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Son Goku (孫 悟空 Son Gokū?, addressed only as Goku in most English adaptations) is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball franchise created by Akira Toriyama. He first appears in the manga chapter Bulma and Son Goku (ブルマと孫悟空 Buruma to Son Gokū?) first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on December 3, 1984.[1] He is loosely based on Sun Wukong, a central character in Journey to the West. However, Toriyama changed some of his characteristics to be more original. Goku is introduced as an odd, monkey-tailed boy who practices martial arts and possesses superhuman strength.[2] As the story unfolds, he is revealed to be from a fictional race of extraterrestrials called Saiyans, said to be the strongest warriors within the fictional universe.[3]

Goku has starred in most of the episodes, films, and specials of the anime series Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT, as well as many of the spin-off video games. Outside of the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku has had cameo appearances in Toriyama's self-parody series Neko Majin Z. He has also been the subject of other parodies, and has appeared in various special events and in American pop culture.

Creation and conception

Goku was based on one of Toriyama's earlier characters named Tanton, a fictional protagonist who appeared in a one-shot series called Dragon Boy.[4] In this story, Tanton's odd physical characteristic was a pair of wings. When Toriyama decided to create Dragon Ball, he used Chinese author Wu Cheng'en's 16th century classic novel Journey to the West as inspiration for his own series. The name Toriyama adopted for the character is the Japanese romanization of 孫悟空 (Sun Wukong), who is the central character of the novel. To be creative with the character, Toriyama stated that he designed Goku to be a human boy with a monkey tail, instead of being a complete simian like Sun Wukong. He decided to do this because the tail would be visible even when Goku was trying to hide.[4] Though Goku is treated as a person from another planet, Toriyama initially had the idea to make him an Earthling, but, with the introduction of new fighters from other planets, it was later established that Goku is a Saiyan. In order to advance the story faster, Toriyama gave Goku the ability to teleport to any planet in just a few seconds.[5]

Toriyama explained that Goku's gi uniform is modeled after the robes worn by the Shaolin monks of China, being that he wanted Dragon Ball to take on a Chinese feel.[6] During early developments of the manga, various readers commented that Goku was rather plain, so the author changed his appearance and added several characters like Master Roshi and Krillin, then created martial arts tournaments to make the manga more fighting based. Since it was commented that Goku would surely win the tournaments, Toriyama made him lose in the first two tournaments that Goku participated in, however made him the victor in the third. With the ending of the Cell arc in manga volume 35, Son Gohan was meant to replace his father as the main protagonist; Toriyama thought that Gohan was unsuitable for that part so he avoided doing that.[4]


Goku is usually recognized by his uniquely styled hair, which never changes its length throughout the series except when in his Super Saiyan forms, in which his hair changes color and length based on the level he ascends to. This is explained by Vegeta to be a common characteristic of full-blooded Saiyans.[7] Aside from his Super Saiyan 4 form, after ascending to a Super Saiyan, Goku's hair turns from black to blonde. Due to his devotion to Earth, Goku prefers dressing in a gi uniform, and has refused offers to adorn the Saiyan battle fatigues, being that he considers himself an Earthling.[8] However, he is seen donning Saiyan battle fatigues designed by Bulma, during the time he trains with Gohan in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber at Kami's Palace, prior to the Cell Games.[9] In his early childhood, Goku was first introduced wearing a blue uniform with red wristbands and a white belt tied in a bow.[1] After his training with Roshi, he receives his trademark orange uniform, blue wristbands, and a black belt tied in a knot, and after his training with Kami, he adds his trademark blue undershirt and striped boots to this outfit. Goku is also often seen to wear the encircled kanji of his training masters on the front and back of this uniform; the first kanji being Roshi's, "kame" (?, meaning "turtle"),[10] the second kanji being King Kai's, "kaio" (?, meaning "world king")[11] and the third being his own kanji "Go" (?, meaning "wisdom" or "enlightenment").[12] Eventually he stops wearing a kanji[13] and also wears a blue obi in place of his belt.[13] By the end of the manga, Goku is shown wearing a new outfit made up of a blue slip-over shirt, gray pants and orange wristbands and shinguards.[14] In Dragon Ball GT, Goku's entire appearance was revamped featuring him wearing a blue fold-over shirt, yellow pants, pink wristbands, and white shinguards, as well as a more tan skin complexion.[15]

Plot overview

Originally named Kakarrot (カカロット Kakarotto?, spelled as Kakarot in the English dub),[16][17] Goku is born a member of a fictional race of extraterrestrials called Saiyans. Shortly following his birth, Goku is sent from his home, a fictional planet named Vegeta, to prepare Earth for sale on the intergalactic market by destroying all its life.[18] Due to an injury to his head that caused him severe amnesia, Goku forgets his purpose, and instead focuses on becoming stronger to improve himself.[18] In the beginning of the series, Goku meets a teenage girl named Bulma, the desert bandit Yamcha, and two shapeshifters named Oolong and Puar. He also meets one of his closest friends, Krillin, and others during his training. Participating in various martial arts tournaments, Goku also battles foes-turned-allies such as Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu, as well as Piccolo Daimao's offspring of the same name.

During his early adulthood, Goku meets his older brother, Raditz, an encounter that results in his death after he learns about his own heritage. Following the wish for his revival from the Dragon Balls, Goku continues to face other enemies linked to his heritage, such as Vegeta, who eventually also becomes his ally, and Frieza, whose actions cause Goku to transform into a Super Saiyan. After his epic battle with Frieza, the focus on Goku's past is shifted away, as new enemies are introduced as threats to the fictional universe. When the androids appear, Goku contracts the heart virus that Future Trunks warns him about earlier, but is able to recover thanks to the medicine that Future Bulma had made for him. Later on, Goku trains his first child, Gohan, to be his successor and sacrifices himself for the second time during the battle against the evil life form Cell. Goku returns to Earth from the afterlife seven years later and meets his second child, Son Goten. Shortly after, he participates in the next martial arts tournament, however he is drawn into a battle for the universe against the deadly monster Majin Buu. Goku also battles Vegeta after he is taken under control by Babidi. Later on, Goku destroys Buu with his Genki Dama technique. During the martial arts tournament held ten years after Buu's defeat, Goku meets Buu's human reincarnation, Uub, and takes off with him, in the end of the story, intending to train him as another successor.

In the anime-only series Dragon Ball GT, which begins ten years after Goku meets Uub, Goku is transformed back into a child with a wish made by Emperor Pilaf using the Black Star Dragon Balls. Shortly after he, Trunks, and his granddaughter Pan all take a trip around the universe to locate the Black Star Dragon Balls and return them to Earth. Goku later battles the evil Baby, Super Android 17 and the evil shadow dragons. His final challenge is against Omega Shenron, who he eventually destroys using the Genki Dama. Goku leaves with the original form of Shenron, only to appear 100 years later at the next martial arts tournament as an adult once more, where he is observing the battle between his descendant (Son Goku Jr.) and Vegeta's descendant. An elderly Pan spots her grandfather, but he quickly departs.


Through constant training, Goku has achieved many abilities; aside from his extreme strength and incredible durability, he also possesses super speed,[19] reflexes and can perform energy blasts which are formed from chi. As a child, Goku wielded the Nyoi-bo (如意棒 lit. "Mind Stick"?, renamed "Power Pole" in the English dub), a magic staff that extends and retracts on command, which was given to him by his adoptive grandfather.[1] He also learns, through simple observation, Master Roshi's energy blast technique, the Kamehameha (かめはめ波 lit. "Turtle Striking Wave"?),[20] which becomes his signature move. Originally Goku's main means of conveyance was on a magic cloud called Kinto-un (筋斗雲 lit. "Somersault Cloud"?, renamed "Nimbus" in the English dub), which was given to him as a child by Roshi for saving his pet sea turtle.[21] After his training with Kami he learns to fly through the technique Buku-jutsu (舞空術 lit. "Air Dance Technique"?) and uses the cloud less and less as the series progresses.

Another notable technique of Goku's is the Kaio-ken (界王拳 lit. "World King Fist"?), an attack that multiplies the user's chi for an instant, taught to him by King Kai.[22] However, Goku's most powerful attack is the Genki Dama (元気玉 lit. "Good Spirit Ball"?, renamed "Spirit Bomb" in the English dub), a powerful sphere created by gathering chi energy from surrounding life forms, which he also learned from King Kai.[11] Goku also learns a teleportation skill called Shunkan Ido (瞬間移動 lit. "Instant Movement"?, renamed "Instant Transmission" in the English dub), which he learned from the inhabitants of a fictional planet called Yardrat.[23]

Goku is also the only Saiyan in the series to achieve all the Saiyan transformations seen in the manga. In Dragon Ball, he is able to transform into a gigantic ape called an Oozaru,[24] albeit after his tail is removed by Kami, he loses the capacity to achieve this form.[25] However, in Dragon Ball GT, Goku is able to use this transformation again after regrowing his tail using the Elder Kai's help.[26]

During the events of Dragon Ball Z, Goku becomes the first Super Saiyan in a millennium after being overcome with rage by the murder of Krillin at the hands of Frieza[27] and as the series progresses he achieves every single advanced level of Super Saiyan. Each transformation changes Goku's appearance and enhances his abilities.

Goku can also fuse with Vegeta and create a warrior who has the combined power and skills of both. One method is by using the Potara Earrings presented to Goku by the Elder Kai, which results in a 'perfect fusion', creating Vegito.[28] The other method is by performing the Metamorese Fusion Dance, which creates Gogeta, or if performed incorrectly forms the obese Veku.[29]

Voice actors

In the original Japanese version of the anime, Goku, at every age, from beginning to end, has been voiced by Masako Nozawa.[30] In the numerous English productions of the anime, the voice actor for Goku have changed as a result of different companies producing the dub, switching ADR companies and recording studios, or due to actors quitting.

Child-aged Goku alone had at least seven known voice actors. In Harmony Gold's dub, Goku (Zero) was voiced by Barbara Goodson.[31] In Funimation Entertainment's dubs, Goku was voiced by Saffron Henderson in the first 13 episodes and first movie of Dragon Ball (produced in association with BLT Productions),[32] Ceyli Delgadillo in the second and third Dragon Ball movies,[33] Stephanie Nadolny in their re-dub of the Dragon Ball TV series, as well as all other Dragon Ball media until 2010,[34] and Colleen Clinkenbeard in Dragon Ball Z Kai.[35] In Westwood Media's dub (in association with AB Groupe), child Goku was voiced by Zoe Slusar in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT.[36] In Bandai's English release of Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, Brianne Siddall was the voice of child Goku.[37]

As an adult, Goku has another large set of voices actors. In Funimation's dub produced in association with Ocean Productions and Saban Entertainment, Goku was voiced by Ian James Corlett for the first 26 episodes (37 in uncut episode numbering) and the third movie of Dragon Ball Z, and Peter Kelamis for episodes 27 though 53 (38 through 67 uncut).[38] In Geneon's dub (in association with Funimation and Ocean Productions), Peter Kelamis voiced Goku for the first three Dragon Ball Z movies.[39] In Funimation's in-house dub, adult Goku has been voiced consistently by Sean Schemmel in all Dragon Ball media.[40] In Creative Products Corporation's dub (in association with Animation International), he was voiced by Nesty Calvo Ramirez.[41] In Westwood Media's dub (in association with Ocean Productions and AB Groupe), adult Goku was voiced by Peter Kelamis in episodes 108 through 144 of Dragon Ball Z, Kirby Morrow in episodes 145 through 291 of Dragon Ball Z,[42] Jeffrey Watson in Dragon Ball, and Jeremiah Yurk in Dragon Ball GT.[43] In Bandai's English version of Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, Steven Blum voiced adult Goku.[44]

Appearances in other media


Goku has made several appearances in other media including, but not limited to, an unofficial Chinese live-action film, produced by Tai Seng video entertainment in 1989. The main character, Monkey Boy, played by Chan Chi-Keung, is based on Goku.[45] He is also featured in a unofficial Korean live-action film where he was portrayed by child actor Heo Seong-Tae.[46] Goku also appears in the 2009 20th Century Fox feature Dragonball Evolution, portrayed by actor Justin Chatwin.[47]

Video games

Goku appears in virtually every Dragon Ball licensed electronic game to date. He is also featured in various crossover games. He appears in the Famicom games Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden and Famicon Jump II: Saikyō no Shichinin, including the Nintendo DS games Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. In 1992, Goku would be featured in the interactive Videkko game Dragon Ball Z: Get Together! Goku World.[48] Here, Goku and gang would travel back in time to review events in the Dragon Ball timeline, even interacting with his younger self. In 2006, he is featured in the Dragon Ball Z/One Piece/Naruto crossover game Battle Stadium D.O.N. In December 2007, Goku, along with Naruto Uzumaki and Monkey D. Luffy, would make guest appearances in avatar form in the MMORPG Second Life for a Jump Festa promotion titled Jumpland@Second Life.[49] Goku also makes an appearance in the Dr. Slump and Arale-chan video game for the Nintendo DS.[50]


Over the years Goku has been featured and mentioned in various songs. "Son Goku Song"[51] and "Gokū no Gokigen Jānī"[52] feature Goku as a child singing happily about himself. During his adult years the song "Aitsu wa Son Gokū" by Hironobu Kageyama, where Kageyama praises everything about Goku,[53] and the duet "Ore-tachi no Energy"[54] feature spoken words by the character.


Goku has often been deemed a positive role model for children throughout Japan. In June 1988, Goku and other Dragon Ball characters were featured in two PSA shorts. The first short was entitled The Goku Traffic Safety (悟空の交通安全 Gokū no Kōtsū Anzen?) where Goku is taught the importance of obeying traffic safety by others.[55] The second was called The Goku Fire Fighting Regiment (悟空の消防隊 Gokū no Shōbō-tai?) where he teaches two children the importance of fire safety.[55]

Guest appearances

File:Son Goku and Kuniko Yamada.PNG

Goku's appearance on Yamada Katsute-nai Wink.

Goku has made guest appearances in various Japanese television shows and manga. He is a recurring character in another series by Toriyama, Dr. Slump. In 1990, Goku (in anime form) made a surprise appearance on Yamada Katsute-nai Wink (やまだかつてないWink?). Here, he uses the Dragon Balls to help J-Pop star and hostess Kuniko Yamada gain his abilities including the ability to execute a Kamehameha, which she playfully uses on him. In 2005, Goku appears in the Toriyama parody manga Neko Majin Z where he is the sensei of the main character Z.[56] On September 15, 2006, Goku, Vegeta, and Frieza would make a guest appearance in a chapter of the Kochikame manga Super Kochikame entitled Kochira Namek-Sei Dragon Kōen-mae Hashutsujo (こちらナメック星ドラゴン公園前派出所?). Here Ryotsu Kankichi travels to Namek and tries issues Frieza a citation and later scolds Goku for parking their ships illegally.[57] Goku with the other Dragon Ball characters would teamup with the cast of One Piece in a crossover manga titled Cross Epoch.[58]


Goku has often been the subject of various parodies over the years. In the episode Career Day of Takeshi's Castle, known in the United States as MXC, the hosts Beat Takeshi and Sonomanma Higashi were dressed as popular anime characters one was Kid Goku and the other was Doraemon. In the MXC dub of that episode, when asked about his Goku costume, the host replied "Who me, I'm dressed as a crackhead".[59] The Shonen Jump's Gag Special 2005 issue released on November 12, 2004, featured a Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo one-shot Dragon Ball parody manga. The manga was a humorous retelling of the battle between Goku and Vegeta in the Saiyan Saga. Jelly Jiggler was Goku and Don Patch was Vegeta.[60] In the episode Fire It Up! Abenobashi Hong Kong Combat Shopping Arcade of the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi anime, character Sasshi Imamiya goes Super Saiyan much like Goku and fires a Kamehameha.[61] In the episode of the series Yakitate!! Japan titled Awaken!! Super Kuroyanagi! character Ryou Kuroyanagi eats some Super Toro Aburi bread causing him to transform into Super Kuroyanagi like Goku and a non-sequitur to take place where he fights character Kyousuke Kawachi as Frieza whose torso is in the form of a refrigerator freezer. Kuroyanagi would finish Kawachi with a parody of the Kamehameha. Later in the episode after eatting some Urchin-roe Chawanmushi bread, Kuroyanagi assends to Super Kuroyanagi 2 and Super Kuroyanagi 3.[62] In chapter #179 of the Yakitate!! Japan manga Kawachi would execute a Genki Dama parody called a Shinrai Dama (信頼玉 lit. "Trust Ball"?) on the character Katsuo.[63] For the release of single to the Dragonball Evolution international theme song "Rule" Toriyama supplied CD artwork of singer Ayumi Hamasaki dressed as Goku.[64]

Special events

Goku can also be considered a regular commodity for Fuji TV. In 2003, Goku would appear in the interactive feature entitled Kyutai Panic Adventure! (球体パニックアドベンチャー! Kyūtai Panikku Adobenchā!?, Orb Panic Adventure!) which was featured exclusively at the Fuji TV headquarters in the Kyutai or orb section. This features teamups of Goku, Luffy, and Astro Boy. Here Frieza attacks the visiting tourist by blasting the orb section free it from the rest of the Fuji TV building. Thus prompting Goku to do battle with Frieza over the real life aqua city of Odaiba.[65][66] This would be followed up with 2004's Kyūtai Panic Adventure Returns! (球体パニックアドベンチャーリターンズ! Kyūtai Panikku Adobenchā Ritānzu!?, Orb Panic Adventure Returns!), and features team-ups with Goku, Luffy, and Kochikame's Ryotsu Kankichi. This time One Piece villain Enel appears and attacks not only the orb section but also Odaiba, forcing Goku to do battle with Enel while forming a tag-team with Luffy.[67]

On March 25, 2006, Goku and Frieza would both appear in an original animated short in the IQ Mirror Mistake 7 (IQミラーまちがい7 Aikyū Mirā Machigai Nana?) segment of the Japanese games show IQ Supplement (IQサプリ IQ Sapuri, or IQ Supli?). In the short, Goku stops Frieza from using the Namekian Dragon Balls. For the segment, contestants had to identify seven mistakes within the footage.[68]

File:Son Goku and Masaharu Miyake.PNG

Goku's appearance as a commentator at the 2007 Nippon Ijin Taishō.

On April 7, 2007, Goku and Fuji TV announcer Masaharu Miyake would be commentators to the anime segment in Nippon Ijin Taishō (日本偉人大賞 Japan Great Man Awards?) titled Saikyō no Ijin ha Dare? (最強の偉人は誰? Who is the Strongest Hero??). The segment featured a special tournament that was to decide who was the greatest person in Japanese history. During the intermission, Goku managed to plug the then soon be released copies of the R2 Dragon Ball DVDs.[69]

American pop culture

Since the U.S. debut of Dragon Ball Z in 1996, Goku has also struck a chord in American pop culture. He was featured in an issue of Wizard magazine which he was matched up in a hypothetical battle against Superman; Goku defeated Superman by transforming into a Super Saiyan and overpowering him with the Kamehameha.[70] The episode "Chicken Ball Z" from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy is a parody of Dragon Ball Z. Mandy shares a striking resemblance to Super Saiyan Goku in this episode.[71] In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: R.E.P.O.R.T", Numbuh Four's version of the story is a spoof of the Goku and Frieza battle from Dragon Ball Z. Goku's Super Saiyan 3 form is also parodied.[72] Goku made a spoof appearance in Robot Chicken. In the sketch entitled A Very Dragon Ball Z Christmas, Goku and Gohan fight an evil Mrs. Claus alongside Santa's reindeer, in an attempt to save Christmas.[73] The SNL sketch TV Funhouse titled Kobayashi depicts real life hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi with ability to transform into a Super Saiyan parody as he prepares to eat hot dogs. Goku even makes a brief cameo near the end.[74] Goku is referenced in the song "Goku" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, where he brags that he looks and feels like Goku and a few other Dragon Ball related characters also including unrelated Pikachu.[75]


Goku's character has been very well received by publications for manga, anime and other media. Anime News Network noted Goku to be a good part of the comedy of the series and remarked that after all events that happen to him he is still the same naive character.[76] THEM Anime Reviews noted that Goku is not the omnipowerful one in the first series unlike Dragon Ball Z, nor does he randomly disappear for long stretches of time between sagas. They also liked how the series tell all his adventures, making him a good main character.[77] praised Goku's innocence as one of the funniest parts of the series.[78] His journey and ever growing strength resulted in the character winning "the admiration of young boys everywhere."[79] Goku was even featured as #1 in IGN's Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time.[80] He also had the same place in Mania Entertainment's 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes written by Thomas Zoth who commented that "Goku and Dragon Ball completely revolutionized the shonen genre."[81]

Several pieces of merchandising based on Goku has also been released including action figures,[82][83] plushes,[84][85] and keychains.[86] In 2005, The Daily Reader printed an article entitled "The Greatest Geek Movie Heroes of All Time". Goku is the only animated character on the list, coming in nine places after the winner.[87] Other manga artists, One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda and Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, have stated that Goku inspired their series' main protagonists.[88][89] In 2000, Goku placed third in an Animax poll of favorite anime characters.[90] In a survey conducted by Oricon in 2007 between 1,000 people, Goku ranked first place as the "Strongest Manga character of all time."[91] In the survey "friendship" developed by in which people had to choose what anime character they would like to have as a friend, Goku ranked fifth.[92] Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice actor of Goku, has commented she liked when he lost his tail because that made him more normal but liked that the character was still the same in the end of the series.[93] Jackie Chan has gone on record stating that Goku is his favorite Dragon Ball character.[94]

The German rock band Son Goku takes their name from Goku. The band's front man Thomas D specifically chose the name as Goku embodies the band's philosophy. Stating he was "fascinated by Goku's naïveté and cheerfulness, yet, at the same time, a great warrior saving the world."[95]


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  31. Dragon Ball Harmony Gold dub's credits
  32. Dragon Ball Funimation's dub's credits
  33. Dragon Ball Funimation's dub's credits
  34. Dragon Ball Funimation's dub's credits
  35. Dragon Ball Z Kai Funimation's dub's credits
  36. Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT Westwood Media's dub's credits
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External links

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