Dragon Ball is a show that boasts fully realized worlds and characters with depth. Its mythology has developed over the course of hundreds of episodes. Each saga has introduced exciting plot lines and new characters with amazing abilities at every turn.
Most people associate the show with Goku and his story arcs — he is the main character, after all. Understandably, he's also the person people probably identify with more than any other character. Even though Goku is pretty central to the series, not as many people know about the beings that watch over Dragon Ball's universe: the Kais.
The Kais are deities and protectors of the worlds shown throughout the series. They often help Goku and his friends in times of need by training them and passing on their extensive wisdom and knowledge. In fact, some of these fighters may not have become as strong without the Kais - Goku included.
While many viewers may recognize who the Kais are, not as many know about where they come from, what their role is and how deep their influence on the show goes. This list goes over the biggest details about the Kais that show how important they are to Dragon Ball.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Kais.
15 There are five Kais
Although there are other characters with the term "Kai" in their title, there are five main Kai that consist of four main members and a leader who supervises them. To be a Kai is to literally be a "World King," a ruler over various parts of the universe. The four main members each control a particular section of the living world.
The North Kai, also known as King Kai, is the ruler of the North Area of Universe 7. He is perhaps the most prominently featured of the Kai in Dragon Ball. The other three members, the West, East and South Kai, similarly rule over the West, East, and North Areas of the universe.
These Kais are overseen by the Grand Kai, a powerful figure thought to be one of the best fighters in the universe. Together, they all serve as great protectors in the world of Dragon Ball.
14 The Kais relate to Buddhist and Hindu Deities
Each Kai has a directional component to them that corresponds to the cardinal directions - North, South, East and West. This relates to their jurisdiction over their given realms, but it is also a practical reference to the Buddhist and Hindu deities who similarly watch over these cardinal directions.
In Hindu scripture, these gods are referred to as the "Guardians of the Directions" called Lokapāla, which is sanskrit for "Guardian of the world." In Buddhist religion, these deities are called the "Four Heavenly Kings" called Chaturmaharaja.
Much like each Kai watches over their respective realms, Lokapāla and Chaturmaharaja rule over each cardinal direction to govern, protect, and defend their territories. The Kais are a powerful group in Dragon Ball, and the fact that they refer to real, religious deities makes this even more clear.
13 Shinjin are the race of all Kais
Before a being earns the rank of a Kai, they come from a race called "Shinjin," which means "Core People." When a Kai dies, the Shinjin draw lots to see who will take that being's place. The Shinjin hail from a planet called Kaishin, which contains about 80 inhabitants at any given time.
Despite having magical abilities, the Shinjin live long, peaceful lives which span up to about 75,000 years.
If a Shinjin is chosen to become a Kai, their tenure will last for a long time.
The Shinjin have humanoid characteristics in terms of stature, hair ,and facial features — except their ears, which are pointed. The four main Kai also have bug-like appearances, as seen by their antennae and round bodies. Although the Shinjin seem to resemble males or females, they are actually genderless.
12 Kais are born from the fruit of trees
The Shinjin race that Kais come from all originate from the fruit of a tree. This tree, called a "Kaiju," which means "World Tree," are gigantic trees that populate the planet of Kaishin. In addition to their imposing stature, these trees have magical properties which allow them to grow apple-shaped fruit that develop into Shinjin. Because of this, Kais do not have parents or a family lineage, but instead grow from these life-bearing trees.
Any Shinjin can become a Kai, but becoming a Supreme Kai is largely left up to fate.
Those who are born from a golden Kaiju fruit are automatically granted the rank of Supreme Kai.
These fruits are rare, making the Supreme Kai a more selective group. Kais can still be granted this title, but this golden fruit acts as a birth right for the Supreme Kai.
11 Kais can die, but it doesn't really affect them
Although Kais possess godly abilities and great control over their respective realms, they can still die, which is why Shinjin draw lots to determine who will take on this role. However, based on the plotlines in Dragon Ball involving King Kai, this concept seems to have created a plot hole in deciding a Kai's successor.
In the Cell-saga, Cell begins to self-destruct after Goku beats him in a fight. To save the rest of his friends, Goku transports Cell to King Kai's planet, where the explosion kills Goku along with King Kai. Despite his death — an event that should have introduced a new Kai into the show to take his place — King Kai remains in charge of the North Area with a halo over his head.
This isn't a new concept since Goku himself still remains a prominent character after these events, but it does raise some questions about how death really affects the Kais.
10 The Kais live in Other World
When it comes to the afterlife, most people think of Heaven and Hell as final destinations.
In Dragon Ball, the afterlife is a realm called Other World.
Not only is this the place where people go when they die, but it is also where the Kais reside. Heaven and Hell still exist here, but there is also a space in between these two. The Kais personal planets, including King Kai's and Grand Kai's, exist on this level.
All five of the Kais are native to the Other World. While the Kais have jurisdiction over certain parts of the universe, they do not control events in the Other world. That responsibility falls to the celestial bureaucracy comprised of Ogres, who dictate where souls go when they die.
9 The Kais host the Other World Tournament for deceased fighters
In the Other World, the Kais host the Other World Tournament for deceased fighters as part of Dragon Ball's Great Saiyaman Saga. Whoever wins will be given the opportunity to train with the Grand Kai.
Since all participants in the tournament are already dead, there is no risk of fighters dying in combat — but that doesn't mean there aren't stakes. Two of the main fighters in the Kais' tournament are Goku and Pikkon, who were previously trained by King Kai and West Kai, respectively. Before the finals match, the two Kais make a bet. If Goku wins, West Kai must give his planet to King Kai, but if Pikkon wins, King Kai must become West Kai's slave.
Both fighters get disqualified in the finals for going out of bounds in the stadium, but both still get to train under the Grand Kai.
8 There's a hierarchy among all Kai
Despite their responsibilities and powers, the four main Kais are actually pretty low on the totem pole when compared to the other deities. King Kai receives a lot of attention in the show. However, he and the other three Kais all have roughly the same level of power and responsibility. Above them is the Grand Kai, who hosts the Other World Tournament on his planet and eventually trains Goku and Pikkon.
The Supreme Kai rank higher than these five. These deities received their position at birth. Like the other Kais, there are four Supreme Kai who each watch over a cardinal direction. The most notable Supreme Kai is Shin, the East Supreme Kai who helps the main characters in their fight against Majin Buu.
At the top of this hierarchy of Kais is the Grand Supreme Kai who ruled over all of Universe 7.
7 Each Kai has a distinct personality
The Grand Kai once said that it would take a crisis for his four subjects to actually get along with one another. That's probably because each of their personalities are so different.
King Kai appreciates a good sense of humor. Although he doesn't tell very good jokes himself, he makes people tell him a joke before he agrees to train them. He is also very intelligent, possessing great wisdom in the area of telepathy. He has a notable rivalry with West Kai, who is arrogant and mean.
The other two Kai seem to enjoy this rivalry. East Kai similarly has a big ego and does not tolerate failure. South Kai also frequently bickers with his fellow Kais and enjoys making fun of King Kai, especially after King Kai dies from Cell's self-destruction.
6 The Kais all have different eyepieces
Some of Dragon Ball's most powerful characters wear sunglasses, the Kais included.
The four Kais and the Grand Kai all have distinct eyepieces that they wear at all times.
King Kai has black teashade sunglasses that resemble John Lennon's iconic shades. This matches his largely black robe. East Kai has red-rimmed Jackie Ohh sunglasses — which is a real brand — to match the red hair hidden under her wig. South Kai must also like Jackie Ohh's style, because he wears white-rimmed sunglasses from Jackie Ohh. The Grand Kai wears black Wayfarer sunglasses — also a real brand.
West Kai is the only Kai who doesn't wear sunglasses. Instead, he wears a blue monocle on his left eye. These style choices seem to be pretty unique to the Kai. With the exception of Ea, the Supreme Kai of Universe 3, no Supreme Kais wear eyepieces.
5 Some Kais own fancy vehicles
Even though they are deities, the Kais are not without their material possessions.
A few of them own fancy vehicles, and often spend their downtime cruising around in them.
King Kai owns a red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop, a classic car that does not come cheap today. When Goku and King Kai meet for the first time, this signature car can be seen in the background sitting on the road that runs the circumference of King Kai's planet.
The Grand Kai also seems to have an appreciation for classics. He sports a blue 1958 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible. East Kai enjoys riding a red jet bike, and she even races Goku on it in the episode "Tournament Begins" while the other Kais watch.
4 The Kais have different instruction techniques
Not only are Kais protectors of the universe - they are also mentors.
King Kai takes a more eccentric approach to teaching martial arts to his students. He doesn't just make them tell jokes, he makes them catch his pet monkey Bubbles and hit his cricket Gregory with a hammer. Despite these strange tactics, he is a knowledgeable and effective mentor to Goku and others.
East Kai is much more strict with her students and pushes her students to succeed. Her notable trainees include her prodigy Arqua and Chapuchai.
South Kai takes a defensive approach to his teaching, and changes the weight of the training weights to make them more difficult to lift. His notable students include Caterpy, Froug and Tourbie.
West Kai's fighters boast great strength, particularly Pakkon. West Kai taught him how to do the Thunder Flash Attack, which Pikkon uses in the Other World Tournament.
3 Several major Dragon Ball characters were taught by King Kai
King Kai teaches a number of other important characters in Dragon Ball, including Piccolo, Yamcha, Tien Shinhan, Chiaotzu, and Krillin. During the Frieza Saga, these characters — minus Krillin — travel along Snake Way to receive special training from King Kai. Piccolo refuses to endure King Kai's ridiculous training sessions and instead chooses to train by himself. However, the others show marked improvement during sparring matches, indicating that King Kai's methods work.
Krillin learns from King Kai later in the series after he is killed by Super Buu.
2 Earth is watched over by King Kai
As the North Kai, King Kai watches over the North Area. The entire series more or less takes place in the North Area, which is located in Universe 7 and explains why King Kai plays a bigger role in the Saga compared to the other Kais. This includes several real life planets, including Earth. The Milky Way Galaxy is also a known galaxy in the North Area, and the Sun and Moon are also featured in the series.
Earth is considered to be an advanced planet in Universe 7 and home to many prominent characters, including Goku, Krillin, Piccolo and Vegeta. This is why it makes sense for King Kai to train several fighters from Earth.
King Kai watches over the events going on in Earth from a neutral perspective. He also oversees planets like Mars, Jupiter and Namek.
1 King Kai invented the Spirit Bomb
The Spirit Bomb is considered to be one of the strongest attacks in all of Dragon Ball. King Kai, the inventor of the move, teaches it to Goku in the episode "Counting Down," on Goku's last day of training on King Kai's planet.
Those who use the Spirit Bomb must muster a lot of energy from surrounding lifeforms and objects in order for the move to work. The user must also be either pure of heart or strong enough to wield this power. An alternate name for the Spirit Bomb is "Kamehameha," which characters often shout in the series when harnessing these energy balls.
After King Kai teaches Goku the move, his student pulls it off beautifully. Goku later teaches other characters how to use King Kai's move.
Do you have any other trivia to share about the Kais from Dragon Ball? Leave it in the comments!