Dragon Ball – Demon King Piccolo Arc (Episodes 123 – 132) Review

We end our look at the Demon King Piccolo arc with what is nearly entirely filler, beyond a few scenes at Kami’s Lookout. Still, with the exception of the four Dragon Ball films (which I will cover at some point before I do the final DB arc) this is the last chunk of episodes with kid Goku and the general younger version of the cast. So let’s take a look!


With so many of his friends dead an no Shenron to wish them back Goku is despondent, but Korin has a idea: there is only one man who could help him, or maybe one God…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Mr. Popo’s one and only chance to be presented as powerful! … and a really bad racist caricature, but hey-ho, he can’t help how he was created…

The actual canon part of this chunk of episodes is perfectly fine. Basically Goku is told by Korin that way above his tower is Kami’s Lookout, Kami being literally God, and that he could potentially bring back Shenron and allow his friends to be brought back to life. Goku’s Nyoibo, or “Power Pole” if you will, as it turns out is the object created to connect Korin’s tower to Kami’s lookout, so after Goku grabs it back from Master Roshi’s house he heads on up to essentially God’s house. There he meets Mr. Popo, the unfortunately outdated cultural stereotype that then easily dispatches Goku’s attempts to beat him in a one-on-one contest. Instead of getting angry Goku is thrilled to know there is so much more to learn but still insists on seeing Kami, and much to his good fortune, Kami arrives… and looks exactly like the older Demon King Piccolo! Goku attacks on sight but is easily repelled, Kami getting angry that Korin clearly intentionally didn’t tell Goku about his resemblance to be the man who killed all his friends.

Kami reveals he and Piccolo were once one being that ridded itself of all evil so he could become pure-hearted enough to inherit the title of Kami but in doing so his evil energy manifested as the Demon King. He also says tells Goku that Piccolo’s more powerful “son”, for a lack of a better word, is growing stronger by the second and so in exchange for reviving Shenron Goku must train at his lookout for the next three years and fight Piccolo Jr. at the next Tenkaichi Tournament. Goku agrees, and in fact was hoping to train anyway, so we enter a “training to gain new power” phase of the story. Shenron is summoned and Yamcha tries out a brand new idea and wishes for all those killed by Demon King Piccolo to be revived rather than picking a specific person and to his and everyone’s surprise it works and Krillin, Chiaotzu and Master Roshi are all returned to life. Upon hearing Goku is training with God himself Krillin, Tenshinhan and Yamcha decide to train themselves for the next three years too (blissfully unaware of Piccolo’s reincarnation, obviously…)

The newly formed “Goku’s friends who need to be saved in the nick of time crew”.

That’s the basic gist of this part of the story anyway. During his training Goku is taught the concept of sensing an opponent’s Ki and following them by using that rather than his eyes and ears, which is obviously a central concept to the next series. Meanwhile during a reasonably fun two-part filler story where Ten, Chiaotzu, Krillin and Yamcha all help a tribal village with an erupting volcano, the two Crane School students have to save Krillin and Yamcha with their flying ability and make a note to teach them how to fly later, explaining why in the next story arc everyone can fly all over the place, and obviously going forward too. By the way, the quartet are on their way to Korin’s Tower to train like Goku did, getting his power up after he has just achieved a new one being something they will do again at the start of Z (and also the arc after that, in the anime anyway…) So even though a good majority of these ten episodes are filler there are some significant things introduced, not just the regular non-Demon King Piccolo (seen as a child in a few filler bits), Kami, Popo and the location of Kami’s Lookout, which obviously also pay a major role in Z.

I will say there is one filler story where Goku is sent back in time via a room not too dissimilar to the future “Room of Spirit and Time” (or Hyperbolic Time Chamber, also if you will…) and there he befriends a young Master Roshi, helps him get one over the young Crane Hermit, and learns how to manipulate his Ki from their master Mutaito. It’s a good laugh, and always fun to see young Roshi.

The Bad:

Awwww, Piccolo was so cute when he was boy. I mean he probably killed some people during this phase of his life, but still! Awwww.

As I’ve already alluded to, a lot of these episodes is pure unfiltered filler. Even the canon stuff is spaced out with plenty of Goku’s friends talking or image training, then once the training begins we get Goku going to a quiet village, talking to a girl who can sense things while trying to grab a magical object, and the most boring thing of all: facing a doppelganger of himself. Meanwhile Goku’s allies also go through a few bits of filler, mostly the two-part village story I talked about (which still has its slow moments, trust me) but also lots of standing around on Roshi’s island before Ten finally thinks to head towards Korin’s tower. We also see Piccolo hatch from his egg and eventually break into a house and smash all of a child’s toys in an act of jealousy when seeing the kind family life the kid led. I guess at least that’s a bit of a hint to the idea there’s a little bit more humanity in him than his pure evil “father”, though I doubt the anime staff knew about that idea yet so it’s probably a coincidence…

It’s not exactly exciting stuff, though I do wonder if I prefer this kind of filler to the long staredowns and recaps that extend the series in later arcs…

Overall Thoughts:

I bet Kami is secretly disappointed that King Piccolo’s wish hadn’t made him young as well…

The last ten episodes of the Demon King Piccolo arc act as an epilogue to Goku’s childhood period of his life as he begins training in Ki-related techniques that become the common standard in Dragon Ball Z. Sadly what could just be told in two or three episodes is extended to ten and filled with really dull and predictable side stories. It has its significance in Dragon Ball lore but it’s hard to recommend watching it more than once…

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