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Analysis / One Piece

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A major theme in One Piece is dreams. It's the motivating factor of all the Straw Hat Pirates, bar none. Many minor characters have an arc regarding dreams they have or used to have. Nearly all the villians have at least implied that their dreams have been broken in some way. It could be said that, along with The Power of Friendship, One Piece runs on dreams. Let's go more in-depth, shall we?

The Straw Hat Pirates all have specific dreams. Luffy wants to be King of the Pirates, Zoro wants to be the World's greatest swordsman, and Nami wants to map the world. Usopp wants to become a great warrior of the sea, Sanji wishes to find the "All-Blue", and Chopper wishes to become the world's greatest doctor, capable of curing all diseases. Finally, there's Robin, who wants to discover the Lost Hundred Years, Franky, who wants to build the world's greatest ship, and Brook, who just wants to see that old sea whale he met so long ago.

There are a few things about this worth noticing:1). Some crew members have already achieved their dreams. The Thousand Sunny is by far one of the toughest ships out of what we've seen. It's possible Franky has already built the greatest ship out there. Usopp is already a great warrior and a huge advantage to the team. Sanji may have found the "All-Blue", although we may need more information. All of these dreams may be difficult to reach, but they are attainable. 2). The crew's dreams have been influenced by outside sources. Zoro was influenced by Kuina, Usopp by his father, Sanji by Zeff, Robin by her mother, Franky by Tom, and Brook by Laboon. Others have been influenced by multiple sources. Chopper had been influenced by Dr. Hiriluk and Dr. Kureha. Luffy had been pressured by his grandfather to become a marine, before opting to become a pirate after the influence of Shanks, Ace, and Sabo. Nami's passion for navigation was a natural one, but she lost all joy for it after being forced into working for Arlong. Thanks to Luffy's influence, however, she regained her love for it, along with a newfound freedom. In fact, going back to Robin's mother, she searched for the True History out of respect for her husband's dream. The crew is living the dream that many of their friends could never see.

Now, what of the antagonists? Let's dive into their stories. It has been frequently shown that the antagonists either dismiss "silly" dreams, are living dreams that destroy the dreams of others, or have lost their dreams entirely. Crocodile is a good example of the latter example. It has been implied that Mr. 0 had once wished to become the King of the Pirates, before abandoning it entirely. He instead chose to sadistically crush the dreams of others, turning himself into an Evil Counterpart of Luffy. This also places him in the category of dismissing dreams, further separating him from Luffy. Now for the "bad" dreams: Enel dreamed of being God and became one. But getting bored with his initial dream, he then chose to destroy Skypeia and reach his promised land. Why this was a terrible idea bears no explanation. Warpol sought to become a tyrannical ruler who only thought of himself. Kuro wished to escape the pirate life, which while in itself not bad, was tried to achieve by using others as sacrificial pawns in his plan. Blackbeard is Blackbeard. None of his goals are good. Finally, we reach those who dismiss or destroy dreams. Bellamy, a believer in a era without dreams, actively mocks those who hope. He is thoroughly destroyed in a battle with one hit. A more effective "dismisser" would be the World Government. Disgusted by the dreams Gold Roger spawned from his speech, they fully attempt to crush the dreams of those pirates, along with the dreams of all of our heroes.

Dreams in One Piece serve as motivations and obstacles for many characters. Some have already clearly given up. Some never will. But the importance they play in the series is undeniable.

The Four Emperors

Each of the Four emperors serve as Foils of each other.
  • Big Mom and Kaido is a very significant pair. Not only are they the epitome of Morgania pirates, they also serve the same role both in the stories and in the main character's development. The similarities:
    • Relationship to Luffy: Unlike Shanks, Whitebeard and Blackbeard, Big Mom & Kaido are pretty much strangers to Luffy, leading up to...
    • Roles in the story: They are the Big Bad Ensemble at the beginning of the Four Emperors Saga, served the same roles of the obstacle Luffy must face before facing Blackbeard (his Evil Counterpart) and Shanks (the man who inspired him). They're also the last Emperors to be named and revealed; both possessed Road Poneglyphs (the special glyphs required to eventually reach Raftel) and both are going to be taken down at the same time.
    • Epithet: both of their Red Baron are literal, Not Hyperbole and quite a Badass Boast: Big Mom has 84 children, most of them are Badasses and her powerbase is built around marrying them off and thus making powerful characters part of her family; Kaido "of the Hundred Beasts"/"King of Beasts" has an Army of Beastmen (Zoan devil fruit users).
  • The contrast:
    • Appearance: Kaido is huge, muscular, in general, an ideal male's figure. Big Mom is an obese Gonk and not beautiful by any standard
    • Personality: Kaido is a Perpetual Frowner, has a drinking problem and is a Death Seeker (his Establishing Character Moment is him attempting suicide) as well as an Omnicidal Maniac. In contrast, Big Mom is a Perpetual Smiler, has a special eating disorder and her Establishing Character Moment is singing about a party showing her love of life.
    • Dream and Ambition: Believe it or not, Big Mom's dream is "uniting the world's races in her dinner table" while Kaido just want to destroy this "Mundane World".
    • Domain: Big Mom's Totto Land is a trippy, colorful Crapsaccharine World version of Wonderland on acid. Kaido's territories meanwhile are shown to be dark, ominous, and is a straight up Crapsack World.
    • Power: Big Mom's Soru Soru no Mi's power is literally "Spiritual" while Kaido is just straight up physical. Big Mom's also vulnerable when she had psychological trauma while we haven't seen anything that could harm Kaido.
    • How they run things: Big Mom has a very pragmatic and capitalist mind set, running her empire through alliance, and connection and threat. While Kaido just beats everyone up.
  • Whitebeard and Big Mom. They're both very old emperors and physical monsters that few would want to cross but they have virtually opposite standards. Whitebeard felt every pirate should have a code and sense of honor. Big Mom lies and regularly deceives and tricks others to obtain her own ends.
    • The nature of family: Big Mom considers family only tied by blood seen by her large number of children and forcibly arranging marriages between her children and other organizations in order to cement alliances, Whitebeard in contrast had a family of choice, one formed by bonds with the members of the his pirate group being considered his children.
    • A parent's relationship with their children: Big Mom raises her children enabling anti-social and brutal psychotic behavior amongst her children, and even eating the life-force of her own children in her psycho-candy binges and wanting to kill one of her children for not following through with a marriage alliance, while Whitebeard in contrast deeply loved all his surrogate children, forgiving Ace for all his constant attempts to kill him when he first recruited him forcibly into his crew and also Squard for stabbing him. The only one of his family he hates is Blackbeard since he murdered another one of Whitebeard's sons and gave Ace over to the world government for execution.
    • Altruism vs Greed: The way they controlled territory is also highly different with Whitebeard declaring Fishman Island his territory just to protect the people because of his friendship with the king, while Big Mom only protected the island for the promise of large amounts of candy, also seen in the taking of life force as a tax on the people living in Totto Land.