Ever since Luffy's Gear 5 arrived in One Piece, fans have been comparing anime transformations, with a primary focus on Dragon Ball's Super Saiyan and Boruto's Baryon Mode. The majority of anime fans have always considered Goku's Super Saiyan form to be the epitome of transformations. Hence, fans always look up to it as the standard.
Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama follows the life of Son Goku, a Saiyan, who was sent to Earth to capture it, but instead, ended up becoming its greatest savior.
Since then, Goku, believing he was an Earthling, fought many enemies who tried to take over the planet.
Dragon Ball: Why is Goku's Super Saiyan, the most iconic transformation?
Unlike other Shounen transformations, Goku's Super Saiyan was one of the first power-ups to see the character's appearance change. The form itself was first revealed in 1991 in both manga and anime, meaning that it was revealed years before any of the Big Three manga even made their debut.
Given that Goku's Super Saiyan was the first popular transformation in all Shounen, other series were able to use it as a stencil to create their transformations. This would include the moment and the buildup for the same.
Dragon Ball Z's Frieza Saga saw the Super Saiyan form being hinted at by Vegeta from the very beginning. Hence, fans were led to anticipate a transformation. However, given that the form was also considered a myth, there seemed a possibility that no such transformation would appear.
This is exactly why when Goku turned into Super Saiyan, it was not just the characters but also the fans who were shocked to see him attain the form. Also, unlike the contemporary period in anime where everything gets leaked ahead of time, Goku's Super Saiyan form was a surprise to most people making it worth all the hype.
Goku's Super Saiyan form also created several anime tropes when it made its first appearance. Goku and his friends had tried their best to defeat Frieza and believed they were successful. That's when Frieza revealed himself to be alive and killed both Piccolo and Krillin.
When Goku witnessed this, he turned into a Super Saiyan, busting the myth, and defeating Frieza.
Several anime have used a similar anime trope. Naruto has, on several occasions, lost control of his emotions and begun to transform into the nine-tailed fox. The most famous of such moments was during the fight against Pain when he saw Hinata getting knocked down by the Akatsuki leader.
As for Luffy's Gear 5 moment, it was similar to Goku's Ultra Instinct moment. In both cases, people believed that the protagonist had been defeated. When all hope seemed lost, the two characters woke up with a new power-up that helped them overpower their enemy.
Considering how Luffy's Gear 5 did not even surpass Dragon Ball Super's Ultra Instinct hype, it is easy to conclude that Goku's mere Super Saiyan transformation was more iconic than any other transformation.
Even if groups of fans consider Naruto's Baryon Mode to be better, the truth is that the form was a one-timer. Moreover, there was no foreshadowing or intensity to the transformation itself. The only part that captivated fans was Kurama's death which was caused due to the power-up.