Granolah sees himself through the eyes of those who fear him and the effects of his power, just like he saw the Saiyans 40 years ago. It’s not quite the same, of course - 超 #77 shows us that the Saiyan destruction was much more rapid and targeted – but it definitely serves to draw the parallel when Granolah sees it for himself, and Vegeta comments on it.
  • Goku pops up in the ruins of the Cerealian city. There’s much about the general architecture that seems reminiscent of the Bavarian old style, with stone houses with patterned wood beam structuring, and conical-roofed turrets abounding. There are other strange, makeshift and Steampunk features effectively ‘bolted on’ to the architecture, like the ‘lean-to’ extensions weirdly nailed onto the turrets (超 #72), piped water drums (超 #76), and what appear to be exterior-mounted furnaces (超 #73), weird pipework, metal chimneys and old mechanical clockfaces (超 #77). This unrefined, provincial feel plays off well against the space-age slickness of the Sugarian cities nearby. As a note, the turret Vegeta settles down on to watch the fight (超 #72) appears to be the same building Granolah lands on, from which he discards Oatmeel, and which he wrecks immediately thereafter (超 #75). In 超 #77, the same building seems to show up in the background when the Saiyans revert from their transformations after Flayk destroys Cereal’s Moon.
  • Goku finally reveals Full Ultra Instinct to Granolah. The Super Re-Read has historically called this “True Ultra Instinct”, in line with dialogue from Whis in 超 #39, to distinguish it from “Omen/Sign” (兆) – however, given the events of 超 #85 and official material calling that form his “True Ultra Instinct” - 真の身勝手の極意, ‘Shin no Migatte no Goku’i’ – a change is clearly called for: “Full” will do as a catch-all term, to denote completeness of the technique, ‘Full-power’ status, etc. Goku calls it 完全な身勝手の極意, ‘Kanzen’na Migatte no Goku’i’ – that is to say, “complete” Ultra Instinct: to be understood in the most basic way, it’s the whole technique, not just a partial realisation of it like he has been using so far in the fight (incidentally, the same official material calls his use of this improved-but-not-complete Ultra Instinct 磨きをかけた: ‘Migaki o kaketa’, or “polished”, in line with his stated aspirations in 超 #70). Viz naturally opts for “perfected” in translation, which I’m sure is fine, but it predictably raised objections that since Goku still has issues with sustaining the form and maintaining its accuracy over time (and we already know from 超 #68 that he has further room for improvement), it cannot strictly be called “perfected”. Toyotarou noted his difficulties with conveying Goku’s further progress with Ultra Instinct in the Volume 16 release interview (Timestamp: 11:54 to 12:23):
    Uchida: Like it’s amazing how they grind and grind away and become super powerful.
    Toyotarou: Yeah, it wouldn’t be Dragon Ball if everyone wasn’t getting stronger. I felt like both Goku and Vegeta have to become stronger than they were when they fought Moro.
    Uchida: But Goku was unbelievably strong against Moro, wasn’t he?!
    Toyotarou: Yeah, he was kind of perfect. Going beyond that’s pretty challenging! That’s why, in the first half of Volume 16, we showed that there’s a level of perfection beyond perfect.
    It’s interesting to see how Toyotarou depicts the differences and limitations to this kind of Ultra Instinct: Granolah already noted earlier in the Chapter that the technique as such alters the way Goku’s body behaves (“Your blood flow and the movements of your cells have changed”), but these changes, beneficial though they doubtless are, still can’t help exposing Goku’s Vital Points because that’s a natural part of his being. Here, Full Ultra Instinct changes Goku’s body sufficiently that these Vital Points are perfectly concealed (or, perhaps, until Goku’s grip on the form wanes enough, they do not even exist in quite the same way). And, as we can tell simply from how his expressions have changed across this Chapter (and as he will spell out as an inhibiting issue in 超 #81), he was more affected by the intensity of emotion that is inherent to battle in his lower forms (Toyotarou notes in the Volume 17 release interview that he can draw Blue in particular “with the most expressiveness…Blue is more fun to draw [than Ultra instinct] I guess?”) than he can permit himself to experience in Full Ultra Instinct, which requires total equanimity to succeed, as was a focal point of the last arc, particularly 超 #63-64. In the same interview, Uchida notes that the Full form “feels almost sacred”; Toyotarou replies “Yeah, that’s a great way to put it. For him to use Ultra Instinct, Goku has to be calm and steady, so even in the heat of battle his expression can’t be too dramatic, right?” (Timestamp for all the foregoing: 02:40 to 03:32).

    I guess putting a finger on the issue for Goku is to say that there is a difference between being Complete, and being Natural. Toyotarou himself makes this distinction in the Volume 19 release interview (Part 2) when he says, “Goku’s special silver-haired form looks totally different, and his power and personality change. That isn’t normal” (Timestamp: 13:55). Ultra Instinct suits Goku (as opposed to Vegeta: 超 #40, 68) insofar as he is a Martial Artist, and it is the ultimate Martial Arts technique to which his life’s journey has been leading (超 #39), but Full Ultra Instinct doesn’t align with Goku’s own Nature so easily, so its completeness is ephemeral; according to the arc themes, the unnaturalness of the state should be looked for in the fact that Full Ultra Instinct requires Goku, a man of Convictions, to fight without them. Insofar as the combat evolves in 超 #73 to reveal a clash between two different kinds of precision/accuracy (精度, ‘seido’); that of Full Ultra Instinct and that of Granolah’s right eye, Granolah wins out because his precision fundamentally belongs Naturally to himself (however enhanced by the wish, which arguably brings its own ephemerality in consequence), whereas Goku’s does not – along with being extremely demanding in and of itself – and so it ebbs away, giving Granolah his opening: and the Angel Whis’s signature ironically becomes a Bullseye for Goku’s weak point here, literally and figuratively: his heart.
  • But while he has it going on, Goku plays the good old Ultra Instinct hits that we enjoyed seeing in his clashes with Moro in the last arc: he leads with a precise dart kick similar to that which puts Moro under a boulder (it doesn’t just kick Oatmeel off Granolah’s head, like we see happen a couple of times elsewhere – it actually breaks the strap at the buckle), his telekinetic grab into finishing blow is taken straight from that fight also (both 超 #64), and his finisher, whipped shockwave punches, is taken directly from his fight with Moro where he uses Omen Ultra Instinct (超 #59). He even throws the patented Angelic hand funnel (see: Revival of F #2; 超 #51; to some extent, 超 #68) to send Granolah spinning, and his dodges on Granolah’s kicks immediately following that also strongly resemble Merus’s moves from their sparring session in 超 #51.
  • Granolah gives us Shishin no Ken: The Revenge, revealing he only ever used a portion of his power against Goku – presumably, the division of power is equal between the bodies, which would mean that Goku only ever fought Granolah at half strength (SSjB 身勝手 Goku: 6, Full Ultra Instinct Goku: 10, Granolah: 15? Sorry, couldn’t resist). Given that the reader was nudged towards the expectation that Goku and Vegeta’s training had already taken them beyond Granolah in a fairly standard “Hard Work > Short Cuts” formulation, the abrupt revelation that Granolah actually has a totally ridonkulous amount of power – far more than he could possibly have needed to take down Goku or Vegeta – is a very effective way of overturning this expectation. What’s more, as noted above, its a “pose” of its own: Granolah’s own language points this up (and with it, the contrast with the idea of True Self), saying he made a 分身 (Bunshin, “Representation of oneself”), or a 幻 (Maboroshi, “Phantom”) by splitting some power from his 本体 (hontai, “True form”, “Substance”). Granolah will use the technique again by splitting into 11 to misdirect Gas and gain an opening in 超 #80; it seems that damage incurred by these clones is less serious than if inflicted on the host – Vegeta notes Granolah’s power hasn’t dropped commensurate to the damage Goku deals in this Chapter, and in 超 #80, the clones are all mortally wounded by Gas, but the damage suffered by Granolah when they are all re-integrated is less critical (though still significant).
  • As Goku tumbles away, it seems as though Toyotarou didn’t successfully erase all his lines: the edge of his boot is inked on the following panel, but the foot doesn’t break the frame of the panel it belongs to. Probably would’ve worked nicely if it had.
  • And Vegeta enters the battle with an unusually harsh set of behaviours given the fact that he has accurately divined Granolah’s past and his motivations: telling Granolah to go die, saying he’ll be the one to kill him, and that his people will go extinct. That Vegeta’s earring flashes in the final panel hints that he is actively trying to channel the kinds of Conviction that Beerus would demonstrate; and the panel is a close reworking of Beerus’s “I’ll obliterate you too” panel from 超 #69. On the one hand, this foreshadows the awakening of the God of Destruction power that Vegeta will experience at 超 #74’s climax, but on the other hand, as Vegeta will concede in 超 #76, the attempt to “revert to the callous, unfeeling man I was” is something he can’t do. As the battle moves on from a clash of Natures to a clash of Convictions, this unusual front from Vegeta should signal to the reader that he is entering the battle with a “pose”.

Chapter 74 – Vegeta vs. Granolah/Vegeta vs. Granolah
21 July 2021
Chapter Notes
  • Considering Vegeta’s spotted history as a Freeza Force goon, one is paradoxically led to a point of affinity between him and Granolah: both of them have served as the “hands” of their masters, said masters being responsible for the destruction of their respective races and proceeding to cover it up to ensure continued compliance. Vegeta uses the expression “hands and feet” figuratively of the role the Saiyans played for Freeza (DB #308), and Granolah, as a stand-in for Gas for decades, has occupied the role of “muscle” for the Heeters, working on “all those jobs you did for us” (超 #81), thus slotting into their own particular body metaphor. Freeza specifically identified Vegeta as a prodigy whose talents he would wish to retain following the destruction of the Saiyans en masse, and he kept this a secret until Dodoria used the information to bargain for his life: “Don’t hate him yet!! He believed you, the Prince of the Saiyans, would prove useful!! And so he intentionally chose a time when you were not on the planet!!” (DB #257). Likewise, despite the fact that Freeza’s forces were responsible for actually destroying the Cerealians, it was masterminded by the Heeters: “scheming with Freeza’s guys to attack Planet Cereal led to a real nice payday for us” (超 #70). Moreover, Elec was personally responsible for killing Granolah’s own mother (超 #77), and followed up years later by innocently offering Granolah paying work for the Heeters since “it would be a waste to kill such a resource, so he decided to hire you instead”, and he “saw value in your strength”. Meanwhile, he ensured compliance by threatening to kill Monaito if he ever told the truth: “The second you blab, both of your lives are over” (超 #78). Given their shared history as duped muscle for intergalactic scumbags, it isn’t surprising that Vegeta and Granolah end the arc with a deeper personal connection.
  • Oatmeel pipes up for the first time in a while to play Jiminy Cricket for Granolah; he’ll repeat this in 超 #75. In retrospect, one might have suspected Granolah’s ruse not simply from his apparent ability to be in two places at once when sniping Goku and Vegeta, but also from the fact that Oatmeel does not speak at any point in 超 #72-73 (because he is not there).
  • Vegeta shows us SSjBe again, which he first attained in 超 #40 (also appearing in 超 #45, 60, 61, 66, and 69). I didn’t mention this at the time, but although this is his strongest form at this point and it is thought of as an “Evolution” of Blue, it does not appear to simply replace SSjB for Vegeta: 超 #49 and 50 demonstrate that he is still capable of using ordinary SSjB at will (quite apart from his aura matching Goku’s own upon transformation, the colour manga doubles down with the ordinary SSjB colour scheme for Vegeta in these Chapters – compare with 超 #45, which initially seems similar and may well at first be another example of such, but then the tell-tale aura appears with a subtle colour shift). In the Volume 19 release interview (Part 1), Toyotarou notes that the colour scheme for the manga’s SSjBe is an accommodation to the Dragon Ball Super Anime’s version of the form (Timestamp: 08:00 to 08:30).
  • I very much enjoy Granolah’s bored, slightly peeved expression when Vegeta’s multi-Hakai goes off. A small hint of levity in an arc that won’t be trading on it much.
  • It’s also kinda fun that Toyotarou bothers to linger over the fact that the force of Granolah’s first counter-punch on Vegeta blows a clean channel through the dust and smoke. That’s a detail I hadn’t noted the first time around.
  • From the second Vegeta grits his teeth and stands his ground in the face of getting whomped by Granolah for the first time, Conviction becomes the primary thematic question guiding the way this fight unfolds – in a positive way for Vegeta, just as his curious Destroyer “pose” pointed this up in a negative way at the end of 超 #73. Quite apart from simply refusing to go down when struck by power much greater than his own, he grows into the fight increasingly (chasing Granolah down, weathering or evading his attacks, sometimes with particular ploys in mind), gaining in strength; he expresses the genuine belief that “I’m still going to win” despite being apparently outmatched, and notes that Granolah’s strength hides the weakness of inexperience (i.e., that combat on the current level is unnatural to him); he again expresses conviction that he won’t lose, bears his true feelings on what fighting means to him, how battles are always in flux, how he changes (and is changing) with them, and finally on how the combat, and how he feels about it, intersect with his Nature as a Saiyan, which sets off his transformation. Compare with Granolah, who rests on his laurels, “High and mighty” about being the Strongest, but increasingly frustrated by Vegeta’s counters and sheer will to win, as his own status isn’t really backed by its necessary substance. With Vegeta, it’s as close as a "pose" gets to the full and actual truth, but for Granolah, the "truth" for him is still in an important way a "pose".
  • Colour Watch: We often talk about Toyotarou’s artistic improvements, and these are certainly real enough. But I think the (sadly, uncredited) colourist(s?) shows off just how much they’ve come along in their craft in this Chapter too (again, assuming it isn’t simply a different colourist – after all, how would we know?). The panel that prompts this observation is Vegeta’s retaliatory blast, where the colouring shades from the blue of his aura on the right/background, to the yellow of his blast on the left/foreground, and the transition is managed very effectively (along with the purple background, which makes the whole thing pop). But also the water effects, the blasts and general light effect colouring (particularly on Vegeta’s transformation), use of highlights in colours and the overall colour balance (including some cool background choices that set off the action really well) and some really effective, startling other choices (like the neon green text effects as Vegeta catches Granolah’s blast underwater – cutting through the blue and yellow that dominate the panel) make this a beautiful Chapter to read in colour.
  • Beyond the simple interest of varying up the scenery for combat to take place in (mentioned earlier), or perhaps giving images of Nature and Growth for the conflict to be sited in, I appreciate the use of the scenery to evoke aspects of Vegeta’s training, and thus its use in foreshadowing his development at the end of the Chapter. The waterfall scene seems to reference 超 #71, with Vegeta’s training in using Hakai; he’ll use it again here to counter Granolah’s attack (and, of course, will deepen his connection further).
  • One could easily institute the Inaugural Granolympics off the activities that make up this fight. In just this fight, we get Karate (Kumite); Shooting (Rapid Fire Pistol); Diving (Plain High Diving); Swimming (200m Butterfly – Vegeta’s form is excellent); Archery; Shooting (Trap). Note: in the Granolympics, all events are undertaken at the same time.
  • Oatmeel shows off one of his own abilities: Aim Assist. This appears to be used for instances where Granolah is unsighted in some fashion. We noted that in 超 #67, Oatmeel’s readout looks somewhat like a Scouter display, and it is clear that Oatmeel has a range of sensors that give him a broader range of “sight” than even Granolah has. The full range of Oatmeel’s abilities appear to be as follows:
    • Identifying Scanners, able to differentiate between apparently identical individuals (超 #67)
    • Sensors able to determine physical condition of target (超 #68), including heart rate (超 #79)
    • Vocal Mimicry (超 #68, implied – Pretends to be Granolah, and Soshiru doesn’t notice the difference)
    • Data recording and playback (超 #70 – has recorded and can replay the summoning incantation for Toronbo), including accessing and playing back data from other devices such as Scouters (超 #82-83)
    • Targeting Sensors capable of determining precise positions of unseen opponents (超 #74 – Vegeta is moving underwater; 超 #86 – Gas is in orbit and Granolah’s vision is impaired) and inanimate objects (超 #79)
    • Energy Shielding (超 #75, unless this is one of Granolah's own abilities, as we already mentioned)
    • Remote and direct vehicular control (超 #75, 76, 82)
    • Transforming between physical ‘modes’ as an earpiece and a robot (超 #82)
    As a companion, Oatmeel is an excellent example of the arc’s focus on the Influence of Others in making the characters who they are; he’s a faithful companion, serves a purpose as both an aid to augment Granolah’s Natural gifts and in trying to act as Granolah’s conscience in the early battle, succeeding in making Granolah confront his Past by bringing Monaito to the scene and later by fully revealing that past to all the heroes by playing Bardock’s Scouter audio data (which effects a fundamental change in Granolah’s outlook). Whenever Oatmeel is absent, Granolah is “blinded” (figuratively: 超 #75, and literally: 超 #81), and beyond straightforward questions of his abilities, Oatmeel is key to giving the characters new ways of seeing throughout the arc.
  • And on the motif of sight, Vegeta blindsides Granolah into unwittingly destroying part of his old hometown, “full of all those precious memories”. Granolah noted in 超 #69 that he has held the sight of his hometown before his eyes deliberately for his whole life, to focus his Convictions on avenging himself on Freeza and the Saiyans: here, his focus on his target leads him towards a kind of blindness, where he begins to repeat the Past. This will develop in 超 #75, where Granolah ignores the truth Vegeta tells him about the Past (“Hmph! Doesn’t matter. Even if you are telling the truth…it’s no reason to call off my revenge…against you Saiyans!!”), loses the clarity of sight that Oatmeel offers him by discarding him (“Now that I’m the Strongest…I don’t need your support anymore”), and begins willingly to destroy the city in pursuit of that revenge. Then, in 超 #76, the destruction Granolah is party to advances to the Sugarian colony, the connection between the Past and the Present begins to hit home (“By eradicating the Saiyans, aren’t you just repeating history?”), and his resolve wavers fatally.
  • Although this is fundamentally a battle of Convictions, it mirrors Goku’s battle with Granolah in that the second thematic element rises to meet the first – in this case, Vegeta’s Nature unites with his Convictions, beginning with the honest confession of his love of fighting (Granolah pointedly asks “How many lives were sacrificed to your love of carnage?!”, which shows this up as particularly relevant to Vegeta as a Saiyan, rather than Vegeta as a fighter in general); Vegeta follows this up by relating the fight to the Saiyan trait of rapidly increasing in strength as they fight stronger opponents (Vegeta notes “I’m already stronger than I was a few minutes ago”), and then talks about his feelings for a pure battle, where “There’s no planet to protect. No people to save. Just me, immersed in combat. My happy place”, it is not simply an expression of Conviction, but also of Nature, since it’s “Just the thing to get a battle-crazed Saiyan’s blood pumping”. As we’ve noted before, it is the union of Vegeta’s Conviction with his Nature, his Instinct (本能, ‘hon’nō’) and its “unbounded” power, that reveals his progress and gives him his new Divine Power form.
  • Favourite Art: The depiction of the battered, frenzied Vegeta is absolutely savage, and the clear nod for the win here. It seems to recall his Saiyan arc self when pushed to his limits (DB #230-241). First appearing when Son Goku surpasses him thanks to the Kaio-Ken x3, often this look is associated with significant damage, but more particularly the wounding of Vegeta’s Pride as the Saiyan Elite, “The greatest warrior who has ever lived” (DB #231), “The Strongest in the Galaxy” (DB #232) – apt, given the contest here, but it also works well with the attempt to “revert to the callous, unfeeling man I was”, as he admits in 超 #76 (and ‘Pride’ will pop up in the late arc as a relevant concept). Apart from just being really enjoyable artwork, it also works by means of reference to point up something that is simultaneously true (the Saiyan destructive instinct) and yet not-quite-true about Vegeta (after all, he’s moved beyond it). It’s not surprising that Toyotarou notes that “In Volume 17, I liked Vegeta more [than Goku]. I liked him all the way to his unveiling of Ultra Ego.” (Timestamp: 10:30 to 10:45)
  • The Chapter ends on the reveal of Vegeta’s new Divine Power form. Not only is this a matter of the union of Vegeta’s own Nature and Convictions in a critical expression of his Instinct (as noted above), but also an “Awakening of the Power of Destruction” he has lately trained to use. Therefore, it is unsurprising that features of his design – particularly his flaming aura – are evocative of the power previously wielded by Gods of Destruction like Beerus (see, e.g., 超 #4). In the Volume 17 release interview, Toyotarou discusses the design influences (Timestamp: 13:12 to 14:02):
    Uchida: Then there’s the design as well. He loses his eyebrows and has this totally unique feel. Were you thinking about Beerus when designing it?
    Toyotarou: I was. [Migatte no Goku’i] is a move used by Angels, but [Wagamama no Goku’i] is different in that it’s a move used by Gods of Destruction. So fundamentally I was trying to capture Beerus’s essence. I haven’t confirmed whether Toriyama planned it or not, but I feel like [Migatte no Goku’i] Goku having silver hair is because Whis has white hair. Sorry, I haven’t actually confirmed that, so I can’t say for sure. Either way, I envisioned what Vegeta would look like if you incorporated some of Beerus’ design.
    However, Vegeta’s lack of eyebrows seems more to crib from the design of SSj3 and its more ‘primal’ inspirations – which isn’t surprising (the early concept sketches, it is well known, not only lacked eyebrows but also brought back the Saiyan tail) – rather than Beerus’s own brow; Beerus obviously lacks irises so there’s no direct inspiration there either (though obviously these serve in Vegeta’s case as an ‘Instinct’-style design feature – speaking personally, I might have preferred a golden iris to the crimson he’s given, both in terms of colour balance and an oblique Beerus reference), and the purples in their respective designs aren’t the same (Vegeta’s form giving his hair a gorgeous, deep mulberry colour instead of Beerus’s bluer, paler purple). Perhaps the slightly thinner face with the higher cheekbones is a direct borrowing (to the extent that it is regularly depicted), but I guess Toyotarou was going more for the savage, destructive ‘vibe’, and that certainly comes out (particularly in the next Chapter). The design was quite divisive when it first came out, but I think it manages to blend primal Saiyan elements and God of Destruction Power quite successfully, without ending up like an uninspired borrowing of identikit elements, or like an overly ‘busy’ mashup of clashing design features.
  • As a final note, Vegeta will mention in 超 #75 that his power has been “awakened for the first time”. This is just the first of several such “awakenings” (覚醒: kakusei) that will take place across the arc. One might consider this as in some way linked to matters of resolve – not simply because we’ve been seeing Vegeta increasingly voice relevant convictions as the fight unfolds, but also because there’s a linguistic linkage that can be discerned here (覚悟: kakugo, resolution; as in the title of 超 #63, “Merus’s Resolution”). 覚 can have linkage with words to do with awakening, enlightenment, resolution, but apparently also appears in words to do with remembering and feeling. This may or may not be significant, but it’s worth noting that in every instance of “awakening” in the arc, there is the conjunction of remembering, feeling, and resolution:
    • Vegeta notes in 超 #74 that he remembers the feeling of pure battle as a destructive Saiyan warrior (“This feeling…it’s been ages”), by association “My happy place”, linked up with the previously expressed convictions of what he loves about battle, and his belief that he will win, and so his power awakens;
    • Gas takes “a trip down memory lane” (超 #77) in remembering his defeat; he swears that he will never suffer the indignity of defeat again; he again recalls Bardock in 超 #80 and reels in fear (note the Plot Summary prior to the release of 超 #82, which calls this 強く想う – tsuyoku omou, strong thoughts/feelings), and Elec returns to his resolution from 超 #77 (“Go on, Gas. Remember. You swore never to lose again, right?”), which triggers the awakening;
    • Bardock remembers his wife and son when he sees Muezli and Granolah (超 #77), and his feelings for Gine and Kakarot influence him towards protecting them (the Plot Summary prior to the release of 超 #83 says 情が湧き – jo ga waki, his feelings well up); across 超 #82-83, he fights with a “fierce resolve […] like no other” (超 #81), and grows past his limits to defeat Gas;
    • Son Goku remembers his parents and “I feel like I finally understand what Saiyan pride is about. Or…rather…I remembered what it’s about, along with my father’s face” (超 #84), which leads into the insight that he hasn’t had total faith in his power, and to the “sheer desire to win”; and his Ultra Instinct develops in a way that “I can put my emotions to work for me […] my heart’s not tranquil now”. Moreover, in 超 #86, Goku gets a literal awakening, momentarily, to a Full Ultra Instinct where its power moves beyond what is bodily;
    • Granolah’s whole arc is dominated by memory of what happened 40 years ago, and the emotions that provokes in him are evident throughout the story (but particularly in 超 #76 and 超 #81, where his emotional turmoil is most evident); like Son Goku, he obtains a literal awakening (having heard the whole story of the clash between Bardock and Gas while he slept), and with it a resolve that “I’m not out for revenge anymore. Not against anyone” (超 #86), which is the result of his awakening to his True Self.
    The extension of the thematic element of Conviction along the motif complex of Memory (Past)-Emotion-Resolve-Awakening will be joined with its conceptual ‘other half’ from the thematic element of Nature in the latter half of the story, with its own motifs of Hope (Future)-Instinct-Protection-Growth/Evolution, which has so far mostly just been hinted at in the story, mostly by either dialogue (“You have at least that much room to train and grow”: 超 #68; “As long as you’re trapped by the past…you’ll never manage to grow past this point”: 超 #69; and most crucially, “Work hard to grow stronger than your past selves”: 超 #71) or else by contraindication as the characters in the story fail to grow, their natural development being suspended or even reverted by their fixations. It isn’t until the appearance of Bardock, and particularly his fight with Gas in 超 #82-83, that the growth motifs really start to come into their own, which feels a little late to make their impact really felt in the story.
  • So, that’s 超 #71-74 down. I have to say that, although 超 #71 in particular could have been rather sparer, especially in its second half (which shows at length some things that could simply have been told us), the start of the fighting section of the arc works well. It does a good job of showing us Granolah’s power, his relentless pursuit of his revenge, and how increasingly untenable his position is becoming (though he doesn’t fully realise it yet), and the fights proceed in a pacy, flashy, highly entertaining fashion. Goku’s offering is perhaps a little rote at times, as befits the formula that the first fighter out gets tonked, but the choreography and art is well done (the art in particular is of extremely high quality), and if approached with a view to the thematic questions of the arc, there’s actually plenty of rewarding detail to pick up on – particularly Goku’s subtle crisis of confidence, which I, for one, missed the first time around, simply thinking that he seemed a little more nebulous than usual. But at this stage, Vegeta is positioning himself as the stand-out presence of the arc – determined, smart, and ferocious, his stock is on the rise for the keystone confrontation of the early arc. And the fighting around his turn stays in high gear, and it’s highly enjoyable. But then, the quality of action doesn’t tend to feature among the common criticisms this arc comes in for.

    More at issue is the absence of anything much happening around the combat: the reader waits for Goku and Vegeta to catch up to where we were at the beginning of the arc, and meanwhile, the Heeters…know what to do, and duly arrive on scene. That’s basically it. To a great extent, having completed its set-up stint, the arc attempts to tell a story by means of an escalating battle (sort of like Dragon Ball Super: Broly, in that regard), and that’s difficult to keep entertaining for a protracted period, particularly when there isn’t much else to inject new development into the story. For now, the arc does a good job, and fortunately manages to go one better by using this early action stage to pick up the arc’s thematic questions of “What makes us who we really are?” and “Why do we fight?”, and to lay down the elements of its answers with compelling interplay between them – there is constant use of considerations of Nature and Conviction in both Goku and Vegeta’s fights with Granolah, with each mirroring the other pretty effectively in their dominant and ancillary thematic elements, and the matter of Instinct emerging with new dominance at the end of this section of the story. But one can't avoid the vague feeling that what the arc hasn't done in this early portion, at the expense of presenting us with some exhilarating combat, will come home to roost in the second part of the arc.

    So far, I have to say I’m enjoying the arc a lot on re-read, and I’m looking forward to the next section, which I remember as the zenith of the arc as a whole. Here’s hoping it holds up.
Okay, well, that’s all from me; over to y’all. What did you get from your Re-Read?

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Mr Baggins » Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:39 am

I'd rather not just repeat the same criticisms I made in the chapter threads, which is why I've refrained from commenting much ITT. But this is an interesting point:
Magnificent Ponta wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:56 am To a great extent, having completed its set-up stint, the arc attempts to tell a story by means of an escalating battle (sort of like Dragon Ball Super: Broly, in that regard), and that’s difficult to keep entertaining for a protracted period, particularly when there isn’t much else to inject new development into the story.
I don't think this sort of thing has to be difficult if the writing is competent. DBS Broly had a ton of protracted action, yet still kept things interesting by weaving in a lot of emotional character beats for Broly through his interactions with Goku, his interactions with Paragus, the interactions between Paragus and Freeza, Gogeta getting just a wee bit too enthusiastic about fighting, etcetera. Granolah vs. Vegeta did it by forcing both characters to confront their own baggage and convictions as they gradually wore each other down physically and psychologically, and by keeping everything relevant to the main character of the arc. The original run did it all the time, and was certainly more than just a "drama about martial arts" – if that's all Dragon Ball amounted to, I can name around a dozen better alternatives in fiction.

I wonder what this story would have been like if it continued to follow that philosophy and didn't fall so spectacularly flat in its second half. I'd expect the Heeters to be heavily involved either way, although presumably, Granolah wouldn't have been sidelined for no good reason in his own arc.
Magnificent Ponta wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:56 am I’m looking forward to the next section, which I remember as the zenith of the arc as a whole.
If you're referring to #76, then yes indeed. Loved that chapter. I'm sad it wasn't representative of the arc's overall quality.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:27 am

So, I've finally caught up with the Super Re-Read. I more or less got the perfect spot: As you said, this saga is a tale of two halves, and the first half (which we're about to wrap up) not only is better, but just might be my favorite piece of Super. As far as the manga goes, Chapter 74 is it's crowning achievement.

If the Moro Saga was a plot-based story (A big action set-piece in 3 acts, not unlike a Hollywood blockbuster), then the Granolah Saga counters by bringing (or attempting to bring) a smaller scale, character-based story. It's all about Granolah, he sets everything into motion and we see who he is and how all of this affects him (until he gets sidelined for Goku and Bardock and has his big development off screen, but that's for later). Even the timeframe is smaller: While the Moro Saga spans across 2 months, the bulk of the Granolah Saga fits within a single afternoon.

So the whole "Strongest in the universe" motif feels rather out of place while paradoxically being the main theme of the saga. Goku and Vegeta are stronger than gods (Or are they? Goku is really afraid of Beerus again for some reason, but Beerus looks jealous of Goku), yet Granolah is kicking their arses and then so will Gas. So what was Toronbo talking about when he said Granolah couldn't surpass the gods? What's even the point of wasting ink on that pointless loophole?

So basically, the character work is top notch (Which is a surprise for DB), but the power levels are all over the place in a way that's atypical of DB. Toyotaro writes Vegeta like no one can, and Goku in this saga reminds me of how he acted in the FT Saga - always avoiding the big fights until he can't and must put his new full power to test. He's lacking conviction. Granolah himself reminds me of Tenshinhan: Out for revenge, wants to play tough and be a cool assassin, but in reality he's just a martial artist. He's constantly saying he could kill Goku in a second and get the info from Vegeta, yet he wants to see how far Goku can push him. He even tells Goku "Just shut up and fight me!" at one point.

For the differences between the Dragons... I always saw each Dragon as having their own distinct personality: Polunga is super literal (Bringing Piccolo to a random place on Namek), Shenlong is biased (Giving Piccolo a bonus, and I always thought he brought Freeza in slices as revenge until showed me a quote with Shenlong calling it a limitation on his power. Sounds like Shenlong was lying tbh), and Toronbo is the nicest, most helpful of the Dragons. And while I'm at it, I want to say the Cerelian DBs are the laziest excuse for DBs ever. Only two balls, no cooldown time? Elec could have taken any other set with Zuno's knowledge. Even by Toriyama standards, this is lazy.

Trading time for power is a bit of a recurring theme on DB. Piccolo Daimao said he'd shorten his lifespan by using his full power, Old Kaioshin the same about SSJ transformations, SSJ3 famously eats up a lot of time and Freeza's peak doesn't even last 5 minutes. The basic idea seems to be that power causes stress which affects your lifespan, but I'm sure there's a more sophisticated explanation engrained in Chinese Philosophy that I think you'd like to look up.

So all in all, these are some big fucking cons, but the pros are just that good. In the first half, that is. This is my first re-read of this saga, but I know it'll go downhill when Bardock shows up.
Mr Baggins wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:39 am I don't think this sort of thing has to be difficult if the writing is competent. DBS Broly had a ton of protracted action, yet still kept things interesting by weaving in a lot of emotional character beats for Broly through his interactions with Goku, his interactions with Paragus, the interactions between Paragus and Freeza, Gogeta getting just a wee bit too enthusiastic about fighting, etcetera. Granolah vs. Vegeta did it by forcing both characters to confront their own baggage and convictions as they gradually wore each other down physically and psychologically, and by keeping everything relevant to the main character of the arc. The original run did it all the time, and was certainly more than just a "drama about martial arts" – if that's all Dragon Ball amounted to, I can name around a dozen better alternatives in fiction.

I wonder what this story would have been like if it continued to follow that philosophy and didn't fall so spectacularly flat in its second half. I'd expect the Heeters to be heavily involved either way, although presumably, Granolah wouldn't have been sidelined for no good reason in his own arc.
As far as the first half is concerned, I think the Granolah Saga could be seen as DBS: Broly but backwards once the setting is established: Goku vs the bad guy, then Vegeta vs the bad guy, and then a flashback to pre Saiyan exctinction days. This saga's problem was that is stretched out for months while Broly wasn't even 2 hours (Although I do think the movie was a bit too packed and fast-paced), and that is a problem I've seen with the manga in general. You can breeze through the first sagas very easily, but after the ToP things come a screeching halt to a point where one 45-page chapter is dedicated to half a story beat.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Miracles » Thu Jan 26, 2023 1:59 am

Nice re-read.

I know it's not stated but when Granolah blitz'd UI Goku with his real body, tapping his heart, I think he used his version of Shunkan Ido [Faster than Goku's].

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Mon Jan 30, 2023 6:58 pm

Mr Baggins wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:39 amI don't think this sort of thing has to be difficult if the writing is competent. DBS Broly had a ton of protracted action, yet still kept things interesting by weaving in a lot of emotional character beats for Broly through his interactions with Goku, his interactions with Paragus, the interactions between Paragus and Freeza, Gogeta getting just a wee bit too enthusiastic about fighting, etcetera. Granolah vs. Vegeta did it by forcing both characters to confront their own baggage and convictions as they gradually wore each other down physically and psychologically, and by keeping everything relevant to the main character of the arc. The original run did it all the time, and was certainly more than just a "drama about martial arts" – if that's all Dragon Ball amounted to, I can name around a dozen better alternatives in fiction.
Thanks for your comment! I think I agree with GreatSaiyaman123 in saying that a preponderance of action in a story as such is one thing, but the sheer bulk of it in the Granolah arc makes it a totally different beast to Broly in that sense - there's like a whole doorstop of action pages there, and it feels like it coasts on its own 'escalation' momentum without the kind of frenetic back and forth between the characters it has on hand that could have been used effectively, if they had enough of an opening to 'pile on' in the story beats and fill them out in that way. I think that would've been beneficial and could have elevated the arc to the next level, for me (though I actually think Chapters 83 and 86 probably have the best of that).

I agree that there are some things that can be done between the characters 'in the moment' in order to keep things interesting, and that it can come from not that much set-up: Elec, for instance, abruptly inserts himself twice into the action to interact with Gas and shake things up, in a similar way to how Freeza does with Broly (and for what it's worth, my personal opinion is that the latter part of the arc is generally underrated both in treatment of Goku's issues and how he reintegrates himself, and also in its depiction of Bardock and the weaving of his character beats with his combat). However, otherwise a significant chunk of the latter arc has a number of its characters benched until their 'turn' comes along, and it often seems that's simply because we've already treated whatever they were meant to be doing in the story as much as is reasonable. There's less to feed off of in order to keep generating a natural-feeling dynamism, at times.

I guess the point I'm getting at here is that a lot of people seem to think the Granolah arc is as simple as "first half good, second half bad", but the more I come back to the arc, the more I feel like the flaws of the second half are principally due to what the first half of the story hasn't done in order to keep the arc dynamic for its entire span. That's not to say that the second half doesn't have some flaws peculiarly its own, of course.

Anyhoo, just my two penneth on that particular point. Hoping to have the next instalment ready to drop tomorrow!

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Tue Jan 31, 2023 3:32 pm

The Super Re-Read: Chapters 75 – 78
Part 1 (Chapters 75 and 76)

Image

(We'll definitely be moving past that.)

So, yes, Abandon All Hope of a Quick Read, Ye Who Enter Here, as The Super Re-Read continues - in this instalment, we're covering the end of Volume 17 and beginning of Volume 18, this part closes Volume 17, as the fight between Granolah and Vegeta escalates and the pair wear each other down, Goku returns to the battle, and the scene is set for the revelations of what happened to Planet Cereal 40 years ago...

As ever, thanks and credit belongs to Kanzenshuu and its contributors for the information that goes into the Re-Read (Especially the Translations Archive), and also to The Dragon Ball Official Site for its wealth of behind-the-scenes resources that provide some key insights about the arc. Check 'em out if you've got the time; it's all really helpful.

Alright then, Let's Get Re-Reading!

Chapter 75 – A God of Destruction’s Power/God of Destruction Power
19 August 2021
Chapter Notes
  • Obviously the most notable aspect of this Chapter is the focus on Vegeta’s new Divine Power form, Wagamama no Goku’i/Ultra Ego (我儘の極意). Unlike Migatte no Goku’i/Ultra Instinct (身勝手の極意), where the Body acts on its own to avoid damage and uses the power of its wielder with utmost efficiency by moving without requiring conscious thought, this technique takes damage to provoke a mentally stimulated state that generates ever-increasing power to battle with. The techniques are conceived in contradistinction to each other, with Ultra Instinct’s first character indicating that it’s taking its cues from the Physical Body (身) and Ultra Ego instead relies on the Mental Self (我). Moreover, Migatte and Wagamama both trade on the idea of selfishness, but in different modes that relate well specifically to Goku and Vegeta’s characters respectively (as Cipher has expounded, with Goku being ‘thoughtless’, or ‘reckless’, and Vegeta being ‘demanding’, or ‘imposing’ on others). Toyotarou certainly has given much thought to how the wordplay in the technique names foreground different nuances about their respective styles, and discusses this in the Volume 17 release interview (Timestamp: 11:30 to 13:10):
    Toyotarou: I actually came up with the name and the design myself. After that, I showed them to Toriyama, and he gave me the green light.
    Uchida: How did you come up with [Wagamama no Goku’i]?
    Toyotarou: I remember speaking with you, and you said maybe it’s a little on the nose, and yeah, it has a similar meaning and feel to [Migatte no Goku’i] but with a different undertone, you might say. Plus, “[Wagamama]” fits the character so well. That’s how we got [Wagamama no Goku’i]. The original Japanese words [Migatte] and [Wagamama] are similar, but depending on the Kanji, or the reading, [Migatte] becomes “your body moving on its own”, right? So that’s [Migatte no Goku’i]. On the other hand, even though the Japanese [Wagamama] is similar to [Migatte], if you look closely at the Kanji, you could explain it as, “doing as you please”, right? The two words are fundamentally different and analysing them in that way shows that. In short, it’s the difference between your body moving freely and moving your body freely. I think the way the meanings diverge like that is so cool. I did worry calling it [Wagamama no Goku’i] was a bit too obvious, but in the end, it was the most interesting name and I figured it would be easy for fans to remember, so I took the opportunity to create [Wagamama no Goku’i] and have it be the polar opposite to [Migatte no Goku’i].
    I appreciate the idea of something that is superficially the same (a ‘selfish secret’) revealing opposing meanings when looked at more closely; it certainly helps to convey the idea of Goku and Vegeta as finding a kind of ‘oppositional unity’ that answers to their own characters while yielding a greater whole when the two come together, which has been on the cards for a while in this series – since at least the Tournament of Power arc, where Vegeta resolved to take his own path instead of continually playing catch-up to Goku, and the pair fought Jiren together with an unwitting, perfect synchronicity. Given that I’ve argued for ‘Daoist’ hints in this arc, the pairing seems redolent of a Yin-Yang duality: techniques that are polar opposites and yet have hints of sameness in each other and require each other in order to form a unified, proper whole – the more complete philosophical diagram in which the Yin-Yang appears is called the Taijitu (suggestively, in some versions, the depiction of whole, primordial nothingness lies both prior to and at the centre of the Yin-Yang diagram, and is a red circle, like Granolah’s eye). But without stretching the point, the oppositions are clear enough here: we have distinctions of the Bodily and the Mental, the Tranquil soul and the Blazing soul (燃やす, Moyasu, “to burn”, apparently used literally and also figuratively in the emotional sense of being “fired up”; in this Chapter, Vegeta notes that his power relies on his 闘争心 – Tōsō shin, “Fighting Spirit”, rendered “Battle Soul”, whereas in 超 #81, Gas notes he feels no 闘志 – Tōshi, “Fighting Spirit”, rendered “Fire in your Eyes”, from Son Goku), the (Self-)Preserving and the (Self-)Destructive in these techniques. I really like the conceptual work done here.
  • The character of the fight between Vegeta and Granolah is much rawer than that between Goku and Granolah. Quite apart from the meatier, more direct brawling choreography where Vegeta deliberately (and sometimes graphically) takes damage and persistently follows up with his own attacks, there’s also a relative absence of the accuracy/precision that was a focal point in that earlier fight: this Chapter has a dearth of the Vital Point attacks that were Granolah’s signature, and that tendency is replaced by a brutal, bloody slugfest: it’s power (力, chikara) against power, as Vegeta’s relentlessly escalates and Granolah grows more and more into his. But in the first sequence of the fight, it's interesting to note that Toyotarou uses pretty much the same beats as when Goku beats down Granolah using Full Ultra Instinct in 超 #73, drawing out the beat before the action (compare the pacing of Goku’s final elbow on Granolah to Vegeta’s final knee on Granolah); the likeness between how the two Divine Power forms are depicted is a neat point of detail.
  • The idea that Vegeta gains power from the stimulation he gains from damage taken has not hitherto been a power associated with Gods of Destruction. However, it is not incompatible with what we have seen from Beerus and other Gods of Destruction so far in the series. In 超 #27, Vegeta lands a shot on Beerus, angering him and unleashing a power that surprises even Whis. Further, in the Exhibition Match between Gods of Destruction in 超 #28-29, Beerus starts the match full throttle (Goku notes that “Beerus isn’t holding back” when he blasts the others), but the combat escalates further from there in 超 #29 until the various Gods of Destruction, bruised and bloodied, are fighting on a level where Goku comments “Everyone’s so ridiculously powerful. Their strength is mind-blowing! To be honest, I can’t even figure out who’s fighting who anymore…” This could be seen as a surge in the power of these Gods of Destruction commensurate with them taking damage, though of course it is not a connection drawn in the scene itself. On a general note, however, it makes sense that Gods of Destruction would be able to use all varieties of Destruction, even Self-Destruction, to serve their purposes, so retrospectively applying this dimension of the idea to their ability set seems appropriate, even if that’s a little speculative.
  • Granolah notes that Vegeta has completely changed, but Vegeta points out that the power is actually “innate” to him – this raises the thematic element of Nature again, as Vegeta’s technique belongs to him intrinsically, it’s not supplied to him by an outside power (unlike Granolah’s power, which is “granted” him, and to which he is still unused). Moreover, we know from previous experience in the original series that Vegeta is naturally capable of absorbing a quite phenomenal amount of damage while still being able to stand and fight, or clinging to life: most particularly his absurd introductory showing in DB #230-241 where he takes unbelievable abuse and gets back up to fight again and again, but also DB #263-264, 275-277, 303-304, 354, 465-467, 511, 516; the trigger for this God of Destruction power seems to be a supercharging of what he’s innately capable of in any case, and it’s certainly in keeping with his ethos of “a man who’s risked it all”, being “pushed to the edge” and putting his “life on the line” (超 #40). Continuing to fight this way will, however, begin to undermine that Nature by inflicting more damage than he is able to sustain, but the more important damage will be to his Conviction, as he starts no longer to truly believe in achieving victory against Granolah, and this issue is compounded by Granolah’s power being drawn out to its fullest. By 超 #76, he replaces true Conviction with mere Calculation that Granolah’s state will afford him the opening for victory (he does not respond when Goku tells him not to die), and even this soon drains away to be replaced by belief that perhaps he is fated to die after all.
  • Favourite Art: Vegeta looks absolutely savage when he lands his drop kick on Granolah’s face; the close-up impact on Granolah’s face and the staggered shot as he’s pelted through the ruins of the city are an excellent set of panels. But overall, I think the sense of scale in this Chapter is what really stands out artistically: the heft of Vegeta catching and breaking the tower Granolah tosses at him; the destruction in the city and the huge cyclonic winds that come off it; and particularly the massive Hakai explosion sequence and the shockwaves coming off it are all excellent pieces that sell the true scope of this fight’s escalation.
  • It’s interesting to note that Freeza appears by not appearing once again in this story, as Monaito fears he’s shown up to fight Granolah; Granolah repeats that Freeza is his goal (instead of “some third rate Saiyan grunt”), and Vegeta speaks of the destructive actions that Freeza has perpetrated on both the Cerealians and the Saiyans. Toyotarou recently discussed the ratcheting up of tension around Freeza’s presence by a regular drumbeat of references as a planned part of the arc, in the New Year Interview (Timestamp: 01:33 to 03:57):
    Toyotarou: So, of course we knew from the get-go that Freeza would appear and worked towards that, which is why everyone in the Granolah arc talks about him so much.
    Uchida: Oh, I see.
    Toyotarou: They talk about Freeza, what they think about him, and so on. Even though they talk about him so much, he never actually appears, which I think built up a lot of anticipation throughout the story’s two-year run. That’s why when we finally unveiled him, it really felt like the end of the Granolah arc. It felt like that’s where the story should end.
    Uchida: I see. That must have felt very satisfying.
    Toyotarou: It did. It’s like he was the hidden main character. Or something like that. That’s how I personally felt. The entire reason this incident occurred is because Freeza was behind it the whole time, since it featured the Freeza Force. So that’s what readers should always remember: everything comes back to Freeza. I drew this story remembering to make sure Freeza was a constant topic of discussion. Since his appearance was pre-determined, I consistently created the story to include Freeza in the dialogue.
    Uchida: So you wanted readers to be aware of Freeza.
    Toyotarou: I wanted to make sure they never forgot Freeza and tried to keep them wondering whether he’d appear or not. That’s why we wanted to build it up for two years until readers finally saw him appear after all. So to me it felt like, “Finally, we can bring him out.” I think some people may feel like his appearance was too sudden and out of the blue.
    Uchida: Yeah, I doubt anyone could have predicted it.
    Toyotarou: It definitely wasn’t random. It was necessary.
    Uchida: Especially if you think about it and re-read it.
    Toyotarou: Exactly. I wanted that aspect of the story to flow well. If he didn’t appear, the story would feel unfinished, but if he did appear, then it could seem very sudden, so it was a difficult line to walk.
    Uchida: The editorial department didn’t talk about it at all either, so I imagine everyone was shocked when Freeza suddenly arrived on the scene. Like, “What?!”
    Toyotarou: We wanted to make it impactful.
    Uchida: It was a great scene.
    Toyotarou: I put a lot of work into it. At this point it feels like it happened a long time ago.
    Uchida: It was one of the first things that was decided.
    It’s interesting to think on Freeza as the quintessential example of the Influence of Others in making the characters who they really are, given his huge significance to them all (Goku, his Super Saiyan arch-enemy; Vegeta, prince of a subordinate race destroyed by his own hand due to his fear of their potential; Granolah and Monaito, victims of his despicable trade; and the Heeters, his ostensibly reliable but endlessly scheming, covetous partners in crime) – even when he isn’t present, he’s at the centre of it all. To use a Daoist image that over-dignifies him somewhat, he’s like the centre of a wheel: a ‘non-present’ hub whose empty ‘non-presence’ holds together the separate, present ‘spokes’ that are the other characters in the story. And so the wheel rolls on.
  • Vegeta reveals a truth held in common between Granolah and the Saiyans as objects of his hatred (and contrary to the accepted narrative that Granolah has bought into up to this point), which begins to strike at the root of his Convictions – as Oatmeel puts it, “It appears the Saiyans were victims as well” (which gets him discarded in anger). The point at which Granolah discards Oatmeel is the point at which he is most truly alone, having routinely distanced himself from the Sugarians, left Monaito, and discarded his only friend (“Now that I’m the Strongest…I don’t need your support anymore”); he’s cut himself off from the moderating and supportive Influence of Others, and continues to keep a tight grip on his avenger “pose” in the face of the truth, remaining wilfully blind so he can retain these warped Convictions. This simply makes him more wantonly destructive, even beyond his conscious intention, and it isn’t until he realises that the Sugarians see him as he once saw the Saiyans that these destructive Convictions are fatally undermined, and he bitterly resolves to die with the object of his now-imperfect hatred, imperfectly avenged (超 #76). Seen from the standpoint of Conviction, this is the beginning of a race to the bottom between Vegeta and Granolah.
  • We get a curious little aside where Goku attempts to heal himself a bit, saying “C’mon, body…you gotta heal for me.” Apart from noting the curious phrasing, which continues the pattern of Goku relying on his body to do what’s necessary for him (this being Ultra Instinct’s schtick, obviously, and that reliance arguably resulting in Goku removing his True Self from the equation – i.e., he’s not doing the healing, his body is doing it for him), this touches off a rapid and seemingly endless cycle of recovery measures and prompt beatdowns chasing each other in this arc:
    • Goku is struck on a Vital Point; Vegeta gives him a Senzu Bean (超 #72);
    • Goku is struck on a Vital Point (超 #73); Goku gradually heals himself (超 #75);
    • Vegeta gets ground down and beaten by Granolah, but recovers sufficiently to return to the battle, only to be beaten down again (超 #76);
    • Goku is beaten down by Granolah (超 #76); healed partially by Monaito (超 #78) and then beaten down again by Gas; he is then healed again by Monaito (超 #79);
    • Granolah is beaten down by Goku, Vegeta, and Gas (超 #76, 78), but is then fed a Senzu Bean to return to the fight (超 #79);
    • Vegeta takes a recovery period, including a partial healing from Monaito (超 #80), but then is randomly beaten down by a rampaging Gas even though he’s just a bystander (超 #80);
    • Granolah is beaten down by Gas (超 #80) and critically wounded by Gas and Elec, but then Monaito heals him partially again (超 #81-82);
    • Vegeta gives Goku his energy to fight Gas, but Goku is promptly beaten again (超 #81), even though he hangs in there (超 #82);
    • Goku and Vegeta get healed by Monaito yet again after they’ve heard all about the fight between Bardock and Gas (超 #84);
    • Vegeta eventually gets beaten down by Gas (超 #85);
    • Goku eventually gets beaten down by Gas; both Goku and Vegeta recover just enough to help put Gas down for the count (超 #86);
    • Granolah returns partially healed (超 #86), but uses up a damaging amount of energy in beating Gas (超 #87);
    • Monaito heals everyone, fully, one more time; Goku and Vegeta get beaten up some more by Gas and then Freeza (超 #87);
    • Whis revives Monaito (超 #87).
    That’s a pretty wild cycle; even for as fight-heavy and occasionally brutal an arc as this, that’s a pretty extravagantly repetitive pattern – precisely the sort of thing that made it a slog from the point of view of the arc’s detractors. And that doesn’t even count Monaito healing Bardock’s little scratch (he doesn’t need it), or his attempt to heal Muezli (this being unsuccessful: 超 #77). Even with The White Mage around, more reliance should have been placed on some other, more imaginative type of recovery (or even just the sort of stealth ‘recovery’ that comes with transformations), or failing that, simply having the characters straightforwardly tough it out across a gruelling marathon battle with maybe only a couple of set-piece recoveries – which, to be fair, is at least more like what Vegeta and Granolah get for most of the arc, but at the other end of the scale, Goku gets no fewer than seven out-and-out recovery-type moves or items used on him so he can stay in the game. Even though these restorations are generally partial, and maybe there’s some resolve-led ‘Fall 7 Times, Get Up 8 Times’ thing going on in all this (later in the arc, in 超 #83, we’ll see Gas knock Bardock off his feet 7 times in their battle, so perhaps there’s a deliberate connection here), I can’t help but feel less would’ve been more.
  • Vegeta’s ploy to force Granolah to take damage on behalf of the Planet Cereal so he can turn the tide of battle is essentially a villainous one – the example that springs most readily to mind is from DB #410, where Cell tells Gohan he’ll have to take his Full-Power Kamehameha, or Earth will be destroyed. Vegeta himself has used a similar ploy before – against Cell in DB #384, though simply goading him to take it head on (without needing to take a planet hostage for motivation), and Vegeta has also forced Son Goku to position himself between his attack and the planet in DB #231, though goading him to dodge and let Earth be destroyed (as that’s what he really wants to happen). It’s a mistake to have tried this, on two levels:
    • Firstly, it’s the prime example of Vegeta’s attempt to “revert to the callous, unfeeling man I was” (超 #76), taking the pose of a destroyer (the attack itself is a copy of the attack used by Beerus at the end of 超 #4), instead of acting with the Convictions of his True Self – as such, one might intuit that it is doomed to fail.
    • Secondly, and more importantly, it ensures the perfection of Granolah’s resolve for that moment by gifting him a Conviction that aligns precisely with his Nature, and so brings forth his True Self. Granolah may be in thrall to the pose of an avenging warrior founded on a bitter, twisted grudge, but behind that grudge is true Conviction about the loss of his world; the opportunity to stand between a man whom he has every reason to hate, and a thing he has every reason to want to protect, predictably brings forth the power of his True Self: the power of the #1 Warrior in the Universe.
    On that note, it’s hardly surprising that Granolah’s response is one that appears along the lines of his Nature as a Cerealian: they’re famed for their red eyes which gift them preternatural precision; Granolah gets a second red eye, raising that Nature to new heights, and he speaks to Vegeta in the same terms as Vegeta spoke to him earlier in the Chapter (“You’re responsible…for drawing out this power of mine”), which is likewise evocative of the thematic element of Nature and innateness.
  • Colour Watch: The scale of the explosion is, as we have noted, depicted excellently, but the shockwave really is one of those things that looks a lot better in the original black and white: to see Goku, Oil, Monaito etc. basically in ordinary colour takes a little of the edge off the sense of raw destructiveness that less (or ideally no) colour might have depicted more successfully.
  • Finally, we get a quick scene of the Heeters closing in on the first Dragon Ball. Elec notes that he thought Granolah would’ve been killed by now. It’s a small thing, and he sets no store by it since the fight is ongoing, but it’s where his calculations start to unravel: he hasn’t really understood the people he’s manipulating, and where there’s life, there’s hope.
Chapter 76 – The Fate of the Saiyans/The Fate of the Saiyans
21 September 2021
Chapter Notes
  • Granolah and Vegeta both speak on the question of “Fate” at the top of the Chapter (in keeping with the Chapter title, which reads 宿命: shukumei, destiny, but appearing in dialogue as the related 運命: unmei, fate); while 命 in particular seems to carry the meaning of ‘decree’ or ‘command’ in this context (thus pointing up the dimension of inescapability implicit in the concept of destiny or fate), it can apparently alternatively be read as ‘life’ (with related meanings such as lifeforce and lifespan, which have particular significance in this arc already). In this arc, we’ve noted that the idea of “life” and related concepts like “protection”, “growth”, “survival”, and “instinct” take primacy over the dead hand of Fate. Various characters try to predetermine the outcomes: e.g., Goku and Vegeta try to pry the future identity of the Strongest out of Oracle Fish in 超 #70; Granolah eliminates all the other potential possibilities from his future life by burning it all away to become the Strongest in 超 #70, and insists to Vegeta in 超 #74 that the status of the Strongest means he is fated to win their fight – of course, the Heeters take the same course of action with Gas in 超 #78, the identical effect of which is eventually stated in 超 #87; Granolah and Vegeta aver that the Saiyans are fated to die at various points in 超 #76 (Vegeta already having expressed something like this opinion in 超 #69); Elec mentions in 超 #77 that the Heeters aren’t destined to serve Freeza forever, as he reviews their aspiration to take his army one day; the Heeters continually refer to the parameters of the wish and the fact that it accounts for any developments in the fight: e.g., 超 #78, 84; Monaito offers to let Bardock flee so they can “take what fate hands us” in 超 #83, and Gas alleges that “the Saiyans aren’t fated to last much longer anyway” – but the way things actually work out routinely defy these calculations because of the way the characters fight for them, and so the only thing achieved by trying to predetermine the outcome is to ironically seal the fates of those pursuing things in this way: life and growth wins out over fate, and hope for the future over calculations that assume that these things are a given.
  • Son Goku intervenes at the critical time to show us he’s got his groove back. Sort of.

    In truth, Goku is going to struggle for several more Chapters and get beaten down a few more times, but this Chapter does a good job of showing us what he really cares about, and the points at which he becomes most effective: these are the points at which Goku is able to use and act on his Convictions – specifically, Convictions relating to protecting others and preserving life. Goku’s most effective actions come at the points where he’s protecting others – in this Chapter alone, he protects Vegeta from Granolah’s finishing blow at the top of the Chapter, he moves Vegeta out of the way of Granolah’s Vital Point strike, and he shoulder-charges Granolah at the end to stop him from giving up his life to kill Vegeta (no matter that they are technically enemies – it’s all the same to Son Goku). In 超 #81, after a lot of pretty ineffectual effort at fighting Gas straightforwardly, Goku achieves a critical intervention when it comes to protecting Monaito and Granolah from death at Gas’s hands, and Goku manages a pretty effective round of timewasting to give Monaito the opportunity to save Granolah’s life. In 超 #84, Goku doesn’t make much headway against Gas, but manages to save the Sugarian city from Destruction on his own, when he couldn’t deflect the attack prior to that even with Vegeta’s help. Further, in 超 #85 and 86, Goku manages to come in clutch by casting some protective forcefields at the crucial moments for both Vegeta and Granolah in order to stop Gas’s lethal attacks, and to cap it all, his body responds automatically at the end of the Chapter to Elec’s assertion that Granolah’s attack if fired at close range will “destroy Planet Cereal – the home you hope to protect!!”, and demonstrates power beyond anything we’ve seen since 超 #66.

    In DB #510, Vegeta addressed the possibility that the desire to protect others “created some unfathomable power in you”, before dismissing it by noting that Goku’s desire to push himself is a far more relevant and important cause of his power. However, the strength of Goku’s Conviction as a protector of others is pretty uncontroversial, and he’s always been fully prepared to put himself on the line to accomplish this (e.g., DB #160, 184, 231, 412), using all the power at his disposal. His dialogue with Vegeta in this Chapter is also instructive: Vegeta alleges that he has only fought with Goku when they have something in common to protect, and Goku responds adamantly, “Protect, huh..? How about preserving your own life?! Or are you trying to get yourself killed here?!”; he also calls Granolah and Vegeta “stupid” for being reckless enough to give up their own lives in the fight. By extension, Bardock’s furious efforts to protect Monaito and Granolah 40 years in the past are revealed to have been because of his emotional association of the young Granolah and his mother Muezli with the infant Kakarot and Gine – an example of Goku’s unexpected influence on others redounding to Granolah’s benefit, affording him protection because of the way Goku has affected Bardock’s Convictions.

    While Goku isn’t always perfectly effective when the Conviction to protect is at play (he can be thwarted, as in 超 #78), he’s generally much more effective when working with his Convictions (which are, in turn, a core aspect of his Nature) than when he attempts to excise them for the sake of Ultra Instinct and its requirement for a calm heart (as with his highly indifferent showing through most of 超 #81). Thus, this Chapter seeds the way for Goku to realise his True Self and by extension (if you like) the Secret of True Self-ishness in 超 #85. So, in short, we get a new answer to the thematic question ”Why Do We Fight?”: We fight to protect.
  • Vegeta gives Goku a kicking, just to remind us that no good deed ever goes unpunished and that Goku must be pretty easy on the instep. Vegeta’s been giving Goku a kicking since DB #236, and it seems to be a preferred method of moving him around the place (e.g., DB #343), which hasn’t stopped in the revival era – indeed, it seems to be catching on as a means of interaction: Vegeta kicks Goku out of Zamas’s grasp in 超 #25; Freeza kicks Goku out of the way of Kale’s strike in 超 #37; and Granolah will whack Goku out of the fight with Gas for the opportunity to have a quick chat, in 超 #86 (not a kick, though – I guess he hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet).
  • Goku slams into a large drum of water, and it spills everywhere. In 超 #77, the Cerealians and the Namekians have a thriving small-scale market garden economy, trading water for produce: the Cerealians have a smaller drum of water mounted on the back of a large truck, so they can “help each other out as good neighbours should”. Potentially, this is a larger reservoir made at least partly for this purpose. Presumably, 40 years on, this water is long since stagnant and no longer potable. One wonders why Toyotarou chose to depict this spillage here – it may just be to help maintain some scenery variation through the arc (and as an aside, Goku got a kicking into a fire hydrant in 超 #25, though he didn’t pop it off that time), but given that this coincides with Vegeta reverting to an “old attitude” of beating Goku around, refusing to work with him even at the cost of his own life, and putting this down to “stubborn Saiyan pride”, there may (Caveats Ahoy) also be a linguistic association: the radical for ‘water’ (水) appears in the Kanji of 遡る (sakanoboru, literally meaning ‘to go upstream’ (for obvious reasons), but the word also has other possible readings – specifically, ‘to go back’, or ‘to retrace the past’ (by idiomatic associations of ‘returning to the source’; of course, we saw Vegeta and Granolah proceed downstream together a couple of Chapters back). Perhaps it’s totally off-base to make this connection – no doubt there are many other uses of the radicals or character for ‘water’ that have no conceivably relevant connection – and it’s literally just been done for the artistic variety, but as a fun thing to think on, it seems pleasingly suggestive to see the emergence of water again at the same time that Vegeta attempts to revert to his past self, and is about to reignite the same power of Destruction that turns “1” back into “0”.
  • We get the last appearances of Granolah’s attempts to strike his opponent’s Vital Points – he attempts to strike Vegeta in the same spot that he struck him in 超 #74 (this time without Vegeta’s armour being there to protect him), followed by trying to hit Goku on the same point on his neck that he blasted him in 超 #72. After this, Granolah seems to try to go for a different Vital Point on Goku – his strike lands directly in line with the point he struck at the end of 超 #73, albeit lower on the abdomen. Happily, there doesn’t seem to be an acupuncture point precisely in that area, but it’s very close to the Stomach meridian, Point 21 (梁門, Liangmen, ‘Beam Gate’) – this point apparently assists Conception Vessel Point 12, which I earlier proposed as the point Granolah struck on SSjG Goku in 超 #72. The last time it was noted that Goku was moving in such a way that he could keep damaging strikes away from his “Vitals” was in 超 #41, where he managed this against Jiren using Omen Ultra Instinct. Perhaps Goku’s at this level of Ultra Instinct now, even in his ‘lower’ forms. Either way, this part of the Chapter helps reinforce the idea that even for the #1 fighter in the Universe, the conscious intentionality of “locking on” to a chosen point of attack before acting is limiting when compared with the skills that are part of Ultra Instinct’s wheelhouse.
  • Having come so much further and put in a good showing, Goku immediately rows back on his progress a bit by showing a lack of Conviction when it comes to fighting Granolah: he basically concedes from the drop that, although he can defend himself effectively against the attacks that caused him such trouble in 超 #72-73, he’s still not going to be able to win because he’s “without attacks of your own”. He still has further to go: it reminds me a fair bit of the problem the Dragon Ball Super Anime identified with Goku’s use of Ultra Instinct in the Tournament of Power, where his defense was on-point, but his attacks were blunted by thoughts and decisions interfering (though that is not stated to be the problem here – if anything, it’s the reverse; Goku isn’t putting enough of himself into his technique). I quite like the way Granolah’s gestures reveal that Goku’s attacks still lack ‘bite’: he cradles his stomach, finds his hand is clean, and clenches his fist triumphantly – compare with, e.g., 超 #75, where Vegeta finds his blood on his hand from Granolah’s strike to his abdomen (and, perversely, clenches his fist triumphantly, in expectation of greater power), or 超 #86, where Gas bleeds profusely from the force of Goku’s kick and likewise cradles his bleeding abs.
  • Vegeta follows Goku in his dwindling Convictions, having reverted to try to revive them. The character writing for Vegeta is one of the real bright spots of the arc, and it’s also pretty clear that Toyotarou enjoyed writing Vegeta for this arc, as he notes in the Volume 17 release interview (Timestamp: 03:45 to 04:18):
    Toyotarou: He’s got a lot of baggage, even darkness within him. I like seeing how that affects him and how he’s evolving. I guess you’d call that character growth. With Vegeta, I get to illustrate his character growth […] He’s got to face up to having been a force for evil, which gives us room to illustrate his growth. So drawing him and watching him change is all part of the fun.
    I really enjoy the beats around this particular exchange, where Vegeta mingles the need to try to prove himself, to himself – expressed as “stubborn Saiyan pride” for want of any better articulation, though again in the beat this comes off as mere lip service to the Convictions of the man Vegeta no longer is, particularly in comparison with 超 #84 – with a series of statements that betray Calculation rather than true Conviction: he calculates that Granolah is unused to his recently-amped power, that he’ll be worn down soon, and (the foregoing conditions being met), Vegeta will be able to win. That this isn’t a true belief in his own ability to prevail is betrayed by the fact that he says nothing when Goku tells him not to die: he’s ready to do so, and quietly expects he might – even that he should, as the Chapter progresses and he fixates more on the guilt that the Saiyans bear.

    Increasingly, he takes this on himself, declining Goku a share in the fight or in the dialogue that is unfolding, until he identifies the Fate of the Saiyans so closely and completely with his own Fate that he regards his own death as the Fate of the Saiyans tout court (self-centred, in a different way again). It’s a really enjoyable beat and progression to read across this Chapter in particular, as the final “pose” he strikes here gets unravelled and leaves him without any further will to fight. Part of the way his “character growth” is emphasised here is in his failure to come to terms with the fact of that growth, and I like that; it’s very believable: his misguided attempt at reversion to the man he once was ironically refocuses his attention on the legitimate guilt that that man from the past should have to bear – so long as he labours away at remaining in that past, as Beerus warned him (超 #69), his True Self has left him behind.
  • Then Toyotarou goes right ahead and one-ups himself with Granolah’s character writing when the fight comes to the Sugarian city. To me, the exchange “W-wait! Not here! Take this elsewhere!”, “Oh? And here I thought you didn’t care about anything!” is just such a charged, electrifying beat, because it begins the unravelling of Granolah’s Implacable Avenger “pose” in a desperate moment where he tries to pull things back from the brink. All the same, Vegeta does just enough even now to push his buttons and unleash wanton destruction which spills over to affect innocent bystanders – his quest for vengeance was always leading towards this (as we noted in 超 #72, the destruction has crept inexorably nearer to this spot), and it brings Granolah to a state of moral dumbfounding, mental anguish, and his lowest ebb generally (until 超 #81 rolls around).

    The revelation that the Sugarians regard Granolah with the same terror that he himself felt towards the Saiyans is a moment of insight that dovetails very nicely with the motif of sight around Granolah – in his exhaustion, he loses the ocular enhancement he received in 超 #75, but gains a clearer kind of sight at the same time. And it also serves to reintroduce the two extrinsic thematic elements that answer the question of what makes us who we really are: Granolah obviously makes a clear association between the present and The Past, but additionally when considering how he has deliberately isolated himself from the cautions and corrections of others in his pursuit of vengeance, the Influence of Others returns immediately via the back door as a kind of judgement and reproach, as these helpless strangers bring him up short (and those others from whom he has isolated himself will return at a crucial point shortly, to further this thematic line). Vegeta then piles in with further thematically-charged dialogue that admits the guilt of all Saiyans and the legitimacy of Granolah’s grudge (thus expressing his own failing of Conviction and his inability to come out from under the burden of guilt from his Past), but then points out that to go through with destroying the Saiyans would simply repeat history by means of a savagery that isn’t Natural to Cerealians (and, by extension, would therefore be a betrayal of Granolah’s True Self). Granolah’s resolve, which has pushed him through the whole arc so far with total certitude, completely crumples, but he refuses to budge all the same because he doesn’t feel like he ever can (“Your people took everything from us…and I’ll never move past that!!”) – like Vegeta, he pursues an anti-growth line at this stage of the story, taking refuge in a person that is becoming ever falser to who he is because he doesn’t know what else to do. He’s as stuck as Vegeta is.

    The idea of a central character becoming (or simply being seen to become) what they hate is a well-trodden storytelling path, but I can’t help but love the way it unfolds in this Chapter: a union of believable character beats, tightly bound to thematic elements, as two characters struggle and fail to come to terms with themselves and either grow (Granolah), or respond appropriately to their own growth (Vegeta), and in a moment of deep crisis despairingly commit to mutual destruction (under the perverse guise of “True Resolve” in Granolah’s case), which is only narrowly averted through the intervention of others whose Convictions are strongly focused on protecting and preserving life. I love this Chapter; it’s like an emotional peak for the Dragon Ball Super manga, for me, and where each of the main Characters land in terms of their emotional journeys across the arc really seems finely judged for the Chapter which closes the initial part of the conflict, and the first half of the arc as a whole.
  • Favourite Art: I could’ve mentioned this earlier in the Chapter Notes, but pretty much every appearance of Goku just looks great to me in this Chapter. His appearance to sucker-punch Granolah with that fierce close-up shot, the beats around the Vital Point strikes (including both the figure-work and the expressions), the little beats of angry incomprehension and worried realisation around Vegeta’s intent – all great. But particularly what made me think to mention all this is the close-up frame as Goku zips in to seize the initiative and intervenes to protect Vegeta and Granolah, which I really love – a focused, clean momentum shot with the staggered focal point, which leads into the impactful shoulder charge and enjoyable chew-out panels. For a Chapter where the very best Character stuff sits with Vegeta and Granolah, the best art seems to belong to Goku.
  • “I just want it to end! I need this to be over!!”, says Granolah, anticipating relentless commenter reaction for the ensuing 10 months of serialisation. No, it wasn’t tiresome at all, why do you ask
  • The Chapter ends on the beat of Monaito’s arrival dispelling a cherished hatred of Granolah’s. Given that the focus is about to shift to Bardock, Goku’s father by Nature, it will probably be interesting to compare and contrast both his character and how he adheres to the arc themes with Monaito, Granolah’s adoptive father. In fact, at the intersection between Nature (or, I guess, Conviction in Monaito’s case) and The Influence of Others, we probably are going to find quite a lot of thematic attention devoted to “Family” as part of the answer to “What makes us who we really are?” It’ll be interesting to see.
  • That said, I know Chapter 77 is just going to be one of those Chapters that occupies a biiig block of content on its own, so I’m going to take the unusual step of doing my summary of what I think of the 4 Chapters in this instalment now, so I guess y’all get a sneak peek at what you’re going to read. Anyhoo…

    Chapter 75 is a great action chapter that does a really good job of showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of Vegeta’s new form, but also keeps the back-and-forth balanced for an engaging ride that has a very pleasing rawness and an edge that makes it a good set-up for Chapter 76. Which, I’m pleased to say, is every bit as good as I remember – it keeps up the action intensity (even kicks it up a notch, at times), while bringing the much more important character throughlines into play – Goku manages to act decisively by focusing on a conviction to protect others (even his enemies), while Vegeta and Granolah’s convictions are progressively degraded as their fight goes on, moves, and exposes their “poses” while leaving them trapped by their inability to answer to their True Selves at this time. And the way this is laid out is golden, with a constantly-escalating emotional pitch that by the climax of the Chapter feels absolutely electrifying, to me. I think it just might be the best Chapter of the entire series so far.

    Chapter 77 has a fundamentally different vibe – quite small, quiet, and sedate, despite the large-scale carnage it depicts, which isn’t all that surprising given its introspective focus in showing us Bardock’s character motivation, and laying out how it has impacted both the heroes and the villains of the piece in the present. It also does a good job of showing us the beginnings of a positive focus on growth for the arc (tentative though it is at this stage), in contradistinction to what the Chapters around it on both sides show us. It’s a good breather, and a welcome change in scenery and pacing, and it does some really good work with Bardock (and naturally Toyotarou takes full opportunity to stuff it with visual references, which is fun). Returning to the present, Chapter 78 is a fine though workmanlike offering as the Heeter ‘Big Bad’ intro chapter, which does a good job of showing us Gas’s abilities and power with some pretty stuff, while setting up the set-piece confrontation with the arc’s central character. So, we’re just over the halfway mark, and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed re-reading this arc. I guess we’ll see whether I still feel that way some weeks hence…
Alrighty, then. That’s Part 1 done and dusted – y’all have seen a smidgen of my opinions which belong to Part 2, and that should be coming later next week. ‘Til then!

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Sun Feb 05, 2023 2:12 am

These two chapters get the same commentary that Chapter 74 originally did from me. In my first read Granolah came out as insufferably obnoxious, but in hindsight he's clearly suicidal and wants to go out with a bang, a big battle for something greater than himself, and so is Vegeta when he tries to get in touch with his old nature.

Taking this first half of the saga as it's own story, Granolah throwing Oatmeel out is where the climax starts; in the full context of the saga I think this would be the "Belly of the Whale" stage of the Hero's Journey. I think it would be interesting to take Granolah's character arc and see how well with fits with the Monomyth down the line, once I get re-familiarized with his character arc.

However, one thing I'm failing to see is Goku's own arc, or at least the depth of it. It's not like he's lacking conviction or confidence, he's just too green with UI like Vegeta is still green with UE; the difference is that we get to see Vegeta try to be like Beerus and fail. Goku's emulation of Whis is rather superficial (copying his moves when they spar), and Goku's problem is basically that he's transforming when he shouldn't transform. Maybe if we'd zoomed in his thought more often it would be different, but Goku is given a side role here and I don't blame Toyotaro - Goku's a fairly one note character, to a point even Toriyama kept him out of the action for a good part of Z. Here he's just the mediator trying to get everyone from killing themselves, but I like how you said he's more efficient in this role.

I haven't really gotten to pick a specific part of the artwork or even talk about it in depth, but I'd like to highlight that pannel when Vegeta is standing and Granolah is rushing towards him in #76. It's hilarious.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by TheSaiyanGod » Sun Feb 05, 2023 11:41 am

Wow, it's been a while. Glad to see MagnificentPonta back and with the Super re-read which is a fantastic thread.

I also don't entirely agree with the ''first half good second half bad'' discourse as I think the second half of the arc has great moments too, but this first half is definitely where the arc shines the most and in my opinion that's where we see the best of Toyotaro in the DBS manga. Art, battle scenes and writing wise

I also believe this is Vegeta at his best since the original series. It's just great stuff all around since A great dynamic with Beerus (makes you wonder.. why didn't we have more of this before? Especially with two characters that just showed to have so much potential to good interactions), his banter with Goku feels very natural and funny (even in a context where we've already seen a lot of Goku and Vegeta together), a development that continues the seeds planted by the previous arc, tying with his personal journey and character arc, and ultimately a great conflict with the story's titular character. No wonder the Vegeta and Granolah stuff is among the best things in the arc.

And despite what some people tend to criticize, I believe Toyo managed to achieve this without sacrificing Goku in the process. Goku received just as much setup as Vegeta, with Toyo teasing both the paths of his Ultra Instinct development and his personal journey for later in the arc. Granted, Goku clearly took a back seat in this first half, which is also not surprising considering that his biggest connection in the arc would come to be with Gas, while Vegeta had a much more personal conflict with Granolah. But I think he still managed to perform remarkably, especially when he returns to the battle already knowing how to counter Granolah's abilities (classic Goku move).

Granolah is also a great character and the whole set up he had at the beginning of the arc also served to make the initial battles on Planet Cereal even more memorable. However, while I understand that one of the main points of his character is how blinded he was by revenge (unable to see what was really going on), I feel that Toyo could have done more with him once the battle started. His attitude became repetitive after the wish and it was starting to get old by the time the arc was heading towards the end of the first half. Chapters 75 and 76 tho are great examples of how his inner conflict was further explored through his interactions with Vegeta, with the chapter still keeping its nature as action-packed. Overall he was still great, just wish we could have seen more of ''less stuborn Granolah'' during the battle on Cereal.

And talking about one of the reasons for great controversy in its debut, I love Ultra Ego, and the form has grown on me over time. Thematically it fits Vegeta's character and is a good counterpart to Goku's Ultra Instinct (and other things that Ponta already explained in a better way!). I just wish Toyo had done more with the form. Relying entirely on taking damage to use the form's potential to its fullest seems counterproductive when the body isn't able to handle it. I'm looking forward to the next developements regarding Vegeta mastering the form's greatest strength.

Toyo was also pretty creative with regards to the abilities that UI Goku is able to utiliz, like those air blasts, body hardening ability and Ki-based avatar, so I'd say UE Vegeta was pretty lackluster in that department too. Of course, these are just minor complaints about things that are more visual than anything else, but I would love to see Toyo getting more crazy with it as seen in the Moro arc finale.

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Sat Feb 11, 2023 3:45 pm

The Super Re-Read: Chapters 75 – 78
Part 2 (Chapters 77 and 78)

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BEHOLD

Yes, welcome back, one and all. This part of The Super Re-Read finishes off this fortnight’s offering, rolling on into Volume 18 of the Dragon Ball Super Manga: we’ll look at Chapter 77, which takes us back 40 years to the fall of Planet Cereal and the events surrounding Granolah’s survival and Bardock’s involvement in the story; then we’ll mosey on in to Chapter 78, as the Heeters make their Big Play in the present and reveal themselves as the true foes!

As ever, thanks and credit go to Kanzenshuu and its contributors, and also to the Dragon Ball Official Site, for a lot of the information that has gone into the commentary on this arc.

Now then, let’s get re-reading!

Chapter 77 – Goku’s Father Bardock/Bardock, Father of Goku
21 October 2021
Chapter Notes
  • We get an idyllic scene of bucolic symbiosis: Cerealians sharing their water with Namekians, and Namekians growing Space Daikon for Cerealians. On the one hand, the Cerealians probably have an easier time with supply, since it literally falls out of the sky (though they gather it in stills, as here and 超 #76), but on the other, the Namekians are handing off something they don’t even need (though apparently slugs are attracted to the high sugar content in Daikon; compare with the Namekians of Planet Namek growing Ajissa in DB #259 because Snails like Hydrangeas) and getting something vital in exchange (whereas the Cerealians are giving something vital to get something vital), so potentially the exchange is slightly more advantageous to the Namekians, commensurate with their extra work.
  • The Saiyan invasion combines a number of established elements. The Saiyan Spacepods are the first to land, creating destruction at the target site (see, e.g., DB #212); 5 spaceships are shown, but the number of Saiyans in the attacking group appears to be much higher – by my count, reckoning all the different details on each of the Saiyans shown, the number is more like 14 or 15 (depending on whether any of them have the same armour; Toyotarou manages to achieve quite a lot of variety in the way he combines these few elements). Bardock, Leek, and Taro are likely to be the remaining 3 members of Bardock’s old 4-member squad (previously with the now-dumped Gine): if 4-member squads are the norm, then Bardock’s group are perhaps accompanied by another 3 squads, apparently all lower-class grunts (超 #82). I don’t see any definite references to Saiyans from A Solitary Final Battle; the presence of Leek and Taro indicates that DBMinus (and, by extension, Dragon Ball Super: Broly) is the principal reference point. They appear by the light of the full Moon to attack as Oozaru, a known tactic of Saiyans if they wish to destroy a Planet’s inhabitants quickly (DB #232; otherwise, they may be more leisurely: Raditz estimates that three Saiyans might take around a month to exterminate all life on a Planet like Earth, in DB #198). The Freeza Force goons deploy from the Mother Ship, fan out, and slaughter (see also, e.g., DB #249, 330); while the Saiyans seem keen to get things done with their bare hands, the other goons herd the subdued natives together before executing them with their Beam Guns (e.g., DB #252): at least 8 goons of all types are involved, in addition to the Saiyans. As Monaito points out, Cereal is sparsely inhabited, so for more than 20 warriors, this isn’t a long campaign, the massacre ending in a single night.
  • Colour Watch: The colourist takes a swing and a miss with the Freeza Force goons. The four in the foreground (certainly the foremost pair) are a direct reference to the Dodoria Elite goons Bardock kills in A Solitary Final Battle. While the horned goon out front is almost there (the skin is maybe a little pale, and the colourist opts for a standard palette on the armour), the others are significantly off: the Appule-type goon is green with blue spots here (as per Appule’s colouring in the Original DB colour version), but a direct reference to the Special should make him purple with green spots; the short guy is a sort of pale yellow (in A Solitary Final Battle, he is green with a red pate; the colourist also misses the fact that he is drawn with arm guards, as in the Special, and his hands are left white here as though he is wearing gloves), and the other guy is again a pale yellow (not very far off, but his skin tone in the Special is more greenish, with a deeper, olive green face). This isn’t the first time the colourist has failed to catch references (e.g., Mr. Satan’s lame Dragon Ball GT jacket, worn in 超 #31: cerise there, but originally a primrose yellow with gauche leather patches). Of course, none of these misses are half so jarring as colouring Bardock’s sleeves navy blue, rather than the classic red (perfectly correct, in line with Dragon Ball Super: Broly), or the unfortunate goof halfway through the Chapter, which gives Bardock purple blood (just like Toyotarou forgets Bardock is even bleeding, a few panels before that).
  • The clinical execution of the Namekian elders and children by Freeza goon fusillade seems especially brutal, even compared to the Saiyan carnage, as they gun down beaten old men and cowering children. In all this, I’ve seen complaints of “whitewashing” Bardock because he doesn’t really get involved: he keeps watch and chases young Granolah to his hiding place, but he doesn’t seem to participate in the destruction or to kill anyone. We know, of course, that Bardock isn’t finished killing others to take their planets: in DB Minus, we’ll see him gleefully kicking some random alien’s face in before the Saiyans are ordered to withdraw. But I think tying Bardock into the story in a way that is aligned with the heroic effort and its themes, motifs and sentiments would have been a confused attempt if he had done it with Cerealian blood on his hands. I suppose one could argue that this illustrates why he shouldn’t have been used in this way for this sort of story, but insofar as the story premise is about a survivor of a Saiyan attack, and any story ought to resonate with Son Goku as Dragon Ball’s main character, Bardock is quite naturally and logically drawn into focus. Given that DBMinus (and, by extension, Broly) already put a different spin on Bardock’s character by attributing him “a small measure of humanity”, I think telling a story in which that characterisation actually gets demonstrated in an interesting way (technically party to the destruction, but fundamentally pushed to grow and act protectively against the true destroyers, which rebounds on his actions with his own family and adds to the story being told in the present) is a rewarding direction to take – more so, arguably, than straightforwardly using ‘classic’ Bardock and the story thereafter pursuing some ‘sins of the father’ angle, for instance. In short, if he must be used, far better to do it in a way that meaningfully advances the story and develops his character in so doing, instead of just giving us a gussied-up cameo.
  • The Cerealian Flayk destroys the Moon with the same sort of attack Granolah was about to use in 超 #76 (and which he does use in 超 #86). The attack seems to concentrate ki in a way typical of Dragon Ball (Gas and Granolah both note the gathering of ki in 超 #86), which has its own Moon-Busters: the first such is of course Kame Sen’nin, who uses his Max Power Kamehameha to destroy the Moon and undo Goku’s Oozaru transformation in the 21st Budokai Final (DB #51-52); the other is Piccolo, who destroys the Moon to undo Gohan’s Oozaru transformation on the first night of his training (DB #208). Flayk completes the set, making three generations of Bardock’s family responsible for decisions to destroy a Moon – by extension, it is probable that Flayk and other Cerealians exist in this bracket of power (i.e., 329 BP or lower; add in the fact that the lower-class Saiyan Taro kills him with a single blow). Toyotarou has volunteered that he considers Flayk to be Granolah’s father, in the Volume 19 Release Interview (Part 1) (Timestamp: 06:10 to 07:18):
    Toyotarou: I always pictured him as being Granolah’s father while drawing him. However, I didn’t have that confirmation from Toriyama, it’s just something I did on my own. So it might not turn out to be the case […] Since he fought to help everyone else, I had a feeling Flayk was Granolah’s father. I kind of decided he was doing it for Granolah as I drew the scene. Of course, Flayk was also fighting for his people, not just his children. So he would have also seen Granolah as someone he needed to protect. But I figured it’d be easier to understand if he was his father, so that’s what I had in mind.
    It’s interesting that the ideas of family and protection, so close to the thematic spine of the arc (specifically on the “Nature” side of the question, coming straight off Goku fighting to protect in 超 #76 and just before a bunch of family beats now), appear even in this relatively throwaway beat.
  • The reversion of the Saiyans from Oozaru gives Toyotarou an opportunity to slip in a couple of seemingly lightly-reworked designs from his old fan manga, DB Zero: the heavy-set Saiyan with the mohawk bears a strong resemblance to Caulif, and the Vegeta-a-like with the high cheekbones looks like Jirhuba (who, in turn, may or may not be an adaptation of Nakatsuru’s draft design for Toma). These two appear in DB Zero on a three-man team, cleaning up a planet before they are destroyed in a huge Beam Gun blast by Freeza’s other goons. According to the back-matter, “They seek to conquer a maximum of planets, not by loyalty to Freeza, but due to their warlike nature. They are not very intelligent and have no dreams other than fighting” (compare Elec’s comments in this Chapter: “Most of Freeza’s people are just in this business for the carnage. Battle-crazed diehards without the brains to know a planet’s true value”). In DB Zero, the third member of the team is named Zuchini and is a cousin of Bardock, but none of the Saiyans in this Chapter bear a clear resemblance to him. Alongside them, we get the two Saiyans from DBMinus: Taro (fighting sans clipboard), and Leek, who here acquires his tell-tale scar: similarly, A Solitary Final Battle shows us the Saiyan Pumbukin getting grazed as an Oozaru by a Kanassan.
  • Favourite Art: Toyotarou clearly wants the ‘hero shot’ of Bardock to be the stand-out art of the Chapter, but I’m all about transitions again: The transition between the desperate Muezli lashing out to protect the young Granolah and Bardock’s flashback to the naming of his own son is excellently done – the re-emergence of slick transitioning work that I praised earlier in the arc, hooking into a similar gesture on a relevant sentiment (and it will transition back out on Gine hugging Kakarot’s incubator, to Muezli hugging the young Granolah directly below). I also like the ‘fade in/fade out’ panelling at the story-break transitions; it’s nothing ground-breaking, but I think it works well artistically.
  • We come to the obvious centrepiece of the Chapter, as Bardock’s heartstrings get unexpectedly tugged by the memory of his own wife and son. Vegeta will allege that Son Goku gets, by Nature, an inheritance of soft-heartedness from Bardock, but what becomes clear from this flashback is that the direction of sentiment is in fact reversed: it’s Bardock who is influenced into having his Convictions changed by his thoughts around the little Kakarot. This in turn inspires a profusion of growth and life motifs in and around Bardock, as “the kindness that’s sprung up in you” (芽生えた, mebaeta, “sprouted”) makes him act accordingly, fighting to protect others and ensure that Monaito and Granolah “stay alive”, wishing that his sons “grow up healthy and fast” (育ち, sodachi: “grow up”, in the sense of childrearing), and finally pushing him to “evolve” (進化, shinka, “evolve” – in the biological sense as much as anything) beyond his limits. Bardock is pulled into alignment with protecting the vulnerable lives and uncertain but obvious potential that exists within children in particular (the young Granolah, because of the young Kakarot), and both instinctively recognises and wholeheartedly fights for the hope for the future that they embody (超 #83).

    In DBMinus, Bardock hand-waves Gine’s question of why he cares about saving his son (“I must have gotten it from you because you’re such a softy”), and he is similarly evasive when Monaito demands to know his motivation (“I just felt like it. That’s all”); Toriyama apparently thought that the evasion of DBMinus wasn’t enough, so Bardock is more introspective and forthcoming in Dragon Ball Super: Broly (“Maybe it’s because I’m always in the middle of a battle, and I’d like to save something instead for once. Especially someone deemed to be a lower-class warrior – my son”). If anything, the use of Bardock in this story draws these vaguely disparate threads together into a single, coherent emotional core. Bardock did indeed get his Conviction from Gine, in a way – the Influence of Others features in making Bardock associate a stranger, Muezli, with someone with whom he shares “a special emotion”, “joined by a bond”, and the child Granolah is the beneficiary of emotional transference from Kakarot. From the flashback, it seems clear that Bardock is most impressed by the obvious similarities between himself and the infant Kakarot: upon seeing him here, Bardock immediately reacts with surprise and hesitation (prompting “What’s wrong now? You’ve seen a baby before!”); likewise in DBMinus, Gine pointing out the similarities between 3-year-old Kakarot and Bardock prompts reflection, and the resolve to save the infant by sending him away – the blurring of distinctions between himself and his son, and his son and the son of a stranger, become crucial to the evolution of his character and the unfolding of these stories. I mentioned previously that the conjunction of memory, emotion, and resolve appears at critical points in the arc, and that this is usually prologue to the various Awakenings that are scattered through the arc; these things all occur within Bardock here (note the ironic little aside Gine gives in Bardock’s memory: “I swear…do Saiyan men have anything resembling emotions?”), and his final Awakening will take place in 超 #83 after a battle in which his resolve to protect deepens.

    Since Bardock is lately characterised by the principle of “saving his companions”, the alignment of the momentary growth of his conception of a “companion” with his instinct to protect makes him a character uniquely suited to be a Saiyan (with all the Nature and typical Convictions that implies, when it actually gets down to combat) who is nevertheless capable of being true to himself, acting with the grain of his own self even when he does something apparently atypical and unexpected – and even though he doesn’t know why (“Dammit. What’s gotten into me..?”). I think this Chapter does a really good job of blending these features of Bardock, while seeding key thematic features of the conflict with the Heeters, both in the past and the present. I really like it.
  • Gine gets a moment where she’s the least bit stern. Hitherto, she appears mostly to be stereotypically ‘feminine’, maternal, and gentle (and not cut out for fighting). Vegeta noted in 超 #6 that “All Saiyan women were strong” in justifying his and Goku’s partiality for strong-willed scolds like Bulma and Chi Chi, so it’s nice to see Gine show this, however fleetingly.
  • The young Raditz plays with a couple of Beetles (presumably making them fight, since this is as close as they get to ‘play’). The Beetles look like male Stag Beetles, well known for using their oversized, fearsome-looking mandibles to wrestle other males; apparently, they are quite popular pets in Japan, and staging bug fights is quite common in the real world. Raditz’s interest in the little critters evokes his nephew, Son Goten, having fun bug-hunting as Gohan teaches Videl ki control: he, too, finds a Stag Beetle, much to his pleasure (DB #428).

    Raditz is the central character of Toyble’s old fan manga DB Zero, set in the last days leading up to the destruction of the Saiyans. The 7-year-old Raditz and his friends Tullece (the very same) and Rycelo (another Saiyan child) win the right to become off-world combatants (cheating in a tournament to defeat another team of 3 children: Shallotto, Bit, and Chicoryto), while Freeza’s Forces kill all the Saiyans they can. It intersects briefly with A Solitary Final Battle, as Raditz encounters Bardock, who has left Kakarot in disgust and is departing for Planet Meat to join his squad. Bardock casually asks Raditz how his mother is doing, tosses him an armband, and promises to do something (implied to be destroying some planet) together with him “next time”. Toyble writes that Bardock “cares little for his children, and does not have good relations with them, but Raditz wants to show him he’s strong”. However, when Kiwi reports to Freeza (erroneously) that Raditz and his team have been killed on a mission as planned, Bardock (on his way back from Planet Meat, battered by Dodoria) is shown listening in, shocked and angered, and vows never to forgive this and to make Freeza pay. It’s interesting to think of this element of unexpectedly-kindled fatherly feeling in Bardock being common to Toyble’s old fan work and Toyotarou’s current professional output.

    (Less seemly is the jokey bonus follow-up, which explains Tullece’s resemblance to Bardock as being thanks to Bardock’s having a fling with another Saiyan female, whose design cribs off Paifu’s good-looking Vampire mother from Toriyama’s mini-series Cowa! – Toyble apologises for the bad gag at the end).
  • The ubiquitous 5 BP re-emerges for Monaito’s suppressed Scouter reading. This rises to 213 BP when he attacks Bardock. This is perhaps another tiny survival from DB Zero: Toyble includes a young Castaway Saiyan, Cabberoge, who at 10 years old is killing off the last inhabitants of Planet Oodoburu (a pun on hors d’oeuvre) and greets his Freeza Force ‘rescuers’ (who promptly kill him). Toyble gives the young man a Battle Power of…213 (To finish off the BP and DB Zero notes, for completeness’ sake, the BPs Toyble gives the characters who appear in that story is as follows: Raditz: 517 BP, Tullece: 451 BP, Rycelo: 430 BP, Shallotto: 627 BP, Bit: 530 BP, Chicoryto: 343 BP, Cabberoge: 213 BP, Bardock: 10,000 BP). This old story frames Raditz and his peers as lower-class, but since recent stories have reframed the threshold of what counts as “impressive” power and Toriyama has stated that young Raditz was an “upper-level warrior” (even if he doesn’t make the most of it and by adulthood is a “weakling” to Vegeta and Nappa, he and the Saiyan Elite Nappa nevertheless have “equal status”), those BP readings may remain quite plausible for higher-level young combatants. If we were arbitrarily to decide that Bardock is to Monaito as the adult Raditz was to Piccolo (since their attacks do similar shades of nothing to the Saiyans), then Bardock would come out with 992 BP. Since he’s “in the upper ranks as far as low-class warriors go”, this isn’t a bad lower boundary for his power – though it is likely rather higher even from the beginning (my guess is something like 1500 BP, just like Raditz), and 超 #82-83 demonstrates a constantly escalating performance.
  • Bardock’s Scouter reveals the Heeters, who obligingly lay out their intent to betray Freeza, which Bardock overhears. Elec compounds this in 超 #83 by admitting to Bardock’s face that he’s being secretly disloyal to Freeza. It isn’t made crystal clear, but Freeza does say in 超 #87 that he has known of the Heeter intent for “these last 40 years”; this seems to imply that he found this out at the time of the fall of Planet Cereal, and the most natural way he would come upon this “intel” is via the communications function in Bardock’s Scouter. For someone so self-confessedly forgetful, Toriyama has been remarkably consistent over the years in giving Scouters telecom properties, to the extent that information is shared even when not intended: Vegeta and Nappa find out about the Dragon Balls thanks to Raditz’s Scouter when Piccolo smugly blabs about them (DB #204); Freeza learns about the Dragon Balls on Planet Namek over Vegeta’s Scouter (DB #222, 246); Vegeta overhears the specifics of how to acquire Namekian Dragon Balls via Dodoria’s Scouter when Freeza gives us all a helpful summary (DB #252); even as late (in publication terms) as DBMinus, Bardock tells Leek to take off his Scouter when he speaks about “that damn Freeza”, so they’re not overheard. If it is the lowkey intent in this arc to have Elec give his own game away here, I think that’s a nice touch: we’re seeing how totally Elec has controlled the flow of information around Granolah’s life through lies, intimidation and manipulation of the truth all-round, so it’s fitting that a leak of “intel” from the man who thinks he controls it all should undo the Heeter plans in utero.
  • Bardock tries his only “pose” (they are otherwise antithetical to him), by borrowing Monaito’s robe to pass himself off as a generic Freeza goon (and presumably obscure the fact that he’s a Saiyan). Unsurprisingly, as with all the poses in this arc, it doesn’t come off, and it’s unclear what exactly Bardock was hoping for – perhaps simply to to defuse interest in the plausible little tableau he’d set up, thus offering an opportunity for escape. Unfortunately, Elec likes to watch and to do his own killing (it’s a neat detail that Elec shoots Muezli in the same spot that Granolah hits Goku in 超 #73). Unsurprisingly, given Bardock’s case of emotional transference, this provokes an emotional reaction (both in the moment, and in the following beat where he looks at the sleeping Granolah again) which leads to a conflict where Bardock will fight desperately to save the others.
  • I really like the way the Chapter turns around the focus of the storytelling from Monaito’s memory of that day (as being told to Granolah et al) to a private, resentful memory that Gas is mulling. It’s another neat transition, and brings in brief elements of Gas’s own feelings and resolve regarding that day, and another neat little interaction with Elec, where he plays the “caring brother” pose initially, but then steps all over his little brother’s intent by ignoring it in favour of his own scheme. On poses, it’s a cute extra detail that (apart from the ridiculous little chinbeard he’s grown), Elec’s principal change between then and now is the two suggestively-placed dreadlocks he’s sporting, where on Gas one would expect to find the tusks when he unleashes his True Nature (超 #80-87). As we know from 超 #87, Elec’s final “pose” is to conceal the fact that he’s the weakest of the Heeters – perhaps this is just a little bit of prosthesis to conceal his inadequacies..? Actually, Competition Time, y’all: Whoever can design Elec the best tusky codpieces wins a prize.
Chapter 78 – Gas’ Wish/Gas’s Wish
20 November 2021
Chapter Notes
  • The Chapter starts where 超 #77 left off, in conversation with Elec and Gas. This is another key interaction between the two, combining thematic and characterising elements:
    • We get a dose of Conviction from Gas across the joins in the Chapter, combining memory, emotion, and resolve. Crucially, he vows never to “suffer such indignity [i.e., loss] ever again”, which will be the key Conviction Elec will remind him of in 超 #80, so he can regain his sense of self and achieve his own Awakening. But here, in 超 #78, Gas’s Convictions are merely causing tension and trouble for his brother’s plans: his pride rebels against being the vessel for a wish that gives him power that isn’t truly his own (see 超 #85: “I sacrificed my pride to become the Strongest Warrior in the Universe!”), insisting “I’m fine just as I am…”, and he’ll stubbornly try to fight without it in 超 #79, relying on his conjuring powers instead of the other techniques granted by the wish. Even when he complies with the thrust of the plan, he does it in a way that simultaneously expresses the same Conviction in his power (e.g., 超 #81, where he “wanted to test” it by messing around with “my toys and tools” against Goku, before Goku goads him into chasing him across the Cosmos: “Don’t underestimate my power…”), and in doing so ironically increases the tension between himself and Elec, as he wastes time and continually fails to close the deal, until Elec’s frustration grows frantic and boils over.
    • We get a lot of natural Big Brother-Little Brother stuff mixed up in this, too. Elec condescends to Gas while leaning on him to get his own way, advancing the “pose” of the caring big brother who’s making sure “I will see your wish fulfilled, Gas”. Of course, as Gas’s diffident reply points up, this isn’t Gas’s wish at all; he doesn’t want it – it’s what Elec wants because “this is the only surefire way to achieve our goals”. But despite Elec’s riding roughshod over Gas’s protests and manipulating him with smooth talk (“I have become strong” – “You sure have”; the hands on the shoulders as he tells him how important he is, like in 超 #71), we also have the nuance of him being the ‘know-it-all’ big brother, who is actually right. Like any little brother, Gas hates to admit it (超 #81: “I was conflicted earlier”), but if the goal is to make Gas able to beat anybody, the wish is necessary; what’s more, he’s “grateful” for it, like Elec knew he would be. He’s a scummy user going a sly and roundabout way (and it has ruinous consequences in 超 #86-87), but Elec is also giving Gas something that he desperately wants, and is helping him achieve a personal goal – and couches it in those terms, however disingenuously (“I’d do anything for my dear little brother”).
    • And, of course, we get a hint of Mind-Body stuff between the pair. It’s interesting to watch the character beat of Gas’s Convictions running out of alignment with the line laid down by the decision-making Elec over the next couple of Chapters, as he demonstrates more faith in himself than Elec does. It’s clear that although Elec pays lip-service to the idea of Gas’s strength (like in 超 #68 and 71), he immediately cuts the legs out from under that profession of faith by talking about “insurance” (超 #68: “Yeah, it’s unlikely [Granolah could ever beat Gas], but…hedging risks is the rule of business”; 超 #71: “I’ve got no doubts about how strong you are. You might’ve even won that fight, but…I’d hate to think about the worst-case scenario”; 超 #77 “You sure have [become strong]…But…Never hurts to have insurance”); there’s never a statement of faith in Gas that isn’t paired with a “but”, until the wish is granted. We’ve seen the main characters all struggle with Conviction when it comes to their power. Gas is the ‘Body’ and ‘Power’ of the Heeters. What happens when the Heeters “Haven’t had complete faith” in their power (compare Goku’s statement, 超 #84)? This, apparently.
    I’ve said it before, but I always like the interactions between Elec and Gas. They never say so much that their dialogue feels expository and unnatural between siblings who must know each other intimately (and Gas typically hasn’t that much to say in any case), but what they do say is usually pregnant with more than surface-level significance, which I always find rewarding (and really fun) to prod at when bearing in mind the full arc context.
  • Granolah, meanwhile, reels over Monaito’s revelations. It’s interesting to reflect on how the Heeters, a unit devoted to “intel”, have almost completely controlled the flow of information up to this point in the arc, both in carrying out this specific plot and more generally in terms of controlling Granolah’s whole life:
    • Granolah begins the arc believing that Freeza is dead and the Saiyans were all destroyed by a meteor (超 #68). This doubtless came from the Heeters, as Elec hints he knows what the cover story for Freeza’s plan to eradicate the Saiyans will be, ahead of time (超 #83). This not only makes Granolah’s hatred a cold and settled issue that he figures he can’t do anything to redress (“I’ve lost both my avenues for revenge”), but also prevents him from identifying or on any level sympathising with the Saiyans as “victims as well”; “yet another [tribe] pushed to the brink of extinction…by Freeza” (超 #75).
    • Granolah also has no idea of the Heeter involvement in the destruction of Cereal, which they plotted with Freeza for profit (超 #70, 77), or of the fact that Elec killed his mother that day: he was asleep on both occasions where he might have learned it for himself. Monaito’s intuition that he would be unwise to share the truth was ruthlessly reinforced by Elec personally, several years later, with blackmail – holding the pair (in Granolah’s case, unknowingly) hostage to maintain tight control on this information (超 #78).
    • Elec presents himself as Granolah’s employer and benefactor for much of his life, taking him under his wing as a fair and equitable exchange (超 #78, 81), but he doesn’t reveal that this is a self-serving co-optation to sub Granolah in for Gas, and when Elec perceives that Granolah has advanced enough to threaten the Heeter position, he selectively reveals and distorts information to manipulate Granolah: he reveals Freeza’s alive again (超 #68), but he says nothing about being Freeza’s business partner (超 #70) or, of course, the fact that he intends to dispose of Granolah. And of course, he sits on Granolah’s demand for Freeza’s location, to draw him into confrontation with the Saiyans (超 #70-71).
    • Elec aggregates and controls all the useful intel he could possibly need by acquiring Zuno the Wise’s location (超 #69) and using the opportunity to obtain intel around exploiting Saiyan weaknesses (see DB #336) and using the Cerealian Dragon Balls. He also gets Macki to peddle disinformation about the status and intent of the Saiyans to make Granolah react in a way consistent with the information he already has, so he’ll remain focused on vengeance (超 #71 – she also lies about him to the Saiyans, of course) while the Heeters make their play for the Dragon Balls (超 #75, 77).
    超 #78 is where the Heeters’ iron grip on the flow of information, acquired through threats, lies, and manipulation, starts to loosen with Monaito telling what truths he knows about The Past (this having its own thematic impact on what makes the Characters who they are, and why they choose to fight), and this flow turns against the Heeters in 超 #82 as an unexpected source of “intel” is revealed in Bardock’s Scouter (solidifying the Influence of Others in impacting the main characters’ Convictions), and is finally revealed to never have been on their side at all in 超 #87, as Freeza reveals he basically always knew what they were up to.
  • I rather like Monaito as a secondary character: not only is he a surprisingly effective White Mage (I didn’t notice before, but along with dissipating Goku’s weights and healing a bunch, he even frees Granolah from his crucifixion at Gas’s hands), he’s a really good counter-image of fatherhood, since 超 #77 (re-)introduced Bardock and had him struggle with sentiments particular to parents and children. Bardock is, of course, Goku’s Natural father, and the Convictions he evidences align with this and the way he steps up to fight in turn aligns with his Saiyan Nature. Monaito is Granolah’s adoptive father, and we see in this Chapter that he is, effectively, his father by Conviction, but we also see how bleak things look when you’re not able to step up and fight for these Convictions:
    • Chronologically, Monaito is at first ready to give up and be killed by the Heeters in the aftermath of the fall of Planet Cereal (“We’ll take what Fate hands us”: 超 #83), but he is influenced by Bardock’s fierce resolve and his wish, which creates an opening for the future, “to protect what hope we’ve got left with all I’ve got” (specifically mentioning Granolah thereafter as his motivation).
    • Despite victory over the Heeters, he thinks “My life should’ve ended 40 years ago”, and his Conviction is “My only duty since then…was raising you right…” (超 #87) As part of this, he warns Granolah off seeking revenge: “If the boy knew the truth, he’d run with some half-baked plan for revenge. He’d get himself killed” (超 #78), so he lets him think “it was luck that he survived. He doesn’t really know what happened on that cursed day.” He allows Granolah’s focus to remain deflected onto those upon whom he cannot be avenged: Freeza and the Saiyans.
    • The Heeters follow this up several years later by threatening Monaito and, more importantly, Granolah: “The second you blab, both your lives are over”. Monaito isn’t a Saiyan warrior who’s able to stand up to the Heeters and get stronger when he fights. He knows that to oppose the Heeters just means death (“As if you can do anything to stop us”) and to keep quiet and let the Heeters employ Granolah without telling him the truth “was the only way for us to survive” (超 #78), the last recourse of the weak. Over the coming decades, this settles into claims that “I’ve got no complaints about life here”, that Granolah shouldn’t seek revenge, and they should “enjoy the lot we’ve been handed in life” (超 #69): Monaito comes full circle, taking what’s handed – but this time, it’s so Granolah has some hope for the future.
    • And yet, Monaito has allowed his original Conviction (to “protect what hope we’ve got left with all I’ve got”) to ensnare him and traduce his original intent in pursuing it – one suspects he didn’t take a spear 40 years ago simply to cower ever after; he suffers for that: “It would’ve been better to die than serve Elec”. As he says, “I don’t even live up to being a Namekian” (compare with, say, Muri’s defiance in DB #255, just before he is killed: “Allow me to show you the pride of the Namekian people!”). The perversion of Monaito’s original Conviction to protect, into a ‘nothing to see here, it was all fate, I’m just a lucky survivor living a quiet life’ pose, strikes at what he perceives to be his True Nature, and his Pride.
    Whereas Bardock battles through with his Convictions and departs in a blaze of glory, Monaito has to endure his, under invidious circumstances. And 超 #78 has Monaito at his lowest ebb, feeling false to his Nature, and weak in his own eyes (see the telling connection in his statement “I don’t even live up to being a Namekian. I can’t even restore your energy.”) – but he does hang on to that original Conviction all the same: he begs Goku to save Granolah. In 超 #81, he will awaken his Conviction again in his desperation to save Granolah, vowing that “I won’t allow another soul to die! Not on my watch!!”, and the retelling of Bardock’s story reminds him of the pride he has lost. Consequently, he has a little Awakening of his own in 超 #87: the full flourishing of his healing powers, following a full alignment of his Nature and his Conviction.
  • Gas appears fully grown. It’s a fun twist on the motif of ‘growth’ that appears every so often in the arc, but unlike ‘Natural’ growth, this change points up the opposite, and foreshadows a couple of things:
    • Firstly, there’s the question of ‘growth’ per se. Gas grows visibly much older here (and will continue to do so); Granolah gets wild hair growth (超 #70), but fundamentally these ‘growth-y’ changes are countered by the fact that, as characters, they haven’t actually ‘grown’ at all, but are both still contemplating their revenge for what has happened in the past and are merely using this change as an opportunity to exact it. They’re both stuck right where they were 40 years ago: before making his wish, Granolah has an extended argument with Monaito about the propriety of using the Dragon Balls for the revenge we see him obsess over (超 #69), and he goes right ahead and agrees to burn his whole life to make it happen. Gas, similarly, broods over his “indignity” at having lost to Bardock 40 years ago, on the very eve of having his wish granted: as Elec notes, “in a way, your own revenge is tied up in all this”. The appearance of growth masks its absence.
    • Secondly, there’s the signal (confirmed in 超 #87) that just as Granolah used up almost all his life span in this wish, Gas has had a similar decision made for him by Elec. The moment where Gas appears to be at his peak, revealed as the Strongest and unassailable, is actually revelatory of his subordination to Elec, and how he has been used. Gas will pass through the rest of the arc feeling “free” (超 #78), “grateful” (超 #81), even experiencing “a new flavour of ecstasy” (超 #86), and his star is technically still in the ascendant at this point, but it’s all just prelude to his ruin – in fact, it is his ruin, revealed by degrees – which has been decided and begins here.
    Again, we see the matters of Nature and Conviction blended in this beat too, since we get the unnatural spectacle of a growth that works against Nature and lacks the vitality inherent to Natural growth (Gas will wither before our eyes in 超 #85-87) and we also get the absence of Gas’s own Conviction here, as the Will of another has overridden his own (and merely a Calculating Will which trusts in the Dragon Balls rather than Gas’s strength, at that).
  • Gas voices his personal grudge against Granolah for the first time. I’ve seen criticisms of the grudge between Gas and Granolah for the fact that it’s just ‘one-way’; true enough, but that also is the point. And it seems fittingly childish somehow – Gas is, after all, the kid brother of the Heeters. As the arc unfolds, it becomes clearer that the grudge between Granolah and Gas isn’t really about them; it’s actually about Gas’s place within the Heeter Unit, and the tensions between himself and Elec.
    • We have seen Elec intervene to stop Gas performing his role as ‘muscle’ for the Heeters (e.g., 超 #70) and acting like something extra is required before he can let Gas act in the way that he wants to. We will see in 超 #82 that Gas was afraid of losing Elec’s faith in him even 40 years ago, and his loss to Bardock clearly set the seal on this, as we’ve discussed.
    • In the flashback portion of this Chapter, we see the young Gas quietly but obviously disdainful of Granolah’s skills while Elec covets them; this gets underlined by the interstitials between 超 #78-79, where Gas is a quietly hostile background presence as Elec inducts the young Granolah into his service, and between 超 #79-80, as the young Gas is a foreground hostile presence, obviously angry and resentful as Granolah starts to repay Elec’s faith in him by bringing in the Bounties – in this case, a random Star Wars beastie. This is indicative of an irreconcilable difference of opinion between the pair, as Elec passes over the more powerful Gas for the parvenu Granolah (“Elec saw value in your strength, but I never did”), and puts his faith in him instead (超 #68: “Granolah. We can always count on you, huh?”). Clearly, Gas has issues with what Elec sees in Granolah, but not in him. He’s jealous for Elec’s attention, as much as anything.
    • Once Gas’s power is perfected and it is clear that Elec is intent on employing him as the main instrument of the Heeter plan (and Elec finishes Granolah off, in 超 #81), the issue is over for Gas too: when Elec asks if Gas wanted to finish him off instead, Gas admits that “I was no longer interested in him” – the issue is about Elec’s faith in Gas and willingness to let him perform the role he’s groomed him for, and the stark cleavage between their perspectives that Granolah embodies.
    Maybe there could’ve been more behind this to sell the Gas/Granolah-specific antagonism (through flashback, or whatever), but since the problem is really about Gas and Elec rather than Gas and Granolah (and there will be more of that), I think this is probably the right balance. I’m not personally left wanting more exposition which would have lengthened the pacing of this section of the arc (which is already starting to slow in 超 #78) without really giving us very much more in exchange.
  • Gas chops Goku’s hair when his stroke goes astray. Goku has had his iconic ‘do menaced by unforgiving steel before: Tao Pai Pai resorts to a scimitar in DB #90, and slices a chunk off (which stays off until DB #91, unlike here). Goku’s usually nimble enough to dodge or block the blades used against him, but on this occasion he’s pinned by the limbs by the heavy weights Gas conjures: of course, Goku has famously had his limbs weighed down before, in the Buu arc: in DB #428, Goku trains with 2 tonnes on each limb, and South Kaio ups it to 10 at North Kaio’s behest. Goku’s limbs are pinned until he becomes a Super Saiyan, at which point training with this weight becomes “Easy!”
  • Favourite Art: This Chapter gives us a couple of dynamic action steps at the outset of each of the main sequences: Gas as he steps forward to attack Granolah with his spiked mace, and Goku as he steps into his counterattack against Gas. I really like the foreshortening in these panels, which gives a strong sense of the characters launching themselves into the combat; in Gas’s case, this is aided by the angled framing giving a ‘swooping’ sense to his motion, which really sells it. Gas’s action motion generally is cool in this Chapter, particularly the movement with the spiked mace, which has some very effective and impactful sweeping strikes (particularly the massive strike that sends Granolah aloft) balanced in among some Merus-esque quarterstaff pokes. It really sells the sense of Gas’s effectiveness with his honed technique (in a way that the next Chapter sort of fails to do). And I would be remiss if I didn’t praise yet another highly effective panel transition between the present and the past: the beaten Granolah reacting to Gas’s statement that Elec chose to hire him instead of kill him gives way to panel of young Granolah standing, but angled in such a way that it looks naturally of a piece with the panel above it.
  • It’s interesting to get a “Don’t die, Kakarot” from Vegeta, after Goku said the same to him in 超 #76. This probably flags up that we’re looking at the limits of Goku’s Conviction now. Just as Vegeta imagined he might win on the basis of Granolah hitting his limit in 超 #76, Goku now calculates that if Vegeta takes the Senzu Bean and does another round of Ultra Ego, he can beat Gas. But Goku’s lack of Conviction here is even more pronounced than Vegeta’s: Goku isn’t even calculating an outcome where he sees himself possibly winning; he’s figuring on an outcome where someone else entirely does the winning. He’s only counting on buying enough time to give him the opening (“I’ll try to hold my own in the meantime!”; he doesn’t get more confident than “You won’t kill me that easily!”). In the moment, it seems reasonable: Goku historically knows when he can’t win (e.g., DB #313, 402), and Vegeta has a built-in self-strengthening form, so if he starts fresh, it looks like he has a decent chance. But considered from the perspective of Conviction, Goku seems to have no Will to Win, here. He’s still stepping up, and doing it to protect others just like he was in 超 #76 (and will again in 超 #81), but his nebulousness is clear from the fact that he’s just marking time. He duly gets merked.
  • Colour Watch: There are an unfortunate couple of goofs from the colourist in this Chapter: they miss the beaten Granolah’s bicep in one panel and colour it as background, which makes it look like his arm is weirdly hanging by a piece of shapeless gristle. They also forget Vegeta is wearing gloves, and so we’re treated to a flesh-coloured hand holding the Senzu Bean. On the plus side, I’m very fond of the colour scheming chosen around the period of darkness where Toronbo is summoned. The colouring work around the Goku-Gas action sequences is really good as well; often I’ve found that colour inadvertently smooths over some of the appealing roughness in Toyotarou’s action linework and so detracts from the whole (see, e.g., 超 #60), but the colouring here simply skilfully adds to it (see, for instance, Gas whacking Goku with his conjured mallet, or his conjured Nunchaku).
  • Vegeta gets a nice character beat at the end of the Chapter, the more so for it being quite unexpected and managing to fuse behaviour that seems authentic to him with thematic issues that have arisen in the arc so far. He foregrounds the idea of relying on one’s own strength (which appeared in 超 #61) as motivation in foregoing his own healing and in pushing that ideal onto Granolah, but we also get a strong Influence of Others thematic beat as Vegeta relies on Granolah’s strength to carry the day now (see 超 #86, when Goku will consent to do the same, only not standing on the sidelines), perhaps indicative of the strange connection they forged in their fight (and also of Vegeta’s continuing Conviction problems, just like Goku). But there’s also a major flaw, here: Vegeta’s doing it so Granolah can settle his grudge and satisfy his revenge. Granolah knows who the real enemy is, now, but if the answer to “Why do we Fight?” is still “To Avenge Ourselves”, then in a key way nothing’s changed for him, and he hasn’t yet awakened to his True Self; the unnatural, warped need for vengeance still blinds him. He’ll carry the banner for the heroes in the next couple of Chapters, and show effectiveness and even an inkling of growth, but as he pushes the need for revenge, he ends up battered, blinded, and near death.
…Well. That all went in a flash, as expected. I’ll just have to turn it over to y’all, then: What did you get from your Re-Read?

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LoganForkHands73
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Sat Feb 11, 2023 8:15 pm

Re: Beetle battles
I never paid much attention to Raditz's cameo in this arc, I guess because Minus conditioned me to expect his involvement in flashbacks, so I didn't really notice what he was doing with those beetles. I wince at those insect pit fight videos that occasionally pop up in my YouTube recommended -- speculating about whether a praying mantis would beat a tarantula is one thing, but seeing live animals forced to fight in an unnatural environment is distasteful to me. It's kinda sad that it's treated as a harmless playground game in East Asia.

Getting back to Raditz, Goku making a callback to him during his fight against Gas felt like a much more powerful moment. Seeing young Raditz messing around with bugs in flashbacks is one thing, but Goku all but namedropping his big brother in a present-day context to illustrate an important point to Gas was very satisfying.

Re: The 'Dock
While I've more or less come to terms with how Toyotaro chose to portray Bardock in this story, I'm still not entirely satisfied with the direction they took. Now, I'm not the kind of guy who desperately needed to see grim-n-gritty headband Bardock tear up some Cerealian assholes on Monaito's front lawn, I've seen enough fanart of that, but even when I consider the modern interpretation of Bardock as a more empathetic figure, his sudden protectiveness of Granolah, Muezli and Monaito still feels incredibly abrupt and unbelievable. The scene where he questions why he's even going to this much effort to protect some strangers he ordinarily wouldn't think twice about incinerating feels more like a weird attempt at lampshade hanging... it doesn't quite work because I always find myself thinking, "yes, why are the writers making you do this, Bardock?" I know the Doylist explanation and, on paper, I understand the Watsonian one, but it doesn't emotionally click at all. With a few very minor tweaks, this whole sequence at Monaito's cabin would've worked much better for me. Here are my adjustments:
  • Bardock spares Muezli and directs her towards the nearest surviving lifeform on his scouter, Monaito. Same as the manga.
  • Unlike in the manga, Bardock leaves immediately after saying hi to Monaito.
  • The Heeters witness Bardock assisting the enemy but confront him about it later while he's en route to his squad. Rather than acting in defence of total strangers, Bardock retaliates purely in self-defence.
  • The fierce battle inevitably leads back to Monaito's hut, which allows many of the same events to go down -- Elec kills Muezli, Monaito witnesses the conflict between Bardock and Gas.
This clears up my main bugbear with that sequence, which is the removal of the scene where the Heeters catch him out and pressure him to execute the civilians. I buy the idea of Bardock sparing an innocent mother and son who remind him of his own in a brief flash of conscientiousness. I don't buy the idea of even this soft-n-cuddly Bardock actively endangering himself for their sake. A recurring problem with Bardock's modern characterisation is that we're still supposed to believe that he's previously been this remorseless interplanetary exterminator, when precious little of his on-page behaviour has indicated to this effect. The most we ever get of this, as you say, is from a single panel in Minus where he kicks an alien in the face. In effect, it's a case of telling over showing.

I really dislike how Elec blabbers so much to Bardock. In hindsight, it was a clear hint that he was nowhere near the evil mastermind he'd initially been painted as. Not only does Elec confess his intentions to betray Freeza to a scouter-wearing Saiyan (the idea that this was intended as the point where Freeza first discovered their treachery could be quite clever, but it raises the question of why Freeza never dealt with them sooner), either he or Gas later makes a blatant hint about Freeza's own plans to exterminate the Saiyans. The cardinal sin here is how it recontextualises Bardock's suspicion of Freeza in Minus. In that story, Bardock has a great gut instinct about the situation and uses his brain to piece together the clues, which I actually liked a lot. Even with Minus retcons, we can't ever have nice things. Bardock needn't have bothered with all that cool deductive reasoning, the Heeters basically spelled it out directly that the Saiyans were doomed!

As you refer to Dragon Ball Zero in the Raditz section, it seems that Toyotaro and other big Dragon Ball fans-turned-creators really are particularly fixated on giving Bardock reasons to grow more emotionally attached to his children. It's not hard to see why, it's a completely natural development to make if you're going to keep using the character, but it's funny to see how universal it is.

Re: All Gas No Brakes
Empowered Gas entering the fray for the first time was fresh and enjoyable. Seeing him steamroll the heroes with his unique powers felt novel initially, but unfortunately overstayed its welcome.

I've said most of what I needed to say about Gas's grudge against Granolah. I don't think we necessarily needed to see Granolah stow a reciprocal rivalry against Gas, but we really needed to see more of Granolah's perspective on the matter. I've been watching Better Call Saul, that show majestically handles a complex but mostly "one-sided" rivalry between brothers Chuck and Jimmy. Chuck holds most of the bitter resentment and jealousy, whereas Jimmy just wants Chuck's approval until he's forced to act against him. Quite a different dynamic, I know, but seeing Granolah's confusion at why he's provoked Gas so badly and maybe attempt to reason with him about it could've been more rewarding than another mostly wordless kung fu battle.

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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Tue Feb 14, 2023 9:17 pm

Chapter 77 was the last nail in the coffin for Z Bardock, and I have mixed feelings about this. Bardock is the most gruesomely overrated character of this whole franchise, behind only perhaps Broly, so I wasn't exactly happy to see him play such a big role here. There's a weird mix of fanfare and deconstruction here that I don't think pleased anyone. Bardock was never a deep character, he was just another Saiyan, there's nothing worth seeing about this guy.

...Or is there? Goku grew up his whole life thinking his dad was another evil Saiyan like Raditz, so what happens when he finds out his dad wasn't that different from him? This is both a very interesting premise but also very stupid. I tend to say Toyotaro's name a lot and credit him for everything both good and bad, but I'll point the finger at Toriyama for this one. When he said years ago that Bardock has a "small measure of humanity", I expected it to mean he cares more about his fellow Saiyans than Vegeta did, not that he'd have a soft spot for women and children.

The framing of the flashback starting with Bardock and ending with Gas was pretty smart, so it's even weirder that Toyotaro fell for the "flashback within a flashback" trope. How did Monaito even know Bardock was thinking of his family? That was such a sloppy mistake. I remember some complaining about the "40 years ago" thing, but it's more or less right. Goku is what, 43 now? And he spent some years on an incubator, maybe they could've written "around 40 years ago", but I don't mind.

Maybe this is what the timeline looks like?
737: Goku is born
741: Planet Vegeta blows up, Goku goes to earth.
...
778: Super starts
780: Tournament of Power*
781: Granolah Saga?
783:

*Beerus says it's been a couple years since he fought Vegeta in Chapter 27. Super Hero is officially 3 years later but 1 year before the 28TB.
That actually places them exactly 40 years apart. Wow.


Anyway, Chapter 78. I think Elec genuinely cared about Gas, in a way. He thought he was killing two birds with the same stone, maybe overstepping Gas' dignity, but he thought it was all going to work out for the 4 of them in the end. The Heeters are well written as siblings, them not calling each other "bro" and "sis" like most fictional siblings do is enough to earn points for me.

The fight in this chapter was still fresh, Gas was just testing his powers, but it would soon age like milk you forgot in the sun. Back then I thought this would be the start of the 3rd act, rather than the start of the second half.

Is anyone else really bothered by the dialogue? It's always been a bit of a problem for me, but in this chapter it's insufferable. The bad guys are ALWAYS talking about stuff that we already know, just so we know that they know it too. And they talk in such a weird way, like George Lucas was writting the script. I know some fans aren't that smart (and the target audience is 14 year olds) but Geez. Gas just can't shut up man.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Fri Feb 24, 2023 7:07 pm

The Super Re-Read: Chapters 79 – 82
Part 1 (Chapters 79 and 80)

Image

Mmmyep, it's the Super Re-Read. I'mma skip most of the cheery introductory yadda-yadda cuz I've kind of been at a low ebb the last couple weeks - still, I sure wrote a thing, so I'll just say that if you're still re-reading with me, (thank you and) I hope you enjoy it; we're moving through to the end of Volume 18 of the Dragon Ball Super manga, followed by the first 2 Chapters of Volume 19. On this occasion, we're covering Granolah's showdown with Gas.

As usual by way of thanks and credit, I'm dropping the links to Kanzenshuu's Translations Archive and also to the Dragon Ball Official Site; they both have lots of extremely useful information for any reading of the arc.

Okay, here it is:

Chapter 79 – Gas vs. Granolah/Gas vs. Granolah
21 December 2021
Chapter Notes
  • The first read-through of this Chapter left me worried, and a lot of readers nonplussed. Not only is 超 #79 pretty much entirely devoted to a set-piece fight, but it also had the misfortune to be accompanied a couple of weeks later by a spectacularly ill-judged announcement that the arc would be “ending very soon” to be replaced by a new arc the same year (Timestamp: 07:31 to 07:56), when it still actually had 8 months to run. Knowing how much of the story is still left, the decision to devote a whole Chapter to a set-piece battle makes a kind of sense, in having Granolah maintained at the centre of his own arc, fighting on the side of the angels instead of being the proxy antagonist he was in the early arc. That requires a certain amount of narrative bulk where he’s at the forefront. But even now, a whole Chapter feels a little extravagant. Part of that, I think, is derived from the feeling that it simply doesn’t do enough to move the arc on narratively; from the standpoint of economy, splicing half of this battle with half of 超 #80 (up to where Gas unleashes his Inner Nature, perhaps) feels like it would have kept a better balance between action spectacle and telling the story at hand. The other thing making this Chapter feel a little superfluous, I think, is actually down to the extremely high quality of action in the early arc, which makes it perversely difficult for this stand-out battle to actually stand out to the extent that seems intended, and makes it look unfortunately a little like ‘more of the same’ and so after the first half of the Chapter it starts to feel a little like ‘dead air’ even though, taken on its own merits, it’s entertaining and has enough about it to give it a unique character. One can hardly avoid the fact that there’ll be less to discuss, though.
  • Since we’re into the subject, though, we might as well address the principal defect of the Granolah arc at this point, which is bigger than the content of any particular Chapter, and that is the pacing of the whole thing (touched on first in the comments around 超 #71, covering the arc structure). Whenever I try to pare down the arc in terms of sheer narrative bulk, I never come away that successful overall – maybe a couple of Chapters could be stripped down by cutting some of the superfluous action, but (beyond things like some of the present Chapter) that’s surprisingly slim pickings. But pacing isn’t simply a question of spareness of bulk, but also the vibes that are created by the way in which the plotlines for the narrative are arranged. That this is the key issue is all too apparent at this, the beginning of Granolah’s neatly compartmentalised ‘turn’ at some action: there’s a strong aversion to depicting any extended activity concurrently in this arc. Even on the occasions where some action is ongoing (e.g., the Heeters locating the Dragon Balls), this is activity that can be neatly ‘placed’ in the background and not really returned to until the present segment of the arc finishes, whereupon it politely gives way to the next, which takes its ‘turn’ in orderly fashion. If I had to put my finger on a reason for this processional approach to the story, I’d suggest that it is occasioned by the overly rigid and prescriptive symmetry built into the story structure (again, see the Chapter Comments for 超 #71), which prevents the shuffling or simultaneity of some key plotting elements and so is the true font of the drag and repetitiveness in the arc – particularly the later arc, as the various segments of the story cycle neatly through the various heroes confronting and re-confronting the main fighting villain of the arc, while little else of note (if anything at all) goes on. This means that after Gas’s wish is made, there’s very little for the main action plotline to bounce off in order to produce twists and surprises, or even simple progression (though Elec inserts himself into things at 超 #80 to do this much one more time), and this means things generally have to escalate or change within the main action plotline itself: as indeed they do, and mostly in the same stately procession, stepping into the tidy plotting boxes laid out for them and duly giving way once they’ve taken their turn; the intensity of the action also throws the relatively slow trudge of the plot progression into sharp relief. On a character level too, it means that Gas, despite his conception as part of an integrated antagonist unit (and the fact that he is at his most compelling when he interacts with Elec in particular, as part of their Body-Mind duality), has to spend slightly too much of the back half of the arc bearing the brunt of the way the arc presents its turn-based action, out there on his own as basically a serviceable fighting brick, untethered from his group for prolonged periods (of which this Chapter is the prime example – I do think criticism of Gas as a character is one of those things that the fandom has overdone, but it’s still a bit of a miss to structurally forego opportunities to keep him at his most interesting).

    I’ve seen the suggestion out in The Wider Internet that it would have done a lot of good for the arc’s pacing to depict, say, Granolah’s combat against Gas alongside Goku and Vegeta learning about the events of the battle from 40 years ago through Bardock’s Scouter, with the story alternating between these sequences. This sort of move would’ve required other plot points to be rearranged into tighter alignment (e.g., rather than Goku taking two turns at Gas either side of his main fight with Granolah – the first of which is pretty perfunctory and for no better narrative reason than to “buy time” – shifting at least some of 超 #81-82’s sequences up into his fight in 超 #78 so that all Goku’s issues with Resolve are shown in a single fighting section rather than having to revisit this again later) or for purposes of maintaining thematic continuity (it’s still important to see Granolah pushing vengeance to his utter ruin well before the arc climax, so that can’t be left to one side or anything), but I really do think there’s something to this suggestion in a general way, for the sake of making the late arc feel faster and fuller, changing up sequences, eliminating repetition and adding an air of unpredictability and forward arc momentum just by virtue of the fact that something else substantive would be going on. This was a real advantage of the Tournament of Power arc, where something else was always afoot that could intrude and ‘flip the script’ or move things swiftly on; taking a leaf out of that book (in however limited a way – even using just one active concurrently-running plot strand alongside the main action plot) would, I think, have limited the arc’s worst defects and the resultant interplay of elements would have helped elevate the whole thing to another level.
  • I enjoy the little bit where we get to see Elec as both a dandy and a poseur, as he acts like he’s an old hand on the battlefield (he isn’t; he simply engineers opportunities for other people to fight) while worrying about debris in his expensive wine. Wine makes its own sediment from dead yeast and grape matter, as well as other by-products; Elec is drinking a red wine so it’s likely to have been aged on its dregs and silt will have formed in that time; it hasn’t been decanted (the sommelier is carrying the bottle for direct pouring), so it’s likely that, despite his concern, Elec’s going to be getting some sort of debris in his wine either way. The main point of the scene, however, foreshadows the execution of the Heeter plan, as Elec says he has an “urgent errand”: 超 #87 will reveal that this is to call Freeza to Planet Cereal on the pretext of a “business deal” so that the newly-strongest Gas can kill him. People have noted that since Freeza is busy in another dimension right now, this is the most obvious weakness of the Heeter plan (what if he isn’t contactable, or needs to reschedule?), but otherwise the plan is really quite straightforward and unconvoluted: 1. Get the Dragon Balls; 2. Make Gas the Strongest; 3. Kill the heroes; 4. Invite Freeza along and kill him; 5. Take charge of Freeza’s army; 6. Profit. For all the ‘What’s going on this isn’t a 5D Chess 9000 IQ play’-type commentary that resulted, I don’t mind the plan being quite simple; it at least makes it theoretically quite sensible and realistic, and doesn’t require wild serendipities to come off successfully.
  • Monaito does some more support work by making sure Granolah and Oatmeel are reunited, signalling Granolah as a man on the rise again, having reached his lowest ebb in 超 #75 when he discarded Oatmeel to wilfully maintain his grudges. The reunion of the fully-powered Granolah and Oatmeel gives them a decent edge in this fight over an enemy who, though functioning as part of a greater whole, is really out there on his own while his family stands aloof. Dragon Ball Super often foregrounds the idea that fighters making use of the aid of others (however questionable that ‘help’ may seem in the moment) have a decisive edge over those who eschew it (and we commented in an earlier instalment that Super’s antagonists tend to twist and distort the idea of unity in different ways). More specifically, this Chapter gives us the beginnings of the message that a fighter who is able both to confidently lean into their own innate Nature (in Granolah’s case, he can rely not just on power, but also on his Cerealian precision, further honed through the combat already shown in the arc) and rely the support of others (in this case, Oatmeel) can edge out an opponent who only really has power in his favour. The reliance on the power and aid of others will re-emerge most clearly in 超 #86, when Goku relies on Granolah’s power once more (and vice-versa) in helping defeat Gas, and Granolah in turn will use Oatmeel’s aim assist again in order to ensure he hits the airborne Gas at the key moment.
  • One of the most noteworthy features of the fight is Gas’s reliance on his conjured weapons, and across the second part of the arc we really do get a whole arsenal of weapons from Gas, some real and some invented:
    • Four-pronged square trident-type weapon (超 #78)
    • Axe (超 #78, 85)
    • Spiked Mace/Morningstar (超 #78, 83, 84, 85)
    • Gauntlet-sword/Dandpatta (超 #78, 85)
    • Shield or Buckler, various shapes (超 #78, 79, 84, 85)
    • Giant War Mallet (超 #78, 85)
    • Nunchaku (超 #79)
    • Javelin (超 #79)
    • Kunai (超 #79)
    • Wrecking Ball (超 #79, 85)
    • Metal Combat Claws (超 #79)
    • Lance (超 #79)
    • Scimitar (超 #79, 85)
    • Giant propellor blades/Giant Shurikens? (超 #79, 85)
    • Hewing spear? (超 #79)
    • Spiked walls/Traps (超 #81, 85)
    • Spear (超 #83)
    • Broadsword (超 #85)
    • Chain-Sickle/Kusarigama (超 #85)
    Of course, in 超 #81 Gas will expand his repertoire to mix his conjured weapons with huge real objects that he is moving telekinetically (e.g., Cereal’s old trains, which he uses to smack Goku and travel on generally), and by 超 #86 this sort of power evolves so that his own body parts become, in effect, the conjured weapon, and he leaves all this sort of thing behind. Gas isn’t the only character capable of conjuring weapons out of nothing in Dragon Ball: Piccolo, for instance, generates a sword for Son Gohan (DB #208) and other items (such as an hourglass: DB #487), and Dabura also uses his magic to conjure swords and spears to fight with (DB #455, 463, 超 #16); Gotenks is also able to create some crazy things with his ki, such as the sentient Super Ghosts (DB #490-491). However, as a thoroughgoing combat gimmick, it’s different enough from other Dragon Ball fighters to be enjoyably distinctive for Gas, and the list of weapons he uses is surprisingly long and varied (even if a couple are used most reliably). Toyotarou comments on his design work for Gas’s weapons and nominates his favourite, in the Volume 19 (Part 1) Interview (Timestamp: 02:20 to 03:33):
    Toyotarou: Let’s see, there are a lot of weapons that I like […] so many came to mind and I referenced lots of materials when making my decisions. I personally find the handheld, four-pronged, propellor-like knives pretty cool. The ones that attached to Gas’s hands and spun around […] I don’t actually remember what I used as the basis when I came up with those […] I may have used something as a model when I designed them, but those weapons work by being spun around through sheer willpower […] Maybe they’re based on something like Shurikens, but spinning them through willpower is something you’d find only in Dragon Ball, and even then, something only Gas can do. The other weapons like swords and hammers can be wielded by Humans, but those need ki and willpower to move […] They’re not the sort of weapons I usually see, so they’re the most interesting to me.”
    Of course, anyone familiar with Green Lantern (and no doubt other American Comic Book characters with similar powers) may dispute Toyotarou’s assertion that one finds this sort of thing “only in Dragon Ball”. As a final note, the general focus on melee weapons for Gas also sets him off nicely against both Granolah and Elec visually, both of whom evoke gunplay – Elec, obviously, by his reliance on an actual pistol (超 #77, 81, 83; thus concealing his combat weakness), and Granolah by his general sniper ethos; though the shots are almost always from his fingers, they are often shaped like finger-guns when he fires off (this comes up regularly, and obviously both in this Chapter and in 超 #80).
  • Oatmeel performs his trademark ability in expanding the range of sight accessible to Granolah beyond what is natural, warning him about Gas’s Kunai surrounding him in a “50-chiaseed radius” while he is unsighted. Chia Seeds are edible seeds, once a staple food for various Mesoamerican cultures, which are commonly added to breakfast cereals and granola bars in the present day. Generally they are around 2 millimetres long, and grow into either the Chia Plant Salvia Hispanica or the Golden Chia Salvia Columbariae: The former grows up to 1.75 metres, the latter to 0.50 metres, so Oatmeel could be referring to either a radius of 87.5 metres or 25 metres. From the art, the latter seems more plausible.
  • Favourite Art: Having criticised the idea of devoting a whole Chapter to a fight that does little else but present combat for its own sake (and its implications when considering more serious arc defects), one must nevertheless concede that the combat does have really nice flow to it. One of the more common past criticisms of Toyotarou’s art has been that he over-panels and over-depicts unfinished or transitional action; I’ve found this to be somewhat overstated in any case (particularly since Super hit 45 pages a month and so has had a little more ‘room to breathe’ in that regard), but this Chapter has an excellent, natural fluidity that mixes up well-articulated and varied general action (see, e.g., Gas lashing out with his javelin, Granolah catching it and swinging him away, leading nicely into the Kunai sequence) with sharp, arresting impact panels (Granolah’s kicks, in particular, have a very pleasing exaggerated quality) leading into the next sequence, in a fashion that is well-arranged and natural, easy to read. Toyotarou manages to make sharp panels with some technically quite difficult poses even in small panels where he has been relatively sloppy in previous arcs (see, for instance, the small panel after the wrecking ball explosion, where Granolah prepares to push off his back foot to advance again: a hard pose to draw well, from a dynamic angle, well executed). Probably my favourite single sequence has Granolah flipping above Gas’s claw strike, lashing out with a kick to send Gas skidding back, and zooming into his guard zone (with a great transparency panel) to wind up a huge punch on Gas while he’s wide open from conjuring his lance. It has great momentum, sharp art, and a really well-placed set of action beats in its construction.
  • Despite Granolah’s ‘thing’ being all about acuity of vision, it’s notable that he catches Gas’s spinning blades with his eyes closed, just like he catches all the Kunai while his vision is obscured by the smoke and dust of the earlier wrecking ball explosion. Apart from being a fairly cool if somewhat tropey action beat (this time, it isn’t even implicitly with Oatmeel’s help), it meshes well with the idea, which has had (and will continue to have) some currency in this arc, that on occasions where Granolah isn’t even using his preternaturally sharp sight, or has perhaps lost it, he still gains a kind of clarity (e.g., 超 #68, when he is dreaming about 40 years ago, 超 #76, where his loss of the second red eye presages his insight into that time also, and 超 #82, where he learns the whole truth about that day while he sleeps, and awakens with new resolve to forego revenge, in 超 #86). Precision remains very much Granolah’s thing, and this will only become more obvious as he outperforms Gas in the Shunkan Idou fight.
  • I do really like the character beat that reveals Gas has stubbornly (even childishly) tried to win through with his own powers and without the new powers of the wish, acting out in defiance of his big brother’s scheming, and trying to validate himself. In particular, I enjoy his frustration in not having been able to do so; we got a clear (if brief) sense of Gas longing to perform his role back in 超 #71, of the sullen hostility at being trapped in a place where he can’t play that role just as he would like (with the implications that has both for his relationship with Granolah and with Elec), and the last couple of Chapters are really the first in the arc that have truly permitted him to be expressive in a way that is in keeping with his role in the Heeter unit. This is, effectively, his big moment where he’s able to prove to Elec that he was right in thinking it worth the effort of training Gas for the last 40 years, but also to prove to Elec that he was wrong in thinking that this wasn’t enough and that, in effect, he was always the best, most natural choice as “muscle” for the Heeters. It’s neat to see how the failure to live up to his own Convictions smarts and that’s at the forefront of his mind, even though this reveals suddenly and dramatically that Gas really had power to spare and could’ve dispensed with the charade at any point; the charade’s what matters. For someone reputed to be a ‘characterless’ heavy, Gas does actually get some really nice character beats across the arc, particularly when one relates him to his brother as both a family member and as a role-playing constituent part of a whole, with all the ambiguity and tension that conveys.
  • Colour Watch: The colour version does a neat little touch with Granolah’s eyes when Gas finally whomps him with full force: Granolah’s second red eye flashes its ordinary pale green for a couple of panels as he reels from the pain, before reverting to red when we see him next. Alternatively, this may simply be a serendipitous goof with a neat outcome; it seems the Chapter accidentally gives Granolah a solid green eye again for several panels as he fights Gas in the Shunkan Idou fight, before consistently returning to red once again.
  • The next stage of the fight seems like a natural evolution: Gas now drops the dependency on his conjured weapons and tries to match Granolah with the abilities granted by their wishes instead. It allows for some more neat choreography, as Granolah anticipates Gas’s sloppy, pressured moves when we get on to the Shunkan Idou section, but 超 #80 will continue somewhat in this vein: it seems as though this might have been the best opportunity to merge the best of both Chapters into a tighter storytelling and choreography segment that doesn’t drag across the lion’s share of two Chapters. It’s nice to see that Granolah is hanging in there and power isn’t everything, and the foregrounding of Gas’s limitations when compared with characters who are better trained or have more pertinent natural strengths is a neat balancing consideration (particularly with Shunkan Idou in view, since this will emerge at the forefront again in 超 #81-82 when Goku is able to do the same thing to fight cleverly and buy time despite being hopelessly outmatched, so this part of the Chapter is a deliberate foreshadowing of that), but “He still stands a chance” is a weirdly indefinite beat to end the Chapter on, and is indicative of the slightly slacker, less pacy feel that comes with the onset of the latter half of the arc.
Chapter 80 – Gas vs. Granolah, Part 2/Gas vs. Granolah, Part 2
21 January 2022
Chapter Notes
  • This phase of the fight seems to take a little while to really get going: the first half dozen pages are Gas continuing to struggle against Granolah’s smart plays, followed by a few where he catches up. Covering a fair tranche of a Chapter as it does, the best of this sequence could have been integrated with the Shunkan Idou stuff from 超 #79 (another 9 pages) without much difficulty at all; overall, I’m left feeling like it could all have been a little more integrated, a bit tighter. But I do appreciate the cleverness of Granolah’s ploy here, which uses his own precision and the sloppiness of Gas’s powerful movements to smash up the surroundings so he can use Hakai on the debris and catch Gas out in order to gain a counteroffensive opening (sort of similar to his usage of the debris against Vegeta in 超 #75). In general, I do like how the fight moves away from strict move-for-move competition and towards Granolah exploiting openings (which, as we all know, is not true strength 😉: 超 #41) to keep his more powerful foe from bringing his general combat advantages to bear when Calculation might suggest that Gas ought to win by default. The asymmetry through most of the fight is probably its most enjoyable aspect, for me.
  • The re-emergence of the clones is a neat touch, rather than it just having been an ‘energy-saving’ curiosity from the early arc. Given that we know this sort of move “splits your power” (since its introduction in DB #178-179), it’s cool to see this sort of move get a showing as a useful technique when used by the disadvantaged fighter, leaning into the fact that it’s essentially a highly distracting and extremely impressive-looking bluff – another “pose” on Granolah’s part, if you like, to find a critical opening after lulling Gas into carelessness. I also like Gas’s movements as he takes on the multi-Granolahs; at points, they’re ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Goku’s movements in beating Tenshinhan in DB #179: You have Gas’s charge into the body punch on the first clone (which is pretty similar to the original), and you also have Gas kicking off one of the clones to propel himself into his next attack; although flopped, this again looks kinda similar to one of the moves Goku pulls, which is fun.
  • Favourite Art: Although it’s technically well-done and the composition is well-balanced, the full-page panel of Gas skewering the Granolah clones feels awkward to read nonetheless, being a landscape scene in portrait format. But it gives way to some excellent work from the point where Granolah teleports in, which is a fun surprise beat leading into a beautiful double-page spread of his decisive shot (which also looks excellent in colour), with the fun recoil panel under it and the cool impact panel on the next page, as Gas ploughs through the scenery. Another contender has to be the close-up panel on Bardock in Gas’s memory, which in addition to being a seriously cool panel in its own right, is yet another example of this arc really going in for arresting and well-chosen transition work.
  • Damn, but this is an arc where people’s abs really get put through the grinder. Granolah’s strike on Gas in this Chapter is just the latest to land its victim with bleeding abs, but it’s by no means the first or last (quite apart from the many exchanges of serious hits landed in that area which don’t leave visible ab damage, which include Granolah zooming up to whack Vegeta in the abdomen early in 超 #75, Gas’s Nunchaku-ing Goku in the stomach in 超 #78, Gas whomping Granolah hard in the midriff in 超 #79, or even his boot to Bardock’s gut in 超 #83 which leaves his armour cracked, along with a multitude of other bootings and beatings). The fight starts out small with a couple of taps on Goku and Vegeta (超 #72 and 超 #74), but then Granolah ups the ante with a vicious boot to Vegeta’s six pack that sets him a-bleeding in 超 #75. Granolah comes back looking to inflict more punishment on this area in 超 #76, though Goku’s Ultra Instinct puts paid to that (and I mentioned Granolah’s own realisation that Goku’s strikes don’t make his abs bleed as one that shows him that Goku’s own attacks lack bite). Granolah takes a Hakai to that area in 超 #79 (a la Vegeta getting one from Beerus in 超 #69), the Granolah clones all get a bellybutton piercing off Gas in 超 #80 just before Granolah pays him back in like coin, and Vegeta gets another ab-bloodying off Gas when he rampages. Granolah’s abs get a dastardly attack from behind when Elec shoots Granolah in the back in 超 #81 (still bleeding heavily from them when Goku scoops him up in late 超 #82), whereas Goku’s abs take a frontal attack from Gas’s blast, leaving a tell-tale hole in his shirt. Abs can’t even escape a bloodying 40 years in the past, where Bardock’s powerful punch to Gas’s midriff gets him all bleedy (超 #83). Gas decides to use Vegeta’s abs as a punching bag in 超 #84, and really doubles down on that decision across 超 #85. Goku chalks another one up for the good guys by making Gas bleed profusely from the abs using the power of his kick in 超 #86, before Freeza shows up and decides he wants in on the ab-action in 超 #87, by piercing Gas right through with his bare hand. I’ve argued that the True Self sits at the centre of the arc, but Core strength apparently comes a close second.
  • Having regaled us with some flashy fun for the first half of the Chapter, the arc is finally dragged back to advancing the plot, as Elec shows up to inject some impetus. Once again, Elec is more than happy to interfere with his little brother in order to force him down the path he’s laid out for him, this time by unilaterally (and quite casually) deciding to violate his brother’s physical and mental integrity to unleash a new level of power that he can use. This will happen again by the end of the Chapter, when he helps Gas come back to his senses, and once again at the end of 超 #85 when he forces him to dig deeper into his resolve to find yet another level of power at the expense of his own lifeforce. Elec couches his approach in terms of concern for his brother (“What’s wrong, Gas? This isn’t like you…”; compare this ostensibly caring approach with 超 #85’s pressured and harsh “Hey. Gas. What do you think you’re doing?”), and in terms of faith that Gas will come through (“Endure it, Gas. You’re not the man you were back then”, evoking a similarly supportive sentiment expressed in 超 #72; compare this supportive approach with the more cynical, know-it-all “See? He gets the job done once he starts trying” of 超 #86), but in the same Chapter, Elec also reveals that the thing he actually trusts in, is his own Calculations about Gas’s power – he expresses complete confidence in the wish he made under Macki’s bemused questioning, and later he explains that, since the wish itself was to make Gas #1 in the Universe, he “should have greater control over his own power than any other”. It’s certainly instructive when compared with Macki and Oil’s mounting concern, worry for their brother as their brother (“What now, Elec? Huh? Gas is gonna wreck himself!!”), and attempts to intervene and deal with him by direct appeal. As is always the case when we look at interactions between Elec and Gas, there’s an inseparable mixture of the more ‘typical’ brotherly sentiments one might expect to see, and barely-disguised exploitation: a twisted depiction of a natural family that doesn’t always act like one around its youngest member, Gas, in contradistinction to what we’ve seen from the pictures of family (natural and adopted) that have orbited around Granolah and Goku in recent Chapters.
  • We get a nice, quick beat of Granolah reacting to Elec’s arrival, just showing the reader a glimpse of the burn of his redirected anger, which will lead him to push his vengeance angle one last time at full force (in 超 #81), to his own cost.
  • To unleash Gas’s Inner Nature/Instinct, Elec breaks the talisman around his head. Apart from being a nice, neat visual detail that helps give the Heeters a slightly unnerving hint of savagery in their designs while also serving as an example of Nature being kept in check by artifice (as Macki indicates both here and in 超 #82, the talisman does the same for all of them), this also reminds us of the fact that Gas has been consistently depicted without the talisman when he was much younger, 40 years in the past – even several years after the battle with Bardock (超 #68, 77 and 78). This is reinforced by 超 #83, where Gas reveals his Inner Nature by degrees, showing a significant level of control; even having unleashed his full Instincts, Gas shows fully reasoned control of his faculties for most of the fight. So, this indicates that up to some unspecified point, Gas did not require the talisman to keep his Inner Nature under control, and the loss to Bardock was not a trigger for him needing the talisman like his siblings – although, there seems to be a certain level of continuity between his mental states with Instinct unleashed here and by the end of 超 #83. Perhaps ability to control the emergence of this state is something related to age.
  • Macki protests that “When our instincts are unleashed, we lose all sense of self!” It’s interesting to note that the word 本能 (hon’nō, instinct) is regularly used for what the English translation renders as “Inner Nature” when it comes to the Heeters; Vegeta, of course, used the same word in 超 #74, when he told Granolah that “The power of instinct alone…is unbounded” (and the V-Jump interval special reinforces this by naming the form Gas’s “Instincts Liberated State” - 本能の解放状態, hon'nō no kaihō jōtai). This is one moment where the limits of “instinct alone” come into focus, as although Gas gets a massive power-up on top of what the wish seemed to promise, he loses his “sense of self” (自我, jiga) and his power is essentially worthless because he becomes a rampaging beast attacking his enemies, his siblings, and himself. The other two characters relying on their Instinct, Vegeta and Goku, likewise have been encountering the limitations of this “boundless” power: Vegeta’s “instinct” has led him (despite the key importance of the mental self, 我, and its characterisation as an Awakening, 覚醒 – kakusei – “This battle has awakened it for the first time. This innate power within me” – in 超 #75) to attempt to revert his character to maintain it and continue to prosecute the fight, moving from a “battle-crazed Saiyan” to simply an “animal” who helps imperil innocent bystanders in an increasingly destructive battle that takes its toll on him; and Son Goku’s “instinct” takes his own self totally out of account in any case and lets his body do it all for him. Their power (in all three cases) is phenomenal as a result of these forms, but they aren’t able to achieve their object as a result because these are all cases that do not fully align their “instinct” with their own sense of self: their Convictions are crucial to the various Awakenings experienced by these characters, and the further development of these forms towards something like their true potential.
  • Colour Watch: In a surprising turn of events, much of Gas’s Inner Nature speech is depicted in various colours. The text runs the gamut through red, magenta, violet and deep purple while black struggles to reassert itself; the first two speech bubbles are unaccountably a bright yellow.
  • Gas goes ahead and ‘does a Jiren’, by driving Granolah down through the ground, carving a tunnel through the planet’s crust, and coming up somewhere else entirely. Jiren did exactly this when taking out the Choki-type monster that had the Pride Troopers at its mercy, back in 超 #30. Jiren was well beyond the level of any Universe 7 fighter back in that arc, but this isn’t the only Jiren-esque feat Gas will mimic: Jiren notes in the same Chapter that he flew from a remote planet to the battle without using a spaceship, since “It’s faster that way”. Gas will do precisely the same to return to Planet Cereal from another distant world that Goku lures him to, reaching Cereal within 20 minutes (超 #82, 84).
  • One can’t help but chuckle that Vegeta randomly gets picked out of the heroic line-up to get smashed by Gas, having only just received a partial healing at the top of this very Chapter: it doesn’t even help rev up his Divine Power form or anything. If nothing else, this rather gratuitous pummelling provides a rational justification for him deciding to gift Goku his remaining energy in the next Chapter.
  • I really like how Goku’s attack on Gas does nothing physical to him while he’s rampaging, but it deeply impacts him mentally by him naturally making an association between Goku and Bardock (which has arguably also been an increasingly common writerly tendency ever since Toriyama took the fateful decision to slap Goku’s iconic barnet on Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru’s original design): just as Bardock was affected by making associations between Muezli/Granolah and Gine/Kakarot, so Gas is by making associations between Goku and Bardock now (and he will be again in 超 #85, despite having total control of his faculties). I think it was important to bring Bardock back into the story being told as quickly as possible, having introduced him in 超 #77, to keep his relevance at the forefront of the arc’s second half – arguably the arc still takes too long in returning to him substantively in order to solidify the linkage between his appearance and the more general arc progress (which will not really happen till 超 #82), as this is a very straightforward flashback that provides little in and of itself beyond the (very visual) final moments of the fight from 40 years ago.
  • Toyotarou absolutely can’t help himself when depicting Bardock’s finishing blast on Gas – it directly references Goku’s pose from DB #327, in his final blast on Freeza (it’s from a slightly different angle to the original, but the pose itself makes it pretty clear), complete with similar zooming reaction panel shots on Gas, just as with Freeza in the original beat. Toyotarou has a rather involved history with this particular panel, and he’s personally responsible for freighting that moment with extra Bardock content: his Toyotarou Drew It! instalment imagines Bardock in some way being with Goku at this moment, with his hand placed in such a way as to complete the moment as a sort of impromptu Kamehameha; this drawing was also made into a figurine. Toyotarou mentions this drawing and figurine as background to his personal “affinity” for Bardock and motivations for using him in this arc, in the Volume 17 Release interview (Timestamp: 10:05 to 11:20):
    Toyotarou: Well, I was a supervisor on a figure project not so long ago, and I had a special affinity for Bardock. I’ve actually wanted to include Bardock in the main story for a long time now, but with the main character being Goku, and Bardock being dead and from the past, I could have him appear in side stories, but getting him in the main story was a challenge. I was given the opportunity to think about how I could weave Bardock into the story, and when I showed my idea to Toriyama, he said it looked good. I was like, “Hell yeah!”
    Uchida: There was a figure made based on one of your illustrations, right? That was super cool, no?
    Toyotarou: Yeah, it was. Like I’ve said, I’ve always liked Bardock so I want to make him a cool character, but also, he’s a bit of a mystery, don’t you think? He doesn’t appear often […] Everyone, including me, wants to know what sort of character, what sort of man he is. So I want to ask Toriyama about him as much as I can and make sure he’s an awesome character.
    In the figurine, Bardock is in his A Solitary Final Battle garb, which was carried over from the Special into his only appearance in the original manga (DB #307), rather than the DBMinus garb he sports in this flashback. But in any case, it’s kinda nice to see all this stuff come full circle, in a way. As a final note, DB #327 manages to combine beats around Goku’s emotions, his transformations (in this case, obviously Super Saiyan), and his true self coming through despite the apparent character of said transformations (given his visible sorrow and regret at having dealt the finishing blow on Freeza: an extremely ‘Goku’ reaction despite Kaio-Sama having alleged “He’s not Son Goku anymore…he’s the warrior of rage, the Super Saiyan”, in DB #321), and this arc follows suit with these elements: even Goku’s personal regard for Saiyan pride (which will again be addressed in 超 #84) was broached shortly after the original manga’s only flashback of Bardock (in the following Chapter, DB #308). It’s interesting to see all this come full circle, too.
  • Finally, we get Gas’ Awakening (覚醒 – kakusei, which is the word Son Goku uses to describe this change; the V-Jump interval special also weighs in on this, calling this form his “Awakened State”, 覚醒状態 – kakusei jōtai). Not only is the transition between his flashback and the beat on which we get the Awakening well done (as already noted above), but this is another key instance where memory, emotion and resolve all intersect in the arc, as Gas reacts with terror and anguish to his memories of losing to Bardock, before being reminded by Elec of the resolve he expressed in 超 #77 never to lose again (another appeal to memory; this time memory of resolve – which, again, came off the back of him remembering that day from 40 years prior). Of course, this brings up one more answer to the thematic question of “Why Do We Fight?”: in Gas’s case, the answer is “To never lose again” – which Elec is conscripting into “To eliminate those who stand in our way” (though of course, he won’t be doing any of the fighting himself).
Okay, that's Part 1 done, and not bad overall. Part 2 should be coming soon...

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Mr Baggins
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Mr Baggins » Sat Feb 25, 2023 2:09 pm

Magnificent Ponta wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 7:07 pm Not only is 超 #79 pretty much entirely devoted to a set-piece fight, but it also had the misfortune to be accompanied a couple of weeks later by a spectacularly ill-judged announcement that the arc would be “ending very soon” to be replaced by a new arc the same year, when it still actually had 8 months to run.
I'd completely forgotten about this, and it leaves the impression that this arc was originally intended to be much more tightly paced and condensed than it was. Something may have happened behind the scenes to delay its conclusion, I'm guessing, and it shows.

If that's the case, and if the writers stuck to their initial plan, I probably would have enjoyed Granolah the Survivor somewhat more – even if there were certain beats I would've found offputting regardless.

But I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it adhered to your suggestion about re-arranging or eliminating certain sequences and plot elements to keep its central character relevant, rather than shifting all of its focus to a far less dimensional antagonist. Even being physically present in #79/80, Granolah doesn't receive nearly the same depth or development as before the first Bardock flashback.
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GreatSaiyaman123
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by GreatSaiyaman123 » Sat Feb 25, 2023 4:15 pm

Came here to say exactly what Baggins just said, to this day there's been something really weird going on besides the scenes. Chapter 80 is when this saga jumps the shark, starting with the comically awful scenes of Gas beating his siblings and Vegeta around and not killing them somehow. Goku forcing Gas to control himself is one of those rare character moments for Gas, but it's done so badly.

If we take #77 as the turning point from Act II to Act III, then this final battle should've been over in about 5-6 chapters:

~ 78, 79, 80 and the start of 81 could easily be compressed into 2 chapters. End them with Granolah's "death".
~ 81, 82 and 83 should have been a single chapter, maybe one and a half. You guys get me when I say Bardock vs Gas DOESN'T need to be 45+ pages long, right?
~ I really liked the fight in 84, but it and most of 85 could have been the same.
~ 86 and 87 are fine. They can stay as they are. Exactly 6 chapters for this last act.

This is just me trying to compress things without serious changing, of course. I agree wholeheartedly pacing isn't just about length, but skimming through some chapters there's so many unecessary panels. Useless reaction panels (We get half a page of a half dead Vegeta raising his head to look at TUI Goku vs Gas in 84), and the zoom-in is already a Toyotaro cliche.
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Re: The Super Re-Read

Post by Koitsukai » Wed Mar 01, 2023 5:40 pm

Maybe the original plan was to have the Granny arc end fairly soon, have the SH prequel arc with Goten and Trunks as an appetizer before the Super Hero premiere?
The arc ended in august, so if we remove 5 chapters or so, it would've ended in march, three months prior to the SH release, that's how long the prequel arc lasted for. Seems like it would've been an ambitious release schedule, and the hiatus was set to give everybody some rest after all of that, and start with some new material or a quick recap of SH?

Boy, I'm applying headcanon to the production team now :crazy:

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