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The DBZ Reference In Shang-Chi That Had Anime Fans Cheering

You don't have to be a die-hard anime fan to understand the impact "Dragon Ball Z" has had on popular culture. As Comic Book Resources points out, the Akira Toriyama-created series — which chronicles the adventures of Goku and his friends as they defend the Earth from evil threats — has influenced countless manga and anime stories since it made its debut back in the 1980s, and the franchise has continued to find success across a variety of media since then.

"Dragon Ball Z" is also popular among audiences outside of its native Japan — especially in the West. For this reason, there is a strong case to be made for it being the most popular anime franchise of all time — though "Pokemon" might have something to say about that. That remains up for debate, but one thing is for sure: The influence of "Dragon Ball Z" has found its way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as evidenced by the climactic finale of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings features one of Goku's techniques

Toward the end of "Shang-Chi," the titular character (Simu Liu) confronts his father, Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung), and takes control of the ten rings. He then proceeds to spin them rapidly and make them gather some powerful energy, causing the hero to strike a pose that's reminiscent of Goku's "Kamehameha Wave." The scene isn't coincidental, either. After the showdown, Katy (Awkwafina) recounts the events and describes Shang-Chi's technique as being similar to the "Kamehameha Fireball."

The visual style of "Dragon Ball Z" really inspired the filmmakers, and they've been open about it. In an interview with Geek Culture, director Destin Daniel Cretton opened up about the myriad of pop culture inspirations that informed "Shang-Chi," and he made sure to give the anime — and Goku's aforementioned technique — a mention. 

"I grew up on Dragon Ball Z, and I used a clip of Goku-san doing the Kamehameha," Cretton said. "I showed that [to Marvel] as one of the clips."

The DBZ reference in Shang-Chi was a big hit among fans of the anime

It's rare that a reference to a beloved piece of pop culture escapes the attention of the internet, and the Goku moment in "Shang-Chi" was no different. A recent Reddit thread saw fans of both "Shang-Chi" and "Dragon Ball Z" share their appreciation for the scene in question. While the obvious nod was enough to please fans of "Dragon Ball Z," some of them took the discussion as an opportunity to talk about how the anime franchise's appeal is everlasting. 

"That made me so happy. I love that the world is now full of adults who love DBZ," wrote u/yrqrm0.

The similarities between Goku and Shang-Chi might not have ended at energy-blasting techniques, either. The fashion in Marvel's latest blockbuster might have been lifted from "Dragon Ball Z" as well. A second Reddit user pointed out how Shang-Chi's orange and blue jacket was similar to the attire worn by Goku in the anime, suggesting that the "Shang-Chi" filmmakers were really keen on throwing in as many Goku references as possible.