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Sometimes people say the first time we see Goku turn SSJ2 in the series was when he fights against Vegeta in the Buu Saga.

However, there is a chapter before that when you wonder if he was SSJ2 or not. In his battle in Other World against Pikkon, when he first turns into SSJ2 we see the electricity sparks we see in SSJ2 transformations and his hair is seen more rigid than usual.

But after the initial transformation and power up, we no longer see electricity sparks on him. Was Goku SSJ2 when he fought against Pikkon or was he a regular super saiyan?

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    Which chapter are you referring to? AFAIK, Paikuhan only appears in the anime and movies, and therefore is not canon. – solalito Nov 30 '16 at 6:05
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    I'm assuming your talking about Pikkon. And yes @solalito is correct. In the manga from what I remember (it's been awhile since I've seen and read that particular part). Goku learned SSJ2 and SSJ3 while he was in otherworld after the Cell arc. The very first time we saw SSJ2 was against Majin Vegeta. And SSJ3 was against fat buu. Personally I think we didn't see enough use of SSJ2 it became a thing and quickly got overshadowed by SSJ3 and now the whole god thing in super. – Callat Nov 30 '16 at 7:06
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    yes, I'm talking about Pikkon. In the spanish dub he was called Paikuhan – Pablo Nov 30 '16 at 12:48
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    well SSJ2 is a very flat transformation. It looks almost the same than SSJ, many times we can't tell if the saiyan is in SSJ or SSJ2, I guess that's why they moved quickly to another transformation – Pablo Nov 30 '16 at 12:50
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    Rumor has it, SSJ2 looks like SSJ1 simply because it was never meant to be SSJ2, but simply Gohan SSJ1 at full power. That does not change the fact that in Canon the first time we see it on Goku, its in his fight agasint Majin Vegeta – Ryan Nov 30 '16 at 16:38
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The main way you can differentiate between SSJ and SSJ2 is that SSJ2 has electricity in the aura, or to quote the Dragon Ball Wiki for SSJ2:

The golden hair brought on by the original transformation becomes longer and rigid and stands up even more. Some users like Gohan, Goku, Vegito and Bardock lose a few strands of hair. Increased energy radiation causes the aura to take on a jagged, fierce flame-like appearance rather than smooth or flowing. Because the energy output and radiation is higher than that of a Super Saiyan, the aura pulses at a higher frequency.

According to Dragon Ball Wiki for Goku the first time you see Goku in his SSJ2 form is when he and Vegeta are battling:

Although they are evenly matched at Super Saiyan 2, Goku ends the fight when he senses that Majin Buu has been released and pleads with Vegeta to help him defeat Majin Buu

Additionally, it explains earlier that

while Goku is training in Other World he achieves Super Saiyan 2 and Super Saiyan 3

So (by canon) you first see him transform against Vegeta but he must have achieved it earlier when he was in Other World.

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