It’s good to be bad.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Goku and Frieza have just been ambushed by assassins from the Treacherous Universe 9, who seeks to knock Universe 7 out of the tournament before it even begins. However, Frieza has just revealed his new transformation into “Golden Frieza”, a technique he learned from years of mental training and concentration while being tormented in HELL. Frieza immediately sets about slaughtering the assassins with his terrifying power. Much to Goku’s horror, the assassins fall one-by-one, making Frieza seem practically unstoppable. Yet, one of the assassins has a trick up his sleeve, a ball of purge destruction energy created by Sidra, the God of Destruction of Universe 9.
The assassin manages (After a couple tricky maneuvers) to hit Frieza with the ball of destruction, but it’s not enough. After pretending to be overwhelmed by the ball’s power, Frieza gets the power under control and kills the assassin that threw the ball. Goku tries to get Frieza to stop the butchery, but Frieza double crosses Goku and then traps him inside the energy ball, which Goku is unable to contain. Frieza then, using one of the assassin’s devices, contacts the gods of Universe 9 and tells them that he’d like to bargain.
Frieza’s demands are simple: if Universe 9 resurrects him, he’ll kill Goku and fight for Universe 9, ending the threat of Universe 7 once and for all. It’s a good offer, but even the treacherous gods of Universe 9 are put off by Frieza’s monstrous betrayal. The two of them argue with each other over the Frieza just long enough for Beerus and Whis to arrive at the scene. Frieza then crushes the Universe 9 communicator and plays nice with Beerus and Whis, who save Goku from the energy ball.
Beerus is immediately suspicious of Frieza, but Goku sticks up for him, seeing how necessary it is for him to help them out. However, before they head off the tournament, Goku requests a quick spar with Frieza. The rule is simple: the winner is the one who lands the first punch. The fight begins and the two go toe-to-toe before landing a solid punch on each other at the exact same time. The duel is left without a winner, but with Frieza and Goku proving that they are, at this time, of equal strength.
One of the best joys of watching a shounen anime is getting to see episodes that just go completely over the top and try to astound you with their larger than life characters. This is one such episode, a story that focuses almost entirely on reminding you just what kind of sick and monstrously powerful bastard Frieza really is. Since he’s been absent from this show for some time, its good to get a little quality time with the guy to remember why Frieza is often remembered as the best villain “Dragon Ball Z” has ever had. Make no mistake, Frieza puts his worst foot forward in this introductory episode and makes for some great, if not brutal, anime viewing material.
There’s so much to enjoy in this episode it’s hard to know where to start in its dissection. There is a progressive level of sinister-ness that comes from Frieza as this episode moves along. Even a casual viewer knows to expect Frieza to be a bit off-putting, but I don’t think anyone expected a level of villainy quite like this. Seeing Frieza dispatch Universe 9’s gone is satisfying, but it quickly goes south and turns the viewer’s anticipation into shock. You know he’s strong, already, but you don’t know that he’s this strong. Furthermore, once he betrays Goku and offers his services to Universe 9, the tone quickly shifts into a feeling that the villain of this arc might just be the one Goku just saved from eternal torture. Goku’s made a lot of mistakes in this arc, but this one feels like the most boneheaded move Goku has made yet.
So, what’s the drawback here? It’s a great episode, tense and entertaining with a great “Rocky 2” style finish of Goku and Frieza pummeling each other’s cheekbones, but its not perfect. My main issue is one of internal logic about Frieza’s new form. As cool as it is, I find it strange that Frieza was able to ascend to such strength by “Concentrating” and practicing his mental focus while immobilized in HELL. I mean, intense training is a must for power level upgrades with any character in the “Dragon Ball” series, and it just seems like kind of a cop-out for Frieza to get this strong this easily. Perhaps if the show had a more detailed story for Frieza’s power increase this might have worked. I could definitely see Frieza, the baddest mamma-jamma in Universe 7, using the torments of HELL as training, but I’m afraid that mental concentration alone isn’t enough to warrant his newfound power.
Still, these are minor complaints in an otherwise great episode. Dragon Ball Super is making itself into a show you don’t want to miss. The stakes are only getting higher, and the episodes are only getting more exciting.