Episode 96, "Combine Our Power! The Mightiest, Final Kamehameha"
Synopsis: Gohan resigns himself to death as Cell powers a Kamehameha which will destroy the planet. However, from the afterlife, Goku encourages him to strike back. Gohan fires a one-handed Kamehameha and the two beams meet. Gohan struggles to overpower Cell. Piccolo, Kuririn, Tenshinhan, and Yamucha all attack Cell, but it does little to stop him. Suddenly, when all seems lost, Vegeta attacks, giving Gohan an opening to finish Cell off. Gohan's beam finally overtakes Cell and he dissolves in the blast. Gohan has won the fight and saved the world.
Ah, the long Kamehameha duel. I'm actually fond of this part. I know that it takes up a lot of time, but I don't feel like it drags on. I feel like it gets the time it needs, given the gravity of the situation. It gets the right build up and ends with the proper catharsis. By the time it ends, the viewer is ready to pass out from the intensity, same as Gohan. You get a real sense of victory from what happens.
I seem to remember Z proper overextending the bit where Goku's allies all chip in to try to wear Cell down. Whatever the case is, I was dreading having to see Piccolo et al thrown back for a half hour. But it's all very compact. Their loyalty to Goku, and Gohan by extension, is really touching. They know they can't defeat Cell, but they owe Goku so much, they can't just stand by. Vegeta delivering the last blast before Gohan overcame Cell was a good part as well. Vegeta must've had to overcome his pride to help out. Naturally, Piccolo was the first to jump to Gohan's aid. I really liked what Yamucha and Tenshinhan's thoughts on the matter, their lives having been touched by Goku to a great extent.
Gohan finally overcomes Cell and destroys him. My favorite character will probably always be Goku, but I have a great affection for Gohan, too, and was glad to see him as the hero here. One of my favorite parts is right after he collapses, when the fight is finished, and we see Gohan breathing hard on the ground as the Earth and Goku are also shown and Gohan and Goku are thanked by the narrator. It gives a real sense of passing the torch. (Though with the Buu arc, it didn't turn out quite that way.)
What I was really impressed with, besides some of the reworked art shots, was Shunsuke Kikuchi's score. Sometimes its placement in Kai makes it awkward. Too few pieces are used, and the ones that are used are used too often. But here there's the perfect economy and each piece suits the scene it's in perfectly. I especially liked the use of movie 9's music, it being my favorite musical suite in the franchise. This episode has the perfect use of every piece.
It's a fantastic episode.
4.5 out of 5