Since its debut in 1997, One Piece has become one of the most successful manga franchises in Japan. To date, it has ninety-four volumes of the original comic, a nine hundred episode and counting anime, fourteen theatrical films, multiple video games, art books, and even a theme park. Pretty impressive for a series that was originally supposed to run for five years.
Naturally, a series this popular is going to have a dedicated fanbase who show their love for the series in many creative ways. Some of them have even used their bodies as a canvas to express their fandom. Here are 10 examples that only fans will truly understand.
X Marks The Spot
Friendship is one of the most prevalent themes in One Piece, and this has led to many heartwarming moments. One of the most stirrings is the story of the X mark. While helping a Princess Vivi to take back her homeland from the powerful pirate Crocodile, the Straw Hats unwittingly rescues a member of his crew who can take the appearance of anyone he has touched.
To make sure that the crew can recognize each other over a potential infiltrator, they each draw an X on their wrist. At the end of the arc, they flash this mark to the Princess as a reaffirmation of their friendship as they depart.
Another important theme in the series is that family means more than just the people you share blood with. Anyone can become family if they care enough about each other. Protagonist Luffy has both types of family, but this tattoo is about the brothers that he chose.
The orange hat belonged to Portgas D. Ace, a member of the Whitebeard pirates and the son of Gol D. Roger, known as The Pirate King. The black top hat was worn by their friend Sabo, the son of a group of nobles who had run away from his abusive parents. Sabo was thought dead at the beginning of the series but was later revealed to be alive. Sadly, Ace later died at the hands of Marine Admiral Akainu.
One of the first crew members Luffy recruited was the bounty hunter and aspiring master swordsman, Zoro. He is the creator of Santoryu or the Three Sword Style. To accomplish this, Zoro holds two of his swords in his hands, and the third in his mouth. This unorthodox style has helped the pirate to be one of the most lethal swordsmen in the series.
Naturally, this style requires him to wear three swords on his belt at all times. This tattoo depicts three of the swords Zoro has carried over the series. Two of them have varied through the series, but the one constant is the sword on the right, Wado Ichimonji, the sword that belonged to Zoro’s deceased best friend.
Sun Pirates Brand
In One Piece there is an upper class of nobles descended from the twenty kings who founded The World Government. They are known as the Tenryubito, and they have a staggering amount of political power. Tenryubito is allowed to do whatever they wish, wantonly engaging in murder, torture, and even slavery.
Slaves of the Nobles are branded with a mark known as The Hoof Of The Soaring Dragon. A former slave, the Fishman Fisher Tiger eventually escaped his bondage and freed several other slaves. Many Fishman slaves joined the crew, and to erase the mark, branded over it with the Sun Pirates Jolly Roger, a great Sun.
Series creator Eichiro Oda is known for including little details in his work that only become relevant to the story much later on, sometimes years after their initial appearance. Sometimes the smallest things can foreshadow huge plot developments, or even hint at characters that haven’t been introduced yet.
One of the earliest examples is this tattoo that Luffy’s brother Ace had on his arm. The crossed-out S in the tattoo represents one of the most important people in his life. As a child, he and Luffy were friends with a boy named Sabo, who they thought had been killed, hence it being crossed out.
Edward Newgate, aka Whitebeard, was once considered the strongest man alive. A member of the Yonko, or Four Emperors, four pirates so powerful that they are considered one of the three powers that control the world. Whitebeard was known to love all of his crew like his children, and they return this affection. To this end, many of them have his Jolly Roger tattooed upon their body, including Portgas D. Ace.
This tattoo is no mere marking. Those who know what it represents will often refuse to even associate with them, knowing that if they come to harm they will suffer the wrath of Whitebeard.
The World Government gives out bounties to those that they consider being a threat to their power. While not a one-to-one representation of individual strength, it is generally accepted that the higher a criminal’s bounty, the stronger that person is. Luffy gets his first bounty very early on in the series after he defeats a notorious Fishman pirate known as Arlong.
While his bounty has increased throughout the story from thirty million as his first, to his current bounty of one point five billion. Each of them has used the same picture as the tattoo seen above.
Just after achieving their longtime goal of reaching the New World, The Strawhat Pirates are brought to their lowest point. After Luffy assaults a World Noble, they are pursued by a Marine Admiral, one of the strongest fighters in the series. The confrontation ends with the Strawhats’ scattered all over the world and separated from each other.
After failing to rescue his brother Ace, Luffy realizes that he and his crew need to be much stronger if they want to survive the New World. To give them a message, he allows himself to be photographed with the tattoo 3D2Y. The 3D is crossed out, and the tattoo informs them that instead of meeting in three days, they will reunite in three years.
The Akuma no Mi, or Devil Fruits, are an integral part of the series mythology. Devil Fruits are strange-looking, foul-tasting fruits that give anyone who eats them some kind of strange power. These can range from giving a person the ability to assume the form of an animal, or even control and turn into an element.
At an early age, Luffy ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi, which gave him a rubber-like body. This tattoo is the fruit that he ate. To a non-fan, it would simply look like a tattoo of strange fruit, but fans will know better.
The Straw Hat
Every pirate in One Piece is given an epithet that describes something about them. This nickname can reflect something about their appearance, their personality, or their abilities. The main character is known as Strawhat Luffy for the simple straw hat that he wears at all times.
More than just a piece of clothing, Luffy’s hat was given to him by his idol, Red-Haired Shanks. Before leaving Luffy’s hometown to continue his pirate adventures, he gives it to the child and tells him to give it back to him when he becomes a great pirate.
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