Another first for the Thieves, I’ve got a start to what (I hope) will be something of a regular feature on the blog – Side Dishes. In these features, I hope to explore side characters which I feel deserve the kind of attention/respect/analysis that is usually reserved for the main hero (or Entree, if you will).
Unlike Drake, I intend to start pretty much near the top – Dragonball’s Piccolo.
Piccolo is one of the characters that inspired me to even write about the importance of side characters. His arc is the same sad song we have heard so many times from a DBZ character – in Dragonball he was that dude, but once Z hits he gets repeatedly used just to show off Goku’s incredible abilities… and eventually not even that.
Regardless of his “weakness” by the show’s primary metric of fighting prowess, Piccolo is one of the more fascinating characters of the main story. He starts as an outright villain, then slowly but inexorably goes from reluctant aide to tenuous ally and then eventually a good (if reserved) friend. Throughout that time he finds true connection through being an adoptive father figure to Gohan – in fact, probably being a much better father than Goku himself – and a close friend to Krillin and the other Z Fighters. He discovers his own alien heritage, merges with his literal better half to become fully self-actualized, and is always the voice of reason in every encounter even if he is woefully outmatched. Unlike his orange-wearing counterpart, he is always punctual to any conflict, and buys time for his friends and allies time and again by risking life and limb for little respect or reward.
Stylistically he is a lot more unique than many of the other cast members as well. Though initially he is just a derivative design of his father, he stands out as one of the most unique looking members of the Dragonball mythos and has a style and flair that is second to none. The turban/cape combo is very distinctive, and even his color pallette of green/blue/white/purple is something of an oddity in the show and other works. While many characters in the show are recognizable for an attack or particular moment, Piccolo is memorable based on just his stance.
Sadly, for all of Toriyama’s imaginative brilliance, Piccolo is tragically underused and underappreciated by the end of the series. By the end of the series he is next to useless, and gets a double-whammy in the form of Pikon – a character who just shows up, is more powerful than Piccolo while looking nearly identical, and still being basically worthless. Ouch. Perhaps Dragonball Super will bring everyone’s favorite Namekian back and put him center stage again. Here’s hoping.
So what’s your take, Rogues? Any love for the Green Bean from Beyond? Let me know in the comments as usual, and enjoy your weekend!