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.