One undeniably true thing about anime, love it or hate it, is that there’s a ton of it. Even lesser-known series can stretch hundreds of episodes. As such, when you have a mainstay like the decades-running Dragon Ball series, you end up with a mountain of lore that even the most dedicated fans have a hard time sorting through. This means fans can, at times, find themselves disagreeing over even basic facts regarding their favorite characters. So, when some Dragon Ball fans wished series protagonist Goku a happy birthday on Monday, not everyone was quite so sure that it was indeed his birthday. Despite the uncertainty, anime fans on Twitter—famous for their decorum—managed to mediate the dispute in a genial and good-natured manner. Just kidding, of course they didn’t: no one knows when Goku’s birthday is and everyone is extremely mad about it.
Though not for certain, the origins of this week’s controversy can perhaps be traced back to a comicbook.com post from Monday, April 16, wishing Goku a happy birthday. Though the article identifies the subject of Goku’s birthday as a powder-keg of controversy, the question at hand is not one of day, but year. Goku, the article claims, was definitely born on April 16—but either in Age 736 or 737, depending on if you go by the anime or the manga. (Another article, this time a Quora answer from December, makes the same claim.)
On Tuesday, GameSpot, perhaps taking a cue from that article, published a video wishing Goku a happy birthday:
Fans on Twitter (where the video has since been taken down), were not happy with GameSpot, and they made their feelings known:
But if Dragon Ball fans were displeased with GameSpot, they were fucking livid at the @Goku Twitter account. The account, which didn’t even post about Goku’s birthday, draws a lot of ire—partly for insisting on retconning Barbara Bush and R. Lee Ermey into the Dragon Ball universe, but also just for being, you know, not actually Goku. Whether or not @Goku was responsible for spreading alleged disinformation regarding the date of Goku’s birth, they were going to pay.
At this point, things really went off the rails for the true disbelievers, as outsiders began to catch on to the controversy. Mainly, comedian Stefan Heck, who began insisting that Goku’s true birthday is April 18th, 1974, and also that he was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This was, in turn, received with all the self-awareness and good humor one might expect, which is to say absolutely none at all:
But if April 16 isn’t Goku’s birthday, how did such a misinformation campaign begin? One Twitter use believes they have tracked down the patient zero of claiming Goku’s birthday is April 16: an editor on the Dragon Ball wiki with a history of just one edit—recording Goku’s birthday as April 16.
Of course, that the change was made doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the genesis of the idea, nor does it prove that April 16 isn’t Goku’s birthday. (To be explicit: this publication does not have an official position on the subject of Goku’s birthday.) Will we ever know for certain whether or not April 16 is Goku’s birthday? Surely there must be some way to determine Goku’s birthday, and indeed, there is: watch all 500+ Dragon Ball TV episodes, 27 movies, and read/play an endless assortment of various supplementary materials.
Happy birthday Goku, whenever it may be.
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