This ability was derived from the magical powers Old Kai gained from the Old Witch that made up half his fusion.
Out of gratitude for being freed from the legendary Z Sword and Goku promising to get a kiss from a beautiful woman afterward (the latter of which was conveniently forgotten), Old Kai explained that he would release all of Gohan's dormant power. While this sacred ritual normally takes 5 hours of Old Kai dancing around the person and another 20 hours afterward sitting with the person in a meditative pose, Gohan's exceptionally immense dormant capacities required several more hours. At only a partially completed process, Gohan in a fit of anger showed a considerable boost in power, much to the spectators' surprise. Once finished, Old Kai instructed Gohan to power up like for a Super Saiyan. Doing so, only Gohan's eyes change to take on a more defined shape, while otherwise remaining normal. Old Kai explains that Gohan's new normal levels of power have become so high that he didn't need to transform. Later, after Gohan was absorbed by Buu, an evil copy of Ultimate Gohan is seen Inside Buu.
In "Dragon Ball Super" during the Universe Survival Saga, Old Kai offered to perform his ability on Goku. While Goku was eager to accept his offer, Shin noted that there was not enough time left before the start of the Tournament of Power to complete the ritual.
Even after having their full potential unlocked, the individual can focus and harness their power to go far beyond their natural limits without the need of actually transforming by entering a Potential Unleashed state. This state puts the user on a level of power in their base form far greater than their normal transformations. If the user continues to get stronger with their potential unlocked, their power can increase to a level that could possibly rival a god. At the same time, Gohan - a half-Saiyan - is still capable of powering up even further by transforming into any Super Saiyan forms. Thanks to gaining control of his unlocked capacities in his heightened state, can make his Super Saiyan forms even stronger than they were previously. When using Super Saiyan after his potential was unlocked he appears slightly different than his original Super Saiyan forms, notably instead of two bangs of hair he only possesses one and generally a softer demeanor.
In the God of Destruction Beerus Saga and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Gohan (who had previously powered up into his Potential Unleashed form) transformed into a Super Saiyan on top of it in order to assist his father in the Super Saiyan God ritual.
In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Gohan, having not kept up training and thus struggled to harness his power at all, was no longer able to access his Potential Unleashed state and was not even completely sure if he could take on a Super Saiyan. However, in his short usages of Super Saiyan, he was able to easily defeat Shisami and help Goku find a lock on to teleport back to Earth.
In the Golden Frieza Saga, due to lack of training, Gohan had to resort to utilizing his Super Saiyan form as a last resort. This was because it caused a huge strain on his under-conditioned body. From his brief performance in Super Saiyan, he was able to easily defeat Ginyu in Tagoma's body and single-handedly act as a beacon for Goku's Instant Transmission. After Frieza's narrow defeat, Gohan, ashamed of his own laziness putting his family in danger, had Piccolo retrain him to properly harness his power again.
By the Universe Survival Saga, Gohan was again able to properly uses his Super Saiyan forms with no adverse effects, using Super Saiyan to score a tie against Lavender. In final preparation for the Tournament of Power, Gohan resumed training with Piccolo. Despite accessing Super Saiyan 2, the Namekian mentor proved able to easily overwhelm Gohan, nearly killing him in several skirmishes. It was until Piccolo reawakened Gohan's inner drive and fighting spirit that Gohan became able to fully access his ultimate power, once again entering his Potential Unleashed State, able to quickly defeat Piccolo without transforming. Wanting to get stronger and test their strength even further, Gohan and Piccolo went on to spar with Goku and Tien. Later, Gohan and Goku decided to train a little more without Piccolo and Tien. While Gohan and Goku transformed beyond their previous Super Saiyan forms, Gohan's Potential Unleashed power was at a certain level which made him hold his own against Goku's Super Saiyan Blue power. However, Goku transformed further into Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken and defeats Gohan in one blow.
Video Game Appearances
It was named in the Budokai series.
- While Gohan's potential was unlocked by the Old Kai, a lack of training will affect the effects of the ritual, as seen in Resurrection ‘F’ and its anime adaption. While Gohan kept a large amount of the extra power, he required his Super Saiyan state to tap into his true potential and even he could only keep it up for a short while.
- In Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai and Shin Budokai - Another Road, Gohan has dark brown skin in this state.
- In the Xenoverse series, the dance Elder Kai does during the ritual appears as an Emote called Elder Kai's Dance. In Xenoverse, Elder Kai performs the dance during the ritual Future Warrior's to unlock their potential and the Emote is unlocked after completing it. In Xenoverse 2, it is learned from the Time Patroller Ioss at the Time Patroller Academy after the Warrior performs the Bow Emote in front of him. Unlike other Emotes, the user can move around during the dance and even control the direction in which they dance.
- Interestingly, in Xenoverse 2, the Potential Unleashed Awoken Skill is not unlocked via Elder Kai's ritual and is instead unlocked through completing the 6th and final Advancement Test for Super Class at the Time Patroller Academy. However, it should be noted that Elder Kai oversees both the academy and the advancement tests, it is possible that Elder Kai created the test as a quicker alternative method of unlocking the potential of Time Patrollers as the ritual may have taken too much of Elder Kai and the Patrollers' time to be used effectively. Another possibility is that Elder Kai unlocked the 2nd Future Warrior's power after they complete the test off-screen (its absence in Xenoverse 2 may be due to players complaints about the ritual in Xenoverse or due to fact that the requirements to unlock it first require the Future Warrior to Z Rank the first 5 advancement tests in order to unlock the 6th which unlocks the skill when completed).
- In the Dragon Ball Super manga, it is revealed that this ritual is also used to official make individuals an attendant/apprentice of an active Supreme Kai, as Future Shin did this on Future Trunks.
- As this ritual blessed Future Trunks with healing powers, it is possible that Gohan, who was also trained by both Shin and Old Kai, may also possess healing powers.