Gohan (Dragon Ball)
|Dragon Ball character|
Four different appearances of Gohan, drawn by Akira Toriyama.
|First appearance||Dragon Ball chapter #196: Kakarrot (1988)|
|Created by||Akira Toriyama|
See Voice actors
|Aliases||The Great Saiyaman
The Golden Warrior
Son Gohan (孫 悟飯?), better known as simply Gohan, is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. Gohan is introduced as the first son of the main protagonist Goku, and his wife Chi-Chi, in chapter #196 Kakarrot (カカロット Kakarotto?), first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on October 24, 1988. Chi-Chi is a strict and protective mother to Gohan, forcing him to focus on his studies and forbidding him from practicing martial arts. However, due to the various threats to the Earth, she reluctantly allows him to fight, with him ultimately becoming one of the strongest characters in the series. Gohan has been well received by both fans and critics, the latter usually citing the character's growth from his initial appearance to his defeat of Cell.
Creation and design
Gohan's name comes from the Japanese word "gohan" (ご飯?, lit. "cooked rice" or "meal of any sort"), a continuation of the naming scheme of foods by Toriyama. Rice, being a grain, is not normally considered to be a vegetable, even though it is a common food. However, as the word "vegetable" is a culinary term, and not a botanical term, the name can also continue the naming scheme for Saiyan characters, which derives names from puns on vegetables.
In conceptualizing for Gohan's character, Toriyama originally included glasses or a jacket to his apparel, and commonly, his hair is spiked up as seen in the final design. With the ending of the Cell arc, Gohan was meant to replace his father as the main protagonist. However, Toriyama later decided against it, finding the character unsuited for the role.
As opposed to full-blooded Saiyans, whose hair stays the same from birth, Gohan's is drawn at varying lengths, and changes markedly in style. Initially, Gohan is illustrated garbed in a Hanfu-like surcoat with the Chinese character 孫, fixed on the front and the four-star Dragon Ball fitted on top of his hat. Piccolo later supplies him with a keikogi fashioned after Goku's, but substitutes the symbol with his own demon character "魔". Normally thereafter, Gohan is drawn with a keikogi modeled after Piccolo's own. On Namek, Gohan is portrayed in battle armor worn by Freeza's henchmen, having been given it by Vegeta in preparation for their encounter with Freeza. Prior to his second fight with Majin Boo, Gohan asks Kibito for an outfit resembling his father's, and is then drawn in a keikogi identical to Goku's. Gohan, from the alternate future, is dressed in a keikogi similar to that of his father's, and has a long scar across his left eye.
Gohan is introduced as the four-year-old son of the series protagonist Goku. Described as well-mannered and reserved, Gohan's story begins following his abduction by the extraterrestrial Saiyan named Raditz, who is also his uncle. While Goku is pinned to the ground, Gohan's extreme distress explodes with the release of his dormant power, which allows him to injure Raditz. Piccolo then takes Gohan away following the fight and Goku's death, and trains him for the upcoming battle against the two other Saiyans, Vegeta and Nappa, though Piccolo is aware that training the son of his greatest enemy will be a risk. His tutelage under Piccolo forms a deep bond between the two characters, with Piccolo ultimately sacrificing himself to save Gohan during their fight with Nappa. After Vegeta's defeat, Gohan travels with Bulma and Kuririn to planet Namek to use the Dragon Balls there, as the Dragon Balls on Earth had turned to stone due to the Earth's god Kami's death. After succeeding in gathering the Dragon Balls, Gohan and the others wish Piccolo back to life, causing Kami and the Dragon Balls to be returned. Gohan, along with Kuririn and Vegeta, are then forced into an encounter with Freeza, who seeks the Dragon Balls for immortality. Shortly after the fight with Freeza begins, Kuririn is impaled by one of Freeza's horns. Freeza stops Gohan as he tries to save Kuririn, who has now been thrown into the ocean below, and he mocks him, saying it is pointless to try to save his friend since he and Vegeta are both about to die. Gohan is extremely angered by being unable to save Kuririn and attacks Freeza without hesitation. He manages to knock Freeza into a small island below, and then he blasts him with a series of energy blasts before ending the attack with a Masenko. Later on in the fight, as Piccolo is getting repeatedly blasted from Freeza, who is now in his third form, Gohan blasts Freeza with another Masenko, and once again pushes him back with it. Freeza is able to send it back at Gohan without taking any damage, but he is once again shocked that a child could produce such an attack. Shortly after this, Freeza transforms into his original and most powerful form. Once he does this he immediately kills Dende, a young Namekian who had been secretly healing Gohan, Kuririn, Piccolo and Vegeta. Gohan is outraged by this and unleashes all of his power against Freeza. However, he is unable to land even a single blow. After Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan and defeats Freeza, the planet Namek explodes and Goku escapes while Freeza is left with serious injuries, Freeza is found in space by his father (King Cold) and is turned into a cyborg. Gohan is shown to settle back into school life on Earth, waiting for Goku to return home from Namek.
After Trunks kills Freeza and his father King Cold then tells Goku about the Androids, Gohan goes into the wilderness with Goku and Piccolo to train for the upcoming threat. After Vegeta kills Android #19, Dr. Gero (Android #20) activate Androids #17 and #18, and Cell is discovered, Gohan enters the Room of Spirit and Time with Goku where they train for 1 year (1 day on earth). Gohan makes the jump to Super Saiyan while he is in the chamber and after they emerge, both Goku and Gohan retain the physical characteristics of a Super Saiyan without any of the drawbacks of its form (increased aggression, energy loss, etc.). After Goku initially fights Cell but realizes later that he cannot defeat him, Gohan is called to fight to the surprise of everyone else and Cell. During the fight, Gohan asks Cell to stop the Cell Games tournament and then he tells him about his power. Cell, instead of heeding Gohan's warning, attacks him in an effort to force Gohan to show his true power. Gohan holds his own for a while until Cell becomes impatient and bored. He releases Cell Juniors on the other fighters to provoke Gohan. After Android #16 is murdered by Cell, Gohan unleashes his rage and transforms into a Super Saiyan 2. Gohan easily defeats the Cell Juniors and proceeds to toy with Cell, now that he has a much greater power level. This backfires, however; he waits too long to finish Cell, who decides to self-destruct as a last-ditch effort to destroy Gohan and the Earth. Goku, in an act of self-sacrifice, uses teleportation to take Cell to Kaio-sama's planet. Thinking Cell dead, the fighters lower their guard only to be surprised by a blast that kills Trunks. Cell returns, having regenerated from a single Cell that survived the blast, and also adopted the teleportation technique. Right before Cell is about to finish Vegeta, Gohan intercedes which costs him the use of his left arm. As Cell charges up one final Kamehameha wave to finish the Earth, Gohan hears the voice of his father who gives him the resolve he needs to defeat Cell. They both launch large Kamehameha waves at each other, which initiates a power struggle. Cell is about to overcome Gohan when Vegeta uses his remaining energy to blast Cell, which distracts him for a moment. Gohan uses this moment to unleash all his fury into his attack, which causes it to overpower Cell's. It hits Cell full-force which disintegrates all his cells, finally killing him.
The Gohan of the alternate timeline is presented in the volume #33 sidestory of the original manga, Trunks the Story, in which he is shown to be the only surviving fighter; the others have all died at the hands of the androids (sans Goku due to having died from a heart virus prior to androids' arrival). Gohan is shown training Trunks to assist him in battling Androids #17 and #18. In this timeline, Gohan has become a Super Saiyan and is depicted wearing a uniform similar to his father's, one with his own kanji symbol on the back, Han, 飯. Gohan states he wears it in hopes of becoming as strong as his father one day, and is mentioned that he bears a striking resemblance to Goku when donning it. He eventually loses his left arm fighting Androids #17 and #18. He is eventually killed by the two androids in after a battle where the two androids ganged up on Gohan, and killed him with machine gun-like ki blasts.
In the present-timeline, Gohan is shown enrolled at Orange Star High School in Satan City. After foiling crimes as a Super Saiyan he earns the alias the "Golden Warrior" (金色の戦士 Kiniro no Senshi?) from the public. In order to hide his identity, and with help from Bulma, he adopts a superhero persona that he dubs the "Great Saiyaman" (グレートサイヤマン Gurēto Saiyaman?). He is also in a relationship with Videl. Participating in the 25th Tenkaichi Budōkai, Gohan is depicted as having grown weaker, which the Daizenshū World Guide book explains as due to a lack of training and anger in transforming. Gohan, after having his chi absorbed by Spopovich and Yamu, pursues the two and enters Bobbidi's spaceship with the Kaiō-shin, Goku and Vegeta, where Gohan later fights with Dabura. Following Majin Boo's release and Gohan's defeat at his hands, Gohan is taken to the home planet of the Kaiō-shin. After pulling out the Zeta Sword and accidentally breaking it in a training session, Gohan unwittingly releases the Old Kaiō-shin, who then performs a prolonged ceremony to unlock Gohan's latent powers. Gohan then returns to Earth and confronts Boo for a second time, and temporarily defeats him. However, he, along with Gotenks and Piccolo, are later absorbed by Boo. Once revived, Gohan is able to aid Goku's Genki-dama by lending his chi. Following Boo's defeat and a ten-year gap, Gohan has finally become a scholar, is married with Videl and they have a daughter Pan.
Gohan is voiced in the original Japanese anime and all other media by Masako Nozawa. In the English Ocean dub of the anime, Gohan's child version is voiced by Saffron Henderson and Jillian Michaels while Gohan adult version is voiced by Brad Swaile. In the English dub of the video game Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, Gohan is voiced by Lex Lang.
In the English Funimation dub, Gohan's child incarnation is voiced by Stephanie Nadolny for various media until 2010 and Colleen Clinkenbeard for Dragon Ball Kai while Gohan's adult incarnation is voiced by Kyle Hebert for almost all various media and Dameon Clarke for the History of Trunks TV special.
Gohan possesses superhuman strength and durability, as well as superhuman speed and reflexes, as seen during his training with his younger brother Goten. As a child, Gohan is depicted with an immense amount of hidden potential, which at first only revealed itself when he experienced fierce rage or distress. The vastness of this potential is shown consistently throughout the series as he ages and learns to master his powers from constant training and battles, the earliest example was during his short fight with Raditz. Gohan's potential was unlocked twice in the series: first by the Namekian Great Elder, and then fully unlocked by Old Kaiō-shin, which sees his power level rise to new heights, capable of easily overwhelming the seemingly invincible Majin Boo.
As a half-Saiyan, he has the ability to become an Oozaru, a gigantic ape-like creature, by absorbing waves from a full moon. He lost this ability after his tail was cut by Piccolo, and later Vegeta. He achieved the Super Saiyan transformation by training with his father, and as a display of his hidden potential, becomes the first Saiyan in the series to become a Super Saiyan 2 during his battle against Cell. Though Gohan had gotten much weaker due to not training after the Cell Games, he became stronger than he ever was after the power boost from Old Kaiō-shin.
Gohan has the ability to freely manipulate a life-force energy known as ki to fly using Bukū-jutsu (舞空術?, "Air Dance Technique"),. He can also concentrate his ki to fire blasts of energy, such as the Kamehameha (かめはめ波?, lit. "Turtle Destruction Wave") or the Masenko (魔閃光 Masenkō?, lit. "Demon Flash"). Gohan has displayed the use of his ki in a defensive manner, such as generating protective energy shields.
Appearances in other media
Gohan has appeared in every Dragon Ball Z film apart from Bio-Broly, where he is only featured in the credits. He is the main protagonist of Bojack Unbound, where he defeats the film's antagonist Bojack as well as his minions in his father's absence. Gohan appears in the 2013 film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. He meets and fights Beerus, the main antagonist of the film, but is defeated easily. Later, he supplies his father with energy, allowing Goku to transform into a Super Saiyan God. Gohan will appear in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'. As with the other established characters of the series, he is given a redesign, adopting an athletic green tracksuit.
Gohan appears in the anime-only sequel, Dragon Ball GT. Though his role is greatly reduced, his daughter Pan is a major character, as she accompanies Goku and Trunks though space. He is the second Saiyan on Earth to be taken control of by Baby, who previously controlled his younger brother Goten and moved to possessing Gohan during their battle. After Vegeta becomes Baby's permanent host, Gohan remains under his influence due to Baby having implanted Tuffle parasite inside of him while he was originally possessed. After regaining his will, he assists his father in defeating Baby and tearfully bids farewell to his former mentor Piccolo as the latter dies alongside the Earth. He then participates in the fights against Super 17 and Omega Shenron.
Gohan, along with Goku, is parodied in the Robot Chicken episode "Easter Basket". Gohan has been used in promotional merchandising at fast-food chain Burger King, and collectible cards, such as the Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game, have featured Gohan frequently. Gohan is referenced in the song "Goku" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, where he brags that he looks and feels like Gohan and a few other Dragon Ball related characters.
Gohan is a playable character in various Dragon Ball-related video games. He first appeared in the 1990 game Dragon Ball Z: Kyôshū! Saiyan. Though Gohan had minor non-speaking roles in Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku, he is the initial playable character in Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II and playable in the sequel Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury.
In the Budokai Tenkaichi series, Gohan is playable in various forms, which includes his initial child appearance, his attire at the Cell Games and three adult incarnations (at the beginning of the Buu saga, after having his powers boosted by Old Kaiō-shin and the alternate future version of the character from Future Trunk's timeline). These versions of the character apart from his alternate future counterpart are also playable in Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z and Dragon Ball: Xenoverse. The alternate future version of Gohan is playable in Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2, the sequel to Dragon Ball: Raging Blast and obtains the Super Saiyan 3 form in the arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes. His Dragon Ball GT depiction is also playable in Dragon Ball Heroes, marking the first time this version of the character was playable in a video game.
In Dragon Ball: Online, it is revealed that Gohan published a book "Groundbreaking Science" a few years after the departure of his father with Uub and is credited with introducing fighting concepts around the world. In Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, Gohan is manipulated and transformed into a darker version of himself twice during the story, first during his battle against Cell and then when fighting the player alongside Gotenks and Vegeta, by in-game villains Towa and Demigra. He is also one of several mentors that the player can choose to have teach them moves unavailable in other parts of the game. Gohan's appearance in the film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' was revealed in March 2015, a month before the release of the film, to be added as a costume for the customizable player characters of the game by DLC. Gohan has also appeared in crossover games such as Battle Stadium D.O.N and Jump Super Stars.
In 1993, Gohan placed first in a Dragon Ball character popularity poll voted on by Weekly Shōnen Jump readers, and was also voted the third most popular character by fans of the series for the 2004 book Dragon Ball Forever. Due to the popularity of Gohan, other merchandise, such as action figures, video games, and clothing have featured Gohan in Japan and in various countries around the world. In an interview featured in the second Dragon Ball GT Perfect Files, a companion book released in December 1997 by Shueisha's Jump Comics Selection imprint, Masako Nozawa, Gohan's voice actress, stated that her favorite episode voicing Gohan was "Sorry, Robot-san - The Desert of Vanishing Tears". Saffron Henderson, Gohan's original Ocean Studios voice actor, has stated she felt protective of the role and considers it to be one of her favorites. In addition, Gohan's original Funimation voice actor, Stephanie Nadolny has said that playing Gohan was a unique and much-loved experience. C.J. A. Glover of Moviepilot ranked Gohan his third favorite comic character, admitting Gohan "has always been somewhat of an idol to me" as he related to bottling up his anger and being a gentle person that, when snapping, "would let loose and it would be hard to bottle it back up again." In conclusion, Glover wrote that Gohan was definitely "one of my favorite anime and manga characters ever."
Anime Focus felt Gohan's training with Piccolo offered "an appealing glimpse into both of their shifting characters" and found Gohan, along with Goku, to be "standup heroes". Reviewer Nick Hartel found Gohan and Piccolo's time together while training "gripping and far more complex than one might think, culminating in a truly emotional and inspiring moment that one doesn't often expect from your average animated series."
Gohan's role and character in the latter part of the series was met with more mixed reviews. Reviewer Michael Zupan wrote of his disappointment with the character, "Gohan was once the most promising warrior in the galaxy, with the potential to even best his father, Goku… and this is where he's at seven years later? Dressing up in a green dress, black tights and a Lost in Space helmet to put the beat down on robbers?" Anime Focus found humor in his Great Saiyaman guise and his "clumsy but earnest" relationship with Videl, but thought it "mostly uninspired and draggy and feels very flat after the high flying antics of previous arcs." Reviewer Brad Stephenson argued that the character growing older and becoming more "emotionally complex" provided Dragon Ball Z "with a true sense of progression and meaning." Anime Focus was impressed with his fight against Majin Boo after he was powered up, calling it a "rare chance for him to flex his muscles" by giving Majin Boo "an impressive beatdown".
Gohan ranked first on The Artifice writer Santiago Rashad's list "Top Ten Misused Dragon Ball Characters". Rashad argued that the character's role in the series had suffered from the backlash by fans not wanting him to become the main protagonist following his defeat of Cell as he expressed: "He was never accepted by the fans, and thus the show that was meant to be his never became his. His story became the b-plot and he was relegated to being a relief pitcher after being the clutch closer for Cell." Calling Gohan "the guy–for all of the conclusion of the Cell Arc", Rashad mentioned his role in the films, but stressed that "for whatever reason he was never deemed fit for the throne that was all but forced upon him."
In reviewing the thirteenth Dragon Ball Z film Wrath of the Dragon, Jeremy Mullin of IGN thought Gohan not transforming into a Super Saiyan while the other Saiyans in the film did contributed to it not making "a lot of sense", prompting him to question, "Did the animators run out of gold or something?"
IGN writer D. F. Smith liked how during the Cell Games, Gohan has more screentime than Goku, and praised his scenes as one of the biggest moments from said story arc. Theron Martin from Anime News Network celebrated Gohan's development in the Cell Games as he had grown up and become stronger. The character's battles against Cell during the arc and his transformation into a Super Saiyan 2 were positively received as some of the best in the entire series.
Anime Focus felt the completion of the Cell storyline would have been "a fine point for the series to go out", saying "the torch being passed from Goku to Gohan, completing a theme that's been running since the beginning of Z." Nathan Farrugia of Capsule Computers felt Gohan stole the show from Goku "in an impressive showing of power" prior to the beginning of his fight with Cell "in an impressive show of power." Luke Ryan Baldock of The Hollywood News felt Gohan's progression was the focus of the Cell Games and that he had begun to match his father Goku in ability, calling their relationship "a fascinating one to watch unfold." Gohan's defeat of Cell in the anime, following their Kamehameha struggle, was viewed by Jason Nimer of The Gamer's Temple as "some of the best non-CGI animation ever created" and felt the character's birthday being celebrated in an earlier filler episode was "both cute and sad" since it was followed by the events of the Cell Games. Reviewer Nick Hartel expressed that the "continuing elevation of Gohan" pleased him and the last episodes of the Cell storyline "properly sees this is paid off from a narrative standpoint."
John Begley believed Dragon Ball Z "is actually Gohan's story and not Goku's." He explained the flashbacks prior to Gohan's defeat of Cell and Goku's decision to step down from the fight against the villain in order for Gohan to begin dueling Cell as representing "the climax of a narrative journey that began when Raditz kidnapped the boy way back in Season One". Begley argued that Dragon Ball Z could be viewed as a bildungsroman as it showed "the story of Gohan's journey from boy to man" and his defeat of Cell being "the culmination of his journey", deducing that the series not concluding directly after Gohan's victory against Cell was a "shame" since ending it there would have "provided it a sense of poignancy and closure that retroactively would have provided a greater sense of depth and purpose." Reviewer Todd Douglass Jr. wrote that the series split its focus between Goku and Gohan during the start of the series as they grew on their own, finding it to be an "an interesting way to handle the flow of story but also important because it shows Gohan's growth as a person and warrior."
Bojack Unbound, the sole film to feature the character as the lead, placed thirteenth on a list of Dragon Ball Z films by Tom Meadows, who argued the film "showed that Gohan is just as strong if not stronger than Goku on some degree and that he was more than capable of protecting the planet when Goku was absent." While reviewing Bojack Unbound, Jason Zingale expressed that Gohan "went from annoying kid to mature teenager in one episode".
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