Dragon Ball FighterZ has a lot of characters, and several of them are Goku. Some players see that as a problem, and one streamer in particular has taken it upon himself to eradicate those Gokus, one piledriver at a time.
Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG)
Lee "Lythero" Geary is a fighting game player who often gravitates towards the underdogs. In Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, he played Phoenix Wright, and in Smash Bros., he sticks to Ganondorf. So when Dragon Ball FighterZ was announced, he instantly fell for series underdog Android 16.
"I had a double take because I looked at him and was like, this character really shouldn't be cherry-picked to be in this mainstream roster full of all the great, big Dragon Ball Z characters," Geary told me via Skype. "[Android 16]'s like a small side character to the rest of the roster. But I was so excited because I was like, 'I hate Goku and this [character] hates Goku too.'"
Spurred on by Team Four Star's take on Android 16, the kindhearted android who was also designed for the sole purpose of killing Dragon Ball Z protagonist Son Goku, Geary put together a team - Android 16, Frieza, Vegeta - and got to work.
Why the Goku hate though? It isn't just his prevalence in the game, but a carryover from the series itself.
"I was a Dragon Ball Z fan since I was a kid, and I loved Goku and just thought he was the best," said Geary. But as he grew up, he started to notice the destructive pattern of Goku's last-minute entrances to save the day. "The more I grew up, the more I looked back at that going, 'Jeez, maybe he should have spent a little more time with his son, maybe he should have spent a little time with his wife more.' I realise it's not necessarily his fault. He literally just doesn't care about anything but fighting or being stronger, and then he puts the entire universe at stake just for the sake of fighting one dude."
Goku, especially in the more recent Dragon Ball Super, toys with his enemy a great deal more than a hero should. He even ends up helping trigger the current arc, where universes are erased in a grand tournament of power, just so he can fight more powerful enemies. He didn't suggest the erasure idea, but he also didn't listen to the many voices of reason telling him it was a terrible plan in the first place.
So as Geary spent time playing Dragon Ball FighterZ on his stream, an in-joke emerged of him hunting down and "killing" Gokus. Any time he defeated a Goku player, a counter on his stream overlay would tick up. His viewers would spam a custom-made emote, depicting a defeated Goku, for every spiky-haired Saiyan he took down. Considering that FighterZ has two versions of Goku, as well as the pink-haired doppelganger Goku Black, that's a lot of Gokus. And Geary piledrives them all.
Geary's channel even features video of him demonstrating combos on a helpless Goku, which oddly enough syncs up nicely with a Sonic The Hedgehog remix playing in the background. One fan got extremely into character and pledged donations for every Goku destroyed. Kyle Kilby, dubbing himself the Red Ribbon Army Treasurer, put a bounty out for donations for every Goku that Geary could annihilate.
Kilby told me that he's been watching Geary's stream for some time, but it was the role-play of Android 16 that made Kilby want to contribute.
"The thought was, since he was killing all the Gokus, I thought he might like to know how many," wrote Kilby in an email to us. "So I added up the week's worth of Gokus from his stream's dead Goku counter. Then when making the donation, I realised this could be even more fun if I made myself some kind of Red Ribbon Army figurehead."
Dr Gero, a Red Ribbon Army scientist who gets brutally owned by his own creation.
The Red Ribbon Army, in the Dragon Ball universe, is hell-bent on destroying Goku. They're the ones that create the many androids that debuted in the Android and Cell sagas, including the red-mohawked Android 16. When I asked if Kilby was on a similar pursuit towards the eradication of all Gokus, he replied, "What kind of Red Ribbon Treasurer would I be if I didn't say yes?"
While Geary's pursuits towards de-Gokufication continue, a new enemy appears on the horizon. Bardock, Goku's father, has been confirmed as an upcoming member of the Dragon Ball FighterZ roster. At this news, Geary is conflicted. He likes Bardock as a character, but Bardock looks a whole lot like Goku.
When Geary put the question of whether Bardock is a Goku to his Twitter followers, the result came down to a clean 50-50 tie. He says he had to take the individual vote counts and calculate himself, as Twitter polls won't do percentages, and by a hair, it was decided: Bardock was a Goku.
When Geary told me this story, he laughed, saying, "More Gokus to add to the dumpster fire."