is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball franchise created by Akira Toriyama. He first appears in the manga chapter first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on December 3, 1984. 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. 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.
Goku has starred in most of the episodes, films, and specials of the anime series Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Kai, as well as many of the spin-off video games. Outside of the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku has had cameo appearance 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.
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. 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 (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. 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.
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. 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.
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Official Site: Shonen Jump
Links: Dragon Ball data The comic wikipedia