May 9: Goku Day explained

May 9: Goku Day explained

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise is beloved by anime and manga fans all around the world. And what’s a better day to celebrate Saiyan pride than on May 9th — Goku Day? But, for the uninitiated, what is it?

Goku Day, named after Dragon Ball’s perennial protagonist, has been celebrated the same day every year since the Japanese Anniversary Association officially registered it as a celebratory day in 2015, according to the official Dragon Ball website. The date was chosen because of Goku’s Japanese kanji. In the birthplace of anime and manga, dates are read first by month and then by day. In Japanese, “Go” can be read as “5” and “Ku” “9,” so combining the two makes 5/9 — May 9th — the site explains.

Fans of the franchise have celebrated it by cosplaying, and sharing and making epic memes and videos online, while also binging their favorite sagas. And this year’s Goku Day isn’t like any other. May 9, 2024, marked the 40th anniversary of the manga’s release. It was first serialized in the magazine Shonen Jump in 1984. Dragon Ball’s anime dropped in Japan two years later.

Sadly, this is the first time Goku Day is celebrated without the presence of Toriyama — the mastermind and creator behind the iconic franchise. Toriyama passed away on March 1st, according to a statement from Bird Studio, his production company. He was 68 years old and died from a blood clot in his brain, per the studio.

Forty years later, new Dragon Ball content is still releasing. Dragon Ball DAIMA is set to come out later this year.

Why is there a Goku Day, anyway?

It’s not like every anime and manga has its own day in Japan. So, what makes Dragon Ball so special? Simply put, Dragon Ball is perhaps the most successful franchise to release globally. Whether someone was in Japan, the United States, or somewhere in Europe, the odds of them knowing Dragon Ball are quite high.

It was a staple anime on American and European cartoon channels beginning in the early 90s. Dragon Ball infused itself in pop culture and has driven creatives, athletes, and everyday people alike for decades. Toriyama’s work is credited for inspiring other manga and anime creators as well, including One Piece’s Eiichiro Oda, and Naruto’s Masashi Kishimoto.

Several iterations of Dragon Ball have gripped fans, with the most famous being Dragon Ball Z. Toriyama’s universe also includes Dragon Ball GT and Super, as well as dozens of movies.

Even though Toriyama isn’t around anymore, his creation continues to impact millions, if not billions, of people worldwide, and there’s no better day to recognize his work than on Goku Day!

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