clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Happy Piccolo Day — time to celebrate Dragon Ball’s most enduring villain

It’s May 9, so let’s commemorate the green guy taking over the world

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Toei Animation

To the average person, May 9 is just another day. To fans of the Dragon Ball universe, it’s more than that: It’s Piccolo Day, the date on which the superpowered alien successfully took over the world.

Piccolo Day takes place in the episode “Prelude to Vengeance” from the first Dragon Ball anime, with King Piccolo creating the holiday in his honor after naming himself Earth’s new ruler. The point of Piccolo Day is ... disturbing, to say the least: Piccolo picks a sector of the planet at random to host the “celebration,” which culminates in that area being wiped off the face of the Earth.

While the chosen Earthlings had little reason to get jazzed about their newest holiday, the young martial arts master Goku gives them something to celebrate. Goku saves the host sector from destruction by killing King Piccolo before he had the chance to wreak havoc. (As any Dragon Ball fan knows, however, no death is permanent in this world — go watch Dragon Ball Z for more on that.)

Although King Piccolo only rules over the planet for a short while, his namesake holiday lives on. Twitter is filled with Piccolo Day greetings today:

A fun fact: The May 9 date has an interesting backstory. While in the original Japanese version of Dragon Ball, Piccolo chose May 9 as his special day, the English-language dub changed that to May 13. The reason? Nine is an unlucky number in Japanese culture, much like 13 is in the U.S. To preserve the joke behind the date, Western distributor Funimation changed it to May 13.

In 2015, the Japan Anniversary Association declared May 9 a national, Dragon Ball-centric holiday. But instead of toasting to Piccolo’s dreams of world domination, the organization named May 9 Goku Day. That seems like a better choice to us, considering Goku is the true star if the series. But Piccolo became a loyal and important ally to his former nemesis as the years wore on. He even mentored Goku’s son Gohan during the years that Goku actually stayed dead. Piccolo pulled off one of the most impressive role reversals in anime, becoming a fan favorite and becoming one of the most important, recognizable faces of the franchise.

If you want to celebrate Piccolo Day in style, we recommend watching some classic Dragon Ball episodes. “Prelude to Vengeance” is available to stream on Hulu; it’s also available on Funimation.

Update (May 9, 2018): It’s Piccolo Day 2018, friendos, which is great news for aspiring Namekians. But Bandai Namco is looking to pick a fight with fans, it looks like — calling today Goku Day, even when the publisher ought to know the truth.

Item giveaways are cool. Goku is cool. But dammit, Piccolo only gets one day a year — one! — to celebrate his contributions to the Dragon Ball universe. Goku Day happens 364 times a year as it is.

Bandai Namco has already pled its case in replies to the callout posts slowly accumulating on its tweet.

Why not both? Because Piccolo had the day first, y’all. Let someone else have the win.