Episode 43, "Son Goku vs Freeza! The Curtain Opens on the Super Decisive Battle!"
Synopsis: Piccolo, Kuririn, and Gohan distance themselves as Goku and Freeza begin their battle. Bulma, meanwhile, encounters a group of frogs. Goku is able to deflect powerful attacks from Freeza, which impresses the tyrant. Kaio tells Goku's friends that he's putting up a decent fight. Freeza blasts open a hole into the planet and stirs up lava. Goku is pushed into the sea and tries getting Freeza from underwater, distracting him, and then kicking him. Freeze uses telepathy and sends large rocks at Goku, but he destroys them. Freeza than takes a huge chunk of rock and throws it at Goku, who is able to break through it. Freeza binds Goku in a ki bubble and hits him around, then blasts it. Goku survives this, however, and the two face off again.
So, here we are! In record-breaking time, Goku versus Freeza! Ding ding, round one!
Okay, so maybe there really isn't a lot to say about an episode that's mostly just Goku fighting Freeza. But there are some noteworthy bits of the fight. The first are Freeza's beams burning holes in the planet which produce lava. I think in the original cut, Goku actually burns his ass on some lava, but they cut that out for Kai. Maybe it was too silly, but it was one of my favorite parts. Freeza certainly doesn't think much of the environments he fights in, since even casual blows obliterate entire chunks of the planet. Though it's pretty bland, as far as environments go, which must have made it easier for Toriyama and his assistant to draw this in the manga.
The next part I like is Goku using ki balls as a distraction while under water. You don't really get a lot of underwater combat in the show, so when you do, it's sort of a special treat. This bit has Goku firing ki blasts up through the water and out to Freeza, but it's really a distraction so he can come from behind and kick him hard with both feet. Goku isn't the sharpest crayon in the box, but when it comes to fighting, he's pretty clever.
Finally, we have Freeza throwing a huge chunk of earth at Goku, which he tries stopping. It slams him back into another big rock formation, but he breaks through it. I like how Freeza's just throwing big chunks of the planet at Goku. It's so ridiculous, but fun to watch.
There were some other parts I liked, too, like Goku stopping a ki ball from Freeza, only to blow hard on his burnt hands, and the part where Freeza is using Goku as a volley ball when he's trapped in the ki field. There's plenty of variety this early on in the battle, which is why for a while, it was one of the best fights of the series.
It's weird, though, how the newly "redrawn" parts can look at times. There was even a mistake from that they failed to fix for Kai. They actually redrew the same mistake! Come on, are they really that dense at Toei? While other parts looked pretty smooth, a lot of the new stuff looked awkward.
3.5 out of 5