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After 18 years without a new Dragon Ball series, Toei Animation released the long-awaited next chapter, Dragon Ball Super, in Japan during the summer of 2015. And now that new stuff is finally coming to the States. While it's debatable if shows like Dragon Ball Z are overrated, one thing you can't deny is the series' impact. The U.S. is home to a legion of Dragon Ball fans, via people who have latched on to the animated show after seeing the English dubs of the Z fighters' journeys. The fanbase is fervent, for good reason.
For those who haven't spent the last decade boning up on Dragon Ball mythology, the series centers around the life and times of Goku, who's grown from a brave Saiyan boy into a man, kicking much ass and defending the world from a long line of quirky, dangerous foes. Along the way, he's made a family for himself (which include fighters like Gohan and Goten), gained friends along the way (which include his childhood companion Bulma and her husband, former Goku foe and fellow Saiyan Vegeta), and gone to the ends of the Earth to become the most powerful fighter he can be. Goku and company have found ways to enhance their fighting skills by evolving into new Saiyan forms, which result in the changing of hair colors, speed, strength, and more. In their battles, they fought some of the world's strongest and most deadly beings, including Majin Buu, who was defeated at the end of Dragon Ball Z. And that, my friends, is where the story of Dragon Ball Super picks up.
Dragon Ball Super is, at the time of this writing, 72 episodes in, but adult swim is finally, officially bringing the show stateside this Saturday, Jan. 7, at 11:30 p.m., with a Danny Brown teaser in tow. Since it's been airing for a year and a half overseas, online debate over the show is already raging. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For those of us in the States who don't use BitTorrent, it's been a pretty long time since we had new Dragon Ball episodes. Even with adult swim airing Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters as a precursor, you could probably still use some kind of primer. So let's go over the basics, a hint of what you can expect...both good and not so good. Consider this a quick, 100x gravity training session on everything you need to know going into Dragon Ball Super.
'Super' Picks Up (Around) Where 'Z' Left Off
While this is the first new Dragon Ball storyline in 18 years, Dragon Ball Super does NOT pick up where Dragon Ball GT left off. GT was the series that began about a month after Dragon Ball Z's original run, that picked up about five years after the events of Z. But instead of being based on a manga series, GT was an all-new original tale that, while having some truly dope moments, reverted Goku back to a child again and ultimately fell flat on its face. Dragon Ball Super, however, takes place about six months after Kid Buu was defeated in Dragon Ball Z, in a time when the Earth is peaceful and back to normal. That effectively makes GT null and void, which should please many Dragon Ball fans.
You Might Have Seen Some of This Before
If you're a diehard Dragon Ball fan, you know that the story didn't start or end with the animated series. They live on in manga, and there have also been a few Dragon Ball feature-length animated movies, including 2013's Battle of the Gods and 2015's Resurrection F. While you should probably watch them to get the full scope of the Dragon Ball universe, if you haven't, don't trip: Dragon Ball Super incorporates both of these films its first 27 episodes, which means that you'll see the Z fighters going to battle with the God of Destruction Beerus (that purple cat looking dude on the right) and the return of Frieza.
The Animation Has Had Some Issues
Like Kotaku pointed out in August of 2015, there are some terrible-looking moments in Dragon Ball Super. While we hate to excuse the lack of quality of some of these scenes, the blame can be placed squarely on the head of the insane working conditions that Japanese animators are put under, where extremely high demand and quick deadlines for low wages mean you get deformed-looking Goku battling Beerus. While Toei Animation did address the above episode five animation for the Blu-ray and DVD release, there's no word on if these animations have been corrected for the U.S. run.
New Forms Get Revealed
You see that? That's Trunks hulking the f*ck up not too long ago. Here's a look at how the transformation goes down.
Fans have been going ballistic on what this new form actually is, but know that it isn't even the first new form you'll see in Super. We'd also like to introduce you to Super Saiyan Rose:
Going into what this form is going into way too spoiler-y territory for this explainer, but know that the ante gets upped during this new series. You have a right to be excited.
If you were a fan of Dragon Ball Z, but felt like GT left a terrible taste in your mouth, the wrongs are about to be set right again. And with everything from vinyl's resurgence to Twin Peaks getting a new season, it feels like now is the perfect time to revisit the Dragon Ball universe. We only wish that we had those Dragon Balls right now, so we could wish that the entire series was available for binging this weekend.