He may not be as invincible as the monkey we see on the traditional version of the classic Journey to the West (《西游记》), but he is the Monkey King audiences across generations have loved watching grow. We’re talking about Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama’s iconic character Son Goku.
Almost a decade after Dragon Ball Z (1989-2006) ended, Goku is back again. Dragon Ball Super, a new series that is set to run 100 episodes, recently premiered on Fuji TV in Japan and on Chinese streaming video website iQiyi.
In this continuation of the Dragon Ball (1986-1989) TV series, Goku, an interstellar migrant and one of the last survivors of a powerful alien race, has transformed from a playful child into a married father.
"There’s a simple, infectious charm watching Goku grow up into the person we know him as today before he transitioned into a literal god," American commentator Scott Johnson wrote on US-based website oneofus.net.
Over time, the franchise progressed away from the humor of original TV series Dragon Ball, which depicted Goku as a boy, to the heavy combat action of Dragon Ball Z, which depicted Goku as a man. Dragon Ball Super is expected to balance humor and fighting, utilizing the elements that made both of its predecessors memorable.
The new series begins with Goku living the peaceful family life of a farmer. Of course, Goku turns farming into training, which inevitably makes for a funny but disastrous scene on the farm.
Meanwhile, an unprecedented evil approaches from outer space. Lord Beerus, one of the most powerful villains in the whole series, possesses the power to cut a planet into two halves by playfully tapping one finger. It’s up to Goku to stop Beerus in his tracks.
"As I read the plot [of the series], my dreams for this begin to expand. An enemy eve stronger than Buu or Frieza (powerful villains from previous series) may appear,“ Japanese Fuji TV producer Osamu Nozaki told Anime News Network.
The Dragon Ball series has earned fans by allowing its characters and style to grow and change alongside its audience. This is what’s made the legacy of Toriyama’s creation so enduring.