Afterimage Technique (残像拳 Zanzōken, lit. "Afterimage Fist") is an ability to move so swiftly that an image of the user is left behind.
Theoretically, the Afterimage Technique is a move that can be performed (to some degree) in the real world, since it merely requires moving faster than the eye can see. This is a similar phenomenon to that of one moving their hand back and forth very fast, and seeing a sort of afterimage of the hand. However, the speed at which the Dragon Team move their entire bodies is far too difficult for a normal Earthling to perform.
The image itself cannot perform physical tasks, as it fades through everything. Most often, it is used to dodge an incoming attack and get behind the opponent to perform a counterattack. Its usage is not limited to just counterattacks, though, as it can also be used to confuse enemies: the image is used to distract the enemy, forcing them to think it is the actual fighter and giving the user a chance to perform the actual attack. In early Dragon Ball, afterimages are characterized as being see-through distortions of the users; however, in later parts of the series, they can be easily confused with the user simply moving at great speeds to avoid incoming attacks.
The Afterimage Technique is first seen during the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, when Jackie Chun fights Krillin. In an early English dub of Dragon Ball, he calls it The Devil's Afterimage, but originally there was no 魔 (Ma; lit. "demon") character that marked all "devil" techniques. Jackie Chun is also able to perform the Afterimage Strike (多重残像拳, Tajū Zanzōken; lit. "Multiple Afterimage Fist"), where he spins around his opponent, leaving a lot of afterimages of himself. In this form, it is hard to tell which one is the real Jackie Chun.
Goku adapts this technique in the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, and is able to produce more afterimages than Jackie Chun, fooling him with his own attack. Goku uses Afterimage Technique while facing Red Ribbon Army soldiers on the second floor of the Muscle Tower. Krillin briefly used the afterimage technique to catch General Blue offguard long enough to deliver a kick to his face. Later, while he is trying to grab the Sacred Water from Korin, Goku tries to use the Afterimage Strike but is tricked by the talking cat, who evades the Saiyan with his own afterimage. Goku uses the Afterimage Technique again in his second fight against Mercenary Tao.
Under the name Phantom-Star (幻星拳 Genseiken, lit. "Phantom Star Fist"), the technique is used by members of the Chin-Star School. Jackie Chun uses the technique again during his match against Tien Shinhan in the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament. In the anime (but not in the manga), Krillin uses it once against Goku when they are pitted against each other. Shortly after the tournament, Goku uses the Afterimage Strike against Tambourine.
Dragon Ball Z
Later on, almost all fighters in the series are able to use afterimages, and its usage is not marked by anything, making it similar to flight. In Dragon Ball Z, Dodoria uses an afterimage as part of his Dodoria's Blow technique. He uses it again to attack Moori, a Namekian Elder. Goku, during the late stages of his fight with Frieza, left behind an afterimage after his attempt at having Frieza's Death Saucer be redirected to him failed, which Frieza discovered after he had seemingly hit Goku with the attack.
Cell uses afterimages several times: in his Imperfect form against Android 17 and in his Perfect form during his matches in the Cell Games. Goku also uses it against Cell during these games, one of these being under similar circumstances to when he fought Frieza.
Dabura uses a magic version of the Afterimage Strike against Gohan called Afterimage Sorcery (残像 魔術, Zanzō Majutsu). After Gohan dodged his Evil Flame, Dabura uses the technique to create an illusion to dodge Gohan's counterattack. On the other side of the battlefield, Dabura arrogantly says "Looking for me?!" and fires the Evil Impulse to blast Gohan into the ocean.
Dragon Ball GT
In Dragon Ball GT, Goku and Vegeta use this technique to distract Omega Shenron while attempting the Fusion Dance. The two Super Saiyan 4s move so rapidly that they seem to "blink" in and out of view, leaving multiple afterimages. They even manage to move so fast that they perform the fusion technique in multiple locations at once, greatly confusing the shadow dragon.
Dragon Ball Super
Goku uses this technique to dodge bullets from a few robbers that try to steal his truck.
- Afterimage Strike - A variation in which the user distracts his/her opponent with several afterimages.
- Eight-Arm Fist - A variation developed by King Chappa in which he moves his arms so fast to produce the illusion he has eight arms. Unlike the standard afterimage, the arms illusionary arms appear solid, making it hard to tell which arms are real and which are illusionary, allowing the user to attack and defend more effectively. Goku learned the technique via Mimicry and used it to counter Tien Shinhan's Four Witches Technique during their 22nd World Tournament match.
- One-Hundred Arms - A stronger 100 arm variation of Eight-Arm Fist used by Tambourine to counter King Chappa's technique and kill him. While technique functions on the same principal as King Chappa's version, Tambourine is able to create the illusion he has 100 arms instead of eight thanks to his superior speed, allowing him to easily overcome King Chappa technique.
- Phantom Fist - A variation of the Afterimage Technique used by Mira and the Future Warrior in Dragon Ball Xenoverse which allows the user to regain stamina after successful dodging enemy attacks. In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, it is used by several characters such as Mira, Masked Saiyan/Bardock, Cell, Hit, Frost, and the Future Warrior.
- Sonic Warp - A variation of the Afterimage Technique used by Frieza in his final form. He moves rapidly, making it appear as though he is teleporting. In the Xenoverse series, it is used as part of the Psychic Move Evasive Skill.
- Wild Sense - A variation that allows the user to counterattack right after dodging the opponent's attack.
- Super Afterimage - A stronger variation of the Afterimage that appears as a Super Skill in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.
- Dragon Ball: Origins video game series
- Korin claims to be the inventor of the Afterimage Technique after Goku tried the technique on him.
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse, 2015
- Budokai Tenkaichi series
- Raging Blast series
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, 2016
- Dragon Ball episode 24, "Krillin's Frantic Attack"
- Daizenshuu 7, 1996
- Dragon Ball episode 26, "The Grand Finals"
- Dragon Ball episode 36, "Major Metallitron"
- Dragon Ball episode 52, "The Pirate Treasure"
- Dragon Ball episode 80, "Goku vs. Sky Dragon"
- Dragon Ball episode 95, "Goku vs. Krillin"
- Dragon Ball Z episode 150, "Up to Piccolo"
- Dragon Ball Z episode 178, "Cell's Bag of Tricks"
- Dragon Ball Z episode 179, "No More Rules"