It has been
60 0 days since Jonah last talked about Dragon Ball.
Dragon Ball has a bad habit of leaving cool characters in the dust as the heroes and villains get stronger. Every human character is so weak by the end of DBZ that you start to wonder why they even show up in the first place. Gohan, who was supposed to become the new main character, was tossed aside to bring Goku back and left to grow weak and useless. It’s a huge problem that’s only gotten worse with time.
But few characters have been done dirtier by this issue than the former Demon King himself: Piccolo.
His character arc was an exceptionally simple one. Piccolo was the evil half of Kami, dispelled from his body, who changed to the side of good after making a true friend in Gohan. From there, he made peace with his past with Kami and merged with him, putting the metaphorical (and literal) demons of his past to rest. He’s basically a prototype Vegeta.
And just like Vegeta, he was super cool! Seriously, Piccolo is one of the coolest Dragon Ball characters out there! His design is awesome and he’s got some of the coolest attacks! The dude deserves more than what he gets now, which is basically nothing!
Although he does have that adorable doting babysitter thing going on with Gohan’s daughter, Pan. That’s hilarious and I love it. Give me more of that, if nothing else!
Getting back on topic: Piccolo as a character has had some of the greatest moments in the series. His sacrifice to protect Gohan is one of the most important moments in the whole story, being the direct cause for everyone heading to Namek to fight Freeza. His merging with Nail, while not all that important narratively, is certainly cool. His merging with Kami, on the other hand, is one of the most satisfying moments in the whole series, as it’s been foreshadowed ever since the original Dragon Ball!
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a problem: most of them are completely undercut by the story itself.
The biggest example of this is Piccolo merging with Kami. This is supposed to be their big moment. The conclusion to a plot thread that’s been dangling there for years! One of the most important things in all of Dragon Ball! You’d think that it would be important! That it would amount to something amazing for the rest of the story!
Here’s what that fusion amounts to: Dende shows up to replace Kami because they don’t have Dragon Balls anymore. That’s it. That’s literally all that it led to.
You’d think that, at the very least, Piccolo would do something to help win the day in the end with this new power. Maybe he could have held Cell off long enough for the androids to escape. Or maybe he could have used that new Kami wisdom to get them to team up with him to drive Cell off, forging a tenuous alliance with them for the rest of the arc. Something, anything, to truly impact the story.
But no. All he does is nearly kill Cell and fight Android 17. Problems with that: his fight with 17 ends with Cell interrupting, and, as my old orchestra teacher used to say, ‘nearly’ only counts in horseshoes, handgrenades, and thermonuclear warfare.
He was an interesting man.
Don’t get me wrong, I love where the Cell saga went after that fight. But it’s so frustrating to know that that was the last time in the entire series that Piccolo was allowed to be a character with any agency! From there, he basically just became the babysitter! All he did was teach Goten and Trunks fusion and keep an eye on Pan during filler! He may as well walk around with a goddamn apron on!
This is the problem with DB’s fixation on the Saiyan characters. You’d think that Piccolo could catch up and stand even with Goku and Vegeta; for god’s sake, he was Goku’s rival before Vegeta showed up! Would it really be that hard to give him a powerup so he can keep up?
It’s such a shame. Piccolo is such a badass character. He doesn’t deserve to get shafted over and over again. If anyone deserves to make a comeback, it’s him.
And Gohan. Hey! They can make it together! That would be cool, right?!
Shame it’ll never happen…