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How Believable is One Piece?

Discussion in 'One Piece General' started by Jawahib, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Jawahib

    Both Exotic and Professor
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    Before I start I want to say that this text wall was only meant to be like 1-2000 words max when I started, yet here we are and it has become a 6000 word monster. Still, I believe I've said everything I wanted to say in it, so I hope you enjoy however much you choose to read :D


    I'm gonna begin this thread by immediately copping out of it: believability will change from person to person, so I'm not here to present to you an objective scale which I think should be applied by everyone (though I think one may be created, which I guess is its own other discussion), I'll just be presenting my own and explaining my reasoning for it.

    If you clicked on this thread hoping for a pure break-down of all the things that don't make sense in the story/world of One Piece, sadly you may have come to the wrong place, though I will of course be referring to some such things as examples or whatnot throughout this post.


    "But Jawa, who cares what you think is believable or not if you know it's different for everyone? Do you think your opinions are better than everyone else's?"

    Well, this is a fair point, actually. I won't try to lie to you: most of this stuff will just be my opinions accompanied with the reasoning used to reach them, so you don't need to waste your time here if that doesn't interest you. The aim of this thread is to get you thinking about your own scales for believability in story telling and where they come from, and how much these details bother you in stories, as well as looking at how they impact our reception of One Piece.


    Also, last disclaimer before I really get started: I don't mean for the above to throw off any attempts at criticism or scrutiny of what I have to say, because I honestly believe that there's like a 90% overlap in what most of us find believable and we can come to a mutual agreement in these cases. If there's anything you think is silly, or doesn't make sense, then of course give me a good roasting. I promise I won't scream "it's just my opinion" at you :P, it's just displaying an awareness of that 10% which means sometimes we'll be coming at these discussions from totally incompatible stand points and we'll have to just agree to disagree...



    All stories, save perhaps extreme satire/comedy, are intended to be believable. Believability is something critical for our immersion in the events of a story. We go into stories prepared to believe that they are believable by the scale they establish for themselves. That is to say, a kid doesn't pick up One Piece and then chuck it away once Luffy stretches because no real human can stretch like that. They are willing to believe that there is a rule in the world of One Piece that allows that to happen; that it can still make sense in its own way. They can still believe it. And later, you find out that Luffy ate this magical thing called a Devil Fruit, and that these have their own rules, and everything makes sense, it's all still believable, and the kid's still immersed in the story.

    Without that believability, immersion is gone, investment in the story and characters is gone, and the content is dismissed as being of lesser quality.


    Now, what I'm going to do is, knowing what we know about the rules in the One Piece world, throw some hypothetical scenarios at you. I want you to think about how you feel about each of these scenarios, and why you feel that way, then I'll discuss their significance to me afterwards. Each of them will aim to touch on a different aspect of story-telling that affects my own scale for believability, and I'm sure will affect yours in similar ways:


    1. Luffy approaches Kaido, and he says "While I was with Rayleigh, I Awakened my Devil Fruit" before using his awakening powers to turn Kaido's throat into rubber and squeeze it together, suffocating him and killing him.
    2. Luffy wakes up one morning on the Sunny and says "hey this Pirate King thing isn't working out, I'm going to go home and live out my new dream of becoming a rubber trampoline that brings joy to all the children of the world", and then turns the ship homeward.
    3. After Luffy is thrown into the ocean by Arlong, before he passes out he punches the rock with all his might, shattering it and swims casually up to the surface. It is later revealed that all the people saying he'd become a "hammer" in water were simply misinformed or lying.
    4. The next time we see Kaido, he can breathe fire. It's revealed that everyone in the One Piece world can activate this power simply by concentrating a certain way before blowing outwards as hard as they can. It turns out that what everyone thought was Conqueror's Haki was actually a primitive form of the fire breathing and that classic concentration graphic associated with C-Haki was depicting the user breathing invisible microscopic flames out of their nose which happened to interact with matter and people in the ways we've seen.
      Additionally, the fire cannot be blocked by Armament, as it burns straight through to the flesh, and the fire gives off a special heat that distorts Observation Haki. All fights from then on revolve around fire-breathing and all training is made to strengthen one's fire breathing prowess. People learn how to envelop themselves in it to become almost totally Haki-immune, people make Haki-piercing weapons - the list goes on and on.

    Now, I'm going to put those on the side, because I want to talk about my own take on believability for a little while and why I think it's so important before getting into them:


    Believability is achieved via a plot which follows a logical sequence of events, a world which vastly mirrors our own, and characters which have human-like traits that we can empathise with. That whole sentence really encompasses my whole opinion on the topic, but it needs a lot of elaboration.


    Firstly, what do I mean by "achieved", especially considering that believability changes with each different person? If I have a story where Billy visits the store to buy some fruit, there'll be some people in this world who can't quite believe that; perhaps because they find it difficult wrapping their head around the concept and logic behind a store. Maybe the idea of a store is extremely foreign to them, or they'd never heard of nor seen fruit before. Yet I would still look at that story and say that believability was achieved in spite of those people.

    The answer to the question lies in the author. If the author is familiar with fruits and stores, then that's how we should judge it. The author is the one who aims to achieve believability with a logical plot, similar world, and human-like characters, and whether or not they achieve that successfully depends on what the author does or doesn't find believable. But doesn't this mean they don't make mistakes since obviously every author thinks their own story is believable? Well, not necessarily. It might make sense at the time to have your character get in the car and drive away, but you forget that in the first chapter the character had never driven before and was so intimidated at the prospect they never got into the driver seat. It's entirely possible (and quite common) for an author to think their work is believable on their own scale, but not put in the adequate scrutiny to realise it is not so.

    And the intent isn't always pure on the author's part, either. In almost all cases of a story's believability being compromised, the story can kind of become transparent as we can see why the author chose to take the risk. A great example of this is the introduction of Haki. Did Haki compromise the believability of One Piece on Oda's scale? I am absolutely convinced of this, and the immediate result is that we the audience wonder why such a compromise was made and realise it was because Oda needed a more practical way to hurt Logias and give the Straw Hats space to level up. It's like a tear in the illusion of the story and we can see Oda pulling the strings, reminding us that everything that happens in the story is manufactured, that all the characters and events are nothing more than figments in the mind of Oda and we're just here as outsiders watching. That right there is the exact opposite of immersion, and by extension believability. I'd go so far as to describe believability in story-telling to be how easy it is for a reader to forget that the story is an artificial work with every detail preordained in the mind of the author, so whenever we can see behind the curtain believability takes a massive hit.


    On to the "logical plot" part. Why do plots need to follow logical rules to be believable? My answer to this is simply because our own world is like that. Our understanding of the world can be quantified as a set of rules that dictate what can and cannot happen. Getting dressed can be described as: I put on pants, then I put on my shirt, then I put on my socks, then I put on my shoes. All these mini-events are tied together through movement, which all humans understand to be an attribute of all living things (at least as far as humans and animals are concerned). Because we can move, we can get dressed. The rules are happy, so no one can really find those events in a work of fiction to be disbelievable since they can be directly recreated in our world. The events connect logically in a way we can understand.


    But there's an exception. What if this work of fiction has a rule that says all time is constantly frozen, so it's impossible for me to get dressed because the clothes are in stasis? This brings me to my next point about the world.

    When I say the worlds have to be similar to ours, I'm not talking geographically, but something much more elemental than that. That is, if someone pitched the idea of a world to me that was divided into quarters by a giant raised landmass on one axis and impassible sea on the other, and consisted of islands scattered among the vast oceans in these quarters, I would find it believable. Because I know what an ocean is, I can imagine a planet of just ocean. Because I know what an island is, I can imagine them scattered all over the place.

    Fundamentally, a story's "world" simply needs to consist of at-least 3-dimensional space (or many if you're feeling multiverse-y) populated with matter and characters.

    Once these things are established, you can play with the rules. You can have magic and monsters in your world, and these things are so labelled precisely because they differ from our own world and our own understanding. So for them to be 100% believable, we need to connect every detail of the entity to things we do understand. The easiest, and most common, way to do this is to simply start from something in the real world and then add the fantasy elements from there. It's much easier to imagine a monster like a giant three-headed dog than some original creation; especially if there are no drawings. It's much easier to believe a kind of magic like Harry Potter where specific wand movement + specific incantation = specific magic being accessed, as opposed to something like Doctor Strange where the magic he accesses isn't quite as straightforward. This is because we can mechanically see how the HP wizards and witches use magic, and further this enables to understand their failures at a more specific level because we can understand that they're mistaking a pronunciation or wand movement, whereas we can't really connect with Dr Strange's struggles to learn magic because we aren't told what exactly it is that he's struggling with.

    What's most important however, is that these rules stay consistent, because once consistency breaks (e.g. someone using a DF power without eating a Devil Fruit), it can become incredibly difficult to find the world believable again. If there was a world where time freezes for half the population for six days, then the other for the next six, and so on. I can believe that. But this by default means I cannot believe that there is a point in time in this world where everyone is moving at once.

    A world where Devil Fruits make you become a hammer? Sure, but this means I can't have you swim after eating one.


    Every distinction between your made-up world and the real one, down to the finest detail, needs to be made clear to the reader to make it believable. I become a hammer in water? Any water? So I can't drink water? Oh, so it's water up to the knees? The top or bottom of the knees? Halfway point of the knees? What happens when I kneel in a puddle? What happens if I do a handstand and am submerged so only my knees and up are showing? You can see that my line of questioning has gone even further than Oda has explained, but each question, if it were answered, would assist the believability of this rule - because everything in real life reflects this specificity.


    "But Jawa, no fantasy story has that level of specificity. Not only are they too bothersome to think up, but most tiny details wouldn't add anything to the story!"


    So glad you brought this up! Firstly though, there really are fantasy stories with that level of specificity, mostly ones that keep their fantasy aspects extremely simple and straightforward. Aside from that, I actually agree with this sentiment. Stories don't need this level of detail to be believable by a lot of people, but this is due to our "suspension of disbelief". Suspension of disbelief is our ability to "pad out" the missing or perhaps contradictory details in a story by creating our own original explanations, or otherwise being indifferent or forgiving towards events that do not make complete sense in order to preserve the story's believability from our point of view.

    For me, suspension of disbelief should be used only when the event in question does not in any way affect the major stakes of the story.

    Take Duval. I don't believe for a second that there would realistically be some bloke in the One Piece world who would be born with the exact face that was on Sanji's drawn wanted poster. But I can suspend my disbelief since it's clearly a joke and the only real impact on the story is that the Straw Hats gained the support of the local gangsters for the Sabaody arc - something that could have been numerous other ways. An important detail, though, is that I suspended my disbelief because I was willing to. The One Piece story and characters do not fall apart for me because of Duval's existence, and Duval's existence isn't in any way indicative that other freak coincidences like that should happen again (ie it doesn't affect anything else in the story), so I'm happy to laugh at the joke, accept its minor role in the story, and move on.


    The last point is on the characters. Characters need to reflect human qualities for us to be able to believe them, and thus be invested in them. What human qualities do I mean? Well, like the world, it's something much more elemental than just a humanoid body with human-level intelligence. I mean characters need to be individuals so I know the difference between Zoro and Luffy. They need to have their own experiences which shape their world-views and influence their decisions, and they need to have a consistency ingrained in them that makes them believable.

    By consistency I mean, for example, a foolish character can't up and solve an extremely complex puzzle with no explanation. A character shown to be utterly indifferent to slaughtering dozens of people shouldn't later become emotionally crippled after they kill a person with no development leading to that. A character with great military experience, authority, and skill shouldn't panic at the thought of a minor skirmish for no perceivable reason. These characters cannot be believed, and as a result we again find ourselves wondering why these characters are behaving like this and, in cases where suspension of disbelief cannot fully cover the gaps, we are again looking behind the curtain and cynically realise that "oh, this character did this weird thing so this other thing could happen that furthers the plot", and a realisation like that utterly cripples a story's believability, and by extension audience investment.


    Personally, I extend the human-qualities to be a level up from that, such that all core characters (at least the main protagonist and antagonist) need to not only have the aforementioned consistency, but they also need to clearly show that they are capable of both thought and emotion, and these two things are distinctive but both working simultaneously, however this is more so that I personally can connect with the characters and deepen my own investment rather than a more general supplement to believability. This is because I as a person do not know what it's like, nor can I realistically imagine what it's like, to not think at all, nor what it's like to not feel at all (save perhaps during sleep, but a cast of sleeping characters isn't much use for story telling). Even at my most brain-dead I'm still thinking of something, and at my most emotionally detached there's still some residual emotion swirling around. That's not to say that I wouldn't be able to watch a show that heavily features dogs or some other animal, only that I wouldn't be able to watch a show if all the characters are dogs (not the anthropomorphic kind).


    Soooo, with all that out of the way we can finally get back to those scenarios I pitched above. Hopefully you've all solidified how you feel about each of them by now so you can compare our responses (and yes pls share yours too because I'm genuinely curious to see what all of you think).


    1. Believability takes a hit. Luffy has had countless opportunities to use Awakening if he had it by now, and has really had no excuse not to even try it, especially against Kaido. I don't find it believable that Luffy knows Haki, and would see it as Oda trying to pull the wool over my eyes if this was the case.


    Further I don't believe Awakenings work like this. I don't believe turning Kaido's throat to rubber is a possibility since we surely would have seen Doflamingo or Dogtooth try something similar: it would ruin the consistency of their characters if they knew it was an option and didn't so much as address it let alone pursue it. Of course one could raise the question of why can't awakening be used on humans but I suppose that discussion would get too large to contain in this thread.


    Why did I come up with an example like this? Well... wasn't this almost exactly what happened with the introduction of Gear 2nd and Gear 3rd? Came out of nowhere, flimsy explanation ("I want to try something new I've been working on"), and was the singular factor that turned the outcome of the entire arc to be in their favour. Additionally (and I'll admit this aspect is reflected a bit poorly in my example), the mechanics don't stand up to scrutiny. In my case it's because we haven't see other characters use it that would have, but in the case of the Gears it's much worse because the actual physical mechanics are at fault.


    I've gone on this rant once or twice before but not in a thread's OP, and not in this much detail, so here we go... :D

    Consider Gear 2nd, and as we do I need to make it clear that these are individual steps and that nothing from one step will overlap into another.

    Step 1: Luffy goes into that classic pose (or in the case of post-timeskip he extends a limb).

    Step 2: He pumps blood through his body to make his heart beat faster.

    Step 3: He endures the superhuman heart rate because his blood vessels and internal organs have the properties of rubber. The enhanced blood flow massively increases his reactions and movements at the cost of his life span.

    Now reread these steps and let them sort of simmer for a second...


    What the hell is happening in Step 2?? Is it a normal feature of humans in One Piece that they can just increase their blood flow, but only Luffy's rubbery body can actually use this without killing them instantly? If you watch what happens when Luffy starts pumping, you can see his arms and legs move in a way that indicate his DF is allowing it to happen with a rubbery pump-like aesthetic, but is that caused by the increased blood flow, or is that what causes it? If the former, how does the increased blood flow happen in the first place? If the latter, what kind of muscles has Luffy learnt to control that allows him to not only move non-joint parts of his body so freely (something impossible for humans), but impact his body in such a convenient way that he gets the speed boost of his dreams?


    Gear 2nd mechanically is bleeding (pun intended). I think the reason so few people care about it is because it's so far-fetched that suspension of disbelief kicks in like a reflex and accepts Lucci's weak-ass explanation to be satisfactory. And honestly, in spite of my heavily exaggerated mini rant, I'm pretty much the same. I like Gear 2nd because, while the reasoning behind it is pretty shady, the rules surrounding its use in combat are clear cut and we still have a clear understanding of the stakes, so it's easy to mentally gloss over the dodgy explanation and remain invested in current events.


    Now Gear 3rd. Gear 3rd's criticism is a bit more simple, so let's start with what happens when we blow into a balloon.

    Step 1: Inflate the balloon by sealing the opening with your mouth and applying pressure with your breath.

    Step 2: Take your mouth off the opening of the balloon.

    What happens? Cos I guarantee you the air doesn't just stay there. Some crap called deflation happens as the air leaves the same way it came in.

    So can someone explain to me why, when Luffy punctures his thumb to inflate it, the arm doesn't immediately deflate when he takes his mouth off? It's almost childishly silly but I just wanna know whyyy. Actually there are a couple more problems with Gear 3rd (like how the air moves around his body, how it transfers back to his lungs when it's time to deflate, and what happens with his internal organs when his chest is inflated), but they all ignore the core mechanical issue that the hole the air entered from should be the hole it immediately exits from.

    Same story with Gear 2nd though, I like Gear 3rd because the rules around it are pretty straightforward, even though mechanically it makes no sense.


    I only bring this stuff to your attention to hopefully make you think it about it more and in the process learn more about your own scale for believability, because I at least think this is all super interesting. Even though I like these two power-ups, it absolutely affects the believability of the One Piece story for me. And as soon as the hit comes I go through the process of wondering why it happened and immediately conclude it was to give Luffy a power up that is unique to himself and his DF ability, while also being balanced power-ups themselves in terms of strengths and weaknesses.


    2. Believability takes a small hit. Unlike the others this one doesn't quite mirror something we've seen in One Piece, but it highlights more of a personal problem I have with the show: I'm not entirely sure where Luffy's conviction comes from to be Pirate King. He's got the promise to Shanks to be a great pirate (though he was already determined before he met him), and the love of adventure, and then the desire to help his friends fulfil their dreams, but I don't see any of that crossing over directly into his actions. I get that it's sort of a trait of Luffy that he stubbornly follows through with his decisions, but given that it's one of the premises of the whole series, I feel like it needs a little more so that we can more fully empathise with his dream. There's no Naruto where he's trying to prove himself to the village that rejected him, or FMA where he's trying to restore his brother and his own body, it's just meant to be assumed by us that Luffy wants to be Pirate King and we accept that as the premise, rather than offer a tangible explanation as to why. And sure you could argue it's a problem with Luffy's character, but we know that Luffy is capable of grounded conviction - like how his Ace's death made him determined never to fail again and let his friends die.


    So since I have no solid grounding for Luffy's motivation, from that angle alone I could imagine a sequence of events where he determinedly hunts Shanks down, says "I've become the great pirate I promised", returns his hat, then goes home and reacting to it like "Yeah that makes sense".


    But of course there's more to it than that in terms of believability. Luffy has shown superhuman determination to achieve his dream. He has risked his life again and again for his dream. He has trained two years for his dream. I have accepted the premise that Luffy is unwaveringly determined to be Pirate King in order to watch the show. What that means though is that when a character tells Luffy to give up, I the audience go
    "Silly character, Luffy won't ever give up. There won't be a show if he gave up now" as opposed to citing an actual motivation for why he won't surrender. Don't get me wrong, I could say "He'd break his promise to Shanks if he surrendered" or "He'd let down his friends if he surrendered", but while I think these are true, I don't necessarily believe them to be the driving force behind Luffy's determination, since I do not see them as motivations reflected in his actions.


    So to clarify my position on this, I don't believe Luffy would surrender like in the scenario. This is not because I am convinced of his motivation however, but that his determination to see his dream through has already been proven to withstand incredible things, and to leave without context would be to betray the things he's done and the things he's said.


    Arguably I could have left this scenario out since it will likely spark its own unique discussions, but I left it in because it ties in with what I said about character believability. There's an error for me in Luffy's internal consistency because I'm not convinced that the motivations shown for him to date are enough to justify his undying conviction to be Pirate King, and this affects how much I believe his character. Of course this is something that's relatively easy to use suspension of disbelief on by, as I said earlier, just accepting that Luffy never giving up on wanting to be Pirate King is part of the premise of the show, but it's still there so I still I wanted to talk about it.


    3. This would be an objective flaw in the narrative and would cripple believability beyond repair. The law was clearly established that Devil Fruit users sink in the water, and we saw it applied with Luffy being unable to swim as a kid, and here it would be broken. There's no way around that... or is there...?


    Say this ended up happening and you told me what I just said about breaking the rule yada yada. Well, go reread that chapter. They make it out so that it sounds like not being able to swim is a result of being rubber, not necessarily the DF itself. Much more importantly, when Luffy is in the water, he is clearly not a hammer. In fact, he never even begins to fall below the surface of the water, and the movement of his arms suggest he is far from paralysed.


    So it would absolutely be plausible that later on we find that the person who told us about becoming a "hammer" (I believe it was Cpt. Morgan originally but it was reiterated a lot by Arlong) was indeed simply lying or misinformed. If nothing else it certainly does seem inconsistent.


    The question now becomes: how does thinking about all this affect the believability of One Piece? Personally I find it easy to suspend my disbelief there. I realise that Oda himself probably hadn't thought that particular rule all the way through at the time the only thing that was different in the scene as a result of Luffy being able to float was that he could see the monster coming. Shanks would still have been to save him and lose his arm in the process, and for an in-universe explanation I can make up something like the events happened over the course of a single second or two so there wasn't time for us to see him drop.


    4. Yes, this is unashamedly a jab at Haki. The way I've organised this section could make it confusing, so to clarify here I'm first talking purely about Scenario 4 where everyone breathes Haki-crushing fire.


    Again, believability takes a strong hit. But in this case it comes along with a direct attack on my investment in one major part of the One Piece World - Haki. My problems with it aside, I care about Haki. I'm interested in it because we've seen characters get creative with it, pull off impressive feats with it, and most importantly because it pretty much dictates the outcome of every high-end battle in the series. Yet a move like this is like laughing at me for caring about Haki because I am now being asked to believe it was never that important all along since there was a power in the OP world that would make it pretty much redundant. The stakes have been ruined. Why am I now being asked to believe this nonsense about Conqueror's Haki? Its depiction in both the manga and the anime don't suggest anything like what's being described in this new recontextualisation, and it's clearly serving an agenda to make it seem like this fire-breathing nonsense had been there the whole time.


    As opposed to being a slight tear in the curtain, this is like the author deliberately crawling out from underneath the curtain, saying "I really want to change the dynamic of fights because I'm bored of doing Haki all the time", and then crawling back in. That crap is hard to believe, and definitely affects the overall quality of the story.


    OK, so now for the actual jab at Haki. I won't rehash the stuff from the other thread, but something very similar happened with Haki that happened with the fire breathing. Firstly, some things had to be recontextualised, namely Mantra, to create the illusion that Haki had really been there the whole time and we were simply missing info on it, as though Mantra wasn't a unique, completed concept when it was introduced.

    On top of that, its introduction was quite apparently meant to up the level for how strong someone could get in OP, as well as provide a way to attack Logias without disturbing the flow of a fight. At least, that's how I saw it, and knowing that made watching it get introduced feel like drinking sour milk. Of course the hardest part for me to swallow about the whole thing was that things we were supposed to believe were impressive before have now become laughably easy thanks to Haki. Luffy's brute strength amounts to nothing - in fact all brute strength amounts to nothing in the face of Haki. Zoro lifting a building after being devastated by an enemy attack? How cool was that?! Oh wait literally anyone with Haki could achieve that now...I had to filter it out pretty much as I watched it - in one ear and out the other sort of thing - suspending my disbelief all the way until its rules were ironed out and I could find some consistency that I could believe in how it was used.


    I mean I still to this day do not understand how people can find Haki's implementation believable and remain completely immersed through those parts of the story, but each to their own.


    So that's as far as the negatives go, but what about the positives? What does One Piece do extremely well in terms of believability? Well, plenty, really. So much so that I'd say that past the issues it's incredibly consistent. Oda has created a setting the size of an entire planet, and has done an absolutely brilliant job in bringing it to life while maintaining its consistency. I believe in the overwhelming power of the World Government, and they react very believably to the events that they address. I believe in the authority and power of the Yonko, and thus I find them to be intimidating villains that I am invested in seeing beaten. I believe in the characters, and that they act according to their own goals, values and experiences. Past the premise, I believe in the story being told by the progression of the events. How the Straw Hats overcome and interact with the adversities put before them by either other characters or the world itself as they continue on their journey.


    These things all result in a world I can immerse myself in, a plot I can follow and enjoy, and characters I can become invested in. These are core in just about every story, but there aren't many at all that weave so many elements across such a large period of time. Oda has managed to hold my investment in the story through an incredibly compelling setting (ie the WG and Yonko system that dictate the flow of power in the world) that necessitates a constantly tense atmosphere without feeling forced. The Straw Hats have been in danger from the moment they had a bounty on their heads. This means that even in their off-seasons and general travel, they are susceptible to being tracked down and attacked. But not only that, their aims involve deliberately seeking out that danger and attempting to overcome it which effectively results in endless conflict - at least as long as they're in enemy territory. One Piece never compromises its core premise (Luffy wanting to be King of the Pirates) yet still manages to produce fresh and unpredictable, yet still perfectly believable, plots within the arcs. There's always something shifting in the One Piece world in a way that feels very real, and my investment in the characters makes me want to never look away.


    With all these elements together, we get a story that delivers just about everything you'd expect to see from its premise. A story of an innocent character with an unwavering spirit seeking to become the greatest pirate on the seas in an immersive, believable world, making a bunch of friends and enemies on the way in a way that emotionally realistic, while uprooting different types of oppression in the places he visits. All of this is seen at a small level in episode 1, and to date it's of a quality that has been (just about) constantly maintained since then. That is to say, if you enjoyed episode 1, then it's very unlikely you'll be disappointed with the series later down the line, and that to me is a big part of what's so incredible about One Piece.


    Well... that didn't take long did it? Thanks to everyone who read to the end, I hope you weren't disappointed or felt like you wasted your time on it.


    Needless to say I am looking forward to the discussions that people will want to have about anything I've said here, and of course feel free to ask me to clarify if something didn't quite make sense :D
     
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  2. KKG

    KKG
    I hate every haters of the anime in my avatar
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    One Piece is as believable as every Marvel's super heros,nothing more,nothing less.
     
  3. Marco Polo

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    omg we GET it, you don’t like haki

    I’m pretty tired right now so this post might not be the most articulate thing I’ve ever written but I’ll give it a try

    Recently, I’ve not been that bothered about “believability” when consuming anime/manga/any form of story-telling media. I do think about it, but even if a story has a few unbelievable elements I’m willing to turn the other cheek as long as it’s well-executed. I’d rather read/watch something that’s unbelievable but entertaining than something that’s logically consistent but boring. Of course, having both believability and good execution is the ideal, but ultimately I’m here to be entertained so proper execution is the priority.

    I personally think One Piece does a pretty good job of staying “believable” when compared to its peers in the shonen genre, especially with its power scaling - the closest it’s ever gotten to “unbelievable” in that sense is during Enies Lobby, when Luffy, Zoro and Sanji pulled out their power ups. But for entertainment purposes, I’m sure most of us were fine with them. There’s some plot elements that are hard to believe (you’ve mentioned the H-word a few times), but none so ridiculous that they severely affect the quality of the story. There’s also a lot of elements that don’t make sense from a “scientific” standpoint (you mentioned Luffy’s gears), but Oda’s a writer, not a scientist - and besides, the gears are cool so it’s fine.

    As weird as it is to say this on a website like this, there are some things that don’t need overthinking that we literally can just take at face value - believable or not, if it entertains, it’s doing its job
     
  4. Admiral Ryokugyu

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    this.

    I didn't read the thread, because for me personally the title itself is very demotivating. The last thing i'd like to read or talk or discuss about is the " believability " of a fictional story like One Piece. I noticed the same thing in multiple threads on this forum ( i have nothing against the members who do that, it's their right ) i just feel like some people are overthinking and trying way too hard. The topic of " believability " shouldn't be discussed when the story is clearly fictional. It's a manga published in Weekly Shonen Jump, you got stories in that magazine where people gather 6 balls and summon a dragon and they their wish come true, a guy writes people's names in a copy book and they die ... WSJ is a home of stories that are pushed to the brink fiction-wise.

    I think overthinking these things can make the story unenjoyable for people who do that.
     
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  5. KKG

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    It's more believable to me that a dragon with god powers can revive people than a guy who gets revived with no explanation at all and this makes a story unenjoyable.
    It's part of enjoying the story to take it serious and i'm really sorry if some people don't agree with it.
    Any mangaka would like to listen to people who take his story serious instead of just a fanboy who does nothing but praise his story with no questions about his own credibility.
    Don't you guys have critic spirit or you swallow everything they throw at your throats?
    If we can't take a story serious are we really enjoying it?
    If i still don't make sense i can say thank you to the author of this thread.
     
  6. Admiral Ryokugyu

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    again, with all due respect, you have no idea what you're talking about, i don't know whether you're being sarcastic or not but what you're saying has nothing to do with what @Marco Polo and I said. If having a critic spirit to you means discussing the believability of a shonen jump manga, then i'm out. It's like i'm asked to prove that 1+1 = 2.

    I have nothing against you but these days i noticed that whenever i post in a thread you answer with something that's totally off subject. Of course i'm fine if you disagree with me, it's your right, but i'm only asking you to understand what's being talked about and what the members say before replying. Marco and I are 2 of the most critical members on this forum ( check the chapter threads ), i'm a fan of Oda but i do not hesitate to rant and criticize him when he messes up. What you said proves that you're unfamiliar with my posts, and you completely misunderstood what i said above.

    I mean we get it. We know that you prefer Dragon Ball over One Piece, you said that multiple times. You take whatever opportunity you find to bash Oda's work, and you have the right to do so, but just do it using valid arguments that actually make sense, don't let your DB fanboyism blind you.
     
  7. Jawahib

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    Woah OK I think there's a pretty big disconnect between what I'm trying to say and what's been understood.

    I'm not saying "Is One Piece believable by our standards?", I'm saying "is One Piece believable by the standard it sets for itself?"
    I'm not talking about how realistic it is, but rather how consistent, because as you guys have been saying the kind of rules we find in our world need to be understood at a very high scientific level and thus aren't applied with that specificity in One Piece, so of course that's not what I'm talking about.

    For example, when I see Luffy annihilate a sea monster in a single punch, I don't really take issue with it because I assume "oh ok he's just really strong" and I can believe it. But if in the next episode he tried hitting something much weaker, like an ordinary lion, and the punch had no effect, then the believability is gone because I don't have a read of how strong he really is any more.

    The believability I'm talking about is the kind that makes us invested in any kind of dramatic narrative, because if we don't believe in the stakes, we simply can't care about the drama.

    I'm not talking about the believability that whinges when a man turns into sand when he's punched, but the believability that would complain if Luffy ran up to Crocodile and said "I hate sand!" and consequently turned him into a block of ice.
    How would you be able to care about Alabasta if something like that was an option that Luffy forgot he could do? For us to care, we need to believe that Luffy is trying his hardest and accessing all the power available to him so we can become invested in his struggle.

    So @KKG 's most recent post (the first 2 sentences at least :P), is actually the only one that to me seems to address at least what I'm trying to talk about here.

    So to address your examples specifically:
    Sort of, but not because the idea of setting your leg on fire by spinning around really fast is by definition unbelievable in the OP universe, the believability becomes compromised when we wonder why other characters with good kicking skills aren't doing, or perhaps can't do, the same thing. This question later gets somewhat answered in the SBS when we hear that Sanji's spirit is hot enough to negate the heat from Diable Jambe, and that the fire of his frustration is real flames, not just a comedic aesthetic. We can sort of assume something similar for Zoro's Asura - a unique spirit that takes physical form, so honestly as far as believability goes these elements aren't really that bad at all.
    The point is you don't watch someone like Blue Gilly fight and go "why doesn't he just activate Diable Jambe" because there's enough context for us to believe it's something unique to Sanji.
     
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  8. Kia

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    1. So the issue that I’d have with this one is actually not that he’d have awakened his DF while with Rayleigh and not used it before because that’s logical in the progression of power use to enemies. However, the fight going down just like that would be a load of crap as he would probably go through everything else first or at least try some Gear 4 first maybe? Also, he doesn’t kill his enemies. That’s not how he operates. To suddenly kill Kaido would be a drastic character change. Suffocating him until he passes out then throwing some kairoseiki cuffs on him or having Law take his heart so you’ve got control over him, maybe. But kill him? Nah.

    2. Did he find the location of the fourth Poneglyph, the truth about Rafael, the One Piece and everything else to make it a boring adventure on his bedside table when he woke up or it came to him in a dream or through his new kenbunshoku? Because that’s basically what it would take to make him stop being a pirate. He’s stated so himself that he wouldn’t go on a boring adventure and would stop being a pirate rather than do so.

    3. Luffy couldn’t swim before he ate the devil fruit, so this is beyond any suspension of disbelief. I don’t care if people were wrong about the devil fruits. As a child he couldn’t swim so when/how did he learn? Riddle me this, Batman.

    4. Dude, just don’t. Come on. I’m not even messing with that one. Points for creativity though. ^_^

    You say that but your breakdown of the gears is actually very scientifically based and seems more our world than their world. For example, if I were to criticize them, which I hadn’t thought to do until now, I’d wonder how his teeth could pierce his Busoshoku coated arm (or even his regular thumb) in the first place unless he coated them in Busoshoku as well. So I always just sort of thought that the mouth on his arm or thumb or whatever was for show and that the air moved around internally (which doesn’t actually make any more sense from a scientific perspective unless you consider that it’s blood cells that carry oxygen in the first place and they circulate everywhere).

    So there’s a lot more that I’d planned on saying originally but I’m tired and it’s slipping my mind. Probably along the lines of me agreeing that the world is richly built, planned and executed or some such and thanking you for taking the time to write the thread. I’ll likely think of other aspects to which to respond later (or mayhaps I never will, you never know with me). ^_^ Anyways, as always, ask if you don’t understand something and please excuse typos I try to catch them.
     
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  9. Jawahib

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    Ok trueeee BUT it does have repercussions to the consistency the world of One Piece too e.g. the question of if everyone has the power to accelerate their blood, and I mean concepts of inflation/deflation are used elsewhere (heckles just look at how Gear Third deactivates).
    Of course it's easy to put the Gears in their own box and say they use rules that only work with Luffy, but I mean isn't that like the definition of plot armour? While it doesn't particularly bother me or most fans of One Piece, it was still something worth talking about since I can easily imagine the gears turning some people off One Piece because it compromises the believability of the story to them.
    Haha well I'm glad you engaged with these, and I agree with pretty much everything here. Though for number 3 I thought it was said that Luffy was a good swimmer and that was one of the issues with eating the Devil Fruit: that he'd lose that skill. I'll have to research that when I get the chance to double check though.
     
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  10. Kia

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    But he clearly uses his rubber powers as a pump to do the acceleration the first few times, so I don’t see the problem. Also the deflation problem (to micro size) is solved once he adds Busoshoku and is function of him not being able to hold that much extra oxygen in his body at all. There are limits even in their world.

    upload_2019-2-10_17-59-5.jpeg There ya go. From early on. I knew it was stated. ^_^
     
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  11. Anjo

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    #11 Anjo, Feb 11, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    You're right. Believability takes a hit when there are lots of contradictions and inconsistencies shown in the world created by the author. Personally, I haven't really noticed some major inconsistency that would warrant me to suspend my "suspension of disbelief". I guess it's because I'm less interested in power scales or character battles and more interested in the grand scheme of things in the OP world like the political and power shifts.

    For me, One Piece is believable because of how Oda created the whole One Piece universe. A universe that lives and breathes alongside the main characters. You get to follow the plights of the Strawhats yet you are aware that there are also countless major events happening somewhere that is relevant to the whole plot. Offscreen happenings tend to have equal or even more importance than the ones shown on the panels and to me that is fascinating and adds to my belief meter. Now they're in Wano but the happenings in Mary Geoise arguably means more to the whole future of the One Piece world. Compare this to the world of let's say Bleach or Dragon Ball where the whole world seems to freeze everytime the main character is involved in a major fight. Don't get me wrong. I'm also a fan of Bleach and Dragon Ball but One Piece will always be higher on my pedestal.
     
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  12. KKG

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    I can say the greatest achievement of One Piece is the strong bond between the Straw Hats and the most hilarious moments of the characters.
    As a comedy show it is great.
    The humor in the series is believable and original because only Prison School and To Love Ru made me laugh more.
    In humor there is no way DB and Bleach can compete with OP,it's a fact.
     
  13. GoldenVenus

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    That was a good read. I read this in a hurry since I’m swamped with work so I won’t be able to address every single thing you’ve written @Jawahib and I’m sorry if I’m missing any of your point. I’m just going to deliver my thoughts as a writer on the main point of the discussion; the believability in fiction. I won’t talk much about the specific examples you provided regarding the Gears and Haki since I think I’ve forgotten a lot about the details. I’m just gonna talk about this in general.

    First of all, I think some people might not fully understand the term ‘believability’ here. It doesn’t refer to ‘what is realistic or what is logical in a fiction.’ Especially in the genre of fantasy, many people (including some writers) don’t actually understand the whole point of it. I bet that when Jawahib made this post, there’d be some who’d think,
    ‘Wait, why are you questioning what’s believable in OP, when everything is about fantasy? You should’ve complained about how there was a boy who could stretch his body like a rubber then.’

    That’s just an example of course, I’m trying to make this as simplest as I can.

    No, that’s not what believability is in fiction. Believability is linked to consistency. In other words, what believability refers to here is basically about the consistency of a story. Because consistency is what makes a story believable. That’s the easiest explanation. I understand what Jawahib is trying to address here, but I won’t talk about the Gears and all that. Something that I learned while I was still a student (and still remember to this day), is that there are three types of consistency in fiction.
    • External consistency – consistency with the real world. The easiest example I can provide from OP is when Whitebeard used his Gura Gura no Mi power in Marineford. He basically created a quake around the area that went as far as under the sea. It is a known fact that an undersea earthquake (a big one) would cause a tsunami, and that’s what happened in the story. So it’s believable. BUT, what if Whitebeard went all the way to create a quake with his power that caused a lot of ruckus, but then nothing happened afterwards? No tsunami,nothing. And they proceed with the war. Some people would already question that. Like, 'Wait, that’s it? They’re at the sea, shouldn’t that that cause tsunami?’ ‘All that power that he showed off, and nothing is happening?’ Just an example, but you get the point here.
    • Genre consistency – consistency with other fictional works in the same genre. For ex; most stories in the fantasy genre have characters that possess strange power and abilities to fight enemies. So there’s nothing to question about when you see people having weird abilities after eating a fruit called the devil fruit.
    • Internal consistency – consistency within a fictional work. This is what Jawahib was addressing. I won’t refer to his examples though. But if there’s one thing I’d address about Haki, that would be how Haoshoku was introduced as a very unique and exceptional ability that not just anyone could possess; a trait of a leader/king. But then during Luffy’s battle with Don Chinjao, the old man suddenly said there were a lot of guys who had the ability and it was nothing special, nothing to brag about. I get that the New World is different and there are stronger characters, but that just robs the expectations I had of Haoshoku Haki.

    Next, I’m going to talk about BM’s current case of memory loss. Let’s say, that Admiral Ryokugyu’s theory about her kids betraying her and leaving her was correct. Now, we’re not going to talk about the possible cause or the reasoning behind this or if it’s logical or not. We’ll just wait for what’s going to happen next. What I’m going to address here is the consistency. This, to me, is an example of lack of consistency.

    Why? There’s not even the slightest indication that would point to this turn of event. I know you said something about Katakuri’s words, @Admiral Ryokugyu, that he might’ve implied that he knew Luffy was going to defeat him and go against BM and it was like he approved of it? But that was too vague, and not enough to add to the consistency. It needs more than that. Some people might not get what I’m trying to say here, but that’s okay. I know people would say,
    ‘But that’s what a plot twist is about? It’s supposed to leave you in shock and surprise you!’
    And also, some would say,
    ‘Changes always happen. It’s up to the author to make changes to his plot, he doesn’t necessarily have to follow the original plan. You can’t complain.’

    Okay, I’ll just say first that that’s not what I’m referring to here. Plot twists are normal. Changes are also normal. Nothing wrong with that. But, as a writer, no matter what you do, whether it’s about making an unexpected twist or making some changes to your story, the one thing that you always need to bear in mind, is that your story should be consistent. You want to change something? Okay, sure, but will it still be consistent with the previous events or the future events? If the changes affect the consistency, that’s where the problem starts. Though, this problem often happens. I make the same mistakes too sometimes. This is basically why a writer needs and editor, or at least two editors, to help with things like this. It’s easy to overlook these things, especially when you’re an author of a long running manga.

    The point here is, consistency is what makes the story believable. Of course, some would just choose to enjoy the story. This is what we call suspension of disbelief, as Jawahib explained. Well obviously every reader would suspend their disbelief, or we wouldn’t be able to read a fantasy. But this is about the details that come with the plot. Not everyone thinks the same, that they’d just accept everything as long as it’s enjoyable. The role of consistency here is to satisfy the readers’ expectations.

    When the expectation isn’t met, for example; a villainous character has such a powerful introduction, he’s described as the epitome of evil and does a lot of bad things. But then, he accidentally kills a woman, who is actually his long lost lover, and he regrets it and suddenly decides to change to a better man. This is just an example to make you understand, so please don’t sweat the details lol. But you should understand my point here. It fails your expectation. It’s not consistent with what has happened previously with the villain, and it's not consistent with the way his character was built.

    Now, here’s a question.

    ‘Does that mean a writer only needs to satisfy the readers and can’t simply write what he wants?’

    Nope, the writer is basically the God here. He creates everything. So he sets the expectations as well. Basically, it means that the writer is the one who decides what the readers want to see, by making the story believable. And by believable I mean it’s consistent. I’m sorry if my words confuse you lol.

    I’ll give you an example. If I remember it right, Oda first introduced Haki when Shanks saved Luffy from the sea monster. At first, you were just wondering what Shanks did, but he's a strong character, so you let it go. The second time was when Luffy stopped a raging bull belonged to Duval’s group? (please correct me if I got this wrong). The bull stopped and seemed to be scared of Luffy. Then Zoro asked, “Did you do something to him?” Luffy said, “No, I didn’t do anything.” By doing this, Oda had already set an expectation. We know there was something there. It was suspicious. And we were expecting something to happen later in the story.
    ‘Is it Luffy’s power?’
    ‘What makes the bull fear Luffy?’
    ‘What is this ability?’
    ‘Can other people do this too?’
    ‘I can’t wait to see what this is about!’

    You surely had those thoughts. When Haki was used again, you already knew it was a thing; a real ability and Luffy really had it. And it is something unique and special. A power that you need in order to compete with stronger enemies. Only the strong ones have it. It meets the expectations that you had when it was first shown. But if basically everyone would be able to use Haki on the first try without much effort, it would fail to satisfy what you were expecting thing to see. It fails to serve the excitement that you had before.

    What I said here is something that I would relate to foreshadowing. But I won’t go deep into this topic here, since it’d get longer. I’m going to tag @Seiryu here, since you’ve mentioned Oda’s use of foreshadowing as something that you think is simplistic. Foreshadowing is actually considered an important device in fiction, and this is closely connected to my point above. It helps with the consistency of the story. Without foreshadowing, consistency won’t be able to be achieved. Let's say that Oda only introduced Haoshoku Haki when Luffy was at Marineford trying to save Ace. It definitely wouldn't be as good. A random power up out of nowhere in the middle of a freaking war? There was no expectation, no excitement building up, and you have no idea what it is. A sudden and random introduction to power affects the flow. It shouldn't happen. Which is why it was foreshadowed.

    I won’t say Oda is perfect, but despite what I said, I’ve always seen Oda as one of the very few authors that is very consistent, compared to the other mangakas. But I haven't read every manga out there, so I don't know for sure. I'd say Hajime Isayama was pretty consistent too so far, from what I've watched. I don't read much of the manga though, so I don't know how it is now.

    I’m sorry if there’s anything out of topic or hard to understand btw. I totally didn’t check what I’ve written lol.Just would like to say what I think about this topic.
     
  14. Kia

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    @GoldenVenus Thanks for taking the time for further edify the original post by breaking down the various forms of literary consistency so that others can better comprehend the topic and thus perhaps engage in the discussion on multiple levels or even at all if they were lost previously. ^_^

    As far as Haoshoku Haki in the new world with the Chinjao thing, I believe that the difference is the caliber and screening of people who make it into and survive in the new world versus elsewhere? There still aren’t but one in several million people who can use it but the self selected population of them happen to be concentrated in that location due to their goals, occupations, circumstances and aspirations. I do not see a consistency error there. It’s like saying that devil fruit users are rare but there are lots of them in the grand line. Or Fishmen/merfolk are rare but there are lots of them on Fishman Island. Of course, that’s my interpretation of it as I read it. ^_^ I totally get your point on the foreshadowing though. I think that it did a great job of getting us interested in and excited for that thing that was going to be Haki and does for a great many items in the series. Even when I get the reasons wrong, I often get the answers right (like Pudding shot Reiju). ^_^
     
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  15. GoldenVenus

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    No problem, I just would like to share some aspects in writing ^^

    And regarding the Haki, well, yes, we might view it differently and have different expectation. Since Oda had always described Haoshoku as something bizarre and special, I had this thought that only a small percentage would possess it. Haoshoku shouldn't be a common thing. But you have a point too, that Don Chinjao might have just been referring to the group of strong characters that he'd met, since he's a powerful pirate himself. Or he was just simply trying to taunt Luffy at the time.
     
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  16. Jawahib

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    This is exactly the stuff I'm talking about :D
    The story needs to be consistent to be believed.
    I loved what you said about the consistency with other works in the same genre because I'd never thought about that before; just considered each story in its own bubble that didn't touch anything else. But of course that wouldn't be entirely true since if you tell someone that One Piece is a shonen then there are already several elements of the story/story-telling they'll assume, so they won't question them when they appear.

    However I agree with @Kia about the Haoshoku thing. If there were, say, 1 billion people in the OP world, then the "1 in a million" statistic would say there's 1000 Haoshoku users. If say 80% of them are in the New World (not many places someone who's unlocked Haoshoku would be other than the front lines of the power struggle imo), then we're talking 800 users in the New World. So it really wouldn't be that uncommon from here on out, of course those numbers are all fabrications and wild estimations, but I think something of the sort will end up being true.

    I also don't necessarily think that if the theory of Big Mom being betrayed by her kids is true that there's no precedent for it (though this may better saved for his actual thread). The kids aren't dumb; they know how unstable she is and how much damage she can wreak. Their own brother was needlessly slaughtered for attempting to calm her down, which means that none of them are safe. I don't think it'd be perfectly consistent (since we've had lines like "the BM pirates are doomed without BM" from I think it was Perospero), but I could believe it to be an act of desperation on their part.
     
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  17. Marco Polo

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    I get what you mean, but the same thing applies really - One Piece is generally pretty consistent in most of its storytelling aspects (H-word aside). Any other inconsistencies are minor enough that the overall believability doesn’t take any significant damage. Oda’s reputation amongst fans speaks for itself, really, especially in the era of the internet "critic".

    I think even in the context of the OP universe, Sanji discovering Diable Jambe is pretty weird - does he just spin around in his kitchen in his spare time? Does he even get time to train? Luffy's gears have some logical basis (Gear 2 is based off of Soru, and it's pretty believable that Luffy would come up with "Giant Hand" as a powerup), and he's gifted enough to put his observations/ideas into practice quickly, and Zoro's knowledge of cursed blades and his swordsmanship training probably gave him enough information to summon Asura (that is, if Asura is a curse from one of his blades).

    There's been enough context for us to know that Diable Jambe is Sanji-only, but then there's the question of why he's the only non-DF user with a "unique" ability like that? Oda's SBS answer about his "soul" only brings more questions about why other souls haven't developed similar abilities - which is really the only stumbling block as far as believability goes
     
  18. Pacquiao8

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    All I can say is this: One Piece is unbelievable.
     
  19. GoldenVenus

    I shall rise
    Kenbunshoku Haki Member
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    Yes, that is still far fetched. I was making an example of what inconsistency would be like, if the theory ended up being real. I still think it's gonna be a case of lack of consistency though, due to the sudden memory loss XD but I'll wait to see what Oda's going to do, then I'll comment on it later.
     
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  20. Kia

    Kia
    All about amare, anima, and anime.
    Haoshoku Haki Busoshoku Haki Kenbunshoku Haki Member
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    I totally meant to reply to your stuff earlier but I got sidetracked (no surprise there!)^_^
    His attacks are all French named and culinary based in that they generally either refer to the parts of the body as if they were cuts of meat or food dishes. So the fire connection could be an extension of that theme. Furthermore, he does reveal spinning attacks where he is in a handstand and spins around to deliver kicks. He did this as early as the fight against the Kriegs so he clearly received the training to do so from Zeff. As for time to train, he’s pretty competitive with Mosshead and wants to be able to protect the ladies so I doubt that he’s completely remiss in keeping up with his physicality, he’d at least be thinking of ways to improve. So I can see him experimenting with more than just recipes. If you’ve been abused and finally gained strength, you do your damnedest to maintain and hone it. Of course, that’s just my read on it. ^_^

    Also, is he the only one? What about Laffitte and Django? They’ve got weird hypnosis stuff going on that hasn’t been tied to DF powers. We have no idea what Blackbeard’s weird body thing is and why he can eat two DF. There are other people with peculiarities in the OP world for sure. Furthermore, it’s never been stated that Asura was a curse from one of Zoro’s swords. Actually, it seems to be exactly like Sanji’s method in that it’s extensions of his spirit wherein he takes his three sword style to the next level by tripling himself in a manner similar in appearance to the Hindu figures bearing the same name. Or that’s how I interpreted it—I could be way off base. ^_^
     

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