Dragon Ball Z was a huge part of many of our childhood years (... and teenage years... and present years). It's an insanely entertaining show that taught us valuable life lessons along the way. Sadly, it ended and we were left with nothing but reruns.
That is, until now. Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama brought all of our favorite characters back starting in the 2013 Dragon Ball Z movie Battle of Gods. As if we weren't grateful enough for that, we learned that we'd be getting a new Dragon Ball series starting in 2015 entitled "Super." The show's been running for over two years now, and I think it's safe to say it lives up to and even surpasses Z. Here's why.
First of all, it's a worthy successor. Many DBZ fans were massively disappointed with the lackluster follow-up series, Dragon Ball GT that Toriyama had no part in. The last episodes of DBZ take place 10 years in the future and set this show up, so Z itself feels like it ends on a weak note. Super takes place right after the events of the Buu saga and undoes most of the damage caused by all this.
I admit, this is shallow. Dragon Ball Z debuted in 1989 and ended in 1996. Of course the animation technology would improve over the past 20 years. While story is the main component of what made the show great, it's nice to see so many familiar faces looking so crisp and beautiful in the modern era.
It's also nice to see so many new faces. The show has introduced instantly memorable characters such as Beerus The God of Destruction and his teacher Whis. These are beings the Z fighters couldn't match up to and possibly may never match up to. And they're not even the strongest beings in the universes. That's right, I said "universes." Plural.
We learn there are gods beyond the Kais we've met. We also learn there are 12 different universes, all with their own gods. This expanded the range and scope of the show into exciting new territory that we're just beginning to explore.
Each universe has its own God of Destruction, varying in design and strength. Each universe also has its own powerful warriors, with unique abilities. We've met Hit the assassin, as well as alternate universe Saiyans and even Frost, a Freeza-like demon. We also got the unbelievably cool Goku Black/Zamusu storyline that posed the interesting question of what would happen if a god with control over time wanted to eradicate humanity.
Every new character introduced has been consistently badass, but the show doesn't forget about long-time characters. Almost immediately, Dragon Ball Z became all about the Saiyans and old favorites were quickly forgotten. This show has had episodes dedicated to Master Roshi and Krillin showing off why we loved them in the first place and that they can still hang in a battle.
Super is moving in exciting new directions, but it does a great job of remembering its past. There have been numerous homages and even straight up flashbacks to scenes that occurred in DBZ's predecessor. As a result, the show feels more cohesive and self-assured, since it's aware of where it came from while moving forward.
What would a Dragon Ball series be without awesome fight sequences? The battles in this show have done a great job at being different and well thought-out. They don't turn into the endless shouting matches that DBZ was made fun of for relying on later on in its run.
Each arc is brisk and to the point. There are filler episodes, but they don't drag their feet as much as Dragon Ball Z did. The Majin Buu saga was nearly 100 episodes long. While it had its great moments, it could have been trimmed easily. Super is just past 100 episodes and has had several different arcs and accomplished so much already.
The most exciting part of the original Dragon Ball were the world martial arts tournaments. These disappeared throughout most of Z, sadly. Tournaments are back in a big way, now. We got to see a tournament between fighters from Universe Six and Seven. This lead directly to what may end up being the largest, greatest tournament of all time.
Also known as the "Universal Survival Tournament," this clash has interesting new rules. It's essentially a battle royal like you'd see in WWE. Eight universes enter, each with 10 participants. The 80 fighters all fight simultaneously, trying to knock each other out of the ring. It's fast-paced, chaotic and has us looking forward to new episodes each week like we fondly remember doing back in middle and high school.
Also, the stakes have never been higher. Losing in the Tournament of Power results in your entire universe being erased. Not your planet. Not your galaxy. But your entire universe by the hand of the Omni-King of gods, the adorable Zen-oh, who terrifies even the gods of destruction. Cell, Buu and Freeza were all great threats, but they didn't even come close to this level.
Lastly, food. Who didn't love watching Goku scarf down anything and everything in front of him? Now, Beerus and Whis join him, and it happens insanely frequently. Hey, they're fighters, and fighters need to eat a lot.