Is Piccolo Black, & Why Is He Considered “The Black Guy?”
The modern world almost always requires that a series, regardless of whether it is live-action or animated, should be diverse enough to include people of different colors. This is where it gets confusing in Dragon Ball because almost all of the human characters in the series seem to be Caucasian or white Asians. Nevertheless, Piccolo, who is one of the main supporting characters of the series, is an alien that people believe is “The Black Guy” in Dragon Ball. So, is Piccolo really black?
Piccolo is not a Black character because he is Namekian, which is an alien race in the Dragon Ball universe. However, the Black community adopted Piccolo during the 90s because of the fact that he seemed to be someone they could connect and resonate with compared to the other characters.
The most important part about having diverse characters on a show is not only representation but connection. You need to have someone that the fans can connect with, and that was what Piccolo represented when it came to the Black community. Although he was never Black, the Black community adopted him as their own. And that’s something that we’re here to explore in detail.
Is Piccolo Black?
When it comes to certain shows in today’s world, one of the things that people look at is diversity. That’s why filmmakers and showrunners almost always make sure that there is representation in their creations. As such, we often see different characters that come from diverse backgrounds, regardless of color, race, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. And that has been something that we’ve seen in anime over the past few years.
Nevertheless, Dragon Ball is an anime that has its roots in the 80s but eventually became bigger and more popular during the early 90s. At that time, those who made anime or even live-action shows weren’t quite too concerned with making their characters diverse, although it was an added bonus that they had diverse characters that people of different colors, races, and creeds could resonate with. And this is where Piccolo comes in.
The first Piccolo was the main antagonist of the original Dragon Ball anime when Goku was still just a child. However, before his death, he spat out an egg that eventually served as a reincarnation of himself. And that’s where the current incarnation of Dragon Ball’s Piccolo comes in as someone who may be the offspring of the evil Piccolo but eventually turned good when he started hanging out with Goku and the rest of the main characters of the series.
But the one thing we learned in Dragon Ball Z is the fact that the original Piccolo came from the planet called Namek, which we saw during the Frieza Saga. In that regard, Piccolo is not some sort of a demon but is actually an alien coming from an entirely different planet. But somehow, there are those who believe that he is actually Black. So, is Piccolo really Black?
The thing about Dragon Ball is that if the characters are human, they are almost certainly Caucasian or white Asian. In that regard, you hardly ever see different people of different colors in this anime, as most of the characters that aren’t Caucasian or white Asian tend to be aliens from different planets.
In that regard, Piccolo was never Black in the Dragon Ball anime because he was never intended to be Black. He is, as mentioned, an alien that comes from a planet called Namek, which used to be inhabited by Namekians before its destruction during the Frieza Saga. But just because Piccolo isn’t Black in terms of his color or race, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t necessarily Black.
One of the things that people have been doing when it comes to animated shows is to find a character that they could adopt into their community because that’s the one guy that resonates with them the most. In Dragon Ball’s case, out of all of the main characters in the series, Piccolo was that one guy that the Black community adopted because he was the one that they connected with the most.
This isn’t rare among different animated shows and movies that people grew up watching. For example, Ursula of Little Mermaid was never Black but was still considered Black by the Black community. The same case applies to the Justice League’s Martian Manhunter, who may disguise himself as a Black character whenever he is not in his Martian form but is still, nonetheless, a Martian.
People of different colors try to find characters that they can resonate with in shows that are predominantly “White.” And that’s where Piccolo comes in for the Black community as they see themselves in him and have adopted him as one of their own.
Why Is Piccolo Considered “The Black Guy?”
As mentioned, Piccolo isn’t necessarily Black but was adopted by the Black community and is widely considered Black by those who belong to the same community and are fans of the Dragon Ball anime. But why is Piccolo the guy considered to be “The Black Guy” out of all of the different characters in Dragon Ball?
He Is Different
Before Dragon Ball entered the realm of space travel, there weren’t a lot of characters who were diverse in the sense that they come from different races. There were minor characters that were different in terms of their color and race, but Piccolo was always the only major supporting character that constantly got screen time.
When you look at the roster of the most important characters in Dragon Ball, you would include Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, Trunks, Goten, Krillin, and Bulma on that list. But among all of the different characters on that list, Piccolo is the only one who’s different in the sense that he doesn’t look like any of the other characters.
This goes back to the fact that most of the cartoons or shows that were aimed at younger audiences always had a Black guy on the roster of main characters. He is almost always one of the few Black people on the show and is surrounded by friends and allies that are most likely White.
In that regard, when you look at Piccolo, he is someone that the Black community could easily resonate with because, when compared to the main characters, he seems to be the only one who looks different due to the fact that he is someone from an alien species. And Black fans love rooting for someone who seems different compared to the other characters.
He Used To Be The Secondary Character
Shows that are usually dominated by White characters almost always have secondary characters that are Black. The same applies to Dragon Ball, which used to have Piccolo as the secondary character behind Goku before the introduction of Vegeta as the only character that got as much screen time as the main character.
In that regard, it was easy for the Black community to see themselves in Piccolo at a time when most of the Black people on movies and TV shows seemed to play secondary roles to their White counterparts as “sidekicks” or anything similar to that.
Piccolo, in this case, used to be the one who everyone saw as a sidekick character to Goku before he got sidelined to give way for Vegeta to take on that role as the secondary character behind the main guy.
He Values Family
Let’s not look at this the wrong way. Goku is a fantastic character and is a good guy in the sense that he will always value the life of other people over his. In fact, he is more than willing to sacrifice his own life for the sake of keeping his loved ones safe. But the fact is that he was never a present father that liked staying at home to watch over his kids and help raise them.
We have seen Goku preferring to train over staying at home to raise Gohan and Goten. In fact, he was mostly dead during Gohan’s teenage years and Goten’s formative years. And it was during his absence that Piccolo stepped in to become Gohan’s father figure.
Piccolo had always valued Gohan as a son because he was the one who trained him when he was a child and was always there to serve as his mentor and father figure in Goku’s absence. In fact, it seems as if Gohan actually likes hanging out with Piccolo more than his own father, as seen from the fact that he worked alongside Piccolo during the Tournament of Power while allowing Goku to simply do whatever he wanted to do.
This is where the Black community sees itself in Piccolo, who values family over anything else. He may not be Gohan’s real father, but he has always been a father figure to him. And when you look at it, most Black-oriented movies and shows have family at the center of their themes because Black communities tend to value family more than any other community.
As such, the fact that Piccolo is the most family-oriented character on the show makes him closer to the hearts of the Black people who watch Dragon Ball, as they also value their own family members more than anything else in the world.