Dragon Ball is almost over. This makes sense, given that the current arc is nearing its climactic conclusion. But it does leave a giant gaping void in the quality of anime moving forward. This has been a mainstay franchise since the 1980's.
As a pitiful bone they're throwing us fans, a movie is slated to continue the story in late December, which we'll of course get to watch in 2019 (or 2020?). But one movie does not replace a weekly television series.
Things are developing in a bad direction, I'm sad to say. One Piece is a shell of its former self, partially because the anime has to be so slow to not outpace the manga, but partially because the manga isn't as good as it used to be either. Pretty Cure is running on empty and has been for years. Bolt is no replacement for Naruto. Fairy Tail still hasn't resumed. Bleach ended ages ago. Even Hunter x Hunter is over. There are no weekly, long-running shows that are delivering any product anymore. Dragon Ball Super was the best we had left, and now it's going away.
There used to be lots of good weekly shows, like Inuyasha and Major, all airing together. Index/Railgun was virtually a weekly show, as was Bakuman, Da Capo, Hayate and Prince of Tennis. Hikaru no Go, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho -- this used to be the norm. Not just one eternal show would be airing, but five or ten series you could always count on all aired together.
With Dragon Ball Super's exit, there's four long-running series still kicking, but all four are problematic. Bolt is virtually filler, as is Fate/Last Encore. One Piece is slowed to a crawl, and Pretty Cure is uninspired, recycled content that was all done better years ago. Dragon Ball was the only series you could really get excited about, whether it was this year or last year.
The 'eternal' series of today are not the equivalents of the 'eternal' series of yesteryear, even when they're named exactly the same (ala One Piece or Pretty Cure). Sort of like how FF XV is nothing like FF V.
If you're a truly good series, it only takes a few years to reach the top of my rankings, Cross Game is rated #16 and only took two years to make. Which means if there were any great anime being made we would know about it. There aren't any budding heroes about to take the spotlight that can replace Dragon Ball. Not even close. The highest ranking new anime franchise that was made after 2012 is Hibike! Euphonium in 2015 at #43. After that comes 2014's Shirobako at #48 and Yuuki Yuuna at #49. The best anime from 2013 is Vividred at #53, the best from 2016 is Hai to Gensou at #63 and the best from 2017 is Eromanga at #82.
This is a bad trendline. In fact it's two bad trendlines. The old, good, reliable series are dying out, and no new, good, reliable series are emerging to replace them. Which means eventually nothing good will be coming out. It's a lot like the manga trendlines I've been complaining about for years now, only now it's infected anime too.
Maybe this was the perfect place to end Dragon Ball. Maybe there really shouldn't be any more Dragon Ball and this is a good thing. I will never question Akira Toriyama's decision making process. But the trendline is bigger than just Dragon Ball. Everything is going away and nothing is coming our way. 2017 was the worst year in anime since the modern era, but without Dragon Ball, 2018 could end up even worse. But at least 2018 had some Dragon Ball. What about 2019? Is it going to be even worse? Or 2020, when we won't even have the movie to look forward to? What is going to become of anime?