Friday, March 14, 2014

One Piece: Why Usopp is My Favorite Straw Hat

One of my favorite mangas at the moment is One Piece. A Japanese comic written and drawn by Eichiro Oda. That man is a freakin' genius!

Anyway, when I was in Japan last year many people found it interesting that I was a One Piece fan. And the standard question I was asked was, "Who is your favorite Straw Hat?" and the standard reaction I got for my answer was surprise and confusion. While Usopp seems to have many fans on the Internet from a variety of different countries, in Japan he is not the first choice of most.

"But why?" I would get asked. "But he is so uncool," others would say, etc. But I stand by my choice, even after his recent actions in the latest chapters of the series (chpts. 740 and 741 especially).

While I am quite fond of the rest of the Straw Hats, they have an extra bit of awesomeness that naturally leads them to be popular. Luffy is the fearless quirky leader without a full set of tools in his tool box; Zoro is already a bad ass with a bad sense of direction; Sanji has a killer fighting style even if he is a creepy pervert; Chopper is adorable; Robin has a cool exterior and dark humor; Franky built himself a new body; Brook is some weird incarnation of the undead; and Nami (the closest to being like Usopp) while being greedy and bossy is still super smart and essential to getting the crew anywhere.

What is Usopp but a coward who grows into his talent? Every member of the Straw Hats knows what they are good at from the very beginning and they are confident in what they know how to do. Usopp barely has an inkling of his potential and is very intimidated by the dangerous world around him. When in reality he has many talents, he's an artist, an inventor and a very skilled sniper.

What really draws me to Usopp is that he is the most "real" out of all of them. When Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, Robin, or Franky are scared, that's because sh*ts about to go down. But Usopp is scared when any normal human being (ie. you and me) would be scared.

He has to come to terms with the fact that being part of the crew does not mean he has to be as good or better than anyone else. He simply has to compliment them. As Sanji wisely advised him back in Enies Lobby, he'll do what Usopp can't do and Usopp should do what only he can do. It is after that turning point that he really starts to grow. Granted he needs his alter ego Sogeking to get into the swing of things at times but baby steps.

After the time skip, he looks stronger, more confident and with a few more tricks up his sleeve. His motivation to get stronger was to continue to compliment the group that at the same time also needed to get stronger. He is still a coward but that is now ingrained in his personality. When it's counted he has always stepped up, albeit hesitantly, to do what has to be done.

Now, why in these last couple of chapters Oda is making him look extra cowardly is debatable. Maybe it's the fact that he is terrified of Doflamingo and his gang. It could also be in preparation for a big fight scene. Or maybe he just wants to remind us that The Straw Hats are pirates. They are all good people yes, but none of them aspire to be heroes. If they did they would have gone the marine route.

 I think there is more to Usopp in this arc than what we have been led to believe. Luffy has more confidence in his crew and believes they can take care of themselves. The whole crew has always believed in Usopp more than he has ever believed in himself. I think this is no different. His mind just has to catch up to his abilities and inner bad ass.

And if we're being honest his doubts and faults mirror many of out own.

Who is your favorite Straw Hat and why? I'd love to hear your opinions!

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