Why Hasn't Dragon Ball Returned to Television Yet?

Dragon Ball Super has been one of the strangest cases in recent memory of a major franchise stepping out of the limelight, just when its popularity was beginning to soar. The Dragon Ball Super anime ended its Japanese and English Sub series run in March 2018, and Toei Animation held the series in indefinite hiatus until the English Dub series finished its run. Well, as of October 5, 2019, The Dragon Ball Super English Dub series finsihed its run on Toonami, and fans have been wondering what comes next, ever since. Clearly it is time for the next Dragon Ball Super anime - so the real question is: why hasn't Dragon Ball Super returned to TV yet?

The short answer to that question may also be the truest: Toei Animation and the Dragon Ball Super creative team have needed time to plan and execute what's next!

Obviously, getting a new anime off the ground is a massive undertaking, and the Dragon Ball Super creative team hasn't exactly taken it easy after the anime wrapped. It took many resources in terms of animation and other creative work in order to get the Dragon Ball Super: Broly off ground; that film did some major (and much-needed) continuity clean-up, reframing the entire history of the Saiyans, their home Planet Vegeta, and their connection to Freeza. The film also set the stage for what's to come after the Tournament of Power arc, as part of introducing a new version of Broly to the franchise, and using him as a catalyst for Goku and Vegeta's next attempt at breaking their limits.

Since then, a second Dragon Ball Super movie has been announced, with executives hinting that major resources are being thrown into that, as well. That's not to say the anime plans have been forgotten: in fact, Toei has established an entire Dragon Ball anime division under Atsushi Suzuki. As one executive from that unit, Akio Iyoku has previously stated: "Now for our next steps, we are steadily preparing for the next movie."

As you can see above, Dragon Ball Super's next focus may be a movie - but it begs the same question: why that instead of an anime?

Well, the other part of this equation is content: Dragon Ball Super's makers may have been waiting for more canon to be established, before a new anime can take shape. That includes the Broly movie, and the new arc of the Dragon Ball Super manga, which has quickly risen to the status of being a fan-favorite arc over the course of the last year. That story, "Galactic Patrol Prisoner" has set some pretty epic game-changing events into motion - events overseen by Akira Toriyama himself, and executed by his mangaka protege, Toyotaro. It stands to reason that the next Dragon Ball Super anime would want to stick close to Toriyama's vision for the franchise's next step, which means allowing the manga time to play out its story, before the next anime arrives. Besides the manga, Dragon Ball has seen a major expansion of the franchise in the last year or so, including a new fan-service promo anime (Dragon Ball Heroes) and video games (Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dragon Ball Legends) which have all blown the franchise mythos wide open, even if it's in a non-canon capacity.

So where does that leave things? Well, officially we're still in a "wait and see" holding pattern, but there's reason to believe that could change sooner before later. As stated, the Dragon Ball Super manga is entering the final stretch of its new arc, and the same is true for the Super Dragon Ball Heroes promo anime's epic new arc. Between the events of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the new manga arc, and anything from Super Dragon Ball Heroes that is selectively adapted into canon, it now seems that there's plenty of material to fill out the next anime for at least a couple of arcs. Fans can (and maybe should) hold out hope that the next Dragon Ball anime plans will be announced by the end of the year (or soon after) - so be sure to check back regularly for updates!

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Dragon Ball Super currently airs its English dub on Adult Swim during the Toonami programming block on Saturday evenings, and is also available to stream on Funimation and Amazon Video. The Japanese-language release of the series is complete, and available to stream on FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. The manga has chapters that can currently be read for free thanks to Viz Media, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Photo credit: Goku Image by Elde Art