Themes of One Piece
WARNING: Major Spoilers
There are many themes through out the One Piece series. Most of them dealing with everyday emotional things such as death, romance, and friendship. This series seems to focus on the ideals of human relationships and how they deal with them. There are even religious themes that show up through the Skypiea arc. The idea of enlightenment and gods are really thorough through that arc.
Deaths of One Piece
One Piece is not a series with a lot of death. Most of the characters that die throughout the series, are characters shown in flashbacks. This means at the time of the story, they are already dead. Good examples are Gol D. Roger, Bellemere, and Kuina. The characters, instead, survive amazing feats and have good physical damage done to them that would kill most humans. A good example of this is Pell, who survived not only a bomb attack but a point bank shot as well. Oda says he would rather the ‘bad guys’ dreams die than the hero actually have to kill to them. The main characters of the Straw Hat crew have taken life, but it is never actually confirmed when or where they did.
There are really no canon deaths until Ace and Whitebeard in the war with the Marines. This is possibly the hardest part for any One Piece since two of their beloved characters end up dying in almost heroic ways.
Romance of One Piece
In many of the Shonen Jump series, mostly action and geared towards boys, there are still a fair amount of romantic relationships. One Piece is no different from the other Shonen Jump series. There are not really any romantic relationships developed in the One Peice series though between characters. This breaks the trends of most mangas. Oda says his characters do not develop love for one another, because they are in love with the adventure at hand.
Though Sanji constantly expresses love for every female he meets, it is still not the type of romantic relationship in most mangas. He is just the play boy of the series. No woman seems to return feelings for him.
Usopp is one of the only crew members to have an actual romantic interest with a friend, Kaya. Remember she is the one that gave him and the Straw Hat crew the Going Merry. She is actually still awaiting his return and is training to be a doctor to care for him when he returns. This is actually the same his parents relationship was as well.
Another romance within the manga is Boa Hancock’s love for Luffy. Though again another love not reciprocated, it is still a romantic type relationship. She is often doing things for him in small gestures to prove her love. She often mistakes him saying things such as a simple thank you as I love you in Impel Down (Chapter 526). Alvida also has a love interest with Luffy, but not in a hardcore way as Boa. She sees Buggy trying to execute Luffy and does nothing.
Teamwork of One Piece
The Straw Hat crew have an opposite crew in the One Piece world, CP9. This crew is often shown battling against each other through the Water 7 arc. They act as the Straw Hat crew, but they have very different morals. They do not have any team ethics and rank themselves by power alone. The Straw Hats actually focus on working together and becoming a team. They work on their strengths and weaknesses. They do this to accomplish things together instead of barely getting things done separately.
Luffy actually realizes in this arc that he is the most powerful of the members. He is the will of the group and the glue that keeps them together. Instead of fighting this he decides to focus on his strengths and what he can do and leave the rest in his friends. He trusted that they could do the things he could not and accepted he needed them to help him out along the way. He built their trust and has a mutual trust with them. Each of Luffy’s friends are more rounded out versions of his personality.
Honor of One Piece
As an honorable person, Luffy never kills his enemies. He kills their ideals instead of the person. The pirates of One Piece seem to stick to certain codes and act honorably towards one another. Even the Marines hold values and act honorably towards the pirates that are helping them. Honor seems to be a strong theme running in the series. This may be due to Luffy’s personality as the main character. He is so light hearted and fun loving, that adventure is all he seeks and he treats humans with respect along the way. There is a strict code in the One Piece world, the pirate code, and people stick to these ideals.
Heaven of One Piece
What would a series be without the representation of a religion or philosophy behind it? Skypiea is a good example of One Piece’s representation of religious themes. This arc is chalk full of Heaven themes and Angels. They even live in the sky on a clouded island. This is one of the first acts after they reach the Grand Line. This arc is suppose to show that anything is possible on the Grand Line. This arc deals mostly with enlightenment, imbalance, and dichotomy.
Skypiea often shows the depiction of the faithful and doubtful fighting against one another. This is shown through the Enel and the people of Skypiea along with the original natives. This arc shows Luffy as being mocked often and even belittled at Sky Island. The native Wiper is obsessed with taking Enel out and returning to the Golden City, their original home island that has become part of Sky Island. He also learns to not trust anyone as well. This is an example of resources versus token values. Enel was caught up in the idea he was God and played the role for the people of Skypiea. He was almost invincible until Luffy arrived. Luffy never actually takes a side on either of these issues, he just simply defeats the bad guy. Oda chose it to be this way, making Luffy as middle grounded as possible.
What Should We Learn?
There are many things to take from One Piece. They may not have fancy themes imbedded into the series, but the focus is friendship and working together as a team. The relationships of One Piece is very important to take from the series. The love of your friends and being on an adventure with them can change the life of a person.