As a result, it’s no surprise to see that Super has plenty of lousy episodes. What is surprising, however, is the lack of passion from IMDb users. Where every other Dragon Ball adaptation has garnered plenty of ratings, Super’s page is fairly barren. There are a lot of factors involved in this, but it shines light on a very specific subset of the Dragon Ball fandom.
10 Ep. 4: The Pilaf Gang’s Great Strategy (6.5)
Any episode focusing primarily on Pilaf was always going to go over poorly for most western fans of the series. Pilaf simply isn’t as popular or beloved here as he is in Japan. Interestingly enough, the US actually did get the first arc before Dragon Ball Z, so early fans of the franchise would have already been familiar with Pilaf.
Either way, though, the fact that Dragon Ball wasn’t mainstream in the west until Dragon Ball Z was well into the Cell arc does naturally mean that Pilaf isn’t going to be winning any fans over. Plus, fans just wanted to get into Battle of Gods’ meat by the time Super got to episode 4.
9 Ep. 52: Son Gohan And Future Trunks (6.5)
It’s actually surprising that this episode isn’t rated any lower. Maybe it’s because it’s part of a fairly decent stretch of episodes in the Goku Black arc, but fan vitriol towards this episode is fairly high. The whole conceit of the episode revolves around Trunks bearing witness to the new, passive Gohan who doesn’t fight.
Frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing and paints Gohan in such a strange light. It feels completely contradictory towards his character, especially when Gohan— out of nowhere and at the very end— decides he’ll start training again. It’s a far cry from the Gohan who Trunks once knew and trusted with his life.
8 Ep. 73: Great Saiyaman’s Unbelievable Movie Adaptation (6.5)
This episode is actually pretty charming all things considered. It’s not often that Dragon Ball indulges itself with a Saiyaman centric episode. He’s such an interesting alter-ego for Gohan, but Saiyaman, naturally, isn’t a character who can appear all that often. At the same time, western fans have been prone to disliking the Great Saiyaman.
Dragon Ball Z was arguably at its most culturally influential in the west during the Cell arc— an arc that arguably doesn’t really capture the tone of the series correctly. This, in tun, lead to fans struggling with the early Boo arc’s emphasis on humor. Thankfully, more people have warmed up to the Great Saiyaman, but his reputation isn’t clean.
7 Ep. 87: Hunt The Poachers (6.5)
To say the anime handled the build up to the Tournament of Power poorly would be an understatement. While handled interestingly conceptually, the execution left a lot to be desired— specifically Goku’s insistence on using Super Saiyan Blue for even the lightest of skirmishes with characters blatantly weaker than him.
Couple that with the already bland premise of Goku and 17 working together to hunt poachers and there isn’t much to appreciate about this episode. If nothing else, it’s an important beat in 17’s character arc. He ends up becoming such an important character by the end of the Tournament of Power that episodes like these feel necessary in hindsight.
6 Ep. 102: The Power Of Love Explodes (6.5)
To say that Universe 2 is disliked by the fandom would be quite the understatement. They’re a blatant parody, but one that really failed to resonate with some fans. This episode was widely considered to be one of Super’s worst, muddying up the otherwise fine Tournament of Power. Reusing plenty of animation and focusing on a single joke, it’s a tough episode to get through.
But it’s also a charming love letter to series like Sailor Moon. It has value in that respect and it’s certainly an interesting premise. Is it perfect? Not even close, but let’s be real, barely anything in Dragon Ball Super is.
5 Ep. 15: Heroic Satan, Cause A Miracle (6.4)
Mr. Satan, just like Pilaf, isn’t nearly as popular in the west as he is in Japan. Which is a shame because he’s one of the best characters in the series. He’s funny, he’s interesting, and he has a pretty great character arc all things considered. Super doesn’t use him often, but Mr. Satan’s always funny when he’s around.
Unfortunately, this Mr. Satan centric episode more or less served as a weird Battle of Gods epilogue when, again, fans just wanted to get through the retellings so they could hit new material. The early days of Dragon Ball Super were truly exhausting at times. New content was just around the corner, but completely out of reach.
4 Ep. 30: Rehearsing For The Martial Arts Match (6.1)
With the retellings finally out of the way, Dragon Ball Super slowly started to build itself up to the Universe 6 tournament, the first proper tournament arc since the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai all the way back at the end of Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, this episode served as little more than a clip show, recapping fans on the story thus far.
That’s right, not only did Dragon Ball Super see fit to retell two entire movies— making both of them much longer than they originally were— the series dedicates an entire episode on another recap. If that doesn’t scream “crazy,” nothing does. Needless to say, this is an episode worth skipping.
3 Ep. 68: Come Forth, Shenlong (6.1)
This is an episode that doesn’t really deserve the hate it gets. Honestly, it’s one of the cuter filler episodes, keeping things low stakes and easy enough to digest. Pan being sick also adds an interesting human element to Dragon Ball, one that doesn’t pop up too rarely these days. It’s a nice reminder that these characters are people.
At the same time, it’s more or less a filler episode following the Goku Black arc. Super just broke out of its old tone and then immediately transitioned back into it. As an episode, it’s fine, but as a follow up to the dismal end of the Goku Black arc, it doesn’t really feel appropriate. It should have been placed closer to the Universe Survival arc’s beginning.
2 Ep. 43: Goku’s Ki Is Out Of Control (6.0)
Every now and then, Dragon Ball Super dedicates a slice of life episode to tying up a minor detail that Toriyama would have just skipped over (often for good reason.) This episode sees Goku dealing with the fallout of pairing Kaioken with Super Saiyan Blue as he struggles to control his Ki.
It’s an interesting concept for an episode, but it’s not that interesting. There’s a reason why Toriyama skips stuff like this. Dragon Ball has never been about these moments. While the story would get intimate, it would also keep moving forward. That said, manga and anime are different mediums and an anime can afford to toss out a one-off episode like this.
1 Ep. 69: Goku Versus Arale (5.0)
Now this is just downright criminal. Episode 69 is easily one of Dragon Ball Super’s best slice of life episodes, bringing in Dr. Slump’s Arale for a genuinely hilarious love letter to the works of Akira Toriyama. This is yet another example of the western Dragon Ball fandom missing the forest for the trees.
Dragon Ball is silly, it’s goofy, and it doesn’t always take itself seriously. That’s part of the charm. It also makes those serious and dramatic moments stand out all the more. Super is bettered by episodes like these. Super has a lot of lousy episodes, but it really is at its best when it’s keeping its lightheartedness isolated.