One of the best aspects about Dragon Ball—the series’ original run, at least—is its dedication to the progression of time. From the very first arc all the way up to the end of the Z-era, several decades end up passing. Characters age, they grow up, they move on, and the franchise reorients itself with every time skip.
As a result, series protagonist Goku ends up visibly changing quite a bit. While he does get taller and more muscular as he ages, even adopting some laugh lines by the end of the Boo arc, his appearance changes most through his gis, with Goku rarely going an arc without donning a new uniform.
In theory, Goku’s turtle school uniform in Super is pretty par for the course. He’s got the sash from the end of the series, the orange tint, and even his “Go” kanji from Namek to spice things up. Unfortunately, this is exactly the problem. In a franchise that constantly moves itself forward, Goku wearing this uniform plays out like taking a step back.
Worse yet, it’s quite clear that Super Saiyan Blue was not designed with this gi in mind. While Super Saiyan God actually looks nice, playing off the orange well, the combination of the turtle school uniform with Super Saiyan Blue is garish, to say the least.
Goku’s original blue gi is rather simple, but it gets the job done. The outfit itself is almost generic to a fault, but that just makes the moment where Goku dons the iconic turtle gi for the first time all the more meaningful.
That said, it’s still a bland outfit that does Goku’s design no favors and it’s really no surprise how quickly Toriyama did away with it. Doubly so in the manga! In the anime, Goku wears this outfit for the entire first arc, but he actually swaps out the blue gi for a light orange one in the manga’s second chapter.
Although it’s certainly novel seeing Goku in Vegeta’s trademark Saiyan armor during the Cell arc, the look doesn’t particularly suit him. The blue bodysuit pairs well with Goku’s trademark yellow hair in Super Saiyan, but the fact that both Trunks and Vegeta rock the armor at the same time as Goku starts to chip away at Goku’s visual identity.
Fortunately, it seems Toriyama wasn’t too keen on Goku’s brief stint in the armor either, as Goku immediately dons his old gi once he leaves the Room of Spirit and Time with Gohan. It is a shame he never had a proper fight in the suit, though.
Goku’s most consistent outfit as a child, the first version of the turtle school uniform has a simple elegance that keeps Goku visually appealing, especially in action. While the manga opts for a soft yellow-orange coloring, the anime’s dark red helps the younger Goku standout from his older counterpart quite a bit.
The only downside to the outfit is the fact that it’s Goku’s main outfit for four core story arcs. While the Red Ribbon Army arc does do a good job in varying up his wardrobe, it can be a bit boring seeing Goku only wear the turtle school uniform most of the time.
Upon finally arriving home from Yardrat, Goku ditches his belt and kanji for a sash and plain bodied gi. While this look is hardly Goku’s best, there’s a cleanliness to how Goku is designed. The sash especially gives Goku an air of simplicity that feels right at home with the character.
The lack of kanji also seems to indicate Goku forging his own path, a concept that makes quite a bit of sense considering Goku’s mentor-like role during the Cell and Boo arcs. He’s not representing his masters or even himself—he’s representing the spirit of a martial artist. That said, the look is perhaps a bit too plain for its own good.
While most of Dragon Ball GT’s redesigns are widely disliked, there’s something to be said about Goku’s GT dogi. Easily Goku’s most colorful gi in the series, the redesign features Goku’s End of Z top with a lighter yellow version of his turtle school pants. Toss in some red wrist bands and black shoes, and Goku looks surprisingly slick.
What’s particularly great about this design is how it matches Goku both as an adult and a child. The younger look is the more iconic of the two, and, clearly, the one the gi was designed for, but adult Goku looks fantastic in his GT dogi. It’s just a shame he doesn’t get more use out of it.
Goku’s Yardrat outfit is eclectic in all the right ways to the point where it’s a genuine shame he only wore it once in the entire series. Made up of typical Yardratian garb mixed with Saiyan armor flarings and a dyed version of Goku’s turtle school pants, the outfit all around gives Goku one of his coolest looks in the franchise.
What’s better is how great the outfit pairs with Super Saiyan. It’s truly a shame Trunks beat Goku to the punch, as it likely would have been amazing to watch Goku fight both Freeza and King Cold in this short-lived outfit.
Speaking of short-lived outfits, the End of Z dogi is right up down there in terms of longevity. Only worn at the very end of the series, and pretty much only for the 28th Tenkaichi Budokai, Goku sports a blue tunic with blue pants, invoking the spirit of his original outfit from the very first arc.
Interestingly, like the first outfit, the coloring is different between mediums. In the manga, Goku’s End of Z dogi isn’t blue at all, but instead a teal-ish green. Super Saiyan would have looked fantastic with either color scheme, so it’s a shame Goku never tried using it against Oob.
It’s a shame that most of Goku’s best gis are barely used, and Whis’ uniform is by far the most egregious example of a gi being swapped out. While it makes sense that Goku wouldn’t keep either the Yardrat outfit or his End of Z dogi for long, Whis’ uniform should have been Goku’s definitive look for Super.
An orange version of his End of Z dogi, the outfit pairs magnificently with Super Saiyan Blue and gave Goku a sense of style that could have helped Super crawl out of Dragon Ball Z’s shadow. Unfortunately, starting with the Goku Black arc, the uniform disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.
Goku’s most iconic look by far, the combination of the turtle school uniform with his classic belt, undershirt, and kanji make Goku standout well in a series where several members of the supporting cast wear the exact same uniform.
From the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai all the way to the end of the Freeza arc, Goku is constantly updating his uniform with new kanji, signifying where he is in his martial artist’s journey. Dragon Ball Super: Broly even brought the outfit back for some fan-service. It’s an iconic look that’s synonymous with Dragon Ball. Here’s hoping Goku keeps updating his wardrobe in the near future!