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The Ki Awakens: 15 Times Dragon Ball Ripped Off Star Wars

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The Ki Awakens: 15 Times Dragon Ball Ripped Off Star Wars

In 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope premiered and took the world by storm. Since then, Star Wars has gone on to be one of the biggest pop culture franchises of all time. Seven years later in 1984, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga was first published in Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine. Since then, Dragon Ball, especially the Dragon Ball Z anime, has gone on to have worldwide success, making it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Anime franchises of all time. So, what do these two major hits have in common? Quite a bit actually. In fact, Dragon Ball seems to borrow a ton of inspiration from Star Wars.

This isn’t to say that Akira Toriyama stole from Star Wars, we just wanted to point out some of the neat similarities between the two beloved franchises. In fact, Toriyama might have very genuinely been inspired by Star Wars judging by some of the visual homages and inspired designs that are scattered throughout his series. But it goes beyond designs, Dragon Ball is full of characters and lore that are interestingly similar to Star Wars. Don’t believe us? Check THIS out…


These two mystical aspects of their respective franchises are remarkably similar. Ki and The Force both reside in all living things, the people, the animals, the nature, and can be accessed by specific people to give them superhuman abilities. But, the comparisons don’t stop there.

Jedi and Ki users both have access to a long list of powers, ones that are remarkably similar. Ki users tend to customize their attacks and powers, but for the most part, they both grant the same powers. Users of both Ki and The Force are able to sense other users around them (as well as changes or disturbances), increase durability, strength and speed, use forms of telekinesis and telepathy, create some form of energy attacks (be it lightning or blasts) and even achieve flight, though it goes way beyond levitation in Dragon Ball.


Everyone loves a good villain, in fact, some people love villains more than the heroes. It’s not too big of an exaggeration to say that Darth Vader and Vegeta are some of pop culture’s favorite villains, and they surprisingly have a lot in common. Obviously, they both have samurai-armor-styled outfits, but that’s just the beginning.

Both Vegeta and Vader act as the big villain of the first story arcs of their respective franchises, Vegeta is the final villain of the Saiyan arc and Vader is the villain of the original trilogy. But, both villains are also revealed to be pawns of greater villains, Vader doing the bidding of Palpatine and Vegeta acting in Frieza’s galactic army. You could even say they both become allies, since Vader redeems himself at the end of Return of the Jedi and Vegeta is a full-on good guy in the Majin Buu Arc.


Vader and Vegeta aren’t the only similar villains. If we’re continuing with the comparison of Vegeta and Vader, then we can also compare Frieza and Emperor Palpatine. Like we said, both Vegeta and Vader report to higher up villains, ones who are pulling the strings behind everything. Those higher ups are Frieza and Palpatine, but their high rank villain status isn’t all they have in common.

Both Frieza and Palpatine are both emperors of massive intergalactic empires consisting of annexed and conquered planets. Both are also incredibly powerful in their own right, each rocking a unique attack, Palpatine with his Force lightning and Frieza with his death beam. The most interesting comparison of all is that both dictators caused the eradication of an entire group of warriors, Palpatine contributing to Order 66 Jedi and Frieza destroying Planet Vegeta and killing off most of the Saiyan race.


Around the time of the prequel trilogy, George Lucas seemed to forget that Star Wars was a sci-fi/fantasy, not hard science fiction. Thus it doesn’t need hard science behind various elements in the world and lore. Perhaps this is the reason for the introduction of Midichlorions into the lore of Star Wars, an element that received immense fan backlash. But, as disliked as it was, it actually brings up another similarity with Dragon Ball.

Though it hasn’t received as much backlash as Midi-chlorions, Akira Toriyama recently introduced a similar concept into the Dragon Ball lore, S-Cells. S-Cells are cells found in Saiyans that allow them to go Super Saiyan. Toriyama explained in an interview how these microscopic cells work within Saiyan biology, giving an explanation where one was not necessarily needed. That said, a lot have fans have taken a liking to S-Cells.


This one is more of a visual tribute than a similarity, but we’re gonna include it anyway. When Goku is injured on Namek, Vegeta brings him to a ship to be healed in a medical machine. This machine looks incredibly similar to a bacta tank, first seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

It’s no secret that Toriyama is a Star Wars fan — seen previously in the ships and R2-D2-looking device in Bulma’s workshop in Dragon Ball — so we can assume he took inspiration from the bacta tank. The two even function the same, suspending the patient in liquid and attaching a breathing apparatus and vital monitoring equipment to them. The liquids in both seem to accelerate healing, allowing Luke and Goku to come back from the brink of death.


There are masters and students in both Dragon Ball and Star Wars, but this concept isn’t specific to these franchises. However, they do share two master characters that are similar to each other, Obi-Wan and Piccolo. This might be a bit of a stretch but hear us out.

To start, Piccolo trained Gohan from a young age, taking him in and watching over him when he was very young and didn’t have is dad around, much in the same way that Obi-Wan took Luke in when his Aunt and Uncle were killed — and if you want to take it even farther, how he took Anakin in as well. The biggest similarity, however, is that both Piccolo and Obi-Wan faced their pupil’s father in combat as enemies prior to training them. Piccolo faced Goku at the world martial arts tournament and Obi-Wan faced Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. 


Though that play on words might make it seem like we’re talking about Super Mario’s green dinosaur pal, we’re actually talking about Yoda and Master Roshi. Now, this might seem like a bit of a weird connect, but stick with us, because you might be weirdly surprised.

Both Yoda and Master Roshi are old hermits living in isolation, they are both masters of their respective martial arts, they both have signature staffs/canes, they are both unassuming old men who actually kick ass and they both help our heroes overcome limits through training and hard work. And, on the subject of training, both Roshi and Yoda used somewhat strange and/or questionable methods to train their students. Of course, Yoda is not a huge pervert like Roshi… that we know of.


It’s about time we compare the main protagonists of these two series, Luke Skywalker and Son Goku. To be fair, the things these two character have in common are things that a lot of hero protagonists share, but it’s still fun to see just how similar they are next to each other.

To start, at some point in their story, both characters earn that they are part of a special group of people — Luke learns he’s the son of a Jedi and is connected to The Force, and Goku eventually finds out he’s a Saiyan. On that note, both characters turn out to be some of the most powerful of their kind, Luke’s family line has one of the strongest Force connections and Goku was the first Super Saiyan in a hundred years. Lastly, who could forget that both protagonists trained with some quirky old masters.


One of the more interesting comparisons between the two franchises is that both share a major tragic event in their lore. For Star Wars, it was Order 66, which lead to the Jedi purge. In Dragon Ball Z, Frieza felt threatened by the legend of a Super Saiyan, a Saiyan warrior that could defeat him. In order to prevent this from happening, Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta and eradicated nearly every Saiyan in the universe.

Both of these genocides were committed to get the victims out of the way of evil plans, and both unintentionally left a few survivors. Obi-Wan and a few other Jedi survived the initial order, and all off-world Saiyans survived Frieza’s destruction of Planet Vegeta. And even though those numbers continued to dwindle, new hope for their respective people came with new generations of Saiyans and Jedi.


Star Wars takes a lot of influence from samurai films, something that can definitely be seen in the costume designs of the franchise, particularly the Jedi. Jedi wear clothing very similar to samurai, but usually with more earth-tone colors, and of course lightsabers instead of katana. These asian-styled clothes are something that can also be seen in Dragon Ball, seeing as it is a martial arts comic and is, of course, a Japanese creation.

Perhaps the most obvious samurai influence in Star Wars is Darth Vader’s costume, especially the helmet. Vader’s helmet is incredibly similar to the Kabuto helmets that Samurai wore, and the rest of his outfit has remnants of samurai armor. Vegeta is similar in this aspect, as his armor has plating that goes over his  pelvis and legs much like the kasazuri of samurai armor.


After the original Star Wars trilogy, no one thought that there would ever be another Star Wars movie, then the prequel trilogy was announced. Unfortunately, this second trilogy was incredibly disappointing and is unanimously hated amongst fans. But, just when everyone thought that Star Wars movies were done for good, Disney bought LucasFilms in 2012 and a new trilogy was announced, the first film The Force Awakens doing incredibly well with critics and in box office sales.

Dragon Ball went through a similar experience with Dragon Ball GT. The series was not a creation of Toriyama himself, he had no involvement, and upon its release, it was hated by both Japanese and American audiences. Fortunately, Dragon Ball Super would eventually come out, written by Toriyama and taking the franchise to new, exciting places. Super has received some backlash due to low-budget animation, but fans have consistently praised the writing.


Though they’re not the only protagonists of the series, the Dragon Ball franchise mainly follows Son Goku and his family. The same could be said of the Skywalkers, they’re at the center of every major story in the Star Wars films. In both franchises, a family line acts as the catalyst for most major story events and they’re how we’re first introduced to the whole story.

In A New Hope, Luke acts as a relatable character, he represents the audience; a normal person thrown into a giant galactic war. We later learn that Darth Vader is Luke’s father and in the prequels, he is the main protagonist. Even in the newest trilogy, Kylo Ren, Vader’s grandson, plays a major role, as does Luke. Similarly, in Dragon Ball Z, Goku and his sons are major parts of every story arc.


Star Wars fans can gather that we’re obviously talking about Han Solo and Chewbacca, but who’s the other one? Well, Yamcha and Puar, of course. In the original Dragon Ball series, we are first introduced to Yamcha when he’s a teenager in the Diablo Dessert. Yamcha is a bandit who robs travelers as they pass through. He is joined by Puar, an anthropomorphic cat and his best friend.

It’s not hard to see the comparisons between Yamcha and Han; both are handsome outlaws, both have fur-covered best friends/partners and both eventually become allies. If you wanna take things even further, both Yamcha and Han end up in a romantic relationship with heiress of some sort, Han ending up with Princess Leia and Yamcha ending up with Bulma, heiress to the Capsule Corp. fortune/company (though not for long). Of course, they’re not 100% the same, but the similarities are undeniable!


Perhaps one of the most interesting connections between Star Wars and Dragon Ball is that they both have origins in other stories. What exactly do we mean by that? Well, both franchises are tributes and/or version of other stories, at least the original installments, A New Hope and Dragon Ball are.

George Lucas originally wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, but couldn’t get the rights. Thus, he reworked the script, character names and designs to fit an original concept that would combine aspects of Kurosawa samurai films and King Arthur. The original Dragon Ball was inspired heavily inspired by Journey to the West; Son Goku is the Japanese name for Sun Wukong (the protagonist of the Chinese novel) and both characters have a magic staff, a monkey tail and a flying cloud. Eventually, like Star WarsDragon Ball developed into its own unique world and story, especially in Dragon Ball Z.


This one is a bit obvious and isn’t particularly specific to either franchises, but it’s still worth pointing out. Here’s the thing, Star Wars isn’t actually sci-fi, at least not exclusively so. Sure, it takes place in space and there are robots and FTL ships, but aspects like The Force and the Jedi are more fantasy than science fiction. Dragon Ball, similarly, is a world of both magic and advanced technology.

Goku uses a magic staff as a kid, but he’s also an alien from another planet. Ki and The Force are derived from mysticism, but there are advanced technological aspects combined with them, scouters in Dragon Ball Z and lightsabers in Star Wars. This isn’t unique to either franchises, but still something they interestingly have in common.

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