Fair warning, this article will contain spoilers on the final episode of Dragon Ball Super.
Well, the end of Dragon Ball has finally come, for now, with the conclusion of the Tournament of Power. Dragon Ball Super may have had some faults and the fan base seemed divided at times, but the Tournament of Power captivated fans by having Team Universe 7 pushing their limits. The tournament acted as a natural story progression with both Goku and Vegeta debuting new forms. We have seen Goku toying with Ultra Instinct before finally perfecting it against Jiren. In typical Vegeta fashion, the Saiyan Prince refused to let Kakarot one-up him, unleashing Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Shinka against Jiren. With all this progression the series pressed the reset button as Android 17 used his winning wish to bring back all the universes destroyed in the tournament with the Super Dragon Balls.
The Tournament of Power took up nearly half of Dragon Ball Super’s episode length, spanning 54 episodes in total. One of the biggest draws of this tournament is it was the tournament to end all tournaments obliterating the losing universes. With all the anxiousness of who was eliminated and the future of the series hanging in the balance, making a final wish that made the entire tournament void is disheartening. With the entire saga lasting 54 episodes with each episode around 20 minutes, excluding intro, outro, and commercials, 1080 futile minutes (18 hours) were invested. However, this comes as no surprise as the series has been heading that way for the last few episodes. Toriyama has been known for this type of ending where the main consequences of climax are in vain, most notably with Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F‘s ending, where it reversed time.
The tournament served as nothing but fan service outside of some character progression. Most notably was when the series shelved both Android 17 and Frieza for multiple episodes until the final episode. Android 17’s emotional “sacrifice” was another example of pointless investment of story progression, as bringing him back in the final episode brings the story back to the original starting point. Frieza laying low until after being manhandled by Jiren works from a character standpoint due to Frieza being underhanded in his fighting techniques. Pulling both of these characters out of nowhere in the final minutes hampered story progression and acted as Universe 7’s trump card. The ending also pokes a hole in the reasoning behind the tournament where the Grand Minister revealed the tournament as a way for the weaker Universes to avoid erasure originally planned by Zeno.
To play devil’s advocate, the Tournament of Power did force change with all characters breaking their own limits in the face of supposed extinction. The ending acted as a soft reboot, with all characters retaining memories of the tournament, which will make each Universe stronger going further. With the main reasoning of the tournament to delete Universes for their stagnant power growth, the tournament can be viewed as successful. In the end, Zeno knew the final outcome with the winner being virtuous enough to restore all the universes. It was revealed that if they didn’t use the wish for that reason they would have “erase everything.” In effect, the real reason behind the tournament was for a catalyst for improvement. Once the destroyed universes came back into existence growing stronger was all anyone had to talk about. The main example of this is Jiren promising that he will beat Goku next time they face each other. Universe 6 also said that they were off to train to unlock Super Saiyan 3 after Cabba thanked Vegeta for resurrecting them.
The Tournament of Power acts as a stepping stone to the next Dragon Ball movie, which comes out December 14, 2018, in Japan. There is very little known about this film despite a teaser trailer that dropped in late March. There is speculation that this film will revolve around the story of the very first Super Saiyan God as seen in the trailer. The tagline of the film “Saiyans have no limits” lines up well with the final scene of Dragon Ball Super where Goku tells Vegeta that the two will get stronger with Vegeta saying “Of course! Saiyan strength has no limits!” The film will likely see Goku finally master his Ultra Instinct form which only comes up from necessity rather than on command. Film 20 may have more meaning than previous films with Toei Animation promising it will be stronger and more interesting than previous films. Beyond this movie, the future of the series is in question though it is tough to see Dragon Ball ending since they brought back Jiren, who promises to settle the score with Goku.
Was the Tournament of Power useless? That question depends all on the way you view the story, with one way seeming as an 18-hour vessel for continued storytelling. From the waste of time view having Android 17 revive all the Universes acts as a total reversion of the story. The reasoning behind the idea of the Tournament of Power being that there were too many weak Universes, having them all brought back seems as a total runaround. However, from the storytelling perspective, the Tournament of Power acted as natural story progression. Revealing Ultra Instinct and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Shinka, the growth of the main characters made the tournament necessary due to breaking their limits forcing them to adapt. With Toei unwilling to let go of the cash cow that is Dragon Ball the only way for the series to grow, without being forced, is the type of progression only events like the Tournament of Power provide.
Let us know what you thought about the finale of Dragon Ball Super. What do you think will come after Film 20 featuring the Goku sparring against the original Super Saiyan God? Will Vegeta unlock Ultra Instinct?