The Black Goku

black goku super saiyanHave you ever asked yourself if Goku is black?

When people ask about Goku’s race, they tend to think Asian or Caucasian.

That’s because Goku’s skin tone appears light, even though it varied throughout the series, especially in Dragon Ball GT when he had a darker tan.

Also because of his literary and actual origins in East Asia.

But back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, American Dragon Ball fans started to connect with Dragon Ball and relate it to their own lives.

Some African American fans assimilated Goku and purposefully made him black, so as to better connect with their hero.

Today you’ll learn about this social phenomenon.

You’ll also see how FUNimation, the American dubbing company that licensed Dragon Ball from Japan, may have contributed to or capitalized on this trend, and how this then resulted in Americans further assimilating Dragon Ball into their lives.

Get ready to “Step into Da Grand Tour” of The Black Goku.

DaBlackGoku.com

dablackgoku intro screen black goku dbzDragon Ball reached the height of its popularity in America between 1999 and 2003. During this time, the series appeared on Cartoon Network and was seen by millions.

The affect that this had on American youth was interesting, to say the least.

The first notable example of the African American assimilation occurred in October, 1999, when a young man with the screen name DaBlackGoku founded DaBlackGoku.com

Like many others, the site had general Dragon Ball information and trivia. But the main feature was a showcase of fan created works of Goku with black skin.

Most were simply an original Toriyama drawing edited to have darker skin, but some were modified or even original creations where the character’s hair was styled in an afro or dreadlocks, while their clothes were adorned with ghetto paraphernalia.

Almost every major character was present, including black Krillin, black Trunks, black Piccolo, black Majin Buu, black Freeza and black Vegeta, with a golden watch hanging from his neck like Flava Flav.

The black Bulma and black Chi-Chi were drawn like ghetto girls with skimpy clothes and overly sexy poses.

And my favorite was Super Saiyan black Goku with a golden afro slam dunking a basketball!

In another illustration, black Goku had his dreadlocks stuffed underneath a backwards baseball cap, wearing basketball sneaks and street clothes, jamming to some music with his headphones on.

The owner held an annual “Draw Me a Black Goku” contest, where fans could submit their work for Dragon Ball related prizes.

What’s noteworthy is that in the rules DaBlackGoku stipulated the following, “No lude or degrading pics. This includes things like guns and gold teeth. Remember Goku is a Dragon Ball Z hero and is not into gangsta rap.”

From this and other content on the site, I surmise that DaBlackGoku simply wanted to express his fandom for the series and share that with others, in his own unique way.

Granted that this website is most likely a representation of a minority within a minority but its social and pop cultural significance is worth further attention.

Accepting and Assimilating

black vegeta dablackgoku dbzIt seems like most of the drawings submitted to DaBlackGoku.com were by little kids.

For children, a hero with super human powers and the ability to save the world is easy to admire.

The illustrations depicted a hero that children were connecting with on a daily basis, yet altered from the original.

Children want to connect with their heroes completely, and the differences in skin color stand out, so these differences are negated or transformed and turned into something new, yet the same.

While the core feelings of the character remain unaltered, the externalities change and cultural additions are made that reflect the artists’ environment, such as clothing and hair styles.

The site even had its own rap song, submitted by a fan in 1999. The techno bass track repeatedly loops, “Here comes Da Black Goku… Hoe’s in this house, got some hoe’s in this house,” and “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.” The last line of lyrics of this song are taken from a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg track.

black goku aura dablackgoku dbzAnd it’s not just Goku, either. I remember hearing from fans over the years that, in general, black people often associate with Piccolo, feeling that he is the “blackest” of all the characters.

Perhaps this is due to his physical features, his outcast relationship with the others, his stoic personality, or the deep rugged voice he was given in the American version.

The site stopped being updated after December, 2002, but it showed that for African American youth, Dragon Ball held a special place in their hearts.

It also shows the universal appeal of Dragon Ball. But it might be no accident that Dragon Ball, this inherently Japanese and East Asian creation, connected with so many young African Americans.

Kawaii Culture and American Consumerism

gohan cute dbzDragon Ball is a martial arts epic, but it’s also a cute and silly show filled with gags and immature humor, such as poop jokes and boob grabs. These come from the silly mind of Akira Toriyama.

Japan’s stereotypical obsession with cuteness (Japanese: Kawaii, 可愛い) since the 1970’s can be seen in many aspects of its society. For pop cultural examples, look to Hello Kitty or Kirby, a floating pink smiley face. Even Dragon Ball is super cute at times.

But it’s believed by American marketers that Kawaii culture does not necessarily carry over to the general public.

Japan is a homogenous society, where generally speaking, people think alike, act alike, and look alike.

America, on the other hand, is a combination of many races and creeds, as it continually assimilates other cultures into itself. This includes foreign pop culture, such as that from Japan.

In Japan, cute and hardcore can go together. In America they apparently cannot.

black dbz characters dablackgoku.comVideogames or anime that are cute and colorful in Japan are often edited by American marketing departments to become dark, aggressive, angst filled, overall Americanized, or stereotypically in line with supposed consumer interests.

The makeover from cute to edgy is most likely a manifestation of the overall trend in America to make things more masculine.

The fact that Dragon Ball is already very masculine, filled with characters that have ‘angry eyebrows,’ and huge explosive fights, made it easy to capitalize on while completely downplaying the more cute, friendly and silly aspects.

Why was this done?

To make more money.

FUNimation’s Dragon Ball GT

black goku super saiyan dablackgoku dragon ballThe changes that FUNimation made to the American Dragon Ball Z were purposefully done to appeal to American youth.

This included a new soundtrack by Faulconer Productions, filled with guitar riffs and synthetic sounds, replacing the orchestral arrangements by Shunsuke Kikuchi.

It also included the addition of American slang in the dialogue, an ideology of ‘constant sound,’ and the removal of Japanese cultural references.

Having achieved success with such edits, FUNimation appeared to go even further to appeal to American youth with Dragon Ball GT, by directly targeting the African American demographic.

Stylistically, Dragon Ball GT represented a return to the cuter aspects of the original Dragon Ball, with Goku being transformed back into a child, and the main cast consisting of kids.

FUNimation felt they had to Americanize it in order for it to sell.

In November, 2003, FUNimation premiered a completely different rendition of Dragon Ball GT then had ever been seen in the world.

In an interview in Wizard Anime Insider magazine, Gen Fukunaga said, “If you think you know Dragon Ball GT, just wait! Nobody has done Dragon Ball GT like we have.”

And boy was that the truth.

They attempted to make it hard, dark, and street, even though it was the exact opposite.

The happy go lucky J-Pop intro song of Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku (“Gradually You’re Charming My Heart”) by Japanese band Field of View, and the series’ score, were replaced by a rap song and heavy bass lines.

The Japanese intro was a top charting love ballad used to express the friendship and camaraderie of the adventurers.

The American intro provided by composer Mark Menza was heavy, gloomy, rap-based and repeated the lines, “Step into da Grand Tour, Grand Tour, Grand Tour. Step into da Grand Tour [Grand Tour, Grand Tour], Dragon Ball GT!” The entire mood of the series was edited to appear edgy and serious, even though the actual content wasn’t.

FUNimation producers and executives, such as Barry Watson, decided that this would increase sales of the GT series.

They were right.

For the week of July 20, 2003, the first two GT tapes secured the #1 and #2 positions (compared to all other VHS sales) for the edited versions, and the #9 and #19 for the uncut versions. For DVD’s they earned #17 and #18. These home video sales prepped the market for the series televised debut.

Dragon Ball GT premiered on Cartoon Network in November, 2003, and scored a monstrous 9.7 on the Nielsen ratings for males age 9 to 14, and an 8.6 rating for males age 6 to 11.

Either FUNimation’s business decisions to appeal to Americans were an effective change, or Dragon Ball was an unstoppable winner no matter what was done to it. Artistic integrity be damned.

For the casual fan in America it made no difference that Dragon Ball was a Japanese creation, because they had no idea this was the case. It felt American, and so it was.

In either case, FUNimation’s profits soared, and Dragon Ball became further ingrained in the minds of American youth.

Dragon Ball Rap Music

black vegeta black bulma dablackgoku dbzAs the years went on and young African American boys grew up, a small number began to express their continued fandom for Dragon Ball through rap music.

Each of these songs contained references to Goku and Dragon Ball pop culture, while at the same containing heavy rap culture references.

Some of them became popular hits.

In July, 2010 the rapper Soulja Boy (real name DeAndre Cortez Way) created a single titled “Goku.”

In “Goku,” Soulja Boy says, “Uhhhhhh, bitch, I look like Goku. Bitch, I look like Vegeta … Super Saiyan swagger. Bitches on my dick … Bitch I look like Gohan, smoking up that marijuana.”

Soulja Boy is a self professed anime fan. He released this alongside another single titled “Anime” where he apparently tried to say the word anime as many times as possible within the three minute constraint of the song, while dropping the names of different anime series to the beat amidst gunshot sound effects.

In September he provided a more on target follow up in tandem with Lil B titled “Super Saiyan,” with lyrics like “Super Saiyan Chain, Dragon Ball diamonds. Kamehameha, yep boy you know we shinin’. Gimme all your energy, yeah we ‘bout to power up. Super Saiyan swag so you know it ain’t no stoppin’ us. Goku on my wrist. Chi-Chi on my dick. I need Senzu beans cuz my swag super sick!”

Many of the hardcore Dragon Ball fans laughed in dismay, while others suggested it might lead a new generation in an untapped section of society to watch the series.

In August, 2011, the rapper MarZ B, who actually goes by the pseudonym Black Goku, released a rap song in tandem with rapper Uriah, called appropriately enough,“Black Goku.”

The song is extremely graphic and profane, so I’ll exclude typing out the lyrics, but here is the video in case you want to hear it.

Rap is a style of music where the artist sings about their surrounding environment and what they are passionate about. From these rap songs you can see that Dragon Ball definitely had an effect on these young men.

Dropping The Equivalent Beat

black gogeta dbz dablackgokuThere are African American equivalents of most every type of white superhero.

But the assimilation of an already established character founded on East Asian legends and created in Japan that is then transmogrified into an African American cultural equivalent is rare.

In the case of DaBlackGoku.com, the process whereby a sub-culture of a community brought together by racial commonalities redefines the already seemingly established cultural assumption of Goku’s race to that of African American can be likened to the racial recreation of Superman or Jesus.

Superman, Jesus and Goku have all been transformed into a black equivalent, as have other messianic figures.

The questions I wonder about are these.

Would Dragon Ball have become so popular with African American youth if FUNimation hadn’t made the edits they did, to appeal to this demographic?

And would these youth have rapped about Dragon Ball if Dragon Ball GT hadn’t been given the rap treatment and given national syndication?

We can see that Dragon Ball Z had already been accepted and assimilated between 1999 and 2003.

When Dragon Ball GT came out, it was then aimed directly at this demographic, where it became further accepted.

Perhaps it was a combination of the right product, with the right treatment, at the right time.

But Dragon Ball GT is generally considered a lesser product compared to DBZ, so that may not explain everything.

What do you think?

Were FUNimation’s edits necessary? Were they good or bad, overall? And how do you feel about Dragon Ball being turned into rap music?

UPDATE on May 16, 2012: See this related Black Goku Art Gallery for more pictures of Black Goku.

Resources

DaBlackGoku Internet Archive

Rules for DaBlackGoku contest

The Second Annual DaBlackGoku Contest Results



  • ultimatedbzgirl

    Oh wow, never knew about this. This was an awesome and interesting article :)

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      I’m glad you were able to learn about it. One of my goals was to bring it back to the spotlight as a historical artifact, so that it would not be lost to time. And thanks!

  • http://thedragonballblog.blogspot.com Biba Sen’nin

    Boy, this brings me back. I’ve been around in this fandom for awhile, and I remember Da Black Goku vividly. (Even more so because of this article.) Something slightly related to this is found in the DBZ video games for the Playstation 2. The so-called "Black Gogeta".
    http://youtu.be/QJWPk5QjdfA – Budokai 3

    He appears in the same alternate outfit in the Tenkaichi Budokai/Sparking! series of games, as well (though I cannot find a video or picture, strangely). The coloring of the fur and hair suggests a reference to the DBAF SSJ5 phenomenon, but I’ve always seen the skin color as a clear nod toward Da Black Goku illustrations of the early ’00s.

    Of course, these games were developed by Japanese companies, so it might just be a coincidence. But I don’t think it is.

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      I see what you mean in the video. There certainly is a resemblance to both SSJ5 and the darker skin of Da Black Goku illustrations.

      I never knew that was in the game, so I don’t have any information on why it’s there, except for fun. But I do remember that in Raging Blast 1 the developers recreated the Over 9,000 scene into the game. This was during the time when the Over 9,000 meme was really popular. So it’s not unheard of for creations outside of Japan to influence Japanese developers.

  • cob1

    Also, Picollo is the blackest and most ba-dass character on the show by about 1000x haha

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      I almost didn’t include that bit in the article because I didn’t want people to think I was being racist. But it’s what I had heard many times, so I decided to share it. Turns out it wasn’t off the mark after all. :)

      • cob1

        It’s not racist when it’s something that awesome :P

  • cob1

    I remember that website. I remember the dude had an audio clip "I am da black goKU!"

    I absolutely LOVE a lot of these interpretations of Goku. SSJ with Hardcore Dreads is a win in my book. In general it’s just always good to see a character is powerful enough to break borders. Not to sound rude or anything but, the racial tension in America has always been extreme for a plethora of reasons. Goku being "white" didn’t cause black people to dissociate from him, simply to interpret him differently.

    However, I would like to point out that whenever I discussed race in dragonball, I always said "Goku’s not caucasian, he’s a saiyan. He’s not of Earth and therefore doesn’t fall into any of our racial categories"

    And I hold true that even if he had been portrayed as black rather than white, I would reach the same conclusion. Dragonball has always been a series to me where race was a planetary description. I never paid attention to skin color with race but, origin and history. After all, is it really the race that matters or the history that comes with it?

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      I have an article in progress about race and racism in Dragon Ball. It’s been on the back burner for about a year, but I’ll finish it eventually. My goal is for it to stand as the definitive article on the subject, and give people a place to discuss the issue intelligently.

      One of the points of the article would be what you mentioned… that Goku is a Saiyan, not a human being. It just so happens that Saiyans, like Kryptonians, have light skin and look like humans. Of course there are reasons for this, character design wise.

      One of the other things I didn’t mention in this article, is that I’ve also heard it mentioned that black people associate themselves with the Saiyans as a whole. Reasons include being persecuted by different races of more technologically superior people, being belittled with racist slurs (Freeza calling them "monkeys"), being physically stronger than other races, having primal rage, and other race-centric concepts.

      I won’t comment on whether or not that is appropriate. I’m just restating what has previously been said. I’d love to hear what people think about it though.

      • Tim

        This is so racist. Comments like these and the promotion of such things is what keep racism alive. Out of all my black friends, none of those reasons are why people love the Saiyans or compare themselves to them. It is because it is who the story revolves around. It seems people looks for reasons to bring up racial things. Pitiful!

        • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

          Racism is a sensitive issue, naturally, so I’m grateful for your feedback. Keep in mind I’m taking an objective stance on it and simply reporting the sociological impact and reception of the series. I had heard this mentioned in the past by many people, both in person and online, such as on Twitter and YouTube. African American fans in particular tend to be bigger fans of Dragon Ball GT, due to the purposeful marketing and production by FUNimation to make it appear dark and heavy, with rap and heavy bass laden background music. Just last week I saw someone on Twitter say that "GT was so Thug!," and he was happy about that. Their efforts apparently worked wonders, because the original GT is anything but "Thug."

          • Incus

            How dare you quote verbatim things black fans have said about DBZ! Don’t you know only black people are allowed to quote things black fans say about DBZ? That’s their quoting of other people’s words, not yours, you’re not allowed to do that! Clearly you’re a racist, and you need to go apologize to Jesse Jackson ASAP!

          • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

            haha. Thanks, Incus.

          • Majuub

            Derek,

            I am disappointed but understanding to say the least.
            This is a sensitive subject on many levels, as you previously stated and much more sensative then you even know. Truly I feel your basis on why Blacks like DBGT is far from what you know or understand and even believe.

            If you have ever taken time to notice or study any form of black culture and identify within it, you might be able to see clearer into your potential blog on Racism in Dragon Ball*(which there very much is.. and as you watch you can see it tone down as the characters and Toriyama grew in age or maturity and even more toned out as GT come in, which still very much surprise me as I am not one to find much moral diginity in Corporations). Even taking the time to understand the Music industry and the cultural programming of Hollywood and the Entertainment industry targeted at youths, would help you to.. Understand more about how you can truly take an objectionably view on this subject.

            Let me say this, I find alot of inspiration in your website and many common ideas on dragonball as I am a fellow martial artist, a practictioner of Falun Gong and a fan of Dragonball,Z,GT. In fact fan is a bit of a understatement since i would probably be more inline with a Gokuist ;). Ive read most of your articales (70%) and really enjoy and share your site with my friends and family. Yet Since reading a few of your articles on ‘The Black Goku’, your replies in your interview with Mark Mendoz, and seeing ‘The Black Goku’ (more current picture), and reading these response, I can tell you don’t have much experience in knowing the Hip Hop, Black and/or African American cultrue other then what might be the norm in society before we in America Voted in a "Black*" President. Even with that might you may find it hard to understand the perspective. Before getting a "Black" President, things about "Black" culture that might be shown on MTV or BET were a luxuriously negative way to learn about Hip-Hop or "Black" culture. Majority of what interactions you may or may not have with "African-American" people could have been within school time, in a forced intergrated areas of classrooms, lunch rooms and sporting events. We do have the free will to choose if we want to culture ourself by having friends of all colors of the rainbow, and shades.. so there are still many people who are considered "White" who have a majority of "White" friends, "Blacks" who have a majority of "Black" Friends and so on and so forth. Though now with the growth of Technology,Anime and Manga some may have a many or a majority of "Oriential" or Asiatic friends, but knowing the growth of society presently and the changes that are already happening and in motion these future generations are tending to be more diverse with a grouping of firends of all kinds. I have the upbring myself, being a child of the suburbs and have many different types of friends, crews and people to hang out with all though my life. So let me take some time to explain some history/herstory and mystory.

          • Majuub

            First as some might known, Black People have been told that they are beneath other races and have been getting this programed into self generation after generation for some 500 years. If you take a few moments to Google the ‘Willy Lynch Letters’ you can enlighten yourself a bit on whatz up with the psychological programs of black folks ( given there is debate on if Willy lynch was a real person, the letter and psychological attack teachings were still used and successfully. Also remember Some 50 years ago Black People couldnt vote in America nore did they have equal rights, as Jim Crow Law were king even after the believed end of slavery. We both might be able to talk to our parents about being in segerated schools if you are might be around the ripe age in your mid twentys.. not to mention your grandparents ..or even greatgrandparents and what views that they hold or dont understand about Black People or People of Other cultures and races. If there is even any heart to know, share or learn. Also in Elementary, Middle, and High school indoctoination, the majority information about Black People is that they were ‘Slaves’ with a little bit of info on MLK jr, Booker T washington and maybe W.E.B. Dubois. Noting that Slavery is the first topic brought about and can deter an undercurrent of what positives there are to learn from these "scholared" text books. So 500 (+/-) years is a good amount of linage to go through of programing and there is still much mystery to "Black" history and while I know some truth, this blog isnt the best place to share it as its off topic and since I am no papered schollar some of what i know isnt recognized while Moor is. A Basic kind thing to share would be that "Black/African-American/Colored/Nergo or what other titles given isnt the correct one. WE are ‘Moors’! That is the true nationality of the "Black" People. The Proper title is Aboriginal Moor of Moabite Descent for all "Black" people and even the "Indians and Mehicans(Mexicans)" are actually Aborignial Native moors who originate from Ancient Moabites of Moab.

            Back to the Problems at hand. First this Ideal of "Primal" rage (which could be very much mis-titled, as Primal Denotes to a sense of Animalistic unfocused anger for little known reason…and Black People aren’t "Primal", The form of Anger tends to comes from a sense and internal knowing (conscious, sub-conscious or unconscious) of having History, Teachings, Land and Spirituality taken away from self and replaced with half truths. If that is what denotes "Primal" when you decidedly chose to respond, then yes, we would agree.
            The Connotative Sterotypical idea of Blacks being "Primal" tends to come from Propaganda from the 1920’s and belief that if Black’s or Mexicans (and who knows what other minorites) would smoke weed then they would go crazy and rape white women and children. This was in gauged to scare "Whites" into outlawing Marijuana, which was known as cannabis and was the majory cash crop for American Farmers of All colors . This worked like a charm for the bills orignator William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper and loggin barron. This is still voding many people of positive thought forms to this day on a wide variety of subject from interactions with various cultures and races, to epidemics in health care and general wellness. Since Mass Media lies and Rumors Spread.

            "One of the points of the article would be what you mentioned… that Goku is a Saiyan, not a human being. It just so happens that Saiyans, like Kryptonians, have light skin and look like humans. Of course there are reasons for this, character design wise. "

            -derek padula-

            On this point it is very commonly known that Yes, Anime Goku is very light in ‘Melenin, but if you choose to look a little deeper you can tell on many of the Manga Covers, especially Dragonball Z Goku tends to be darker. There could be many reasons for the alterations of skin tone but the first and foremost is… Hey! its a Cartoon and Entertainment for People.. the Majority of the People with Money to spend on Merchandise happen to be "White" Westeners and nowadays some people of the Orient… so it would make much sense to market towards that targeted demographic. I mean even the factor of a ‘Powered up Goku.. a SS.. Super Saya-jin’ gets Blond hair and blue eyes. Again.. who are the people with money in there pockets. Also the idea of the ‘Super Saya-jin’ or "SS" design is very much pulled from the idea of the Super Human Aryan who would have Blonde Hair and Blue Eye. A little history can show you Japan agreed with that hitlarian idea and common sense too. Also notice how now much of the anime stars tend to look very westernized as that is a major market for consumers.

          • Majuub

            But let me bring this to Hip Hop, as you seem to have a bittle taste for hip hop music without knowing to much about it and I understand fully. I will not give you the history but more so breakdown the understanding of whats happened to Hip Hop since the conscious movement of mid to late 80’s into the mid 90’s.

            If you do some youtubeing or take your time to research you can find a wide varity of hip hop in every skin tone and fashion but in the late 80’s and early 90’s its was still very focused in new york and the 5 burroghs. Many of the popular names at the time ( Krs-one, Public Enemey .. who many know now for just flava flav and no longer the message, Tribe called Quest, De La Soul, Rakim and others) were very socially conscious and made and still make music for positive empowerment of not only Moors or "Black People" but for All people. This was being used as a art form to educate people of life problems, Stories and History. Just as well there was a balace a yang to the yin of "Gangsta Rap" more localized in the westcoast. these force were kept in balance untill some court cases in the mid 90’s targerting "Gangsta Rap" that didnt slow down or stop "Gangsta Rap" but instead made it explode and The Music industry focusing on the pockets of young rebelious horny schoolers helped to build up the negative and also water down the consciousness in Hip Hop, also bring in a more poppy hip hop like R and B hybrid or crossover music which they used to target a demographic of teenaged girls . As you pay attention, which is the least form of pay that the entertainement industry would like to you use, We can see that a consumer is more likely to spend money on things that are wants over needs and ever more likely to do this when they arent being fed inteligence. So there is a WHOLE LOT of money to be make in misinforming and ignorance. Hip-Hop was becoming very popular in the mid 90’s and even more so towards the late 90’s there was a movement to use it as a tool to get more Money and distastefully remove any sense of morals, intergity and positive teachings from this form of Expression. This is Cultural Programing much like women who are taught from babies to believe they must find a man who is succesfully to ‘Take Care of Them’ and are also taught to be ‘subservient to the male dominate society and culture’. A easy way to prove this is in viewing the Western sibling and in some views parent to Manga…Comic Books.

          • Majuub

            There is about 90% or more of heros who hold a "White" male apperience and untill recently they had the majority of what could be looked at as ‘GREAT’ powers (super speed, flight, super strength). while there were exceptions to the rule ( wonder woman who was created by a man named William Moulton Marston, who if you research, can amaze you at his other feats compared to the collection of Comic Book authors even to this day. The first black Superhero didnt appear untill july 1966 (almost 30 years after the super hero boom in comics) while there had been countless other White American male heroes who still to this day are out numbering all cultures, Nationalitys and Races in these books. When this First black superhero appered he was in much less "Power" compared to his counter parts and as other black heros appeared there powers tended to be electrical based or "Street Level". Even The Falcon, who is noted as Captain America partner was a pimp before becoming a hero and his power is "Street Level" with wings. Luke cage was in jail and thats how he go his powers. Now think about what that could suddley do the psychie of a young child. Maybe He would believe (He, as most hero, super powered empowering stuff is focused towards young boys) that might need to act up a bit before come to the light. Bringing this back around to speciflically Dragonball, and take notice that i will not be speaking on the "Black Face" genera, its sick enough there is a black face genra and while an easy arugument is to point at mr.popo ( who looks to be a magic djinn with black face characteristics) and some of the early characterizations of "Black" Moors its much better to point out.. Maybe Moors or "African-Americans (the choosen social faux pas as of now)" might like GT cause its the First time there is a Truly Power Hero who looks like he could be us, Majuub.

            There is also the Monkey Factor. A Steroetype for many Moors is that they are Monkeys, that is pretty damaging to the fucking psyche to hear that as a kid.. and its pretty fucking empowering to see a race of people who are monkey but human like in form, whoop some evil ass! I know my self as someone who has actually delt with Racism being brought up in a Predominetly "White Westerner World", where many of the people with Power have been White" males and the rare occasion female, it felt like a bit of justice came sky dancing my way. Honestly I may be hard for you to write a Good blog on racism in DB since you look to be caucasian in your picture and from your last name Padula, sounds Italian. While for a long time italian were not considered whites, that wasnt in your life time and what forms of Racism you may have faced (guessing from a minority, maybe if you were in china or the orient, or even if you had an altercation is a hispanic or black neighborhood) it wasnt a world were it had been going on from a power group for hundreds of years, especially since almost all of the "Racism" in Dragonball is "Black Faced Sterotypes".

          • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

            You said a lot and I don’t have the time to respond in detail right now. I really appreciate it though and read the whole thing. If I have time later I’ll write a lengthy reply.

            I just finished reading the RZA’s Tao of Wu book and am going to write a quick blog post about the parts where he discusses DBZ. You may find that interesting.

            Sorry I can’t write a larger reply except to say that I still have some things left to learn! That will always be true, right?

            Really glad you wrote, and thanks again.

          • Doranda

            I am an African American female and I tell you, GT is my least favorite of the whole thing. This goes for my brother as well, who is also a big fan of the whole series. There is nothing thug about it, not with Pan plastered in practically every scene. By the way, "thugness" is not an element that must be present in music in order for African American’s to enjoy it. That is an individual’s preference. GT disappointed me very much, but I watched it since it was all that was left after Z, and I wanted to complete it. To be honest, I liked the original ending theme song to GT more than anything else they played, I don’t really know why. I LOVE Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. I guess GT did have a hip hoppy sound, but I prefer the original Japanese music of Dragon Ball and Z any day to GT’s wack soundtrack. I wasn’t crazy about Bruce Faulconer’s music either, although; a few pieces were nice. The original Japanese music is nothing short of amazing. . . just amazing! I guarantee you, most of the Black Americans who are fans of the whole series, prefers the Japanese DBZ music to GT’s without a doubt! Any one who is moved by creative, unusual, innovative, in-your-face, off-the-wall, great instrumentals would enjoy the original Japanese music. It was so unique and bold, my soul was seriously attracted to it. I particularly like the instrumental that plays when Trunks transforms into Saiyan as he prepares to destroy Freeza; its intense. There are some rap songs I like (usually old school), some I don’t ; I find that I am not a fan of a particular genre of music, I am truly attracted to many pieces that fit into many genres. . or that don’t fit into any. I must be honest, however; I haven’t found one country song that I liked. In general, they are certainly not awful, I’m just not attracted. When I see Dragon Ball Z, I see a world where humans and other species of truly all colors, personalities, shapes and sizes, styles, languages, planets, and many other things are all living together and unconsciously accepted. It really isn’t a thought. If they see someone or something different, it captures them for a couple of minutes, since it is new, and they move on! Those Z warriors are all different with extremely contrasting personalities, attitudes, looks, and styles, but they are all accepting of one another in their full, unique glory without a thought. Doesn’t cross their minds. O.k., lets go live! Heck, you have a dog as a governor and other animals with clothes on living their life! Now we all know that this is not going to happen in real life, but I understand whats behind it, I understand and enjoy this one-of-a-kind series.

          • cam

            one thing ive never gotten about the japanese…is why would yu put a love song on the intro to a fighting show…dbz has elements of love as far as sons and wife…but thats where it stops…GT did it right

          • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

            I think it’s part of the difference in perspective between the Japanese and American viewpoints on what Dragon Ball is "supposed" to be.

            The Japanese intro to GT isn’t much different from the ending theme to the original Dragon Ball, "Romantic Age." Right? It’s about an emotional feeling of adventure and light-hearted fun.

  • Fokker

    You might want to check out a book by RZA called, “The Tao of Wu.” There’s one section where he parallels Dragon Ball Z to the journey of the black man in America. At first I thought it was strange and more than a little humorous just how much of pervasive quality Dragon Ball, and to a lesser extent other anime franchises, had on black culture. But after reading what RZA had to say about the series, it makes a lot of sense.

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      Well now I have no choice! Thanks for the excellent suggestion.

      I imagine what he says will provide some perfect quotes for the section of the book where I talk about this issue. Can’t wait to read it.

  • BoneSuckingGoodLOL

    NiceNice. you think they gonna put a black saiyan in dbz next season or somthing?
    and if they gonna do it i sugest the last pic, he looks like a cool character for in the series. and soz for my english :p

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      Well there are no full blooded Saiyan’s left, so it would have to be an interracial child between a female half-blooded Saiyan (Pan or Bra) and one of the black characters. There are only two black main characters in the series, and one of them (Ajudicant Black) was killed by Goku. That only leaves Mr. Popo. And I can’t imagine Mr. Popo doing it with Pan, Bra… or anybody for that matter.

      So my short answer is no, I don’t think so.

      Although if they did make a black Saiyan it would be an amazing sociological example of how the generalized Japanese view of black people has changed. The older generation doesn’t have much respect or understanding of black skinned people, but the younger generation tries to emulate them in many different ways, so my guess is that this type of creative choice would have to be done by a younger generation of staff at Toei. But usually the younger people don’t have any power or control in the hierarchy.

      So like I said, probably not gonna happen.

  • Jim

    LOL, you black people are hilarious

  • RGM-79E

    I remember I had A picture of Chichi on A motorcycle from that site……

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      Yep, I’ve seen that one.

      Given the recent popularity of this post I’m thinking about doing a Black Goku image "resurrection" to show off some of the best art pieces.

  • Nigra falls

    double gorilla?

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      I’m surprised it took this long for a racist comment to be made. Congrats on being the first. Hopefully it’s also the last. :)

  • Junior

    Guess what Goku is white
    he is definitely not black UUB is black goku is white.

    those pictures of "black goku" look more like Anime thugs
    Goku is white plain and simple.
    Getting a little annoyed you guys can dream on i guess. Maybe Babe Ruth was black? makes about as much sense.

    • http://www.thedaoofdragonball.com/blog/ derekpadula

      Uub wasn’t black either. His village was most closely related in appearance to Indians. I’m talking about the darker skinned people from India. Not native Americans. He’s somewhat similar to Namu, the warrior monk from the original Dragon Ball.

    • PB4

      Goku’s actually pretty Japanese, most of the foods he prefers are Japanese. No burgers, fries or nothing, tons of riceballs and other things I don’t even know.

      Anyway, I’d be curious to see what the OG creator of Black Goku thinks of this article.

      • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

        Culturally yes, that’s true, because Goku was written and designed by Akira Toriyama specifically for Japanese teenagers.

        Good question, I wonder what the creator would say as well. I know nothing about him or her.

  • Jonathan

    I’m a Black Male from England, London but back in my school days most of the students and myself always pretty much presumed Goku was to be seen as Asian, specifically Japanese at least if you saw him not knowing he was not human.

    We all agreed generally (all of my fellow students of various races and mixtures oh how I love London) that the Super Saiyan transformation was to be seen as Goku as "white" in a superior form perhaps because at least at the time with Japan and some asian nations there’s an outlook on Caucasians being the top of the pile or at least perceived be this due to an inferiority complex from war and for some nations early British and American rule and superiority.

    With that said I always felt Japan always made it clear when a character was white in anime. Bulma for example was to be seen as Caucasian she was drawn very differently along with other characters who were to be seen as Caucasian.
    We must remember Japanese in general have very pale skin it is not unusual for them to be drawing themselves to what we may perceive as "white" as well they are in skin tone though they usually make a clear distinction despite hair colouring, speech or eye colour (not always) etc which if anything is down to them not wanting to draw everyone with black or auburn hair which would be confusing along with similar animation styles.

    Most DBZ characters have the same face basically if not for differences in heights and styles they’d look the same.. When I was younger I sure mistook Yamcha for Goku early on lol.

    • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

      Good insights and good points. I always saw Bulma and Master Roshi as white, and I agree that the most obvious reaction to Super Saiyan Goku is that he’s a white guy. He has "blue" eyes and blonde hair with white-esque skin. Whether his base form is Asian is debatable, but anybody who looks at his Super Saiyan form for the first time without being familiar with the character will probably think he’s white.

      • Doranda

        Goku’s base form resembles Asian, indeed. The shape of the eyes and the American voice actor (for America) provides the Caucasian feel. Caucasians, in general, have always had issues with the shape of their eyes. That issue may have dimmed today. The American voice actor is strictly for Americans to get into it and, of course, understand. DBZ was created for the Japanese viewers and, therefore the characters spoke Japanese. So, the only thing that deviated from the Asian look was the eye shape; everything else about Goku’s base form is Asian. Without a doubt, in base form, Goku IS Asian. There is no debate for people who like the truth. You shouldn’t pretend like you don’t see that. Now, when he transforms into Super Saiyan, there the argument can be made that he looks Caucasian. In my opinion, the hair color should have went gold, like a deep, shiny, vibrant gold because the blonde makes them look a little weaker. The jet black hair and eyes are way to powerful for me to initially accept that they are in a heightened form with blonde hair. It’s cool with me now since I’m used to it, and I look through all of this ridiculous racial stuff and enjoy DBZ for the story lines, characters, and the rainbow that it is. I have to say, if people don’t know by now that skin color and race does not make you more powerful or heightened in any way as a human being, then they are primitive minded and immature.
        DBZ is a cartoon. The race and skin color of these cartoon characters relative to the real world is not what makes DBZ great; its the story line, the personalities, their adventures, the style, the uniqueness, the drama, the action sequences, the music, the alliances of the characters, and the multi-species culture from the creative mind of a Japanese man that made DBZ what it is today. Thank you JAPANESE for giving us DB, DBZ, and even GT; all praises due to you for this fascinating series and everything else you shell out that I love, past and present. Other races are dying to be and are honored to be represented by YOUR cartoon creations. You are briliant!

        • Doranda

          Mistake, I meant Asians have had issues with eye shape.

  • Kevin

    This was an incredibly thorough write-up! Highly interesting, informative, and most of all refreshing to see such a different perspective on a classic piece of anime culture.

    • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

      Thanks, Kevin! I appreciate the positive feedback and am glad you enjoyed it.

      There are a couple more Black Goku related articles on the site you may be interested in, underneath the "fans" and "art" sections.

  • cam

    this past week..i went back and watched dbz and gt which i havent seen since in a long ass time…im 18 now…and had a lil freetime…but anyway while watchin im sittin thinkin…dz aint aliens..dz just sum niggas…idk dat many white people that fight fa fun…in school we use to goto the bathroom jus to box everyday…if you aint have dem hands den yu was SOL..and if yu didnt fight…yu was abitch…so thinkin about from my point of view…i can relate to dbz as a whole ima try to watch db next but i should be headin home later this week so….

  • Anone25

    Thanks for bringing me back. DaBlackGoku was a cool friend of mine back when i was making DBZ sites. I miss those days…

    Anone from Anones 8th Dragonball A.K.A. Anones DBZ

    • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ derekpadula

      Yeah, you bet!

      Do you actually know who DaBlackGoku was? There’s nothing about him on his site in the internet archives and I wasn’t even sure if it was a guy. Can you tell me how old he was, where he was located (was he in the US?) and why he created the site? I’d love to learn more.

      And as a long shot, would you happen to have his email or know of a way to reach him. I’d love to interview DaBlackGoku! If so, you can use my contact form and send me a message. Thanks Anone25!

  • Visor47

    Wow. I used to frequent the message boards (forums) on that site a lot. I was like 13 back then, and very immature I admit. But the site had a very vibrant community of fans, some of whom I became good friends with. We just called the site “DBG” for short. I considered it my home on the internet for a while, not because of the pictures or rap videos, but because there was such a great community of people on the forums. And the interesting thing was that most of the forum members weren’t black. (Surprise!)

    Unfortunately, over the years the site stopped being updated, the community dwindled down to only a handful of users, and the boards became less active. The entire forum was even hacked at one point, which is what I consider to be the true end of DBG. Like a death nail. The site didn’t come back after that.

    I have a lot of good memories from that place though. Every once in a while, I google DaBlackGoku, just on the off chance that DBG might have made a comeback. Of course it hasn’t, and probably never will, but I found this article instead. Thanks for writing this.

    – D

    • http://thedaoofdragonball.com/ DerekPadula

      You’re welcome, Visor47. I’m glad you were able to provide us with a little more back story of what the community was like, and why you went there so often. I wouldn’t have known about the hacking either, as it it looked more like it just stopped being updated for some reason.

      Thanks for reading and enjoying the article.

  • Teddy Maitre

    uub is black

  • toddex

    I was a moderator on that forum YEARS ago. I have no idea who da black goku’s real name is but I do know at the time of the site being created he had dropped out of university of michigan and later took a break from the website as he had been accepted back and was going to finish his education. So that might be a start on finding who he is.

  • N/A

    does it make me racist if I find the idea of goku being black offensive cause I do PS I am not white before anybody makes that assumption. I see Goku not as a color but as a true blue alien so to speak he is not white, black, yellow, or even red he is just a alien a hero a man that want to have fun protect those that he loves and grow stronger. I find it offensive to compare him to any one race besides his own which is a Sayian. I am sorry if my statement comes off as raciest or offensive.

  • Blobb

    why do they have to make black characters look so goddamn stupid…. I am sick of it..