Son Goku[nb 1] is a fictional character and main protagonist of the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He is based on Sun Wukong (Monkey King), a main character in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. His origin story also shares some similarities with that of Superman. Goku first made his debut in the first Dragon Ball chapter, Bulma and Son Goku,[nb 2][nb 3] originally published in Japan's Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on December 3, 1984. Born Kakarot,[nb 4][nb 5] Goku is introduced as an eccentric, monkey-tailed boy who practices martial arts and possesses superhuman strength. He meets Bulma and joins her on a journey to find the magical seven Dragon Balls that can grant the user one wish. Along the way, he finds new friends who follow him on his journey to become a stronger fighter. As Goku grows up, he becomes the Earth's mightiest warrior and battles a wide variety of villains with the help of his friends and family, while also gaining new allies in the process.
As the protagonist of Dragon Ball, Goku appears in most of the episodes, films, television specials and OVAs of the manga's anime adaptations (Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z) and sequels (Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Super), as well as many of the franchise's video games. Due to the series' international popularity, Goku has become one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the world. Outside the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku has made cameo appearances in Toriyama's self-parody series Neko Majin Z, has been the subject of other parodies, and has appeared in special events. Most Western audiences were introduced to the adult version of Goku appearing in the Dragon Ball Z anime, itself an adaptation of Dragon Ball manga volumes 17–42, as opposed to his initial child form, due to the limited success of the first series overseas. Goku's critical reception has been largely positive and he is often considered to be one of the greatest manga and anime characters of all time.
Vegeta (Japanese: ベジータ, Hepburn: Bejīta) (/vəˈdʒiːtə/ və-JEE-tə), also known as Prince Vegeta (ベジータ王子, Bejīta-ōji) or alternatively styled as Vegeta IV (ベジータ四世, Bejīta Yon-sei) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball franchise created by Akira Toriyama. Vegeta first appears in chapter #204 Sayonara, Son Goku (さようなら孫悟空, Sayōnara Son Gokū), published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on November 7, 1988, seeking the wish-granting Dragon Balls to gain immortality.
Vegeta is the prince of an extraterrestrial warrior race known as the Saiyans. He is extremely arrogant, proud and hardworking; constantly referring to his heritage and royal status throughout the series. He believed that he should be regarded as the strongest fighter in the Universe and becomes obsessed with surpassing Goku after losing his first battle with him. After Frieza's death, Vegeta later unites with the heroes to thwart greater threats to the universe, most notably Cell, Majin Buu, Beerus, Zamasu and Broly. Throughout the series, Vegeta's role changes from villain to antihero and later as one of the heroes, while remaining a rival to Goku.
Vegeta has been hailed as one of the most iconic characters not only in the Dragon Ball franchise, but also in manga and anime history as a whole. He is often cited as one of the most popular examples of rival characters in the industry, due to his character arc and narrative throughout Dragon Ball Z.