Son Goku, more commonly known as simply 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.
Initially believed to have been born on Earth, Goku later learns that he is a member of a humanoid extraterrestrial warrior race called the Saiyans, which is also the reason for his superhuman strength, as well as that his real name is Kakarot, and that he was sent to Earth to conquer it for the galactic tyrant Frieza. As Goku grows up, he becomes the Earth's mightiest warrior and protects his adopted home planet from those who seek to destroy it. He is able to concentrate his Ki and use it for devastatingly powerful energy-based attacks; the most prominent being his signature Kamehameha, in which Goku launches a blue energy blast from his palms.
As the protagonist, Goku appears in most of the episodes, films, television specials and OVAs of the manga's anime adaptations (Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Super, and Dragon Ball Heroes) as well as many of the franchise's video games. 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
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 explains. “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,” says 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 upcoming Dragon Ball movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly (the 20th animated Dragon Ball movie, and the third to be released in the United States in theaters).
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.
- At the BalloonFest 2018, Goku knocked over a handler while they were trying to take the balloon down, requiring hospitalization. They were later released the same day with minor injuries.
- In 2019, Goku was 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.
The music that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast
- "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" (2018-Present)
- Goku is the first Japanese manga character to be represented as a balloon in the Parade.
- The 2018 NBC telecast was widely discussed online by Dragon Ball fans during Goku’s debut, most notably when Al Roker received criticism for mispronouncing the words "Funimation" and “Saiyan” and for mispunctuating "Dragon Ball Super: Broly".
- The 2019 NBC telecast was also widely discussed online by Dragon Ball fans during Goku's second appearance after Hoda Kotb mispronounced the word "Kakarot" and laughed promptly thereafter.
- As of 2019, Goku has yet to make a high-flying appearance, as strong winds forced him to be lowered to the ground during all of his public appearances so far, including the 2018 and 2019 Parades, as well as BalloonFest 2018.