They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the newest episode of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime flattered Dragon Ball Z in spades. In the second to last episode of the anime’s second season, the heroic Veldora started to let his otaku side show by using Goku’s signature Kamehameha and even spamming Street Fighter Hadoukens, Shoryukens, and a Tatsumaki Senpukyaku like a Ken player trying not to get knocked out of the losers bracket.
This caused “kamehameha” to trend on Twitter and sparked a debate on the best iteration of the iconic move. Fans of the series began posting clips like the infamous Dragon Ball Super Kamehameha where Ultra Instinct Goku used his signature attack to propel himself up Kefla’s Gigantic Burst during the tournament of power, his instant transmission Kamehameha during the Cell Games, Gogeta’s Kamehameha from Dragon Ball Super Broly, and Goku and Gohan’s iconic father-son Kamehameha.
Allow me to weigh in.
While Goku’s Ultra Instinct Kamehameha remains the most creative use of the massively powerful attack, my personal favourite battle involving the Kamehameha comes from Goku’s fight with Nuova Shenron from the often slept-on Dragon Ball GT. This fight ranks high among my favourites because Nuova Shenron calls out a major flaw in the Kamehameha: its extensive wind up time.
The evil shadow dragon goes so far as to call the move a joke, since the time it takes Goku to gather energy is longer than the attack itself. (It follows that the rest of their battle involves Goku overcoming this flaw in his signature move.) My example might serve as a technicality on the debate at large, but I love this battle because it shows Goku at a rare disadvantage and allows him to be more creative about how he uses his god-killing energy wave.
Although this debate eventually led to some die-hard energy beam fans trashing the newer anime, that shouldn’t be the takeaway. What’s more important than the best version of the attack is how cool it is that a newer series is able to pay homage to one of the classics and even explicitly name drop them.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime isn’t the only new anime to explicitly shout out classic shonen anime by name. When Yuji Itadori of last season’s super-popular Jujutsu Kaisen was wanting to learn a new sorcery move, he voiced how upset he was that he wouldn’t be able to do special moves like Goku’s Kamehameha, Naruto’s Rasengan, Yusuke Urameshi’s Spirit Gun, and Ichigo Kurosaki’s Bankai.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime didn’t reference Dragon Ball Z to disparage it or say that they did it better, it did so to honour how much of a touchstone the series is to today’s anime. Much like all of us viewers, Slime’s fictional Veldora is a huge manga fan and even goes so far as to refer to his comics as sacred writings. The fact that we’ve gotten to this point that anime as a medium can be openly self-referential to other series is a win not only for the genre but for fans as well.