Goku is a fictional character and main protagonist of the Dragon Ball anime and manga franchise. Created by Akira Toriyama, the character of Goku is depicted as peaceful, good-natured loving and honest. He made his debut in the first chapter of the Dragon Ball manga in 1984, where he is introduced as an eccentric, monkey-tailed boy who practices martial arts and possesses superhuman strength. As Goku grows up, he becomes the Earth's mightiest warrior and battles a wide variety of villains with the help of his friends and family, while also gaining new allies in the process.
The character of Goku has since been recognized as one of the most iconic characters ever, with his critical reception being largely positive. Goku 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 the 2018 Parade in the form of a giant helium character balloon, promoting the then-upcoming release of the 2019 film, Dragon Ball: Super Broly. 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 explained. “...Goku is distinct. His hair is distinct.”
Dabby cited Goku's humanoid shape and signature spiky hair as particular challenges, explaining “It's very challenging to take a balloon and make it human...he has this body definition that few characters have", later adding “When you get to aerodynamics, inflatable likes to be round. 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.”
Once completed, the collaborative work between Macy's and Funimation resulted in a 70-foot long, 56-foot tall and 36-foot wide balloon likeness of the fearless protagonist of the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku. The balloon depicted the super saiyan warrior soaring down the streets of New York City at a curved 30-degree angle. The Goku balloon's intricate hair resulted in a “mass” of shape equal to the size of four New York City apartments, big enough for the helium gas to make it float.
The Goku balloon made its first public appearance at the blustery BalloonFest 2018, where it took a trial flight around the MetLife Stadium parking lot in New Jersey. While being lowered, winds caused the balloon to knock a handler to the ground, requiring hospitalization. The handler was released the same day with minor injuries.
Goku made his official Macy's Parade debut on Thanksgiving Day 2018, accompanied by handlers wearing matching outfits based on Goku's design. During its appearance on the NBC Parade telecast, co-host Al Roker commentated on the balloon's debut, with many viewers pointing out his mispronunciation of the words "Broly" and "Saiyan".
In February of 2019, it as announced that the five-story tall Goku balloon would return to the Parade for its 93rd annual procession, with its sponsor being changed to Japanese animation company, Toei Animation Inc. During Goku's 2019 Parade appearance, high winds affected the Parade and caused the balloons to be flown lower than usual. Wind gusts resulted in the Goku balloon getting 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 Goku balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast would once again be the talk of the Dragon Ball community. Co-host Hoda Kotb was announcing the balloon's return, which promoted the release of the Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot video game. However, when Kotb had to say the word "Kakarot," she started laughing, barely able to compose herself long enough to complete the balloon's introduction.
Goku was retired after his sophomore flight in the 2019 Parade. The balloon's absence in the reimagined 2020 Parade was a result of the balloon's unique shape not cooperating with the "innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles", which was put in place following an 88% reduction of Parade participants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.