Dragon Ball: 3 Reasons Why Goku Is a Superhero (& 3 Why He Isn’t)!

Dragon Ball: 3 Reasons Why Goku Is a Superhero (& 3 Why He Isn't)!

As per Wikipedia, a superhero or a superheroine is “a stock character who typically possesses superpowers or abilities beyond those of ordinary people, is frequently costumed concealing their identity, and fits the role of the hero; typically using their powers to help the world become a better place, or dedicating themselves to protecting the public and fighting crime.” Now, we all know that superheroes are, more or less, connected to Western (American) comic books, but there is no reason to retain a narrow-minded approach and not discuss the term in relation to some manga and anime characters.

In this article, we are going to talk about Son Goku, the protagonist of Dragon Ball and Akira Toriyama’s most famous creation. Goku is the principal character from the franchise, and he is one of the most recognizable and best anime and manga characters in history. But, since superheroes aren’t really that common – in the traditional sense – in anime, we have decided to use the definition we have quoted above and bring you a list of reasons why Goku is or is not a superhero in the traditional sense.

Superhero Reason #1: He has superhuman abilities

The first and most obvious reason why Son Goku can be considered a superhero are his abilities. Superheroes generally have some superhuman abilities, and while they can take on different shapes and sizes, they are present. Son Goku is obviously stronger than the average human and while he was born with many of these powers, as they come from the fact that he is a Saiyan, he can be compared to Superman, easily, as the two of them have a relatively similar origin story. So, if Superman is a superhero, then Son Goku can definitely be considered a superhero as well.

Not-a-Superhero Reason #1: He does not conceal his identity in any way

A traditional aspect of superheroes is that they conceal their identities. Sometimes they do it more effectively (like Batman or the Flash), at other times less effective (like Superman), but the trope dictates that there is always a different public persona behind the superhero. And while there are exceptions, this is more or less a rule. Goku never concealed his identity. He has always been and still is Son Goku. His feats are known and he never tried to hide it, and since that breaks off from the traditional superhero trope, this is one reason that you can use to claim that he is – in fact – not a superhero in the traditional sense.


Dragon Ball: Goku’s Kill Count Revealed!

Superhero Reason#2: He embodies heroic ideals

A superhero has to embody heroic ideals. Regardless of their appearance or their stories, the darkness that surrounds them, a character is a hero if he embodies and fights for heroic ideals. Superman is a prime example, but even a shady figure like Batman can be considered a hero; the same goes for Captain America and Wolverine. Since there is absolutely no doubt that Goku embodies heroic ideals and fights for the side of good, this is one major reason why we can consider Son Goku to be a superhero, as he is the same as the others in this aspect.

Not-a-Superhero Reason #2: He does not fight crime in the traditional sense

A big aspect of superhero characters is that they fight crime. Both on a major scale, but also on a minor, everyday scale. Think of Spider-Man, who has fought both proper supervillains (Rhino, Vulture, Reptile, etc.), but also common criminals, like robbers or burglars. The same applies to Batman, for example, or the Flash. This is a major aspect that Goku really doesn’t have. These superheroes patrol their homes in order to stop crime, while Goku doesn’t really do that. Sure, if he stumbles upon one, he’ll help, but he has not dedicated his life to actively doing so. Sure, this is a bit due to the structure of the manga as a whole, but it is a major reason why Goku cannot be considered a superhero.

Superhero Reason #3: He protects his home from villains

Aside from what we’ve said, another major aspect of superheroism is that these characters protect their home from villains, usually supervillains, i.e., characters like them, but only evil. Son Goku definitely has that aspect and while his fight was initially quite personal, since he fought Piccolo, he has also been acting as the protector of the whole planet, which is a major superheroic aspect of his personality.

Not-a-Superhero Reason #3: He is a different type of character altogether

Finally, the last reason why we shouldn’t, perhaps, consider him a superhero after all is the concept he embodies as a character. Sure, there are solid arguments to state that he is a superhero, but when you compare him to traditional Western superheroes, Goku is simply different. This is a consequence of the fact that anime and manga characters are just different types of characters, but on a general level, Goku is simply different in many ways. He is not like Superman or Captain America, Batman or Iron Man, Flash or Spider-Man… he is a character of his own and he does not fit the traditional superhero mold, but he does embody the ideals that these characters fight for.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments