With the news that “Dragon Ball Super” is making its way to Cartoon Network, we thought it would be a good time to take an in-depth look at one of the greatest warriors the “Dragon Ball” universe has to offer: Krillin.
It’s been three decades since his first appearance in “Dragon Ball” chapter 25, “A Rival? Arrival!”, and he shows no signs of stopping. This pint-sized battler quickly went from quirky side character to series mainstay after fans fell in love with his chrome-domed comic stylings. He’s lived, he’s loved, he’s died and he’s even shown up in some unexpected cameos.
In this list, we’ll be counting down some of our favorite trivia and sharing some of his lesser known moments before the new show gets started. “Dragon Ball Super” premieres on Cartoon Network January 7th, 2017.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for just about every “Dragon Ball” story.
15. THE MISSING NOSE THING IS CRAZIER THAN YOU THINK
Krillin’s lack of a nose has long been a source of comic relief, from Goku’s constant ribbing in the original series to the old Namekian guy grabbing it during the Frieza saga. In fact, it even won Krillin one of his most famous fights. During the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, Krillin came up against Bacterian, a filthy, farting behemoth of a man who had never once bathed or brushed his teeth throughout his entire life. Even Krillin was almost overwhelmed by his mighty stink, until Goku reminded him that he was missing his nose. Krillin proceeded to beat the tar out of Bacterian and even sealed the fight with a little gas of his own.
After that, Krillin’s nose never really factored into the story again. In a series populated by tiny clowns and three-eyed muscle dummies, a little monk’s missing nose was easy to overlook. However, one interviewer had the good mind to finally ask series creator, Akira Toriyama, what was up with Krillin’s missing schnoz in the December 1987 “Dragon Ball: Adventure Special.” The answer? Krillin breathes through his skin. Chock that up as one of the most horrifying retcons ever.
14. THAT BALD HEAD ISN’T JUST FOR LOOKS
Krillin isn’t actually bald, as demonstrated by his broom-head dad look during the Buu saga and his Jim Gordon cosplay look during Dragon Ball GT. Also, in the great George Costanza tradition, he vehemently believes that women don’t like bald men. Yet every time we see him in action, he’s sporting a spotted chrome dome. He even has Android 18 shave his hair off before going back into the fight in “Dragon Ball: Ressurection F”.
So why would a man with naturally luscious locks and a deep-seated anxiety about his own visible scalp shave off all of his hair? While training with Goku in their early days at Kame House, Krillin reveals that he shaves because “All who aspire to master the martial arts shave their heads in order to unfetter their ki.” Krillin believes that his bald head gives him access to extra power. When he points to Master Roshi’s baldness to prove his point, Roshi reveals that he went bald the old-fashioned way. Krillin, always looking for an edge, continued to shave his head anyway.
13. THE FOREHEAD DOTS EXPLAINED
Krillin’s six little dots are one of his key traits and they come with a storied history in the real world. These scars are typically given out by some Buddhist sects, where initiates underwent a ritual called the Jieba. In it, a fledgling monk is held still while older members of the order burn small sticks of incense in a rectangular pattern at the hairline. This leaves behind scars that look like rows of dots. It was done to represent devotion and the teachings of the monastic lifestyle.
In more practical terms, it also helped to identify monks in all sorts of situations. If a monk were found dead on the side of the road, anyone who found them would know to cremate their body. In times of great famine, it also ensured that only monks were given free meals at the temple. A lot guys were willing to shave their head and sneak into the temple for dinner, but most of them weren’t willing to get branded on their foreheads.
12. HE’S A MUSICAL MAN
“Dragon Ball” has a way of sneaking into all kinds of pop culture, from movies to wrestling, but Krillin has a way of making musicians sing. Not only has he been featured on the cover of the Voodoo Glow Skulls album “Who Is, This Is?,” but also he’s been full-on name-checked by Chance the Rapper in the track “Blessings.”
However, his biggest contributions to the music scene happened overseas. In 1990, voice actress Mayumi Tanaka performed a song called “Asa – Hiru – Yoru – Kimi – Boku” on the album “Dragon Ball Z Hit Song Collection IV: Character Special.” The best part? It’s a song about Krillin sung by Krillin. In it, Krillin talks about his typical day, waking up, working out, and generally having a great time being friends. The album was so popular that they recorded two more: “Ichido wa Kekkon Shitai Manbo” from “Dragon Ball Z Hit Song Collection 8: Character Special 2” in 1991, in which Krillin sings about his desire to get married, and the title track from “Dragon Ball Z Hit Song Collection 17: Hippy Hoppy Shake!!” in 1995.
11. HE USED TO BE A REAL JERK
Krillin is known for being a resourceful and good-hearted guy who’d take a bullet ki-blast to save any of his friends, but that’s not who he was when he first showed up. Krillin’s first appearances cast him as Goku’s one-sided arch-rival; a lying, glad-handing snake, more obsessed with girls than glory, too impure of heart to even stand on Nimbus, Goku’s cloud.
And he hated Goku. To Krillin, Goku was dim and childish, undeserving of his great strength and speed, so Krillin decided to cheat his way to victory at every turn. In one early training session, Master Roshi tossed a marked stone off of a steep cliff. The first boy to find it got to eat. While Goku dove head-first into the jungle below, Krillin decided to go the jerk route. He went to a neighboring house, borrowed a marker, and marked up a new stone of his own. When Master Roshi saw through his ruse, Krillin didn’t give up. He found Goku with the real stone, stole it, then tricked Goku into chasing after a decoy. It would have been a resounding victory for evil if the dinner hadn’t given him food poisoning.
10. HE’S DIED MORE THAN ANY OTHER CHARACTER
Krillin may have been introduced as a rival and comic punching bag, but Toriyama quickly figured out that nothing gets a story going like a best friend’s death. Krillin’s first time on ice came during the King Piccolo saga at the hands of Tambourine, a frog-faced demon with a love for good old-fashioned murder. One meeting later and Krillin was down for the count with a snapped neck and an enraged Goku weeping at his side. This event set off the rest of the storyline, eventually leading to Goku’s epic battle against King Piccolo himself, and Krillin’s resurrection by the dragon balls during the Piccolo Jr. Saga.
From then on out, killing Krillin became the hot thing to do whenever Toriyama needed a big narrative punch. He’s been blown up by Frieza, turned into chocolate and eaten by Super Buu, killed by Cell in an alternate future and shot by his own brother-in-law during the Super 17 saga of “Dragon Ball GT.” Oh, and it’s implied that he dies of old age after all those resurrections. He’s basically the Sean Bean of the “Dragon Ball” franchise.
9. HIS NAME IS A REALLY BAD PUN
Akira Toriyama has a history of naming his characters with puns and Krillin is no exception. His original name, Kuririn, is derived from the Japanese word for chestnut, kuri, and was meant as a jab at the shape of Krillin’s bald head. The second half, rin, came from the Japanese spelling of Shaolin, pointing to his monkish origins. Toriyama would continue the theme of chestnuts with Krillin’s daughter, Marron, a French word for chestnut.
Many characters in “Dragon Ball” get similar treatments. For instance, the Saiyans are named after the Japanese word for vegetables (yasai spelled sideways): Nappa is a named after the Japanese word for greens, Raditz for radishes, Bardock for burdock root and Kakarot for carrots. Frieza’s clan is also named after cold puns, with his dad being King Cold, his ancestor Chilled and brother Cooler.
If anybody gets the short end of the naming straw, it’s Bulma’s family. Bulma’s Japanese name, Buruma, is an awkward reading of “bloomers,” the shorts girls wear to the gym. The whole family is named after underwear, with Dr. & Mrs. Brief being her parents, her sister named Tights, her son called Trunks and her poor daughter Bulla, spelled burra, a Japanese pronunciation of bra.
8. A VAMPIRE ONCE SUCKED OUT NEARLY ALL OF HIS BLOOD
When Krillin’s not dying, he’s usually in peril. He’s been frozen, turned to stone and beaten to a bloody pulp, but one foe nearly killed him before his story could really get started. In his early days traveling with Goku, he faced one of his most dangerous enemies in the form of a kickboxing vampire.
When Goku and the gang went on the hunt for a new batch of dragon balls, they had to turn to Fortuneteller Baba to help them in the hunt, but Baba had a catch. Either pay the Ƶ10,000,000 fee (the fictional Zeni is on par with the Japanese Yen, so that’s roughly $86,600 U.S. dollars) or defeat five of her fighters. Being broke, as they always are, the gang opted for option number two and Krillin stepped up to take on the first fight: Fangs the Vampire, a master of both Muay Thai boxing and blood-sucking. In one swift move, Fangs transformed into a bat, zipped across the arena and latched himself onto Krillin’s enormous bald head, draining him of almost every last drop of blood. If Puar and Upa hadn’t been there to save him, we would have had one more death to add to Krillin’s list.
7. HE’S THE STRONGEST HUMAN ALIVE
Krillin catches a lot of flack for not being able to keep up with his super-powered alien bros, but there is one fact that most people don’t take into account: he is literally the strongest human.
Across his various battles, he’s knocked down Saiyans, killed Saibamen, taken down Frieza’s soldiers and even held his own against Kid Buu in a fight. If you doubt the power of this 99lb mound of beefcake, here are the (translated) words of Akira Toriyama himself from the “Dragon Ball Tenka’ichi Densetsu TV Anime Guide:”
Toriyama: Kuririn was originally supposed to be just a minor role, so to have him become Goku’s best friend in the blink of an eye…
Koyama: Well, he is the strongest Earthling male.
Toriyama: You’re right, he is the strongest among the Earthlings. But in spite of that, he tends to end up in a bad way, so I thought, “once in a while, I have to let him be happy,” and had him get married.
6. HE’S A COP NOW
What does one of Earth’s greatest fighters do when he’s out of space dudes to punch? Apparently, he protects and serves. At the beginning of 2015’s “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F,” we find a yellow-shirted police officer handing out traffic tickets when two would-be bank robbers make the mistake of crossing his turf. After a short hover bike chase through the city, the robbers find themselves face to face with a super-powered flatfoot who reveals himself to be Krillin. He knocks them both on their backsides with an epic jump kick and, in typical Krillin fashion, delivers an uplifting speech about the power of second chances. Truly, he is the hero we all deserve.
For all the build up, Krillin’s cop phase doesn’t seem to last too long. Before he completes the bust, Bulma calls him about Frieza’s impending resurrection and he flies off to battle. In both the “Dragon Ball Super” version of the story and the following “Universe 6” saga, he’s never shown as an officer again. Maybe he got fired for prioritizing a fist fight over his paperwork.
Fun fact: when Krillin’s phone rings, his ringtone is “We Are!” by Hiroshi Kitadani, aka the opening theme to “One Piece.”
5. HE ONCE HELPED YAMCHA BEAT AN INVISIBLE GUY WITH BULMA’S BOOBS
Krillin’s always using his head in a fight. One shining example of his street smarts is his masterful use of distraction during the 100th chapter, “Battle of the Bleeders.”
After Puar’s quick smackdown of Fangs, Yamcha decided he could take on the remaining four warriors of Baba himself. Little did he know, his first opponent was See-Through the Invisible Man. The fight took a predictable turn, as Yamcha found it impossible to fight an opponent he couldn’t see. Lucky for him, Krillin was there.
In one of the boldest moves of the series, Krillin grabbed Bulma’s top and exposed her chest to Master Roshi. Now, flashing an old man generally isn’t the smartest move in the middle of a fight, but Krillin knew Roshi’s secret: whenever the old man gets aroused, his nose bleeds like a fountain. The old pervert’s nasal cavities erupted in a geyser of blood that soaked See-Through from head to toe. With his advantage gone and an angry Yamcha ready to deliver the hurt, See-Through surrendered and the team got one step closer to securing Baba’s help. Sure, Bulma punched Krillin in the face for it, but he saved the day.
4. HE DEFEATED CHIAOTZU WITH MATH
Krillin and Goku trained for three hard years after their brush with Fortuneteller Baba, so when the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament came along, Krillin was ready to represent the Turtle Hermit’s school. However, he didn’t expect to come up against the Crane Hermit and his bizarre pupils, Tien and Chiaotzu. Within moments, Chiaotzu and Krillin formed a rivalry that would lead them into battle against one another.
During the fight, Krillin was overwhelmed by Chiaotzu’s bizarre flying attacks and powerful energy blasts, but managed to hold his own until Chiaotzu had to resort to his most dangerous attack: telekinetic mind control. Krillin was paralyzed, moments away from getting knocked out of the tournament, when he came up with the ultimate counter. Krillin asked Chiaotzu to solve some simple arithmetic. Thrown off, Chiaotzu stopped to answer, then countered with a question of his own. The fight devolved into a math quiz that distracted the little clown long enough for Krillin to break his paralysis, land a surprise attack, and knock Chiaotzu out of the ring for the win.
3. HE ALMOST KILLED VEGETA
If there was any doubt that Krillin represents the best of what humankind has to offer, look no further than the scene where a simple monk spares the life of an evil space prince. After a lengthy battle with Vegeta and his henchman Nappa left the Z-fighters in shambles, a broken Goku passed his last attack, the spirit bomb, over to Krillin to finish Vegeta for good. Krillin tossed it at Vegeta, but missed, leaving Gohan to finish the job with a rebound that sent the Saiyan prince sprawling.
With the battle won and Vegeta crawling back to his spaceship, Krillin picked up Yajirobe’s katana. After watching the deaths of his friends and the destruction of his world, Krillin was ready to plunge the sword deep into Vegeta’s chest and watch the life pour out of him. What stayed his hand? His best friend’s optimism.
Goku pleaded for Vegeta’s life, begging Krillin to believe that a bad guy like Vegeta could turn over a new leaf if his life was spared. Krillin, in his infinite mercy, set the blade aside. No wonder Vegeta was so broken up when Frieza killed Krillin on Namek.
2. HE DIDN’T THINK HE WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR HIS GIRLFRIEND (BUT HE WAS)
Krillin’s love life is an ever-present side story in the “Dragon Ball” universe, from his drunken fist fight to impress Mint to his eventual family-man turn with Android 18. However, the stories generally have one thing in common: Krillin never believes he’s good enough.
His first real taste of love came at the beginning of the Cell saga, when Krillin showed up sporting a white suit with his very first girlfriend on his arm. Krillin had fallen for Maron, a ditzy bimbo with more than a passing resemblance to Bulma, and he was doing everything he could to keep her happy. He bought himself new clothes, showered her with gifts, and turned the other cheek when she flirted with other guys, but he couldn’t shake the doubt that he didn’t deserve her.
In one of the saddest moments of Krillin’s story, he confronted Maron as the sun fell behind the ocean and told her that she was too good to be with him. Maron revealed that she wanted to marry him, walked off into the sunset, then got into a random hunk’s waiting sports car. Tragic romance, just as Shakespeare imagined it.
1. HE BOUGHT HIS WAY INTO MASTER ROSHI’S SCHOOL WITH PORN
After eight years of being the school punching bag at Orin Temple, Krillin decided it was time for a change. He needed a man who could teach him to fight his former tormentors. He needed a man who could crush his enemies with a finger. He needed a man to teach him to impress the ladies. He needed Master Roshi. He set sail for Roshi’s island knowing that he had one chance to impress the 300-year-old king of fighting, so he came prepared. Krillin leaped from his row boat and landed in the sand (head first). As soon as he was vertical, he offered up his gift: a dirty magazine. Master Roshi accepted him immediately.
Fun fact: In the original comics, Krillin hands over a single magazine and Roshi accepts him on the spot. However, when the anime premiered, fans were treated to an extended version of the scene where Krillin hands Roshi a magazine of studly dudes as well. It’s a good lesson for all you hopeful martial artists out there: if you’re going to row across the ocean to deliver porn to your future fighting sensei, make sure you bring a variety of porn just in case.
Got any other must-know facts about Krillin? Be sure to let us know in the comments!