This viral TikTok by created by user @josedanieeeeeel of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) knocking over a water bottle and catching it before it falls is actually a reference to Dragon Ball Super, the sequel series of the seminal anime Dragon Ball Z.
Dragon Ball Super, which started airing in 2015, takes place chronologically after Z supersedes Dragon Ball GT, which is now officially non-canon, and stars everybody’s favorite anime hero known for his ever-escalating power levels: Goku.
In the TikTok, Sanders is seen knocking over a metal water bottle while at a podium. The music dramatically shifts to Goku’s “Ultra Instinct” theme song, and after a few close-up shots of bystanders waiting in shock at the act Sanders is about to perform, Sanders quickly grabs the bottle out of the air and stands it back upright without missing a beat.
The effects surrounding Sanders in this moment of impressive reflexes are a direct reference to “ultra instinct,” a heightened form of power Goku achieves only in Dragon Ball Super. For reference, prior to ultra instinct, Goku had gone through the ubiquitous Super Saiyan 1, 2, and 3 forms (as well as 4 in the non-canon GT), Super Saiyan God, and the mouthful of a form that is Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. As ultra instinct is the form he needed to reach in the climax of Dragon Ball Super’s last arc to defeat his enemies, it can be assumed to be his strongest.
The TikTok was used by some as a testament to Sanders’ ability to keep his reflexes sharp despite his age and to show awe at the fact that when he managed this feat, Sanders was currently in the middle of speaking to an audience at a rally.
Questions regarding former Vice President Joe Biden’s ability to hypothetically to do this were also made in reference to the TikTok. Biden’s public speaking events have come to be characterized by certain gaffes and confusing moments. Most recently, Biden erroneously introduced his wife as his little sister at a speech to supporters in California after the Super Tuesday primaries.
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