Dragon Ball: How Goku’s Name Is Connected to Ultra-Instinct

Goku is one of fiction’s most iconic characters. Here’s how his given name (Goku) relates to the Ultra Instinct phenomenon.

Goku is one of the most iconic characters in fiction, and arguably the most recognizable anime character of all time. The influence of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball on various avenues of popular culture and media is; however, not quite the focus here, but rather, his interesting, sometimes silly, sometimes thoughtless, and sometimes incredibly inspired use of existing concepts to help fill out the Dragon Ball universe.

In Dragon Ball Super, the series overseen by Toriyama with story and art by lifelong fan Toyotaro, Goku’s most notable achievement – beyond that of ascending to literal godhood – is his assumption of a special state during combat: Ultra Instinct. What most fans of the series do not realise is that Toriyama and Toyotaro’s elevation of Goku’s abilities through this method is quite literally in the very fabric of Goku’s character – Ultra Instinct is perhaps Goku’s ultimate form, and this is supported by the idea that it’s actually written in his very name. Here’s how.


First, we must go to the source to grasp each facet. Goku is called “Son Goku” in the original Japanese, which is the Japanese name of “Sun Wukong” from Journey to the West. Fans of Dragon Ball know that Sun Wukong inspired Goku. Journey to the West and Sun Wukong are partly why Goku is a boy with a tail — Dragon Ball took the tail from its metaphorical ancestor. The Great Ape metamorphosis brought Dragon Ball closer to its origin, as Sun Wukong could alter his form (many times) and overcome death (also, many times).

Sun Wukong is born from a mystical stone on Flower and Fruit Mountain. The stone absorbed yin and yang forces and produced a stone egg. A crawling, climbing monkey with golden eyes is born when the wind blows on the egg. The Jade Emperor sends personnel to investigate, but when the monkey is fed, the beams quiet down and he believes the animal is harmless.

Origin of the Monkey King

Sun Wukong was named by Subodhi, one of The Buddha’s ten followers. The written version of the Chinese surname “Sun” (as in Sun Tzu) only differs from the “Sun” in Sun Wukong by a single radical,, called the “dog radical” but denoting animals in general and found in many kanji pertaining to animals. “Sun” conjures “monkey,” figuratively or literally.

This was due to Subodhi’s sense of humor, as the word for monkey was, pronounced “husun” It’s the calligraphic equivalent of putting a tail to one’s grandchild, which describes Subodhi’s relationship to Sun Wukong, but also denotes Sun Wukong’s identity as a monkey and parallels Goku’s early existence with Grandpa Gohan.

The Aware One

The character for “Wu” in “Wukong” is “Go” in Goku’s name. During the Frieza Saga, it was on Goku’s gi. It’s the fundamental character in “Satoru,” the Zen Buddhist idea of “enlightenment” “-toru” in this case means “to get,” hence “Go” in “Goku” refers to Zen Buddhist enlightenment.

“Satori” exists alongside “Kensho” –, “knowing one’s true self.” Satori is a deep experience of Kensho, beyond the initial insight. Goku has always had to master one form before discovering another.

Look Up Into the Void

The most common kanji is. Japanese “sora” means sky. In certain cases, it’s pronounced “kuu,” as in “kuuki” (“atmosphere,” “air”) or the kuudere archetype. Sora and Shiro’s team name “Kuuhaku” means “Blank” since “kuu” means “void” or “emptiness.” “Kuuhaku” mixes them.

“Goku” means “nothing-consciousness.” “Son Goku” and “Sun Wukong” are “idiots.” The concept of vacuum invoked by the “kuu” kanji, which also refers to the sky, is played upon in Goten’s name, where “heavens” is used in place of “void” but still evokes the sky. This character is pronounced “ten” and is Tien’s name. So he’s sometimes dubbed “Ten-shinhan” (occasionally tenshindon).

Kanji calls Autonomous Ultra Instinct “Migatte no Goku’i.” To comprehend nomenclature, break it down and analyze its parts. Some usage of this character refer to one’s person or (primary) self.

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How Selfish

The following kanji in Migatte no Gokui is] – “katte” – but “gatte” in this case. This section translates straight to “selfishness,” and fans who watch their anime subtitled will often hear characters exclaim “katte na koto suru na” when someone is brash or acting impulsively; or “jibun katte” (one’s self-interest).

This kanji doesn’t have the negative meaning of “selfishness,” despite its regular use in that context. “migatte” means “body autonomy” when combined with the previous kanji. Vegeta’s Ultra Ego is an inversion of self-centeredness, with “Wagamama no Goku’i” suggesting “self-indulgence” due to his incapacity to undergo ego death for Ultra Instinct.

Extremity of Secrets

The “Goku’i” part is translated as “secret” because it is a key part of what is being called up. Even though it sounds a lot like “Goku,” it’s not written with the same characters and doesn’t make the last word longer. , which is pronounced “kyoku,” could mean “extreme,” but it’s usually pronounced “-goku” when it’s used with other kanji. “-goku,” like in “sugoku,” which means “a lot,” means “many” in this case. It adds to the subject that came before it.

The kanji, which is pronounced “-i” in this case, is used in words that have to do with meaning, intention, or thoughts. It is also used in words that have to do with the “heart” in a metaphorical sense. It is one of many kanji that look similar and refer to the heart in a metaphorical way. However, this is better understood as a metaphorical use of the word “heart,” where the heart is the most important part of the subject being talked about. This kanji is used in a few different ways, many of which are related.

(Autonomous) Ultra Instinct

Migatte no Goku’i means “The Secret of the Selfish/Self-Centered Body,” and in this state, a fighter can battle without thinking. It’s based on “Mushin,” which translates to “no mind” It is a truncation of “mushin no shin” (lit. “mind without the mind”) and is spelled with the “mu” kanji, which expresses negation or “without,” and “shin,” the kanji used in the Japanese biological phrase for the heart, “shinzo,” but also implies a figurative heart or ego.

“Autonomous” was added to the English translation to match Beerus’ lip-movement, but it also makes “migatte” approachable to English speakers. The “Go” in Goku means “further insight,” which pertains to the fact that warriors who attain Ultra Instinct must first get the metamorphosis, the incomplete “Ultra Instinct Sign,” before achieving Perfected Autonomous Ultra Instinct.

Like Ultra Instinct, Mushin is accomplished when the mind is free of thought, emotion, and ego. Martial artists that achieve this condition lack thought and judgment, therefore they are different from their ordinary selves but not necessarily functioning from any single entity’s perspective. Their bodies operate on instinct alone, devoid of ego. “Goku” suggests mental emptiness. It completes the traditional trek west.

Source: Yoming


The journey of Son Goku, is therefore, the journey towards true enlightenment and an awakening to the void – the initial doorway to this is the first Super Saiyan transformation, and the achievement of this, is the Perfected Ultra Instinct phenomenon. In Dragon Ball, Goku’s most powerful forms have often brought a calmer, yet unbelievably wild element to Goku which is often expressed in a stern, gruff voice and more grim demeanour overall. These forms reflected Goku’s inner beast. Super Saiyans 3 and 4 and Ultra Instinct have this problem. In Dragon Ball Super, Ultra Instinct is characterized as the coalescence of all of Goku’s teachers’ techniques and martial arts concepts into a single, faultless, easy display of pure instinct and a lifetime of training.

So, Ultra Instinct might be Toriyama’s long-term goal for Goku: to make Goku so strong in his base form that his transformations are useless. It’s also a nod to the martial arts roots of the Dragon Ball franchise. Son Goku hasn’t just gone further beyond by waking up to emptiness. With this technique, Goku has finally reached his destiny. If Goku’s first transformation into a Super Saiyan is considered one of the best and most important parts of the Dragon Ball story, then Ultra Instinct is the only thing that could possibly be more important to Goku as a character.

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