Goku is considered by many to be the archetypical anime character. While Ash Ketchum and his squad of cute yet dangerous animal pals might have helped bring anime to the mainstream in North America, it was Goku who helped keep our interest in Japanese cartoons after the original Pokémon fad had died out.
Goku is even more beloved in his homeland. Dragon Ball Z is second only to One Piece in terms of fandom size in Japan. It seems like every mangaka in Weekly Shonen Jump has cited Akira Toriyama as one of their inspirations, with elements of Goku's design being worked into Monkey D. Luffy, Naruto, and Toriko.
The fact that Goku is the lead character of a long-running and highly successful manga means that he has cropped up in places that you would never expect. Goku has shown up in roles that aren't really befitting of one of the most popular anime characters of all time.
We are here today to look at the shocking history of one of the most iconic anime & manga characters of all time. From his brief stint appearing on a live-action kids show, to his journey into the dark and disturbing world of Second Life.
Here are Twenty Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About Goku!
20 Goku Is The Anime Roger Rabbit
The original English dub of Dragon Ball Z was heavily censored, due to the fact that it was edited in an attempt to show it during a morning time slot. The first few story arcs of Dragon Ball Z include quite a few intense fight scenes, which were considered to be fine to show to kids in Japan.
Goku is such a kids idol in Japan that he appeared on Yamada Katsute-nai Wink TV, which was a show meant for young children. An animated version of Goku was drawn alongside the host, in a manner similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Goku brought all seven Dragon Balls onto the show with him, which the host used to wish for the ability to perform the Kamehameha.
19 Goku & Jotaro Starred In A Dragon Quest Rip-Off
Crossovers rarely happen between the characters owned by comic publishers in Japan. This is in comparison to the prominent comic companies in America, like DC and Marvel, who hold crossovers all the time.
When it comes to Weekly Shonen Jump, the vast majority of crossovers have happened in video games. The second official Jump crossover game was Famicom Jump II: Saikyo no Shichinin, which starred seven different characters from popular Jump series that have been dropped into a fantasy world. You likely haven't heard of most of these series, save for Dragon Ball and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Goku represents Dragon Ball in this game. He can team up with Jotaro Kujo from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and go on adventures with him in a fantasy world that looks like it was copied from the Dragon Quest series.
18 The Dragon Boy Design
Akira Toriyama's biggest hit before Dragon Ball was a series called Dr. Slump, which officially became part of the Dragon Ball universe during the Red Ribbon Army Saga. Toriyama had also created numerous single issue comics in an effort to get them serialized and published.
Dragon Ball started out as a one-shot called Dragon Boy. This comic starred a young boy named Tanton, whose design was later reused for Gohan. Dragon Boy is very similar to the early chapters of Dragon Ball, with a lot of familiar characters and situations being featured. Tanton was also not like other humans, as he secretly had a pair of wings hidden beneath his clothes.
Dragon Boy was reworked into Dragon Ball, which debuted a year later.
17 The Adulthood Ultimatum
One of the most popular urban legends concerning Dragon Ball Z is that Akira Toriyama wanted to end the series at an earlier point in the story, but was forced to continue due to pressure from the editors at Weekly Shonen Jump as the Dragon Ball manga had become massively popular. These stories aren't true, save for one instance when Toriyama threatened to end the series if his demands weren't met.
Akira Toriyama once told his editors that he would quit working on Dragon Ball unless he was allowed to make Goku an adult, which happened after the defeat of King Piccolo. The editors acquiesced to Toriyama's wishes and the story was allowed to have a time skip that let Goku grow into an adult.
16 Thirty-Two Years Of Goku
The English localization of Dragon Ball Z had a tumultuous start, which resulted in several different companies dealing with the dub and editing the content of the show in order to make it broadcast-worthy. It is for this reason that all of the Dragon Ball Z characters have had numerous different voice actors for the English language editions of the series.
The same is not true for Japan, where the cast has remained the same throughout the run of the show, save for instances where actors were replaced due to the previous ones passing away. Goku has been voiced by the same actress for thirty-two years!
Masako Nozawa has voiced Goku in all of his appearances since 1986. She has been involved with Dragon Ball since the first episode of the anime was broadcast and continues to voice Goku in Dragon Ball Super.
15 Meeting Of The Gokus
The most obscure Dragon Ball Z video game of all time has to be Dragon Ball Z: Atsumare! Goku Warudo. This was a game made for the Terebikko, which was a Japanese gaming console that used VHS tapes and a telephone peripheral. The Terebikko mainly had educational games that used the phone as a means of inputting answers.
The story of Dragon Ball Z: Atsumare! Goku Warudo involves Future Trunks taking the cast on a journey through time, which involves asking questions about the history of Dragon Ball. It is during one of these time jaunts that the cast arrive in the past, which allows Goku to meet his past self. Future Trunks is able to pull him back before he causes a time paradox.
14 Goku's Song
It's not uncommon for the cast of a popular anime to record audio CDs as their characters. This is way more popular in Japan, though a few cartoons in the west have done this, such as the numerous albums based on The Simpsons, which managed to earn a number one hit with "Do The Bartman." Pokémon also had numerous albums that featured songs performed by the cast, some of which appeared on the show.
Dragon Ball is no exception to this, as the show used to feature songs about the characters... performed by the characters themselves. Masako Nozawa recorded the "Son Goku Song" so that it could appear in the anime.
The "Son Goku Song" recaps the events of the first few Dragon Ball story arcs, whilst proclaiming how great Goku is.
13 The Traffic PSA/The Fire PSA
The popularity of the Dragon Ball anime (and Goku in particular) led to the creation of several Safety PSAs starring the cast of the show. These included the characters that appeared before the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament, so you won't see Tien or Chiaotzu appearing to help put out fires or stop unruly drivers.
Goku's Traffic Safety was a public service video that was made in 1988. It features Goku being taught the rules of traffic safety by some city kids, as Goku had spent his whole life in the wilderness and didn't know about stoplights.
Goku's Fire Brigade was another public service video that was released in 1988. It features Goku, Krillin, Master Roshi, and Yamcha working as volunteer firemen. Goku teaches kids all about fire safety throughout the special.
12 Goku Can't Park On Namek
The longest-running manga in Weekly Shonen Jump was Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo, which was often shortened to KochiKame. This was a weekly series that ran for over forty years, with the first issue debuting in 1976. KochiKame was a gag manga about a police officer named Ryotsu, who often became involved with getting rich quick schemes that backfired. KochiKame ended its legendary run in 2016.
KochiKame had several milestones that were celebrated across its run, which included numerous crossovers with other Weekly Shonen Jump series. These included a crossover with Dragon Ball Z in 2006, where Ryotsu accidentally arrives on the planet Namek. Ryotsu scares off Frieza and his men, before threatening to arrest Goku for illegally parking his spaceship.
11 The Super Tennis Player
The current #1 ranked male tennis player in the world is a Rafael Nadal. Despite his young age, he has become regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time and is considered to be the best clay-court player who ever lived.
So what does any of this have to do with Dragon Ball?
Rafael Nadal has admitted that Dragon Ball Z is his favorite anime of all time and that Goku is his favorite fictional character of all time. Nadal has talked about his love for the series in interviews, as he used to run home from school in time to watch the new episodes of the show. A CNN article about Nadal has discussed his love for the show, where he was described as the "Dragon Ball of Tennis".
10 The Poison Within Goku's Soul
Goku might be the hero of Dragon Ball Z, but he is not without flaw. Goku is utterly selfish in his desire to become an even stronger warrior, which has caused him to abandon his family on numerous occasions. Even Piccolo is a better father to Gohan than Goku was, and he was Goku's mortal enemy/an evil alien. Vegeta also called Goku out on this in Dragon Ball Super, when Goku was confused as to why Vegeta would want to stay with Bulma when their second child was due to be born.
Akira Toriyama has stated in interviews that he didn't like the Dragon Ball anime's portrayal of Goku as being utterly heroic and without flaws. Toriyama's interpretation of Goku is that he has "poisonous" elements within his soul, that often manifested in his selfishness and desire for personal strength.
9 Is There A Baseball Event For Yamcha To Enter?
The 2020 Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo. This decision freaked out fans of Akira, as the events of the story of both the anime and manga culminate in a confrontation that takes place in an empty Olympic stadium, which was built to accommodate the upcoming games that were going to take place in 2020.
It seems that anime will play an important part in promoting the 2020 Olympic Games, as several prominent anime characters have been chosen as mascots. Goku from Dragon Ball Z is one of the characters that have been chosen as fictional ambassadors of the Games. He is joined by the likes of Monkey D. Luffy, Sailor Moon, Mario, and Naruto.
8 Goku Shilled KFC
The Dragon Ball franchise was pretty much dead after the end of Dragon Ball GT, with the series only continuing on in the form of video games and a single OVA. If you ignore Dragonball Evolution (and you should) then Dragon Ball finally returned in 2013, with Akira Toriyama back at the helm with a film called Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. This movie led to the series fully returning in the form of Dragon Ball Super.
The return of Goku and his friends prompted a lot of promotion for the new Dragon Ball Z film. This included a cross-promotion with KFC, which led to Goku eating a piece of fried chicken in a commercial. The promotion was for a meal that came with a free Dragon Ball bottled drink.
7 The Terrifying Goku Mascot
Dragon Ball GT is a polarizing series to many fans. There are a lot of people who discount it for no other reason than Akira Toriyama not being involved with the story. Dragon Ball GT does have a lot of fans who appreciate the franchise returning to its adventure roots. There also a lot of fans who hated the new additions to the lore, like the Black Star Dragon Balls and the Super Saiyan 4 transformation.
A live show of Dragon Ball GT was put on in Japan in order to capitalize on the success of the TV show. A copy of this live show has been uploaded online. You might regret looking for it, as the costumes used during the Dragon Ball GT live show are terrifying. The main characters look like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs has put on their skin. Goku's unblinking stare is particularly horrifying.
6 Goku's Dragon Balls
It's not unusual to see young children appearing with no clothes in anime or manga. This is due to the fact that Japanese culture sees unclothed young children as a sign of innocence and being unburdened by the standards of society.
Goku might be one of the chief examples of a child character who was totally clueless about adult things. He had never even encountered a woman before meeting Bulma and was shocked by the fact that she lacked male parts.
Goku appeared unclothed several times in the Dragon Ball anime and manga, as did Gohan in later years. The English localization of the show often had to get creative in covering up Goku's parts, which included adding furniture into scenes or flowers into the foreground, which tended to look fake.
5 The New Uub Ending
The story of Dragon Ball concluded with Goku fighting Uub during the World Martial Arts Tournament. It was revealed that Uub was the reincarnation of Kid Buu and retained the strength of the evil Majin. Uub had never been trained to fight and lacked even the ability to fly. Dragon Ball ended with Goku taking Uub away to train him.
The collected version of the Dragon Ball manga actually added some content to the ending. A new page was added that showed Uub flying on the Nimbus, with a ghostly version of Kid Goku flying alongside him. This was meant to show that Uub was inheriting Goku's legacy and was about to go on a whole new adventure of his own, which was left to the reader's imagination.
4 The Final Fate Of Goku
The official continuation of the Dragon Ball manga and Dragon Ball Z used to be an MMO called Dragon Ball Online. This was an MMO that was exclusive to countries in Asia and Akira Toriyama was heavily involved in its production. Dragon Ball Online is no longer active, but much of its story and content was reworked into the Dragon Ball Xenoverse games.
According to the lore of Dragon Ball Online, Goku and Vegeta perished in the year 801. Goku realized that his final death was upon him and wanted one last battle with Vegeta to settle their feud once and for all. They traveled to a distant galaxy in order to minimize the damage of their conflict. This turned out to be a wise decision, as their battle caused a supernova. The result of the final battle between the two was never revealed.
3 Goku Vs. The Robot
Dragonball Evolution was so terrible that even Akira Toriyama has slammed the film in interviews. The movie couldn't even spell Dragon Ball correctly. It has been suggested that the reason Toriyama came back to Dragon Ball was so that the last movie associated with the series wasn't Dragonball Evolution.
Dragonball Evolution was so bad that even knockoff Dragon Ball movies made in China and Korea are more true to the original story.
Dragon Ball: Ssawora Son Goku, Igyeora Son Goku was a Korean movie that emulated the first few Dragon Ball story arcs. It added a few story elements of their own, such as giant Power Rangers-style robots that Goku had to destroy with his Power Pole. Yamcha was also forced to destroy a robot in his flying car, in a scene that was still more faithful to Dragon Ball than Dragonball Evolution was.
2 Goku's Missing Hole
The first dub of Dragon Ball Z (known as the Ocean dub) was notorious for the heavy censorship that was enforced upon the show. This happened from the very beginning, as Goku's first death was censored. Piccolo's attack was only shown going through Raditz, with all of the blood removed from the scene. Goku's body later faded away to "Another Dimension" which also happened later on to Yamcha and Piccolo when they perished fighting the Saiyans.
While fans give the Ocean dub a lot of flack for its heavy-handed censorship: it bears mentioning that this scene has been censored numerous other times throughout the franchise, which has included the numerous Dragon Ball video games and even Dragon Ball Kai, which was billed as being more liberal when it came to censoring the violence on the show.
1 The Big Three In Second Life
Second Life was once billed as being a digital revolution. The truth is a lot less sensational, though the game was certainly popular for a while and still maintains a dedicated fanbase that keeps it running to this day.
In order to promote the Jump Festa 2008 event: Weekly Shonen Jump allowed three of their most popular characters to appear in Second Life for two days. This meant that you could visit Goku, Monkey D. Luffy, and Naruto in Second Life. You could also make them perform their signature moves, which means that an official animation for the Kamehameha exists within Second Life.
It was also possible to hunt down the seven Dragon Balls and summon Shenron within Second Life, though he was unable to grant wishes.