Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is full of unforgettable individuals who have become some of anime’s most celebrated characters. Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, and Frieza have become essential figures, but there would be no Dragon Ball without Goku. Dragon Ball has changed a lot over the years, but Goku has always been the franchise’s powerful protagonist and ultimate hero. Dragon Ball has chronicled Goku’s evolution from a 12-year-old boy into a proud grandfather who’s as strong as a God. Goku is determined to surpass his limits and there’s no end to what this inspirational hero can accomplish.

Goku’s most recent achievements, like his ascension to True Ultra Instinct strength or his victory over Planet-Eater Moro, are omnipresent and difficult to forget. That being said, Goku’s earliest years and the character’s unusual backstory receive much less attention. It’s easy for these details to slip through the cracks and go overlooked. Goku’s origins are just as important as his current milestones and they provide some fascinating insight into this iconic character.

10 Grandpa Gohan Is Responsible For Goku’s Passion For Martial Arts

Goku is one of the strongest and most accomplished martial artists in Dragon Ball’s multiverse. It’s fair to say that Goku would be incredibly powerful, regardless of his background, but Grandpa Gohan is responsible for instilling basic martial arts fundamentals in Goku. Grandpa Gohan was a prolific martial artist in his own right and he studied under Master Roshi and trained alongside Ox King, which is also where he learned the Kamehameha. Gohan practicing martial arts with Goku during his early years helps him learn how to properly defend himself and he’d likely have a much harder time beating up dinosaurs and Bear Thieves without this guidance.

Goku also proves to be a natural when he studies under Master Roshi and he’s able to quickly excel in these lessons because he’s so passionate about combat. Goku’s continued interest in martial arts, while he’s a child, could very well be his way of honoring a connection with Grandpa Gohan and respecting his wishes. Goku even finally gets to fight against Grandpa Gohan, test his power, and ultimately surpass him during Fortuneteller Baba’s Tournament.

9 A Head Injury Erases Goku's Original Saiyan Programming To Destroy The Human Race

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

Goku is such a generous and courageous individual that it’s quite easy to forget that he was actually sent to Earth with an apocalyptic agenda. Goku’s initial goal, as a Saiyan, was that he’d land on Earth and destroy the human race so that the planet would later be resold, presumably to Frieza. Raditz later arrives in Dragon Ball Z to finish this job that Goku has failed to follow through on. The only reason that Goku doesn’t carry out this destructive plan is because Grandpa Gohan accidentally drops him on his head, which erases his killer instinct and elicits more kindhearted and prue behavior in the infant.

Curiously, Goku’s backstory surrounding his exodus to Earth has been revised over the years. It’s revealed that Goku’s parents, Bardock and Gine, send Goku to Earth not because they want to or because Goku has a mission, but because Planet Vegeta is about to be destroyed. Both of these backstories can technically be true, but his origins in Dragon Ball Minus and Dragon Ball Super: Broly’s prologue hint at a more sentimental reason for Goku's departure from Planet Vegeta.

8 Goku & His Great Ape Form Are Responsible For Grandpa Gohan’s Death

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

Dragon Ball establishes that Grandpa Gohan helped raise Goku after finding him as a baby in the forest. However, the reason that Goku is an orphan when Bulma finds him in Dragon Ball’s first episode is because Grandpa Gohan has perished in the interim. This is a tragic turn of events, but it’s even more melancholy once it comes to light that Goku is the one who’s responsible for Gohan’s death. Goku transforms into a Great Ape one night and accidentally kills his surrogate guardian.

The audience is able to figure this out after Goku’s Great Ape transformation in Dragon Ball. However, Goku doesn’t connect these dots until his battle against Great Ape Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z. It’s a harrowing sequence and Goku humbly apologizes to his fallen guardian. Goku, up until this epiphany, always believed that a random monster from the wild was responsible for Grandpa Gohan’s death.

7 Goku Believes Grandpa Gohan’s Spirit Is In The Four-Star Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

The seven Dragon Balls are iconic relics and audiences are used to Goku and company going on grand adventures to collect them all. However, Dragon Ball begins with Goku having zero knowledge on these magical orbs’ wish-granting capabilities. Goku is in possession of the Four-Star Dragon Ball, not because he wants to assemble all seven and make a wish, but because he believes that Grandpa Gohan’s soul is in the Dragon Ball.

It’s a sweet superstition that has given Goku hope and a sense of community during the years when he’s alone. This is why Goku cherishes the Dragon Ball. It’s not until Bulma’s Dragon Radar locates the Four-Star Ball that Goku is told about its power and that it’s one piece of a greater whole. Afterward, Goku still exhibits reverence towards the Four-Star Ball, which is why he turns it into an heirloom-like piece of clothing for Gohan. It’s his way of connecting his son with his namesake.

6 Goku’s Classic Power Pole Weapon Used To Belong To Grandpa Gohan

Goku goes on to develop incredible skills that include destructive energy attacks, intimidating Super Saiyan transformations, and impressive ki techniques like flight and Instant Transmission. The original Dragon Ball begins in a much more grounded place and, while Goku is physically strong, he still largely depends on the abilities of his Power Pole. The Power Pole is a valuable weapon that can extend to nearly limitless lengths. It’s an extremely strong weapon and many Dragon Ball fans are excited that it returns to Goku’s arsenal in Dragon Ball DAIMA.

Goku values the Power Pole because of its strength, but it also holds an important connection to Grandpa Gohan, who’s the one who gave it to Goku in the first place. Grandpa Gohan received the Power Pole from his own martial arts master, so there’s a real sense of legacy with it as it’s passed between generations. Goku doesn’t give the Power Pole to Gohan, but it’d make for a touching gift to Pan.

5 Master Roshi Teaches Goku How To Read & Count

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

Goku enters Dragon Ball as an extremely sheltered individual who lacks basic knowledge of many common world details, such as the difference between boys and girls. Goku has comfortably existed in a little bubble for the first 12 years of his life and he’s suddenly thrust out in the world once he embarks on his Dragon Ball adventure with Bulma. Master Roshi becomes a vital martial arts teacher to Goku and Krillin, but he also helps the boy learn how to read and write. Goku incorrectly believes that he’s 14 when Dragon Ball begins because he thinks that 14 is the number that follows 11.

This is an oddly sweet gesture from Roshi that often goes overlooked. Roshi helps Goku gain these crucial skills, but it appears that he’s still relatively rusty in these departments. Goku is shown to barely pass the written tests for Dragon Ball Super’s martial arts tournaments. Additionally, it’s revealed that Chi-Chi’s grocery lists for Goku are incredibly rudimentary and feature more visual aids than written words.

4 It's Proven That He Doesn't Have Any Darkness In His Heart

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

There's absolutely nothing wrong with a hero who occasionally has dark impulses and struggles with their actions. That being said, Dragon Ball repeatedly showcases that Goku has a truly pure heart that’s completely absent of any darkness. This is first established with Goku’s ability to ride the Flying Nimbus, which is a privilege that’s only reserved for pure-hearted individuals. However, Dragon Ball has also shown that Chi-Chi, Arale Norimaki, Uub, Gohan, and Goten are worthy enough of riding the Nimbus and that it’s not a privilege that’s unique to Goku.

To go one step further, Goku’s battle against Spike the Devil Man involves the use of the dangerous Devilmite Beam. The Devilmite Beam amplifies that darkness in its target’s heart and turns it into destructive energy that typically kills the individual. Spike is completely dumbfounded when this attack connects with Goku, but proves to be completely ineffective on him due to his heart’s purity.

3 Bardock Wishes Upon The Eternal Dragon For Goku To Succeed

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

The Dragon Ball Super manga's strenuous battle against Gas results in an enlightening flashback to Bardock's previous encounter with the Heeter Force villain. These flashbacks reveal that Bardock is actually a Saiyan anomaly who was willing to risk his own safety in order to help others and that he shares more in common with Goku than what was previously believed. Dragon Ball Super Chapter 83, "Bardock vs. Gas, Part 2," features a wistful Dragon Ball wish from Bardock to Planet Cereal's Eternal Dragon, Toronbo. Bardock casually requests that "his sons thrive," which can be open to many interpretations.

There are some readers who believe that Bardock’s wish is actually what’s set Goku up for repeated success over the years and been a guiding force that’s helped keep him safe and reach such impressive heights. It’s possible that Goku’s progress and growth is the result of a Dragon Ball wish, but this also might not be such a cut and dry affair. After all, this wish applies to both Goku and Raditz — not just Goku — and Raditz’s life was much less successful. Furthermore, Goku has still died on two separate occasions, so it’s not as if he’s invincible.

2 Goku Gets Married Because He Thought It Was Food

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory

Goku first meets Chi-Chi all the way back in Dragon Ball’s seventh episode, but they spend hundreds of episodes apart before their unexpected reunion at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. The original Dragon Ball concludes with a beautiful wedding ceremony between Goku and Chi-Chi, where they’re surrounded by their friends and family. Dragon Ball Z builds upon this happy ending by giving Goku and Chi-Chi a son, Gohan. Goku and Chi-Chi’s marriage has always been a little temperamental and Goku often puts his wife’s feelings above his own. Goku would much rather train and go on fantastical adventures than work a basic job and be restricted to a more ordinary domestic life.

Goku’s struggles to fit into this mold make a little more sense upon understanding that he never really wanted to get married in the first place and failed to realize what he was getting himself involved in. Goku ignorantly believes that Chi-Chi’s request for a marriage is actually a type of food, rather than a lifelong commitment. Upon learning the truth, Goku decides to follow through with this because he gave his word to Chi-Chi- and thinks that it would be rude to break a promise. This is far from the best reason to get married, but it does help make better sense of his carefree attitude towards matrimony in Dragon Ball Z.

1 His Hidden Potential Is Brought Out Through The Volatile Ultra Divine Water

Dragon Ball is a series that’s dense in mysterious methods that help individuals unlock their hidden potential, whether it’s the talents of Grand Elder Guru, Gohan’s Ultimate upgrade, or even Piccolo’s recent power boost from Shenron in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. It’s easy to forget that Goku is one of the first individuals to undergo such an experience so that he can become strong enough to fight against Demon King Piccolo. Korin possesses the Ultra Divine Water, a mystical elixir that draws out a person’s latent abilities. However, there’s a major risk involved with drinking the Ultra Divine Water. If it doesn’t work, then the individual will die as a result of the water’s poisonous nature.

The Ultra Divine Water has only been drunk by 13 people before Goku, none of whom survived. Goku has to take on some dark illusions before he’s able to drink this relic, but he proves to be successful. The Ultra Divine Water doesn’t just make Goku stronger, but it also gives him the ability to sense ki. Some fans also believe that the only reason that Goku survives drinking the Ultra Divine Water is because he’s a Saiyan, not human, and that his Saiyan nature might also exponentially increase the Ultra Divine Water’s capabilities.

Dragon Ball: 10 Things Everyone Forgets About Goku’s Backstory