Dragon Ball Super has taken the power sets and transformations of the Dragon Ball Saiyans to a whole new level. The series began with an arc about Goku tapping into the power of the legendary Super Saiyan God, and it's only gotten wilder from there. The series' end goal seemed to be Goku's evolution into a fighter of divine power, thanks to the power of Ultra Instinct. However, like Super Saiyan transformations in Dragon Ball Z, Ultra Instinct seems to have two levels of power: Ultra Instinct Sign, and the fully mastered (or "Autonomous") Ultra Instinct.
Based on what we've seen so far, Dragon Ball Super's Ultra Instinct Sign is a much better power-up than full Ultra Instinct. Here's why:
First of all, let's address the most important aspect of any Dragon Ball transformation: the visuals. Ultra Instinct Sign has quickly taken the lead as the more iconic version of the power-up; both fan art and official art of Goku in Ultra Instinct Sign features the Saiyan hero in base form (albeit with gray eyes) with a bright and vibrant aura surrounding him. The effect is that we get something truly different in nature than a Super Saiyan transformation, as Ultra Instinct Sign looks like regular Goku, fueled by an extraordinary power. By contrast, Mastered Ultra Instinct pretty much looks like another Super Saiyan Transformation, with Goku's physique getting more chiseled, and his hair changing to yet another color (gray). For fans who think Dragon Ball Super has taken things to a gimmicky level, Autonomous Ultra Instinct is just more of the same problem. The mastered form also requires so much in the way of animation or art to even make it look cool, that it will never wow fans unless the extra work is put in.
Next, let's address function. Ultra Instinct Sign is an incredibly powerful form, allowing Goku to move and fight faster than the speed of conscious thought. However, the balance and serenity required for Goku to maintain that state makes it far from invincible, which means that battles where Goku taps into Ultra Instinct Sign still have plenty of hard stakes, as there's no guarantee that Goku can defeat his opponent before the balance of power tips. Full Ultra Instinct, on the other hand, is possibly the biggest cheat in Dragon Ball so far. The form basically makes Goku invincible, and the speed at which he moves basically makes him impossible to see during battle. Some of the Ultra Instinct battle concepts the anime and manga have produced are interesting (Goku's hyper-speed punches on Jiren), but mostly it's a lot of stereotypical anime 'cool pose' moments. Ultra Instinct Sign takes the core martial arts that Goku started with in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z and simply pushes them to the next level, in terms of battle technique. It's the perfect mix of Dragon Ball returning to proper form, while still capitalizing on the 'bigger is better' philosophy of DBS.
Which is your favorite: Ultra Instinct Sign or Autonomous Ultra Instinct? Let us know in the comments!