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The Best Female Characters in ‘One Piece’

Female characters in 'One Piece'

If you’re not watching or reading or googling One Piece, you might think of it as “that anime/manga where all the women have giant boobs.” If you are a fan, however, you know and love it as “that anime/manga where all those super empowered and badass women have giant boobs.”

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Being a female One Piece fan isn’t always easy, and I certainly wish that the female characters’ body proportions were a little more … realistic. But anyone who thinks that means One Piece isn’t singular in having a huge cast of badass, empowered, strong-willed, ultra-smart women has another thing coming.

A Global Popularity Poll to celebrate the manga’s 1000th volume illuminated the fact that One Piece has well over 1000 characters. And since creator Eiichiro Oda approaches his characters with so much empathy, fans end up feeling like their favorites are their best friends. So picking favorites is so simple task for those deep into One Piece. But if you’re unconvinced of the series or the merits of its ladies, please meet my favorite friends.

Update: This article has been updated to remove Yamato, who since the original time of writing was confirmed as a trans man.

Monet

(Toei Animation)

This one proved a controversial pick, but I’m sticking to my guns here. Monet is strong, cunning, and understated. You get the sense she was way more key to Doflamingo’s operation than is explicitly told. More importantly, her ridiculously cool character design. I mean, look at those wings! And the “HAPPY” shirt, which completely clashes with her dark, calm, and collected personality! Monet also gets bonus points for ganging up on Zoro with Tashigi to grill him about whether or not he disrespects women by taking it easy on women in fights.

Tsuru

Tsuru hanging up the enemies to dry in One Piece
(Toei Animation)

Tsuru is a vice admiral in the Navy and, like Garp, essentially a legend among the Navy’s ranks. As such, she acts like someone who has put in their due time kicking ass and so will no longer take your bullshit, thank you. She has an even-keeled temper, is incredibly knowledgeable, and will simply not be intimidated. Even Doflamingo is afraid of Tsuru. I would like to be Tsuru when I grow up. Also, her Devil Fruit ability is to wash people and hang them up to dry, which, in similar fashion to Tsuru, I would enjoy doing very much to people who annoy me.

Rebecca

Rebecca in her gladiator outfit in One Piece
(Toei Animation)

Remember how we talked about the “empowered and badass women with big boobs” thing? Well, Rebecca’s very revealing gladiator costume really shows off her impressive endowments. You’d think an outfit which covers so little would be unwise when someone’s regularly fighting other people to the death, but fortunately, Rebecca is known as the “undefeated woman.”

Which is where she gets really interesting. Rebecca is gentle by nature and does not want to fight anyone—she’s been forced to do so by her unfortunate circumstances. This means her fighting technique is purely defensive, but she still wins every time. Rebecca is a fascinating study on what happens when a certain idea of femininity is forced to act against some of that very image’s most commonly portrayed ideals—pacifism, daintiness, etc. Rebecca is anything but dainty.

Charlotte Pudding

Charlotte Pudding contending with Sanji's kindness in One Piece
(Toei Animation)

Pudding is an incredible character. Her arc in Whole Cake Island is deeply memorable, with several twists and reveals. She begins as benign, sweet, innocent. She’s then revealed to be a cog in a murderous scheme with her mother, Big Mom—a role she seems downright giddy to play as part of her “true” mean-spirited nature. But finally, you begin to question whether Pudding’s nature is truly cold and calculated, or whether a lifelong history of mockery and intense pressure have made her that way. Her final act with her would-be groom, Sanji, is (for me, at least) one of the most tender, heart-breaking, memorable moments of the series.

Tashigi

Tashigi in One Piece's Punk Hazard arc
(Toei Animation)

I have a complicated relationship with this character. To root for Tashigi—hell, to see myself in Tashigi—is to deal with the fact that Tashigi is continually thwarted. Tashigi’s ambition is, like Zoro, to become a master swords(wo)man. But instead, Tashigi repeatedly falls behind of her ambitions and becomes visibly frustrated by how her strengths don’t measure up to her competition. On one hand, this makes Tashigi an incredibly empathetic character, especially since the subtext of her being the only woman in a real “boys club” is plain to see. And she’s deeply admired by the Navy soldiers who work under her. But her character arc is desperately crying for a her to get a huge power-up and decisive victory. I hope she gets it.

Tama

Otama riding on the back of Horselina
(Toei Animation)

This eight-year-old has more guts, conviction, and perseverance than 99% of adult people. No matter how many times I read or watch it, so many checkpoints in her story make me cry—how her parents were among the first people to die in Kaido’s factories, how she attempted to survive by selling straw hats no one in Wano had the spare change to buy them, how she gave Luffy her birthday rice even though she was starving. Yet none of this breaks Tama. In fact, she—a child—steals a ship to go fight at Onigashima and is arguably the person responsible for turning the battle in the Straw Hat forces’ favor.

I would sacrifice myself for the well-being of this incredible fictional child. Remember, Luffy and Zoro are so taken with her that some assholes spilling red bean soup (Tama’s favorite) means death.

Jewelry Bonney

(Toei Animation)

Until the Egghead Island arc, Jewelry Bonney was barely in One Piece—just a tantalizing cameo sassily eating pizza. Now, she’s the first person in the entire series to attack [REDACTED]. The more you learn about Bonney, the more interesting she becomes—though some of that information is sparking deserved controversy among fans. Anime-only watchers, we’ll discuss this later.

Still, Bonney is strong-willed as hell, and her love her famous father will break your heart. She’s down to take on foes head-on that most characters in the Grand Line would shiver at the mere mention of. She’s the only person besides Luffy and Chopper to save Zoro’s life, which tells you something. And her Devil Fruit turns anyone into either old people or babies. Excellent. Classic. Bonney forever.

Nefertari Vivi

(Toei Animation)

Before Rebecca, or Shirahoshi, or Hiyori, there was Vivi: the original One Piece princess, and the only one to also become a pirate. Her big-heartedness, bravery, and dedication to her country left a lasting mark on both the series and the Straw Hats themselves. Vivi has forever remained a member of the Straw Hats in our hearts—and, hell, there’s an increasingly likely chance she’ll rejoin in the series, too.

Also, I would like this moment to give a shout-out to Karoo, Vivi’s loyal supersonic duck. We love you, Karoo.

Dr. Kureha

(Toei Animation)

One of One Piece‘s most uncomfortable flaws is that Oda seems to like to poke fun at aging women. Dr. Kureha is one of the few women to escape the trend—or, maybe more accurately, to twist the joke into something flattering. At 141 years young, “Doctorine” is an ultra-saucy force to be reckoned with. Her wide-sweeping knowledge of medicine also makes her one of the most intelligent people in the series.

Perona

(Toei Animation)

Perona is one of few people in the series who has beaten Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji. That’s because her excellent Devil Fruit, the Hollow-Hollow Fruit, creates ghosts that soar through people and makes them overwhelmed by negative emotions and a bleak existential take on their existence. She also manages to be a villain and a brat, yet extremely likable and sympathetic. Maybe it’s because there’s a bit of the sassy, “well f*** this”-vibe Perona in all of us.

Carrot

(Toei Animation)

Carrot’s what you would get if you combined Luffy’s and Chopper’s personalities and then put them into a sexy bunny lady’s body. Carrot fills a gap in One Piece characters, providing us with a woman in the happy-go-lucky, comic relief role. Which is all to say that I had such hopes that Carrot would join the Straw Hats. Or at least have a meaningful climactic victory during the Raid on Onigashima. But alas. I’m not alone in my hopes and dreams, either, judging from Carrot’s #8 ranking in the Global Popularity Poll of all characters.

Big Mom

Big Mom singing a musical number in One Piece
(Toei Animation)

The original version of this article did not feature Big Mom. The backlash was much … er … bigger than I would’ve ever imagined. I got accused of “Big Mom Erasure.” But, upon further reflection, these comments were right. Because damn, Big Mom is a fascinating character.

As one of the Four Emperors, she’s hands-down one of the most powerful people in the series. But it’s her complex mixture of her cold-bloodedness and her latent potential for warmth that really draws me to her. Big Mom and her pirate crew are one of the most brutal in the series. They will massacre entire countries for a cake ingredient. But as seen by her treatment of Otama, Big Mom is capable of empathy. To an extent. She’s a victim of an unfortunate childhood—it’s easy to imagine a future where things went differently and Big Mom was not a horrifying killer. Now that’s a good character.

Kikunojo

(Toei Animation)

As the series’ first celebrated trans woman (let’s have the Kama Bakka conversation another day), and a legendary samurai to boot, Kiku oozes excellence. She’s very sympathetic and cares deeply for her comrades (perhaps to a fault). She will always stand her ground. She’s as cool, intelligent, and level-headed just as you expect of a samurai while having a badass mask under which she’s—let’s face it—drop-dead gorgeous. Kiku’s had a rough time at Onigashima, but she’s handled it like a freaking professional samurai. Have I mentioned she’s a samurai?

Boa Hancock

(Toei Animation)

Boa Hancock is one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, which catapults her into the series’ top echelon of strength. She’s the “Pirate Empress” who rules the all-woman warrior island Amazon Lily. She has a giant snake named Salome. Her traumatic past makes her strength even deeper and moves her adoration for Luffy from being eye-rolling to, honestly, kind of heartwarming. Her Devil Fruit Power weaponizes other peoples’ lust against them. If you do not like Boa Hancock, I’m looking down on you so far I’m actually looking up.

Nico Robin

(Toei Animation)

I have long hypothesized that Robin is secretly the strongest Straw Hat. The fact that being strong doesn’t interest her in the slightest just makes her even more badass. She also has one of the coolest Devil Fruits in the whole series: the Flower-Flower Fruit, which means she can make any part of her body appear anywhere and multiply. I personally am a huge fan of Giganteso Mano: Stomp. I’d also argue that Robin’s duel with Black Maria on Onigashima is a contender for the best fight in all of One Piece.

If that wasn’t enough, Robin is inarguably one of the smartest characters in One Piece. She’s seemingly the only person in the world who can read Ponegliffs, which also makes her one of the most important. Her tragic backstory results in one of One Piece‘s most memorable—and resonant—explorations into trauma and traumatic responses. Plus, her understated kinship with Chopper is so wholesome. Robin has it all.

Nami

(Toei Animation)

Yes, Nami is the central “hot girl” of One Piece. But to limit her to “hot girl” status would be underselling her. Nami is literally why the Straw Hats have traveled as far as they have. Her skills as a navigator are so exceptional, she wins the envy of whoever sees her in action. Her strong will rivals even Luffy’s. And while she’s not as physically strong as other Straw Hat members, her keen intellect allows her to wield her highly specialized weapon to great effect.

But let’s actually return to the “hot girl” thing. One of the most refreshing things about Nami is that she owns her sexuality. Nami is introduced in the anime when she leans suggestively over treasure, then bashes some pirates’ skulls when they take the bait. When Kin’emon says he finds her outfit indecent, she reprimands him, “I dress this way because I like to!” What I’m trying to say is, Nami empowered me to buy my first-ever bikini at the age of 29. She rules.

(featured image: Toei Animation)

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Author

Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.

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