"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, impish blue 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 very similar to Mr. Satan.
As a villain, Pilaf is notorious as a bumbling and ultimately inept comical villain. In fact, some of his schemes end up having potentially disastrous consequences for the very world he wishes to conquer. His release of the evil Namekian, King Piccolo result in countless deaths (Master Roshi, Chiaotzu, and Krillin) caused by King Piccolo and his mutant offspring, and would have conquered the Earth if Goku hadn't stopped the Namekian's evil reign of terror. His assistance in the revival of Frieza (one of the series greatest villains) unintentionally placed the Earth in mortal peril due to Frieza's quest of revenge on Goku and his friends. In fact, Frieza succeeded in destroying the Earth, killing Pilaf and everyone on it only for the event to be undone by Whis, allow Goku a second chance to defeat the tyrant and save the Earth, as well as Pilaf. Finally in Dragon Ball GT, Pilaf intended to use the Black Star Dragon Balls to conquer the world, only to mistakenly wish for Goku to become a kid again. Not only did he fail to get his wish but he doomed Earth unnecessarily once again due to the Black Star Dragon Balls side effect, which ultimately caused the Earth to explode and ironically killing the Black Star Dragon Ball's creator Piccolo (who's existence Pilaf is technically responsible for due to his role in releasing King Piccolo). He is also partially responsible for Baby coming to Earth, due to Goku, Pan, and Trunks encountering Baby during their search for the Black Star Dragon Balls to prevent the side effect of Pilaf's wish from destroying the Earth.
Pilaf's selfish desire to rule the Earth and irresponsible use of the Dragon Balls (in the case of Frieza and the Black Star Dragon Balls) has actually caused the Earth to be destroyed twice (in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ though this event was undone by Whis and Dragon Ball GT though the people of Earth evacuated and the planet was restored by a wish Porunga), thus while he may be a bumbling and inept villain, ironically it makes him almost as dangerous as serious villains like Frieza, Cell, and Kid Buu. Fortunately for Pilaf and the people of Earth, Goku and allies are around to deal with him and the unintended results of his schemes.
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 a 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.
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.
Dragon Ball Super
Battle of Gods Saga
Main article: Battle of Gods Saga Stranded hungry on a small island in the ocean, the Pilaf Gang are seen as children. Emperor Pilaf is trying to fish for food while Mai and Shu search for the treasure Pilaf had seen on a treasure map. Pilaf starts to get frustrated because Mai and Shu aren't obeying his orders and he isn't catching any fish. Suddenly, the Dragon Radar starts to detect the Dragon Balls due to Trunks opening the container they were protected in. In shock, Emperor Pilaf shouts he's found the Dragon Balls and that also shocks Mai and Shu. When this happens, Trunks closes the container, in which the Dragon Balls are held and turns off the Dragon Radar. This puts disbelief into Shu and Mai. Pilaf tells the two that the Dragon Balls are being held on the cruise ship which Bulma's party is held and is nearby, and they use the boat they have to row it towards the ship.
Once they get close, the boat sinks and they encounter a shark. They get saved by Goten and Trunks who were about to head back to the party when they saw the three out there. Trunks offered food to Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu but Pilaf said they didn't take hand-outs which he later regretted, so Trunks and Goten went back to the party. Goten and Trunks came back later to give them food.
Dragon Ball GT
Black Star Dragon Ball Saga
Main article: Black Star Dragon Ball Saga
"I wish you were a little kid again, then I can really teach you a lesson or two"
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 Ultimate Shenron, 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.
Pilaf has a cameo in a picture stint on a card game in the movie Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound.
- Mystical Adventure
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.
- Battle of Gods
"I am not a monkey! I'm Emperor Pilaf!"
In the film, they appear turned into children and sneak into Capsule Corporation, where Bulma's birthday party is being held, in order to steal the Dragon Balls. Bulma does not recognize them and invites them to the party as a result. Pilaf remembers when Great Ape Goku destroyed his castle when he sees Goten's hair is similar to that of Goku. Pilaf and his gang are also there when the Z Fighters face the God of Destruction Beerus.
- Resurrection ‘F’
Emperor Pilaf and the rest of the Pilaf Gang encounter Tagoma and Sorbet who tracked their location from space with six Dragon Balls in their possession. After getting threatened by the two Galactic Frieza Army soldiers, they decide to help gather the Dragon Balls to help them revive their lord, Frieza. Pilaf, Mai, and Shu failed in teaming up on Sorbet while Tagoma dived to locate the last ball, however they ran off rich from the encounter after Shu made a wish to Shenron to do so.
Pilaf appears as the leader of the Pilappaggy Villain Union with Buggy in the crossover manga Cross Epoch. Both characters have the same Japanese voice actor, Shigeru Chiba. They use a flying ship called Tettiri Number 55, and try to defeat Goku and Monkey D. Luffy for always getting in the way of their attempts at world domination. They are shot down from the sky by the other characters.
Video game stories
- Dragon Ball Online
Techniques and arsenal
- Flight – The ability to fly using ki. In the trailer for Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission 2, Pilaf is shown flying alongside the other villains.
- 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.
- 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 makes 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 pilot 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. Pilaf is mentioned in the Dragon Ball Online timeline. Also, a character very similar to Pilaf, his descendant Paella, appears in the game. Pilaf and his gang also appear in Dragon Ball RPG: Shōnen-hen.
- Japanese dub: Shigeru Chiba
- Ocean dub: Don Brown
- FUNimation dub: Chuck Huber
- Blue Water dub: Dean Galloway
- Latin American dub: Yamil Atala
- Portuguese dub: Ricardo Spínola
- Brazilian Portuguese dub: Élcio Sodré
- Catalan dub: Joan Velilla (DB); Francesc Alborch (DBGT)
- 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 (inadvertently) 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, Pink and Cobalt Blue. Ironically to this, Pilaf has once expressed great distaste for the Dr. Slump manga and believes that Shonen Jump became much more sophisticated following the manga's cancellation.
- The Dragon Ball Z anime movie/filler villain Garlic Jr. looks and sounds very similar to Pilaf, sharing the same voice (the same Japanese voice is only in the Garlic Jr. Saga though), skin color and diminutive size, except Garlic Jr. is a much more serious villain.
- The Imp creatures in the video game Chrono Trigger resemble Pilaf; that game's characters were designed by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama.
- Pilaf is responsible for the return of at least two villains many years after they had been defeated by someone other than Goku, the first being King Piccolo (seal by Master Mutaito) in Dragon Ball and second being Frieza (killed by Future Trunks) in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. Ironically both of the villains he helped where far stronger, evil, and a more serious threat than Pilaf himself and both threatened the Earth that Pilaf longed to conquer.
- In Dragon Ball GT, Pilaf sought the Black Star Dragon Balls to rule the world but due to Goku's interference once again failed to have his wish granted. Ironically, even if Pilaf had successfully had his wish to rule the world granted, it would have been destroyed by the Black Star Dragon Balls side effect. This just serves as another example of Pilaf bumbling nature.
|Members||Emperor Pilaf • Mai • Shu|
|Allies||Minister Shen • General Tao • Ranfan • Colonel Violet • King Nikochan • King Nikochan's servant • King Piccolo • Piano • Tambourine • Cymbal • Pilappaggy Villain Union|
|Pilaf's family||Great Granddaddy Pilaf • Emperor Pilaf's Mother • Paella|
|Bases and Vehicles||Pilaf's Castle • Pilaf Plane • Flying Fortress • Pink Mercedes • Pilaf Machines • Airship • Tettiri Number 55|
|Technology and Objects||Dragon Radar-proof box • Global Dragon Radar • Mecha 7 • Paella Gang (Paella, Long, Chow) • Satellite • Switchblade • Universal Key|