Is Goku in Dragonball White?

Dragonball is one of the most famous Japanese Cartoons in the world. Especially, most children in Asia only watched this cartoon as they grew up as a child. Dragonball became popular among Asian children and it has had portrayed courage to them because there were only few super-hero character exist in Asia. Thus, Goku, a protagonist in Dragonball, became a here figure to Asian children as it is presented with Avengers of Marvel in recent days.

In 2008, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation announced that they would be making a non-animated version of Dragonball called Dragonball Evoution. People in Asia were excited about the film and wondered who will be taking a roll as a Goku. Later, people got shocked and upset to hear that Goku will be played by a white actor, not an asian actor. Even though there was a controversy between production crew and Dragonball fans, Film crew proceeded as planned. As a result, Dragonball Evolution was flopped and bombed at the Box office. One of main reasons was that the movie totally ignored the original characteristics of characters.

The original Japanese cartoon Dragonball

The original Japanese cartoon Dragonball

The movie Dragonball

The movie Dragonball

According to the Huffington Post, the “white washing” situation has already begun in 1930s. “White washing” does not set the limit to Asian but also all other race besides Caucasian. Johnny Depp was cast as Tonto, the Native American sidekick in a remake of “The Lone Ranger”. Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, was depicted by American actress Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” (1963).

The main cause of “White washing” in Hollywood is that they believe that the movie played by minority cannot make a high standard movie. Also, the industries don’t want to take a risk to cast other races to the main character because there is no precedent that minority race character brought high rating to the industries.

Through the CNN, states that “What disappoints us is that when there adaptations are reset to America, they do not reflect the diversity of the United States. Many people are of Asian decent but are also “totally American”.

As people know, Recent Hollywood movies make profit from foreign movie market. In my opinion, If movie industries stop “white washing” the characters in the film, then they can make bigger margin because foreign audiences might want to see same race actors and actress from the movie.


4 thoughts on “Is Goku in Dragonball White?

  1. ayameshodai says:

    Even though I’m neither a fan of Dragonball, nor did I watch the anime carefully before, this is really awkward for me, as a Japanese, to see a White actor playing Goku’s role. Japanese animes are somewhat popular across the globe, so it makes sense that white people re-produce Japanese product. Also, anime characters are unrealistic in terms of the size of body or facial parts, so it might be better to be played by white people who are taller and have bigger eyes or straight nose. But I still agree with your point that stopping white washing would attract more foreign audience.


    • megyounguw says:

      I thought that I understood the film industry pretty well, but I am still shocked to see that 20th Century Fox decided to make Goku white. I grew up watching Dragonball Z in the US (it was on every afternoon). Even as a young kid, it was clear to me that I was watching a Japanese show.
      I am resolved that there is no reason that a decision like this would be acceptable. Even market data to support it would be like a dim reflection of the American public– one we should not reproduce by pandering to it.
      My only consolation is that this looks like really the worst, worst movie.



  2. Dolly Huang says:

    As a Japanese anime fan, I couldn’t agree with your blog post more. I think that you can go deeper with the interpretation of “white washing” and the impact that mass media has on to the public. Maybe discuss from a society’s point of view why they didn’t like seeing white characters portraying Goku or other movie’s role.


  3. John says:

    This movie was one of the more hilarious examples of whitewashing. Goku is obviously Asian, the black hair, facial features, etc. He looks NOTHING like the white guy who played him. Honestly you could probably just pop into the gym at UBC or Berkeley and find like a dozen Asian guys that would have been better at playing Goku.


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