Deep Dive: Kamehameha/Hadoken

So the next thing coming down the pipe are these pictures of Japanese schoolgirls doing Kamehameha/Hadoken punches. This was reported on earlier this week and may be due to a new Dragon Ball Z movie coming out soon. Oh course, Son Gokou never officially did a Hadoken but that’s besides the point.

What? Who’s Son Gokou? What’s a Hadoken? What’s Dragon Ball Z? Well, that’s an interesting story. Actually two stories, which we are about to dive into….

Dragon Ball Z

If you were a cool nerdy kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s, besides spending your afternoons watching G.I. Joe and Transformers, you probably heard of a cool Japanese anime called Dragon Ball Z. It had a TV show (anime) and a comic book (manga). If you were really lucky, like some kids in Hawaii, you actually could watch the show on your television.

Dragon Ball Z was actually a spinoff from a show called Dragon Ball developed by Akira Torayama. The original Dragon Ball followed the loveable exploits of a young alien named Goku (Son Gokou/Kakarot {don’t ask} in the original Japanese version) who crash landed on Earth, mastered kung-fu at an early age, and went in search of 7 magical golden globes called Dragon Balls (thus the show’s name.) If you collected them all, a giant dragon would appear and grant you a wish (pretty sweet, huh?) It turns out from market studies of the show that kids really really really liked the fighting scenes. So why not make a show just about the fighting? Thus Dragon Ball Z was born.

In Dragon Ball Z, Goku was older, married, and had a son Gohan (Son Gohan for you perfectionists). Did this stop Goku from getting into trouble? Nope! He died in first season, went to heaven, learned some new techniques, and was wished back to life (by the Dragon Balls) to fight some more! Goku found out he was from an alien race of fighters called Saiyans (the Saiyajin in Japanese) and was the last of his kind…sort of. But he wasn’t just any old Saiyan, no sir! He was a mythical Super Saiyan. And what did that mean? Ass-kicking. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the whole idea of leveling up and going to the next level may have come from Goku going from a regular Saiyan to Super Saiyan 1. Why Super Saiyan 1? we’ll explain that later…

Anyways, one of Goku’s signature moves was the Kamehameha or Kamehame Wave. This was a fiery ball of focused energy which Goku and later his friends could produce to fry the bad guys.And it looked something like this:

He had other weapons like the Spirit Bomb and super strength, super speed, and endurance (did i ever tell you of the time he practiced in a 100g environment?) but the Kamehame Wave was his move.

Goku was the quintessential hero. He was good-hearted, fought to the end to save his friends, and ended up dying some more. The pinnacle of the Dragon Ball Z series was Goku’s fight with the villain Frieza (pronounced Freeze-za) on the planet Namek with Piccolo, Gohan, Krillan, and Prince Vegeta. Oh those were the days

It is believed by many that after the Frieza series, Dragon Ball Z went downhill, with more Super Saiyan modes introduced (Super Saiyan 2, Super Saiyan 3, etc…) and other tricks and enemies added. There were anime movies, a card game (way before Pokemon), and even a crappy US movie made. But it was Goku and the Kamehameha wave that is Dragon Ball Z.

Street Fighter II

About the same time you were finding out about Dragon Ball Z, you were still wasting time and quarters mastering something only known now as a “coin-operated video game”. Imagine an Xbox 360 de-evolved to a 360 by 200 pixel screen and the computing power to run it. Better yet, imagine the types of games you could play in your browser about 5 years ago. Now imagine it in a big box and instead of infinite lives, you got 3 or 5 lives by putting a quarter into a slot in the front of this big box. That’s a coin-op video game.

So when your mom yelled at you to get out of the house and do something, you would go down to the grocery store or mall, and play video games. One of the most popular games was a game called Street Fighter II, developed in 1991. It was fun because you could play against the machine or another real life player who actually stood next to you at the machine in the store. And if you beat him (or her), he or she had to put another quarter in the machine to keep playing. It was combat without the physical violence. You gained social standing over your peers without beating them on a basketball court. Video game trash-talking was perfected over Street Fighter II.

The game had great characters: Blanka, the wild beast; Zangief, the Russian wrestler; Chun-Li, the Chinese martial artist; well, you get the picture…. The main two characters were a couple of guys named Ryu and Ken. These were your run-of-the-mill Karate students who trained under a sensei in Japan. (Didn’t everybody know some guys like that in high school?) They were in the first Street Fighter game but that was never as big as the sequel. Ryu and Ken were some bad-asses and their two signature moves were a super uppercut (shoryuken) and… yes, a fiery ball of energy that they fried their opponents with. This fireball was accompanied by the battle cry of “Hadoken” and looked a little something like this:

Street Fighter II was a money maker. It was a defining moment in the timeline of video games. It spun off a number of sequels including Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II Alpha, Street Fighter II EX, and eventually Street Fighter III. It was the first of the new wave of fighting games to include Mortal Kombat, Tekken, King of Fighters, and Samurai Shodown. There was anime, manga, movies, spin-off games, artwork, and (of course) an awful Hollywood movie version. But there was always Ryu and Ken, in their same white and red karate uniforms, in their same one-off cartoon sprites, “Shoryuken” and “Hadoken” their way around the world.

Back in the day, everyone played Dragon Ball Z on the playground, with their friends, in the backyard. You were Goku, your best friend was Piccolo, that angry kid was Vegeta, and some one was Frieza. And you fought. and fought. And eventually, you had to Kamehameha. maybe you had to drop a Spirit Bomb on somebody. But that’s what you did. but you didn’t have a phone with a camera like you do today. and we’re back to the Japanese schoolgirl again.

As a quick aside, it turns out that the Hadoken was based off the Battleship Yamato/Star Blazer Wave Motion Gun. Talk about long stories,that is definitely one for another day. Farewell, Yamato….

PS:here is your obligatory Dragon Ball Z/Harlem Shake video:

PPS: don’t even mention 2ch (2chan for the less brave)


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