The fact that Dragon Ball Super is ending in just a few weeks has to be one of the biggest head-scratcher occurrences in anime. The franchise has never been more popular, with Dragon Ball Super finding its way to cross-continent success, a popular new Dragon Ball FighterZ game on the market, and a major franchises canon prequel movie coming this year.
More to the point: Dragon Ball Super has been building up to this "Universal Survival Saga" storyline since the series began, and it seemed as though there was some kind of game-changing purpose that would revealed in the Tournament of Power. With this sudden stoppage, fans have every right to wonder: was Dragon Ball Super actually canceled?
The question has been rattling around fan chat threads lately, but there admittedly doesn't seem to be lot of fire underneath all the smoke and worry.
As stated, there is virtually zero evidence that any of the usual reasons for a TV series to be cancelled are at play. Ratings for Dragon Ball Super's Japanese airings, English Sub streams, and Dub series run on Toonami have all brought in big ratings for Toei, and has made the brand stronger than ever.
There's also the fact that we already have indication that plans are in place for something to follow Super as the next Dragon Ball anime series. We just reported that a new voice actress for Bulma is taking over for the late Hiromi Tsuru, and will debut in the franchise after DBS is done; if there isn't already a plan for more to come, then why cast a new actress at all? The move suggestions that this Dragon Ball Super ending is just what it was advertised as being: a hiatus, meant to give Toei a gap of time in which to prepare for what's next.
So if Dragon Ball Super isn't canceled, why is it ending, exactly? Here are some possibilities:
Toei Animation only has so many resources, and the announcement that a new Dragon Ball movie is coming in 2018, may have had unexpected consequences for Dragon Ball Super.
Toei and Toriyama have boasted that this new film will be the greatest Dragon Ball movie yet, and if so much effort is being put into making that boast true, it stands to reason that personnel like writers and animators couldn't be getting shifted from anime series work to helping out with the new film.
Dragon Ball Super has delivered nearly 150 episodes since premiering in 2015, and there's been some very public accounts of how strenuous that demand has actually been. Dragon Ball Super could actually be getting the literal "hiatus" that was initially teased, so that the creative team actually has a chance to recharge their batteries before jumping into the whatever the next planned series is.
This would be the time to do it, as there's still great DBS Dub sagas running on US TV; the Dragon Ball Fighterz game is selling big; and the movie is coming.
The creative team at Toei might not only need a break: they may need time to actually plan the next chapter of the series!
The "Universal Survival" Saga has opened the franchise up to an entire multiverse of new possibilities, with entire new universes now set up for exploration. That's a much larger map to plan a course through, not to mention that the big jump in power-ups are creating an entire new visual mechanic to Dragon Ball fights - as we will soon see when Ultra Instinct Goku battles Jiren one last time.
Dragon Ball may be getting a semi-fresh start, which needs to be planned out carefully to make it worthwhile.
No, we don't mean the sequel to the Dragonball: Evolution live-action movie. No one (except Maze Runner star Dylan O'Brien) wants that.
We don't yet know any plans for Dragon Ball's return, but conceivably, Toei could launch an entire new series, under an entirely new name. That would make a certain amount of sense: after the biggest contest in the universe for use of the Super Dragon Balls, the concept behind a series called "Dragon Ball Super" may have already been fulfilled.
Depending how Dragon Ball Super ends, creators may need time to plan, produce, and promote an entire new show concept. Given how far Super has brought the mythos, the next level is only going to be more badass and exciting.
What do you think we'll see next from the Dragon Ball anime series? Let us know your theories in the comments section!
Dragon Ball Super airs on Crunchyroll Saturday evenings at 7:15 p.m. CST. Adult Swim airs the English dub during its Toonami block Saturday evenings at 9:30 p.m, and is now available to stream on FunimationNOW and Amazon Video.