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Goku’s newest transformation, “Ultra Instinct,” may be the only hope the Dragon Ball universe has for survival. Unfortunately, while powerful it may be, it comes with a whole slew of drawbacks.

Goku’s New Form Isn’t the Only Game Changer in Last Week’s Episode

In the current arc of Dragon Ball Super, our heroes are fighting in the Tournament of Power—a battle royale where 10-person teams from across 8 universes battle it out. The winning team gets a wish from the Super Dragon Balls. The losing teams? They get erased from existence—along with their entire respective universes. To win, you simply need to have the most remaining team members at the end of the 48-minute time limit.

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With 19 minutes remaining in the tournament, Goku’s team is currently in first place. Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, Android 16, Android 17, and Frieza are all still in the fight. Unfortunately, the strongest fighter in the tournament, Jiren of Universe 11, is so powerful it’s said he can beat a God of Destruction in combat. When it comes down to the wire, it’s likely he could eliminate every remaining competitor on his own.

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So far, it looks as if only two fighters could even get close to rivaling him in power. Goku and Kefla—and Goku just knocked Kefla out of the tournament.

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Now, while I say Goku can rival Jiren in power, he’s still already lost to the big gray alien once. Even Super Saiyan Blue is no match for Jiren. So to battle him on the same level, Goku had to use his new form, Ultra Instinct. Unfortunately, while powerful, Ultra Instinct is far from a big “heroes win” button.

The most obvious drawback in the form is the amount of time it can be used. In his first stint with Ultra Instinct, Goku uses it only for the final few moments of his battle with Jiren. Then, in the battle against Kefla, we see exactly how long Goku can maintain the form. Episode 114 of Dragon Balls Super ends with 19 minutes left on the clock as Goku activates Ultra Instinct. He runs out of stamina right in the closing moments of Episode 115—with 17 minutes remaining. This means, at current, Goku can only use the form for a meager two minutes before depleting literally all of his stamina—and herein lies the second problem.

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At zero stamina, Goku can’t even stand, much less fight back. Luckily, the first time this happens, Frieza is willing to give Goku enough energy to move on his own, but even then, he’s nearly defenseless. Even with this jump start, it takes around three minutes for Goku to be able to transform into a Super Saiyan—though at that point he is able to maintain both Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 2 like normal. A minute later, he is able to hit Super Saiyan God and a minute after that Super Saiyan Blue. Finally, at six minutes total, he is able to use Ultra Instinct again.

Dragon Ball Super Makes the Old Super Saiyan Forms Necessary Again

This recharge period puts Goku at a major disadvantage. Without someone to protect him and/or give him energy, Goku is all but defenseless in the early minutes. Even the weakest of the remaining fighters has a good chance of taking out Goku—and for the stronger fighters, it would be all but a sure thing. This makes Ultra Instinct a glass cannon of sorts: incredibly powerful but only good for one shot.

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Of course, then comes the third big issue with Ultra Instinct: at the moment, it’s not much of a “cannon” either. When using Ultra Instinct, the fighter basically empties their mind and fights completely on instinct. Without the time needed to think about the fight and choose the next move, the fighter is able to react instantly—making them incredibly hard to hit and impossible to surprise.

The problem is that dodging while using Ultra Instinct is the easy part; attacking with Ultra Instinct is much harder. The mind of a fighter is always looking for the right time and place to attack. However, by letting the mind have it’s way over instinct, the effects of Ultra Instinct are nearly negated.

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In his battle with Kefla, Ultra Instinct Goku is able to dodge all of her attacks with ease—despite her being a Super Saiyan 2 Potara fusion. However, when he attacks her, his punches do little in the way of damage and serve only to push her back. This is because his thoughts are interfering with Ultra Instinct when on the attack. So, as it stands now, while Goku make be able to go toe-to-toe with Jiren thanks to Ultra Instinct, he won’t be able to actually beat the big alien.

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All in all, these weaknesses in Ultra Instinct make it a great addition to Dragon Ball lore. Instead of a simple increase in raw power, it is, at best, a double edged sword—and one that’s difficult to use at that. Then there’s the philosophical level. Ultra Instinct turns the conflict inward instead of outward. Goku must battle against his own fighter’s soul—the part of him that loves a battle—and let his instinct take over completely. And so the question becomes not “will Goku be able to reach Ultra Instinct again” but “it’s will he be able to clear his mind and utilize it properly?”

Only time will tell.

Dragon Ball Super is streaming on FUNimation and Crunchyroll. It is also airing on Cartoon Network’s Toonami with an English dub.

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