"I'm the Saiyan who came all the way from Earth for the sole purpose of beating you. I am the warrior you've heard of in legends, pure of heart, and awakened by fury. That's what I am. I AM THE SUPER SAIYAN, SON GOKU!"
— Goku confronts Frieza on Planet Namek
Son Goku (born Kakarot) is a male Saiyan and the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball meta-series created by Akira Toriyama. Originally sent to Earth as an infant with the mission to destroy it, until a childhood accident alters his memory and allows him to grow up to become Earth's greatest defender, as well as the informal leader of the Z-Fighters. Throughout his life, he constantly strives and trains to be the greatest warrior possible and to fight stronger opponents, which has kept the Earth and the universe safe from destruction many times.
NOTE: His character went downhill starting with the Buu Saga, but did not become bad until 2015-2018, as seen here.
Why He Is a Super Saiyan
- Goku is a happy-go-lucky person, the kind of person who is friendly to everyone and everything (unless you're a villain, in which case you're as good as dead).
- He is one of the most powerful characters in all of fiction.
- In spite of his stupidity and lack of knowledge of the outside world, Goku makes up for it with his loyalty toward his friends and his willingness to give up his own life to protect them. When pushed to his breaking point, he is willing to put aside his pride to save the Earth from all threats.
- Being a Saiyan, a race of warriors, Goku has the following characteristics;
- He is insanely strong, and grows increasingly in might as he trains, fights even more dangerous foes, and attains various powers along the way. Just recently, he was able to attain the difficult-to-master Ultra Instinct, making him the mightiest in his universe.
- He has an insanely fast metabolism, requiring him to chow down an entire buffet without suffering a stomachache, and it makes up for comedic effect as he stuffs down everything in his mouth at blinding speeds.
- He can adapt to any situation at hand and has excellent mental processing in spite of his lack of intelligence, in the midst of a fight of course.
- He always has an innate drive to fight strong opponents and is eager to test his own limits against an even bigger challenge. Even then, he is capable of putting it all aside to fight for a common cause. Despite this, he is very sportsman-like when it comes to fighting and never kills his opponent unless they do something that forces his hand.
- He has a sibling-rival relationship with the Saiyan prince, Vegeta, and both are very competitive with each other.
- He is pure of heart and is willing to grant his opponents mercy so long as they don't do anything dirty again, unless they force his hand. This also makes him incapable of feeling any negative emotions nor anything that affects his character.
- He has an uncanny ability to turn many foes into his friends, and throughout his life does his companionship grew even larger, with the likes of Tien, Vegeta, Piccolo, the Androids, Buu, Beerus, and even Grand Zeno joining his side once earning their trust.
- He also strongly believes in repaying debts, as he gave the then-evil Vegeta a senzu bean for saving Gohan and Krillin from the Ginyu Force, as well as giving the Grand Zeno a friend to play around with after promising him so.
- He is remarkably effective at applying himself once properly motivated, able to quickly comprehend the situation and likewise learn the basics of anything presented to him, if not master it.
- He is one of the most iconic figures in manga and anime history, his influence wide across the world thanks to his enduring popularity.
- He is a major inspiration for many shonen protagonists after him, such as Luffy, Naruto, and Ichigo, who are known as the Big 3 of Shonen.
- He finally managed to recover from flanderization as of 2018.
- His character designs look very excellent. (with the exception of his character design in Dragon Ball GT, as it looks pretty mediocre.)
- Goku is kind of dumb in book smarts. This may be due to the lack of a proper education and the head injury he suffered as a child.
- Before his flanderization, and to a lesser extent, after he recovered from it, Goku had done some pretty dumb and stupid things throughout his life, the following goes;
- Despite being warned not to, as a child, Goku looked up towards the moon, causing him to become the Great Ape that killed his adoptive grandfather.
- He has a tendency to be too relaxed and casual in a fight, causing him to drop his guard and leave him open for surprise attacks.
- He is often forgetful.
- Speaking of which, he tends to not immediately fight at his fullest to enjoy the thrill and drag out a fight, which results in many minutes of mindless violence.
- Being a Saiyan with a strong desire to fight opponents at their very best, this mindset often gets the better of him as he does basically anything to pick a fight with a strong opponent, regardless of their threat. He prefers to train to fight threatening opponents such as the androids instead of finding a way to deal with them efficiently.
- He tends to be fashionably late, arriving in battles after all of his friends had to go through the trouble of getting their blood shed.
- He never informed his friends that he survived the Namek explosion, just so he can train for a month, knowing that Vegeta might surpass him. This essentially puts his friends' worries for a naught.
- This mindset also caused him to let Gohan to suffer a huge battering from Cell by giving him a Senzu bean to restore his full power, in an attempt to bring Gohan to get angry and explode. While he did succeed, he realized later on that he made a mistake, completely forgetting that his pacifist nature prevented him from going all out.
- While his sacrifice was noble, him getting blown up by Cell provides him more opportunities to train and get stronger, almost completely ignoring his family's well-being for 7 years, let alone even check in the birth of Goten and his growth.
- At the tail-end of the manga and anime, the only reason he reincarnated Majin Buu into a human named Uub after killing him, is that so he can train the boy to challenge him to a fight, and being the next protector of Earth as a secondary priority. He just promptly leaves his friends behind and it ends right there.
- When Chi-Chi forces Goku to take up a job as a radish farmer, he is regularly shown to have little interest in it, often looking for excuses to get out of work to train instead.
- He has little modesty and is not at all concerned about public nudity (though he later comes to have a better appreciation for it).
- Goku screws up a lot, to the point where it ends up having dire consequences for his family and friends.
- Sadly, he was flanderized in 2015-2018 and 2021, but redeemed himself.
A number of notable public figures have commented on their feelings towards Goku or his status in popular culture. For example, Jackie Chan has gone on record stating that Goku is his favorite Dragon Ball character. The German rock band Son Goku takes their name from the Dragon Ball protagonist. The band's lead singer Thomas D chose the name because Goku embodies the band's philosophy, saying he was "fascinated by Goku's naïveté and cheerfulness, yet, at the same time, a great warrior saving the world."
In 2010, a fiberglass statue of Goku was created by Canadian-born Hong Kong artist Edison Chen, with Chen's facial features instead of Goku's, as part of Chen's collection that was displayed at the "Treacherous Treis" exhibition in Singapore's Museum of Art and Design. CNN released an article explaining how Goku was Spanish professional tennis player Rafael Nadal's childhood inspiration, and called Nadal "the Dragon Ball of tennis" due to his unorthodox style "from another planet."
One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda and Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto said that Goku inspired their protagonists as well as series structure, with Tekken's Lars Alexandersson also showing traits of a hero through his design inspired by Goku alongside Marvel Comic's Thor. Commenting on Goku's popularity, Kishimoto stated that when people hear the name "Son Goku", no longer do they think of the Journey to the West character, but instead Dragon Ball's protagonist comes to mind. Additionally, for the second half of the series, Kishimoto created an ape named Son Goku in reference to Toriyama's character to the point the ape has four tails just like the four-star Dragon Ball Goku earned from his grandfather.
In his book about Akira Toriyama published in 2004, Julius Weideman said Goku's journey and ever-growing strength resulted in the character winning "the admiration of young boys everywhere." Jason Thompson stated that unlike the "manly" heroes of other popular shōnen manga of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as City Hunter and Fist of the North Star, Toriyama made his protagonist (Goku) cartoonish and small, thus starting a trend that Thompson says continues to this day. In 2015, the Japan Anniversary Association officially declared May 9 as "Goku Day". Goku is the first manga character to have a balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with his first appearance at the 2018 parade.
- Goku's Saiyan birth name, Kakarot, is a pun on "carrot". Goku's family are all named after root vegetables (burdock, negi (a Japanese variation of the spring onion), radish and carrot). Ironically, in Dragon Ball, Goku says he hates carrots when fighting against Monster Carrot.
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