You have likely woken up this morning or found out sometime yesterday when the news broke Dragon Ball Super has been “cancelled”. For fans of Dragon Ball this is likely alarming news and justifiably so as for all its flaws Super is a lot of fun. It seems also quite strange as Dragon Ball Super is very popular all around the world, so I thought it would be a good idea to look deeply into this.
Regarding the scenario of the permanent cancellation this is the scenario that has likely got most fans scared about how this will be the last Dragon Ball anime for some time or ever. I will not bury the lead, this is HIGHLY unlikely almost laughably so for a few reasons. The first is that Dragon Ball Super remains very popular and makes money by the truckload. Despite an off from its highs when it consistently beat One Piece, Dragon Ball Super remains solidly in the top ten animation programing in Japan.
Dragon Ball is no longer in it to be the best story it can be, it exists to make money for its producers and it still does that. By that metric alone Dragon Ball will return and I think it will return by the end of the year. As such I am highly skeptical of a prolonged absence from television, it just makes no business sense to cut a series that remains able to move product internationally such as Dragon Ball.
Furthermore, we already know Dragon Ball is not ending in animated form as a new Dragon Ball film has already been announced to be in production. This was only a few months previously. This is important as the decision to end the series and create a film was likely made within the same time frame.
There is a few ways to read this; one is that the animation staff of the anime will be transfered over to work on the film while the series is off the air. The second and it comes back to my first point is why would Toei commit to a new property while cutting off at the knees an already and continuing successful one? The logical answer is they would not.
This leads into a likely reason for the hiatus the staff on the anime is tired. Anime production is a grueling and grinding experience of week after week of crunch. In many ways it is evident in the series as episodes that air after a week long gap always have a certain pop in animation as opposed to those that go through the weekly schedule.
As well as this Dragon Ball Super is quickly becoming an oddity in the anime world. Where continuously running anime are rarer and rarer with only One Piece, Boruto, Detective Conan, and Dragon Ball Super really fit the bill outside of childrens anime, with the potential of Black Clover taking this route being possible. Other mega hits especially in the shonen genre are moving to limited (and well paced) runs such as Gintama, My Hero Academia, and Attack on Titan.
Now while Dragon Ball Super is anime original and does not have the constrains of these other titles based on manga, Dragon Ball Super does have a manga (its good by the way). A manga that has quickly fallen behind its anime counterpart and needs time to catch up.
Previously this was done by the fluffy one off and stupid mini-arcs in the Super anime that feels a lot like... dare I say it, filler. By taking a break the Dragon Ball Super anime will avoid needing to produce this type of episodes, episodes that nobody really enjoys much anyways.
All around while it is possible Dragon Ball Super is ending for good in March, it does not seem likely to me. Dragon Ball is just too good at making money for Toei. It is one of the few undisputed international hits, an anime that has broken into the public understanding in North America, and one that commands a Top Six ratings spot in Japan. Hell Goku is an ambassador for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! I may yet be wrong but I doubt we’ve seen the last of our spiky haired friends.