Goku is a fictional character and main protagonist of the Dragon Ball anime and manga franchise created by Akira Toriyama. He first made his debut in Dragon Ball chapter #1 Bulma and Son Goku, as an eccentric, monkey-tailed boy who practices martial arts and possesses superhuman strength. He meets Bulma and joins her on a journey to find the wish-granting Dragon Balls. Along the way, he finds new friends which later follow him on his journey.

Due to the series' international popularity, Goku has become one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the world. Goku's critical reception has been largely positive and he is often considered to be one of the greatest manga and anime characters of all time.

History with the Macy's Parade

Goku made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 2018 in the form of a giant helium character balloon. Upon the balloon's initial announcement in early November of 2018, many fans of the Dragon Ball franchise and pop culture expressed their excitement and celebrated Goku and the first-ever anime character to appear in the Macy's Parade.

According to Jordan Dabby, Vice President of Partnership Marketing for Macy’s Parade Group, Goku was one of the Parade Studio's most challenging balloons to create. “Everything about him is different from the average character you see in the parade,” Dabby says. “We're entrenched in some of the most iconic characters around the world, be it Peanuts or Olaf. And we’ve had strong characters. But Goku is distinct. His hair is distinct.”

The biggest difference in Goku than any other character is that it's rare for us to feature a human likeness in the form of a balloon,” Dabby explained. “It's very challenging to take a balloon and make it human. If you think about characters we've featured over the years, there are very few human characters.” Adding, “He is fearless, he is agile. He is a ripped character,” said Dabby. “He has this body definition that few characters have.”

“When you get to aerodynamics, inflatable likes to be round,” Dabby says. “If we were to round out the spikes of his hair it wouldn't look like Goku. A lot went into making sure his hair was as pointed as we can possibly get away with while making sure it still flies the way it should.” The end result for Goku's hair is a “mass” of shape equal to the size of four New York City apartments, big enough for the helium gas to make it float

For Goku, at least three poses were molded in clay, with “five or six” tweaks applied until Funimation and Macy's agreed on the final pose: A “flying” Goku, soaring at a curved 30-degree angle. 

Funimation's and Macy's work would greatly pay off, resulting in a 70-foot long, 36-foot wide and 56-foot tall Goku balloon. The balloon garnered massive attention from Dragon Ball fans, boosting the Parade's ratings on NBC. The balloon would be used to introduce the then-upcoming Dragon Ball movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

During the balloon's first-ever public appearance at BalloonFest 2018, the Goku balloon was the most featured balloon of that year's debutantes. While the balloon was being lowered after its flight, it knocked a balloon handler to the ground, causing hospitalization. The handler was released the same day with minor injuries.

A clip of the balloon on the NBC Parade telecast would go viral later that month, with many quoting and creating internet memes of Al Roker mispronouncing "saiyan" as "cyan", as well as mispronouncing "Broly".

In February of 2019, it was confirmed that Goku would return to that year's Macy's Parade. That same year, the balloons sponsorship was given to Toei Animation. During the balloon's appearance in 2019, high winds affected the Parade. This caused the Goku balloon to get caught in a gust of wind, causing a balloon handler to injure her shoulder. Additionally, an older woman fell down, while another male handler tripped over a plastic bag. Neither handlers sustained any injuries.

Much like 2018, the balloon's 2019 telecast appearance was widely talked about online and on social media, in repsonse to Hoda Kotb misprouncing the word "Kakorot", and promptly laughed thereafter.

After the balloon made its sophomore debut, Goku was retired and is not scheduled to appear in the 2020 Parade. This is due to the balloon not being able to fly properly with the newly-implemented handling method, which required five work vehicles and was added in response to the ongoing 2019-20 COVID-19 pandemic.


Listed below are the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearances on the NBC telecast.

  • "Cha-La Head-Cha-La", composed by Chiho Kiyooka (2018-2019)

See also

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