"These are the black star Dragon Balls. They were made long ago before Kami separated from Piccolo. And I know this because I am a brilliant researcher and an unrivaled mastermind...with a special knack for devious behavior."
Emperor Pilaf (ピラフ, Pirafu) is a small, blue imp-like creature who craves nothing more than power and dreams of ruling the world. He rules over an empire that consists of his castle in the Mushroom Forest, and his two followers, Shu and Mai.
Characteristics and design
Despite his seeming incompetence, Emperor Pilaf has an incredible amount of resources at his command, such as his own castle, airplane, laser weaponry, and a high-tech floating base. He is also implied to be quite intelligent in spite of his bumbling nature, as he is able to improve on Bulma's Dragon Radar, develop a material that is capable of nullifying the electromagnetic pulses that a Dragon Radar picks up on, create an orbiting satellite detection system that can pick up images and sound from anywhere in the world, and find where the Electric Rice Cooker containing the sealed King Piccolo was buried under the ocean floor hundreds of years ago, even though he was believed to be only a legend by everyone, save Master Roshi and Master Shen.
Emperor Pilaf's design was partially based on Elton John's character from the film adaptation of Tommy. Emperor Pilaf wears a similar hat to John's and also has a gigantic pinball machine with piano keys. He has a star mark on his hat that signifies that he is after the Dragon Balls.
Emperor Pilaf is one of the few characters to break the fourth wall, directly referring the Dragon Ball manga itself. It should also be noted that despite his incompetence, he is known to the citizens of Dragon World, as Bulma recognizes him as Emperor Pilaf when they first meet.
Emperor Pilaf is a recurring character throughout Dragon Ball and appears almost twice as much in the anime as compared to the manga.
Emperor Pilaf acts much like a child would with a new toy, he acts as if he is king of the world all because of his "toys". Emperor Pilaf, in fact, has no special powers and usually keeps his henchmen in line through various torture devices he keeps in his castle home. Pilaf can also act like a parent figure to his lackeys, once telling them he was cutting their allowance. If something bothers Emperor Pilaf, he will cry, whine, and complain like a baby until he gets his way. Despite his immature attitude, Pilaf demonstrates some degree of reserve in the manga, where he is disgusted by Bulma's "diseased" confession that she figured he would strip and violate her as punishment for not giving him the final Dragon Ball.
Many things that would normally kill other characters, such as being kicked off a high flying Airship, have the effect of only injuring Pilaf and his henchmen in a slapstick manner.
Emperor Pilaf Saga
Main article: Emperor Pilaf Saga
Emperor's Pilaf first appearance is at the beginning of Dragon Ball, during the Emperor Pilaf Saga. He discovers the One-Star Dragon Ball and finds out he needs to collect all seven Dragon Balls. He ends up torturing his minions Shu and Mai repeatedly, due to them failing to gather any more Dragon Balls. He manages to collect all of the Dragon Balls once Goku, Bulma and Oolong (who later are joined by Yamcha and Puar) appear near his castle and are ambushed by Shu and Mai. They forget the four star ball, but they end up eventually retrieving it as they get it by trapping them in a room with sleeping gas.
When Pilaf is about to make his wish to take over the world, Oolong jumps in the way and screams a wish for the most comfortable pair of underwear. After his wish is ruined, Emperor Pilaf captures Goku and the others in anger, and plans to kill them in the morning by letting the sun roast them. But during their nightly stay in prison, Goku's friends are freed when Goku transforms into a Great Ape by looking at the full moon. Emperor Pilaf's castle is completely destroyed by the monster ape's carnage but Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu manage to escape after a failed attempt at trying to kill him by shooting his plane with a tower of Pilaf's castle.
Red Ribbon Army Saga
Main article: Red Ribbon Army Saga
Emperor Pilaf returns second time in anime filler to gather the Dragon Balls up once more, but he is stopped by the Red Ribbon Army and was forced to surrender the Dragon Ball he did find. In addition, Goku briefly references Emperor Pilaf (albeit not by name) to the villagers at Jingle Village when explaining that the Red Ribbon Army was most likely trying to gain the Dragon Balls to conquer the world due to fighting another person with a similar goal (Pilaf).
Fortuneteller Baba Saga
Main article: Fortuneteller Baba Saga
Next he fights Goku in his Pilaf Machine, a robot battle suit, in a gamble for the Dragon Balls during the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, but is defeated by Goku, even when Shu, Mai and Pilaf fuse their machines together.
King Piccolo Saga
Main article: King Piccolo Saga
Emperor Pilaf returns a fourth time, after he released King Piccolo from his confinement to achieve power. He helps Piccolo in finding the Dragon Balls, allowing him to use his airship and giving him the location of the Dragon Balls, thanks to his Global Dragon Radar. He, Shu, Mai, and Piano watch King Piccolo battling and defeating Goku. Soon after, Piccolo betrays Pilaf, Shu, and Mai and kicks them off the airship.
Piccolo Jr. Saga
Main article: Piccolo Jr. Saga In the anime filler, he also appears at the end of Dragon Ball and tries to defeat Goku and Chi-Chi in order to obtain the Bansho Fan on the side of a freezing mountain in their Pilaf machines, prior to Goku and Chi-Chi's wedding.
In the film Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure, Pilaf, Mai, and Shu worked for the Mifan Empire, specifically under Master Shen and General Tao. They were the ones who developed the Global Dragon Radar for them. However, shortly after Pilaf and his minions created it, General Tao betrayed and attacked them.
Dragon Ball Z
Emperor Pilaf is not seen nor heard of throughout Dragon Ball Z, minus a quick flashback by Bulma in a filler episode of the Namek Saga, as well as being seen briefly during the ending credits of Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku. In Daizenshuu 7, it is explained that Pilaf and his gang still plotted world domination, working in secret. However, when Cell appeared, they decided to evaluate the situation a little more and postponed their plans. When they were thinking about making a move again, Majin Buu appeared and they postponed their plans again.
Pilaf has a cameo in a picture stint on a card game in the movie Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound.
Dragon Ball GT
Black Star Dragon Ball Saga
Main article: Black Star Dragon Ball Saga
In the first episode of Dragon Ball GT, he makes a final major appearance as an elderly man. Pilaf, along with the now elderly Shu and Mai, arrive at Kami's Lookout with the use of their robot suits in order to use the Black Star Dragon Balls to make a wish, while Goku continues his training with Uub. The trio manage to summon the Dragon, but are caught by Goku, whom they try to stop with missile launching robot suits, but fail. Emperor Pilaf complains how he wishes Goku was a kid again so he could beat him up, unaware the Eternal Dragon hears this wish, grants it, and turns Goku into a child and then scatters the balls across the galaxy, setting into motion the events of the entire series.
Main article: Baby Saga
Emperor Pilaf is not seen for the rest of the series, except for once in the Baby Saga. Before the Earth explodes, Emperor Pilaf and his gang are last seen briefly, when Super Saiyan 4 Goku teleports them to the new planet Tuffle.
Techniques and arsenal
- Chainsaw – Used only in the anime, in an attempt to torture Shu.
- Switchblade – Used only in the anime, to threaten an alligator on Roshi's island.
- "The Treatment" – Pilaf blows a kiss at his victim and blushes. He uses this attack on Bulma, but she shrugs it off as ridiculous.
- Pilaf Machine:
- Arm Extension – The ability to elongate arms. Used by Pilaf's machine at the end of the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, as well as Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure and the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Gigantic Rock Throw – Pilaf Machine picks up a gigantic boulder and launches it at its opponent. This attack is one of the Pilaf Machine's Blast 2 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Rolling Smash – Pilaf Machine rolls itself up in a ball and launches itself at the opponent. It is one of Pilaf Machine's Blast 2 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series, and similar techniques are used in Advanced Adventure and Dragon Ball: Origins 2.
- Great Pilaf Operation – Pilaf launches himself at the opponent and lifts them up in the air. Shu, and Mai then arrive and then run over the opponent two times and while the opponent is in the air, they then fuse and tackle the opponent, taking away a large percent of life (two lifebars). It is the Pilaf Machine's Ultimate Blast in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Pilaf Barrier – One of the Pilaf Machine's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- False Courage – One of Pilaf the Machine's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Fused Pilaf Machine:
- Double Buster – The Fused Pilaf Machine releases strong pink waves of energy from the two slots on the front of Mai's Pilaf Machine unit, which creates massive damage.
- Gatling Gun – Used only in the Fused Pilaf Machine. Mai's Pilaf Machine unit reveals a machine gun from its left arm and releases waves of blasts at his opponent. This attack is used in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Launch Missiles! – Used only in the Fused Pilaf Machine. Pilaf yells "launch missiles now!" and Shu's Pilaf Machine unit releases a powerful missile that takes away a huge percentage of damage. Pilaf and Shu used this technique against Goku, but the missile was caught and thrown back at them.
- Pilaf Barrier – One of Pilaf Machine's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- False Courage – One of Pilaf Machine's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
Video game appearances
Emperor Pilaf makes an appearance in one of the first Dragon Ball video games, Dragon Ball: Shenron no Nazo. He later made a short appearances in Dragon Ball Z Gaiden: Saiyajin Zetsumetsu Keikaku, Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury when Goten and Trunks try to take a Dragon Ball he found, and in the beginning of Dragon Ball GT: Transformation where he mirrors his anime appearance. He is an assist character in Dragon Ball Z: Bakuretsu Impact.
Emperor Pilaf, using a Pilaf Machine combined with his henchmen's, is a boss in Dragon Ball: Daimaō Fukkatsu, Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden (and its remake), Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen, and Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans. He is part of two bosses in Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure, both in his robotic suit; in the first battle he and Shu both fight Goku in their robots, and in the second they merge with Mai's robot. His and Shu's robots are also playable in the Bonus Mode.
Emperor Pilaf appears in Dragon Ball: Origins, playing the same role he did in the manga, as well as in two extra stages where he rebuilds his castle and creates new evil plans: the first time (level 6-5), Pilaf attempts to eliminate Goku before he becomes too much of an obstacle, while the second time (level 6-6), he gets Ranfan to join him, and terrorizes a nearby village. He appears as the final boss using is Flying Fortress and the Fused Pilaf Machine with his henchmen in Dragon Ball: Origins 2, as well as in three extra stages: in the bonus level 8-4, he kidnaps Senbei Norimaki and Turbo Norimaki, and obliges them to repair his Flying Fortress and his Pilaf Machines. In the bonus level 8-6, he employs Colonel Violet to lead him to the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters control room to find a surviving Red Ribbon Battle Jacket. In the bonus level 8-7, he employs King Nikochan and his servant to repair and improve his flying fortress' nuclear reactor. He then confronts Goku with his henchmen after he trained to pilote his Pilaf Machine, but they are defeated once again. This bonus level ends with Pilaf telling that he needs to find a fighter stronger than Goku no matter how many time it will take, and then a flashforward shows Pilaf finding the Electric Rice Cooker where King Piccolo is sealed.
He briefly appears in the opening cinematic of Dragon Ball Z: Sagas.
- Japanese version: Shigeru Chiba
- Ocean Dub: Dave Ward
- FUNimation Dub: Chuck Huber
- Latin American Dub: Yamil Atala
- Portuguese Dub: Ricardo Spínola
- Brazilian Dub: Élcio Sodré
- The name Pilaf is a pun on the rice dish of the same name. The simplified Chinese characters he wears on his chest are 炒饭 (chǎofàn), which means "fried rice".
- Pilaf is most commonly associated with the One-Star Dragon Ball, as he was the one in possession of it during Goku's first two quests for them. Even in Dragon Ball GT, when he discovers the Black Star Dragon Balls, the One-Star Ball is the one he picks up.
- Interestingly, Pilaf's affinity for the One-Star Ball is shared with Syn/Omega Shenron, the final villain in GT, and thus the final major villain in the entire Dragon Ball anime series. In contrast, Pilaf was the first major villain of the series (being the main enemy in the first saga of Dragon Ball), as well as the one who (inadvertantly) started the first arc of GT.
- It is revealed in the anime only that Shu and Mai aren't his only minions and in "The Emperor's Quest", there is one who left a spy tracker in Skull Valley. Mai mentions that after he left the tracker, he was never heard from again. It is assumed this spy was killed by the Wolves. Another minion is later heard calling Pilaf on a crocodile-shaped telephone.
- In the 9th Dragon Ball Z movie, Bojack Unbound, Pilaf, Mai and Shu are on cards in a card game Goku and King Kai are playing.
- Emperor Pilaf makes a minor appearance in Dr. Slump and Arale-chan: N-cha! Love Comes From Penguin Village where he is in a crowd with Mai, Shu, Oolong, Launch, King Nikochan and his servant, and Pink.
- The Dragon Ball Z anime movie/filler villain Garlic Jr. looks and sounds very similar to Pilaf, sharing the same voice (same Japanese voice only in the Garlic Jr. Saga), skin color and diminutive size, except Garlic Jr. is a much more serious villain.