Goku Black: Why Fans Can’t Get Enough of Dragon Ball Super’s Bad Boy

Dragon Ball remains one of the most popular anime and manga franchises around, and its hero Goku is, in many opinions, the face of anime in general. Fittingly, he's one of the most popular characters as a hero -- and now as a villain. According to a recent Viz Media poll, Goku Black, the evil version of the Saiyan, is one of most beloved characters in the Dragon Ball Super manga.

The idea of evil twins isn't new, but it's fresher in manga than it is elsewhere, especially when applied to a commercial juggernaut like Dragon Ball. Not only is the concept always exciting, but seeing the world being oppressed by an evil Goku sounds fantastic on paper alone. Here's a closer look at why exactly this works so well and how it turns the face of Shonen Jump in a completely new direction.

Goku's Evil Twin: Goku Black

Goku Black in Dragon Ball Super

One element of Goku Black's popularity may simply be the allure of the evil twin. Many Western comic books and cartoons have their main characters facing doppelgangers and evil mirror counterparts, with superheroes in particular being no strangers to twisted twins. This allows morals and loyalties to be tested, seeing how far someone with the main character's powers, resources or connections will go to get what they want.

Strangely enough, this trope isn't nearly as common in anime and manga, even in shonen battle stories. Due to this, Goku Black stands out more clearly than he might in another medium. His body-hopping premise especially sounds like something out of a Western superhero story, but such a tale's relative lack of use in manga makes it seem like a fresh concept.

Why Goku Black Is So Popular

Goku and Goku Black Punch Each Other At The Same Time

Another reason for Goku Black's popularity is that he's specifically an inversion of Goku's character. Goku's heroism has often been questioned by the Dragon Ball fandom, as he harbors a one-track devotion to fighting and getting stronger above anything else. Of course, he stands for justice and doesn't want to see others hurt, but his ultimate goal of fighting sometimes comes at the cost of his family responsibilities and simple manners.

Goku Black takes this to the extreme, seeing mortals as weaklings who are beneath him, while also striking against the gods for allowing mortals to live unquestioned. The fact that he himself is (or was) a mere mortal only makes this thematically stronger, especially compared to other villains in the franchise. Foes such as Majin Buu, Cell, Frieza and the Gods of Destruction are unearthly demons, scientific experiments or otherwise inhuman-looking creatures whose thirst for power and conquest fits their less than "normal" designs.

On the other hand, Goku Black has the very visage of Dragon Ball's venerable hero, whom fans have come to know ever since he was a small child. Seeing the face of shonen manga acting in a genocidal fashion and becoming worse than the Androids ever were is not only a change of pace for the series, but something special for all of manga and anime. The world has seen several "evil" versions of Superman, but finally seeing the true anime/manga equivalent is, as shown by the aforementioned Viz Media poll, a devilishly potent formula for success.

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