Emperor Pilaf (ピラフ Pirafu) is the first major antagonist during Dragon Ball. He is a small, impish monster who craves nothing more than power and dreams of ruling the world. He is an emperor in that he has a crown and a castle. He rules over an empire known as the Emperor Pilaf, however; only members of this evil empire are his two followers Shu and Mai. Emperor Pilaf acts much like a child would with a new toy, he acts as if he's 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. 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. He collects all of the Dragon Balls once in order to take over the world, but his plan is foiled by Goku and friends. Emperor Pilaf captures Goku and the others and plans to kill them in the morning. 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 but Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu manage to escape. Emperor Pilaf returns second time in anime filler to gather the balls up once more, he is stopped by the Red Ribbon Army, next he fights Goku in a robot battle suit in a gamble, and a fourth time, he releases Piccolo Daimao, who betrays him soon after. He also appears at the end of Dragon Ball trying to defeat Goku and Chi-Chi to the Bansho Fan.
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. At the beginning of Dragon Ball GT, Emperor Pilaf, Shu, and Mai arrive at Kami's Lookout in order to used the Black Star Dragon Balls to make a wish while Goku continues his training with Uub. The trio manages 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. Emperor Pilaf is not seen for the rest of the series except for being forcefully removed from Earth by Goku along with Shu and Mai before it explodes due to the wish being made on the black star dragon balls.
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.
Emperor Pilaf appears almost twice as much in the anime as compared to the manga. At one point in Dragon Ball, he collects all of the Dragon Balls and is about to make his wish when Oolong jumps in the way and screams a different wish than anyone had planned on.
Emperor Pilaf's first confrontation with Goku is in the Emperor Pilaf Saga over the Dragon Balls, which he seeks so that he can wish to rule the world. When he fails, he then releases Piccolo Daimao from his confinement to achieve power.
Emperor Pilaf has a short return in the Red Ribbon Army Saga, a shorter return in the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, and a final appearance in Dragon Ball, prior to Goku and Chi-Chi's wedding.
In the first episode of Dragon Ball GT he makes a final major appearance as an old man. He finds Kami’s Lookout along with the now elderly Shu and Mai, and they manage to recover the seven Black Star Dragon Balls hidden in the Tower. Right as Emperor Pilaf is about to make his wish to rule the world, Goku appears in front of them. Emperor Pilaf screams in rage and exclaims that he wishes Goku were a little kid again so he could beat him up. Unfortunately, the Red Shenron overhears this and grants his wish. Later in the Baby Saga, when the Planet explodes, Emperor Pilaf and his gang are last seen briefly, when Goku saves them and takes them to the Tuffle Planet.
Despite his seeming incompetence, Emperor Pilaf has an incredible amount of resources at his command, such as his own castle, airplane, laser weaponry, and high-tech floating base. Somehow 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 Denshi Jar 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 is one of the few characters to break the fourth wall, directly referring the Dragon Ball comic itself. It should also be noted that despite his incompetence, he is known to the citizens of Dragon World, as Bulma recognises him as Emperor Pilaf when they first meet.
Note: In the "Kid Buu Saga" of Dragon Ball Z, Dende wished back everyone that was not evil, even though Emperor Pilaf was evil, he was brought back which is seen by fans as a plot hole that led to the beginning of Dragon Ball GT. However, this can be argued due to the fact Emperor Pilaf wasn't a pure evil being (as opposed to a comical bumbling imp with dreams of power), as Piccolo Daimao was the first true enemy to pose that type of threat. This is backed up by Android 17's being brought back twice (17 is slightly evil).
Minions & former Allies
Video game appearances
- Emperor Pilaf made a short appearance in Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury when Goten and Trunks try to take a Dragon Ball he found.
- He appears in the beginning of Dragon Ball GT: Transformation, where he mirrors his anime appearance.
- Emperor Pilaf 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 Bonus Mode.
- In his robot, he is also a playable fighter in the Japanese Wii Version of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
- The Simplified Chinese characters he wears on his chest are 炒饭 (chǎofàn), which means "fried rice".
- Dragon Ball Z anime movie/filler villain Garlic Jr., who shares the same voice and diminutive size as Emperor Pilaf, is similar to Emperor Pilaf except a much more serious villain.
- 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.
- "Pilaf" is a type of rice dish.
|Dragon Ball||Emperor Pilaf • Red Ribbon Army • King Piccolo • Piccolo Jr.|
|Dragon Ball Z||Raditz • Vegeta • Frieza • Dr. Gero • Androids 17 and 18 • Cell • Babidi • Majin Buu|
|Dragon Ball GT||Dr. Myuu • Baby • Super 17 • Shadow Dragons (Syn, Haze, Eis, Nuova, Rage, Oceanus, Naturon)|
|Dragon Ball AF||??? • Maceza • Broly • Haifeiru • Netashin|
- Dragon Ball manga. Vol. 2, #8 ("At Last... the Dragon!")