WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers from the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero film. Read ahead at your own discretion!
Orange Piccolo makes its debut in the mega-hit film Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, which shattered a 23 year old record as the best opening day of all time for an Anime film in the United States.
I remember going for the 1st day on Aug 26th. It was a small crowd but the atmosphere was electric! I think everything in the theatre knew something was going to happen the moment Piccolo was falling into a chasm and orange light began emanating from his body.
Collective screams & cheers roared as Piccolo slowly rose up in this huge form with Orange tinted skin. Everyone in the scene were shocked. Gamma 2 zoomed in an attempt to cause some damage but the giant Namekian didn’t budge and looked down upon him like some street rat.
A lot of gigachad Orange Piccolo edits were floating around social media. What makes Orange Piccolo form so appealing to fans? In this piece, I’ll go through the Namekian’s new metamorphosis, the history behind it, some philosophical and historical parallels, and power level comparisons.
Without further ado, let’s get ready to rummbbbbllle!
How did Piccolo achieve this form in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero?
The Eternal Dragon Shenron unlocked Piccolo’s potential, granting him two forms:
- The yellow-green tinted form called is Potential Unlocked 「ピッコロ(潜在能力解放). Fans have pointed out that Piccolo’s new form has the same name as Gohan’s Ultimate form in the video games (潜在能力解放, Senzainōryoku Kaihō – Potential Unleashed/Unlocked).
- The big-ass orange shaded form is called Orange Piccolo (オレンジ・ピッコロ). This is something Shenron included as a “small bonus” along with the wish as well.
As the first step in achieving world domination, Magenta (the son of Commander Red) instructed his team to wipe out the “evil” heads of Caspule Corporation.
Dr. Hedo (the grandchild of Dr. Gero and Vomi) directed Gamma 2 to assassinate “Demon King Piccolo” or “Piccolo Daimao.” That was presumably the only data they had when Goku destroyed the Red Ribbon Army or Dr. Gero’s old database.
Magenta and Carmine had no idea Super Saiyan existed and were taken aback by Gohan’s transformation into the form. Their study of our heroes has been inadequate. But Dr. Hedo and the Gammas were ahead of the curve so…
Anyway, Gamma 2 fired a huge Ki blast from his laser gun towards Piccolo. The dust settled and the Namekian was nowhere to be found. The Gamma thought he’s achieved his objective and headed back to base.
Piccolo later disguising as a Red Ribbon Army officer, sneaked in while Magenta & Hedo were discussing their key plan.
After realizing that the Red Ribbon Army has a more terrifying weapon in the making, Piccolo thought that the Dragon Team cannot win if Goku and Vegeta aren’t around. However, they’re busy training on Beerus’ world. So, Bulma’s call goes unnoticed by Whis.
Gohan is also busy with his research about “Super Saiyan” insects. Majin Buu is in a deep slumber. And to make matters worse, Dr. Hedo might have the weaknesses of Android 17 & 18, so they can’t be of much help either.
Realizing that the fate of the Earth rests entirely in Piccolo’s hands, he had no choice but to request Dende to unlock his potential, just as Guru did for Gohan, Dende, and Krillin on Namek.
And this isn’t the first time Piccolo has powered up through external means.
The fusion with Nail (42,000) shot up Piccolo’s power level from 3,500 (in the Saiyan Saga) to a whooping 1,000,000+ (almost 286 times). Piccolo’s fusion with Kami made him grow from a level much weaker than a Super Saiyan (which was outclassed by the Androids) to going toe-to-toe and even slightly higher than Android 17 & 18.
However, we see Piccolo training & meditating constantly so he’s easily able to hone this power.
(Now since Piccolo has Nail and Kami within him, so unlocking all of their potential will certainly boost his power like crazy.)
Dende couldn’t do the task as it is only possible for gifted Namekians after a certain age (over 500 years old). He did, however, propose using the Dragon Balls after they had been upgraded.
It makes sense for only Dende to know about the upgrade cause’ Piccolo was sent to Earth as a child. So the entire Namekian culture was unknown to the Nameless Namekian.
Remember that Dende first upgraded the balls from granting just 1 wish to 3. Now he further upgraded it to grant harder wishes “like wishing up millions of people or a planet” & consume only 1 wish instead of 2.
Anyway, so Piccolo made the wish and received a brand new form – “Potential Capacity Liberation” according to the Japanese. The official English name isn’t out yet. However, Shenron also said a bonus was added as well.
As he was falling towards a deep underground chasm after getting whacked by Gamma 2, Piccolo’s body began radiating an orange glow and out popped a slightly bigger Piccolo with an orange tint.
Is Piccolo gaining a powerup through a wish justified?
“But this wish seems very similar to the one Granolah was about to make to Toronbo if it wasn’t for the condition. Piccolo’s awakening doesn’t seem earned at all. It feels cheap, just like Granolah’s power.”
Unlike Granolah, Piccolo’s wish isn’t so selfish and is fully qualified to make such a demand.
- Granolah and Gas plainly went against the objective of the Dragon Balls’ creation – it began as part of a ritual to honour brave Namekian warriors, and its wishes were meant as rewards for brave warriors who sought the orbs in times of great need or suffering.
- Piccolo is a Namekian warrior and sought the wish orbs to dispel incoming or potential danger that may be inflicted upon the Earth if he doesn’t do something. So he fits the criteria well.
- Piccolo’s desires have been purified by the association of Goku. Plus he has Kami (the creator of the Earth’s Dragon Balls) within him. So unlike King Piccolo, the wishes he would make now will be for the good of mankind and their upbringing.
- However, if it was King Piccolo making the same wish, he’d faced the same consequences as before, namely death at the hands of a pure-hearted soul. The same soul whose wish was approved by Kami as not selfish, and later making him his pupil.
- Goku now vouches for the Namekian, just like how he vouched for Vegeta to Dende and telling the latter to listen to the Prince’s wishes in the Buu Saga. That’s why those wishes are not selfish.
- Similarly, Piccolo’s wish to unlock his potential and the extra bonus he received were justified. An ordinary person wouldn’t be able to make such a wish without facing the consequences in the future.
While talking about the form, Piccolo says the trigger that awakened it was the same as Gohan for his Ultimate form. And if you recall, Gohan unleashed that form after hearing a seemingly painful cry from Pan. In other words, Piccolo shares the same instinct as his student – the urge to protect or save someone who’s in trouble.
It’s true. Remember how Piccolo ran and stood in between Gohan and Nappa’s Ki blast, taking the blast head on? He wasn’t facing any dilemma at that time.
“Should I save him? Should I sacrifice myself? How can I?? I’m Demon King Piccolo! Throwing away my life for such a pitiful reason is absurd! What would my father think of me?? I’ll be a disgrace to the Demon clan!”
No. He had no such conflicting emotions. Gohan was the only one who ever communicated with him. He was his sole friend. It was critical to protect the person who had transformed him. And it was instinctual.
Gohan’s fury is also innate. That is why they can operate well together. They have the same purpose and motivation: to defend those they care about. And they act on it without hesitation.
Orange Piccolo wasted no time putting Gamma 2 in his place. He basically did what Goku & Gohan did to him, reforming antagonists by pointing out the truth and bringing them to the good side.
Whoever Goku meets, he passes on that torch and it in turn gets passed on again and again, thereby purifying those around him. That’s the quality of a liberated soul.
While falling down into the chasm, Shenron’s words echo once again and he spins around to form a strange symbol behind Piccolo’s gi. What is it and how it connects to the Namekian race?
The symbol of the Ajisa Tree & its meaning
According to the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Light Novel, the crest on Orange Piccolo’s back is formed from the image of a Namekian Ajisa tree, representing Namekian pride. The circle represents Shenron, while the inner sphere and connected section represent the Ajisa tree.
But why Ajisa trees?
The Daizenshuu 7 reveals that the core occupations for Namekians are farming and trading. We’ve seen a glimpse of that in the Granolah arc flashback chapter.
As we can see from the above image, Monaito and the other farmers would grow crops (farming) and the Cerealians would purchase them in exchange for water (basically trade). This is the case for all Namekians throughout the Universe.
“Because they are able to live on just water and have no need for food reserves, they lead a calm farming life raising Ajisa trees”, the Daizenshuu states.
This is also confirmed in the Manga as well.
I think the reason that Namekians can survive on water alone is because they have an enzyme in their bodies that converts water into nutrients.
By the way, I named the “Ajisa” seedlings that the Namekians grow after hydrangeas [ajisai]. That’s because snails, the Namekians’ motif, like hydrangeas.
Ajisai are pretty popular flowers in Japan. They are celebrated in the month of June by various flower exhibitions and gardens.
Tourists visit a lot of these places for its sheer beauty. (And the Namekians seem to agree.)
According to many, the most likely etymology of “Ajisai” is “Azusai,” which means accumulation of indigo blue elements.
The flower is renowned for altering its hue based on the acidity of the soil. When the soil is highly acidic, it tends to be blue, and when it is highly alkaline, it becomes crimson. Each color it takes has its own meaning within Japanese legend.
And remember that the color of Planet Namek’s grass and trees are blue.
So, Blue Ajisai represents the following qualities: love, adoration, fidelity, sincerity, forgiveness, remorse and spirituality. And we see these qualities in the warrior and Dragon Clan Namekians.
They are kind, loving and very helpful. Elder Moori forgave Vegeta for killing their kind because they do not hold grudges.
Spirituality is also a core practice amongst their race as they’re very pious people. The martial arts techniques, their teaching and their activities are of those who are mentally elevated. Plus a Dragon Clan member are eligible to occupy the position of God or a planet’s guardian, meaning they’re well qualified to enter the God hierarchy.
According to some Japanese Legend, the Samurais of the Edo period considered the Ajisai as a symbol of immortality. We can see its connection to Dragon Ball where the Namekians have a long lifespan of 200+ years. So they can be considered immortal from the POV of Earthlings.
Plus, the Saiyan warriors (Vegeta & Nappa) & Frieza sought the Dragon Balls for immortality. So that’s there.
Another interesting thing about Namekians is their similarities to plants/trees and how they live.
The Dragon Ball official site published an article containing an interview with evolutionary biologist and a long time Dragon Ball fan, Yudai Okuyama, where he discusses the mythical links between Dragon Ball characters and Evolution.
According to Mr. Okuyama, Namekians get their energy via photosynthesis, just like plants. They are green, after all and their planet has 3 suns.
He further talks about animals that live symbiotically with algae or whose bodies contain chloroplasts who use photosynthesis to generate energy. Coral is a famous example of this, but there are others too. One of them a species of sea slug called Plakobranchus ocellatus that actually kind of looks like a Namekian.
The scientist even touches upon the Ajisa trees. He says that trees in tropical rainforests mimic its shape in the real world. They develop in this manner because places other than the upper canopy are unsuitable for photosynthesis in dense tropical rainforests.
Take a look at this image of a Koompassia tree, which thrives in Malaysian jungles. Don’t you think that looks like an Ajisa from Planet Namek?
He speculates that the Ajisa trees would have evolved to thrive in the forests that used to be so abundant, before the radical climate shift that occurred on Namek.
As you can see, the Ajisa trees are extremely important to the slug-like creatures. The Namekian’s insignia is the one Piccolo wears on the back of his gi, just as we humans have symbols like flags and emblems to reflect who we are as a race. It depicts the Namekian race’s identity.
Okay. But why the orange color? Where did that come from?
Speculating on the source of Orange Piccolo’s orange tint
There’s no official confirmation, but I strongly believe it has to do with the Ajisa Trees and there’s a clue hidden in DBZ’s latest RPG game.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a video game which includes backstories and background information not told in the Manga but approved and supervised by Toriyama himself.
One of its side-missions called “Rogue Chef Melone” involves finding 3 types of fruits for the said chef. Those fruits are yuckermelons, rollonuts and Ajisa Oranges. Yes, the Ajisa trees bear one fruit and that is their own type of orange. It’s also a fruit that only grows on Planet Namek (or whichever planet Namekians live).
They apparently grow on the roots of those trees and smell like flowers (yet another connection between Ajisa trees and Ajisai flowers).
According to Melone, Ajisa oranges have an overwhelmingly sweet fragrance along with a soft skin. It triggers a special reaction in the body that temporarily increases the power of whoever eats it several fold.
Based on all of this, the Ajisa Oranges may be symbolically relevant to Piccolo’s orange color in his new form. It may or may not be a Toriyama idea but hey, it fits together.
If I had to pick an alternative, I’d say the Dragon Balls.
The Namekians were their creators so to speak (by taking fragments of the Super Dragon Balls) and their purpose is to aid the brave Namekian warriors at the time of need. So the possibility exists.
However, I personally feel Shenron gave Piccolo the Orange color as a tribute to Kami for creating the Dragon Balls on Earth. Shenron addresses Piccolo as “Piccolo-Sama” in this film. So the Dragon has a great amount of respect for him.
What about Orange Piccolo’s red eyes?
The red eyes normally indicates a state of anger (like the SSJ design in the Kanzenban) but that’s not always the case. Frieza, Kid Buu, and a smattering of others I can’t recall at the moment.
From looking at a certain perspective, I think Orange Piccolo’s appearance is a representation of the 3 clans namely, the Dragon, Warrior and the Demon clans. T
The Orange tint symbolizes the Namekian identity and their Dragon Balls, the huge form and bulky muscles represents the warrior clan’s strength & the red eyes signify the Demon clan. Demons usually blood red eyes to indicate evil or danger so Piccolo encompasses all three but keeps his identity the same.
The red eyes on Orange Piccolo might be borrowed from Dragon Ball Online, which Toriyama was greatly involved in. Several Namekians have displayed the ability to take on an unnamed red-eyed form that increases their power exponentially. So there’s that.
Now that I’ve touched upon the lore and symbolism behind Orange Piccolo, let’s get into the Vedic/Hindu inspirations behind the film by analyzing the commonalities between Orange Piccolo and Hanuman!
Orange Piccolo & Hanuman share a lot in common
A lot of us already know that Dragon Ball is a motif of the classic Chinese tale “Journey to the West” & Sun Wukong is in turn based on Hanuman, the liberated pure devotee of Lord Ram.
But interestingly, the movie Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero & Piccolo too have a lot of similarities to the Ramayan & Hanuman in terms of broad concepts and looks.
- Both Hanuman are Piccolo are reincarnations or avatars of another being. The God Of God’s Shiva (one of the Hindu Trinity) incarnated as the Monkey God during the Ramayana timeline & Piccolo is the reincarnation of Demon King Piccolo, another God-like character.
- Both started off behaving mischievously but changed due to the association of pure souls.
- Hanuman thought the Sun was a fruit and zoomed towards it in order to gobble it up (by extension, the Sun God) but was struck down by Lord Indra with a thunderbolt on the jaw (hanu), thus inspiring the name.
- When Hanuman continued to misbehave, powerful sages cursed him to forget his magic powers, such as the ability to fly or to become infinitely large, until he was reminded of them. Later on, he became enlightened due to his spiritual master, the Sun God (Surya-Deva) & became Lord Ram’s most devoted friend.
- King Piccolo used to cause havoc on the Earth but was sealed by powerful warriors like Master Mutaito, Roshi and Shen.
- Piccolo Jr. continued that tendency by aiming to kill Goku and the gang but changed due to Goku’s pure-hearted nature. Gohan’s influence was the cherry on the cake, making him the only friend Piccolo had ever had.
- Piccolo had forgotten that he could grow big in size until he was reminded by Krillin in Super Hero.
- Under the orders of Lord Ram, Hanuman shrank in size and infiltrated Ravana’s castle in order to find Mother Sita and telling her that her husband will come to save her.
- Mother Sita clearly told Hanuman that she can easily break out of her jail and kill Ravana but she’s merely playing an act of seemingly crying for help just to set an example that the husband should do anything to rescue his wife.
- This is very reminiscent of Piccolo infiltrating the Red Ribbon Army base in order to find out their shocking plans to take over the world. Pan too portrayed a dramatic play of seemingly crying for help so that her father Gohan can come rescue her, becoming the Super Hero she wants him to be.
- Powerful sages sealed Hanuman’s powers as a child. Later on during the expedition to find Sita, Jambavan or Jambavanta unlocks Hanuman’s powers (including flight and gigantification) just before the famous leap over to the island of Lanka.
- In a similar fashion, Piccolo asks Shenron to unlock his hidden potential (including 2 new forms) just before confronting the Red Ribbon Army, the Gammas and Cell Max.
- One of the most obvious similarities is the skin tone. Hanuman’s fur is tinted with orange or saffron and so is Orange Piccolo’s skin.
- Both Piccolo and Hanuman fought against giant creatures (Cell Max & Kumbhakarna respectively) and lost. It took the might of Gohan/Ram to kill their respective enemies.
The story of Dragon Ball are inspired from Chinese and Indian tales that shape up Toriyama’s characters that we know and love today.
Piccolo and Hanuman share a lot of parallels than I originally thought so writing things down always helps. They’re both kind, strong, matured, dependable and brave beings who would unhesitatingly sacrifice themselves in order to protect their loved ones.
The whole of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero parallels the Ramayana in a lot more ways than I’ve described so far. I’ll touch about those and more while explaining Gohan Beast.
Finally, we’ve come to the stage where I have to discuss Orange Piccolo’s strength. (God I hate power scaling but a man’s gotta do what he has to do).
How strong is Orange Piccolo?
The problem with 2 different continuities is, we don’t know whether the statements made in the film applies in the Manga or not. That we have to wait for Toyotarou to confirm.
Toriyama comments on Orange Piccolo and he mentions a vague power scaling element…
Strong enough to rival Goku and the others? Which Goku?
Since this movie is a sequel to Broly, my sense is, he’s referring to Goku and Vegeta at the end of the Broly movie, i.e., Perfected Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta vs Broly.
Ultra Instinct and Ultra Ego are Manga forms for now so Toriyama might not have them in his mind while making that statement just to not confuse anybody, because the Manga clearly states Gas and Granolah to be the strongest mortals in the Universe (i.e., until Black Frieza showed up).
Another peculiar proposition Piccolo himself makes in the movie “the Gammas could be on par with Goku and Vegeta” This is as vague as Goku’s “Broly’s probably even stronger than Beerus” statement in the Broly film. But as I’ve analyzed in another article, we need to consider who is making that statement and when.
Piccolo cannot sense God Ki nor energy of Androids so him comparing Goku’s & Vegeta’s Ki size with the Gammas doesn’t seem to be too convincing. Especially when Orange Piccolo one-shotted Gamma 2.
Both the statements (Orange Piccolo & Gammas rivalling Goku’s power) cannot hold weight at the same time. So I’m gonna lean on Toriyama’s words for this.
Even so, where does Orange Piccolo stand in comparison to others?
Toriyama states that Completed Cell Max can defeat Broly. Orange Piccolo lost to Incomplete Cell Max & the Kaiju Monster’s punch couldn’t even get past Gohan Beast’s aura.
Gohan, at the end of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, says Goku and Vegeta might not have been able to defeat Incomplete Cell Max. This is, of course, not considering UI & UE since Gohan has no idea of their growth in the Granolah arc.
From the Movie & Anime continuity, the last time Gohan saw them was in the Tournament of Power. So this includes T.O.P UI Goku, Jiren & T.O.P SSBE Vegeta.
Judging by all of these, my personal ranking of the characters (in terms of power levels) are as follows:
Gohan Beast > Completed Cell Max > Broly > Incomplete Cell Max > Orange Piccolo ~ Broly Film PSSB Goku & Vegeta > Ultimate Gohan > Gamma 1 & 2 > Piccolo Potential Unleashed > SSJ Gohan.
Of course, things could change when analyzing from an overall perspective (you know, including factors like speed, psyche, stamina, knowledge, Ki control, etc.).
Manga characters like Black Frieza, Ultra Instinct Goku, Ultra Ego Vegeta, Granolah & Gas are above the ones in the ranking.
The jump in Piccolo’s power has been ginormous. From wetting his pants at the sight of Supreme Kai to becoming one of the strongest in the Multiverse. From Pan’s babysitter to Gigachad “Imma babysit yo mama instead”. The Demon King has come a long long way.
You may think the powerup might be cheap and didn’t have that impact. But my sense is, Piccolo’s path to greatness has only just begun.
If Toriyama originally intended this movie to be just a Piccolo-centric movie, then he definitely has plans to expand on the Namekian lore and much more. Piccolo’s relevance will be back into the main story once again.
But for now, Piccolo has reclaimed his title as “rival to Goku and Co.” just as he was in the Piccolo Saga in the Original Dragon Ball…
What do you think of Orange Piccolo? Let me know in the comments below!