The Pirate King’s Seed: Just How Similar is Ace to Roger

or How Much Does Biology Create Personality 

“Gold Roger, the “King of the Pirates” had achieved it all. Wealth, fame, and power had all been his. Not surprisingly, the final words he spoke before they lopped off his head inspired adventurers throughout the world to sail the seas. ‘My treasure? Why, it’s right where I left it… It’s yours if you can find it…but you’ll have to search the whole world!’” (GN 1, 5).

So opens Eiichiro Oda’s epic juggernaut One Piece, a manga about pirates. Roger’s final words instigate the Great Era of Piracy. Fueled by the promise of treasure, hundreds set out to sea. Twenty-two years later, the story’s protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, sets out to find one piece – Roger’s treasure – and claim the title “King of the Pirates” for himself. In that sense, Roger is the story’s inciting incident; his dying words, his treasure, and his title are what generate the plot. But what the readers discover as the story progresses is that his name is not Gold Roger, but is, in fact, Gol D. Roger.

This “D” appears significant, although its full meaning has yet to be revealed in story. Aside from those two, the Ds thus far introduced include: Monkey D. Dragon, Luffy’s father and the “Most Wanted Man in the World”; Monkey D. Garp, Luffy’s grandfather and the “Hero of the Navy”; Portgas D. Ace, the Whitebeard Pirates’ 2nd Division Commander and Luffy’s older brother; Marshall D. Teach (Blackbeard), a defunct Whitebeard Pirate and central antagonist; Jaguar D. Saul, an ex-marine  giant; Portgas D. Rouge, Ace’s mother and Roger’s lover; and (since my initial draft) Trafalagar D. Water Law, Captain of the Heart Pirates and a former Warlord of the Sea.

Of all the Ds, the one I’m interested in is Portgas D. Ace. While he is Luffy’s brother, they do not, as may be apparent from their names, share any conventional biological ties, such as parents. Ace’s biological father is Gol D. Roger, the very man who began the Pirate Era. In the chapters following this revelation, two different takes on Ace’s relation and therefore inbred similarity to Roger are said by two very different characters. The first makes the claim that Ace is nothing like Roger; the other claims that Ace, due to his upbringing, is similar to Roger.

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Update: Schedule Revision

Today would be the day, per my schedule, an essay would post. Or so I thought; it technically would have been last week. But… 

I’ve begun to realize that the end of the year is often a good time to recalibrate the order of the essays and focus on finishing up any remaining essays for next year.

So, for the time being, essays will not post between October through December. 

Much thanks to anyone still reading these. Also, a reminder that I have more thoughts and reflections — less essays — here

Moana’s Journey

There are various ways to break down Campbell’s Hero’s Journey — his original one included seventeen stages. Various others have added variations of the stages. In this essay, I’m not using any one person’s stages– in fact, this is strongly inspired from the Revolutionary Writing class I took last year –but rather is, I hope, a synthesis of the varying stages, focusing on the most repetitive and basic.

Call to Adventure

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“See the line where the sky meets the sea. It calls me”

Like any good story (so I’ve learned), Moana is unsatisfied with her life. Now, this doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her home or she isn’t surrounded by people who love her or  she doesn’t try to overcome her desire to sail beyond the reef. But it does give us a story: there is something, if it were to change, would make her life better, in her opinion.

Her dissatisfaction is linked to the call she feels, and it is a clear one: Moana has felt it since she was a baby. This call plus her actions instigate the ocean’s choice. When Moana waddles down to the seashore, instead of grabbing a seashell floating away on the tide, she chooses to protect a baby turtle and help the turtle get safely into the sea. That’s when the ocean chose her.

Additionally, Gramma Tala asserts that someone must return Te Fiti’s heart. (Which the ocean gives to Moana after the turtle-incident.) This someone will have to brave the open ocean, giving Moana’s call an inward and outward impetus.

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One Piece Metaphysics

Normally when I think of One Piece philosophically it usually veers toward moral or ethical philosophy, with scents of social theories (how the government works, how the kingdoms function, how that relates to pirates). But I realized that I’ve never really thought much about the metaphysics of One Piece. 

Etymologically, metaphysics simply means “after (meta) the physical (physics)” because Aristotle wrote it after his Physics. So it covers the physical reality of a world, but also the question of why (if any) there’s a reason for reality existing as it does.

(This only considers how metaphysics works in the world of One Piece, not it’s metaphysics as a created work of fiction.)

In One Piece, the one prominent metaphysical truth I’ve noticed is that in-world there is a strong isolation between large chunks of the world.

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The World and Roger’s Legacy | Was Hannaybal Right?

So I often read about how Hannaybal’s speech to Luffy in Impel Down gives a nuanced perspective on the One Piece world and Luffy’s character. While I agree, I’ve always struggled with the assertion that Hannyabal was completely right. Or more precisely, that it’s as cut and dry as Hannaybal says.

Let me try to make some sense of my thoughts.

Most of the criminals in Impel Down are likely terrible and a threat to regular citizens. On the reverse, the system that keeps the prison in place is corrupt. Point in case, we have seen one of its officials create false evidence for a personal agenda. Namely Spandam, when he framed the Fishman Tom with Franky’s discarded battleships to ensure that Tom was arrested and taken into Government custody.

At the end of the trial, Tom is set to be shipped off to Impel Down.The mermaid Kokoro says “‘No criminal who’s been taken there has ever come back alive'” (Oda, GN 37, 219).  It is that notorious.

And in the case of the subject of Hannybal’s speech, there is the contradiction that Ace could never have been anything except a top priority criminal even if he lived quietly at home and was never a pirate. The trouble is that, with the way the world interprets the extremity of Roger’s criminal status, there was nowhere really for him to go. Being on Whitebeard’s crew was literally the safest place he could be.

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Glory of Positivity, Heroes, and Gumption | Character Reflection Essay 

I’ve written a lot about Aladdin: his movie, his character, his gender, his final wish, his contrast to his literary counterpart. But I’ve never written much about Hercules. Yes, I’ve written about him at least once in a relationship essay and other snippets of things. But I’ve never paused to step back and think about his character individually.

When I first saw Hercules in theaters, I loved it. Part of that was Greek mythology; its allusions to different myths and the inaccuracies tickled my fancy. Another part was that I liked the characters, or at least Megara and Hercules.  More precisely, Hercules himself meant a lot to me. So I thought I would explore why.

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What Does it Mean to Be a Mother in One Piece?

written for Mother’s Day 2013

Last year, I wrote up an honorary piece for the mothers in One Piece: Belle-mére, Portgas D. Rouge, Banchina, Nico Olvia, and Otohime. Since beginning my “Philosophy of One Piece” I have had to reflect, however loosely, on two of these women, which led me to wonder: what is the role of mothers in One Piece?

Including anyone who not only gave birth, but also raised children, with the exception of Kureha and Dadan, very few mothers survive flashbacks. What does this mean about what a mother is supposed to represent? And in the case of those exceptions, they are not portrayed as serene or motherly as the others (though is that actually true?). To answer these questions, let’s look at the various mothers in One Piece and their function within the story.

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