The 11 Best Female Characters in ‘One Piece’
Please meet my good friends from the long-running anime/manga 'One Piece' who can all kick your butt.
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.”
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 recent 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 ten of my favorite friends.
A quick note: I know I’m going to get groans about not including Tashigi. I have really complicated feelings about Tashigi and what I see as her continually thwarted potential. Perhaps I’ll talk about it one day. Today is not that day.
Update: This article has been updated to take out Yamato, who since the original time of writing was confirmed as a trans man. The opportunity to add a certain character and address a particular set of comments was taken.
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.
It’s a shame Jewelry Bonney has barely been in One Piece—though it seems her time is coming. (Cue a very knowing cough.) What we know about her is tantalizing as hell. She’s the only female member of the Worst Generation, which makes her on the same level as Luffy, Law, Drake, and company. She’s somehow related to Kuma. She’s down to take on Celestial Dragons. And 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.
Before Rebecca, or Shirahoshi, or Hiyori, there was Vivi: the original One Piece princess, and the only one to also be 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 still remains a member of the Straw Hats in our hearts. Also, I would like this moment to give a shout-out to Karoo, Vivi’s loyal supersonic duck. We love you, Karoo.
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 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’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. That is to say: dear lord, I hope Carrot joins the Straw Hats. And I’m not alone, judging from her #8 ranking in the Global Popularity Poll of all characters. One Piece desperately needs a happy-go-lucky, comic relief role to be filled by a woman, and Carrot fills it perfectly.
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 furthering reflection, these comments were actually 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 cold-bloodedness and the 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.
As the series’ first bonafide 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). But she will always stand her ground. She’s as cool, intelligent, and level-headed just as you expect of a samurai while being—let’s face it—drop-dead gorgeous. Kiku’s having a rough time at Onigashima, but she’s handling it like a freaking professional samurai. Have I mentioned she’s a samurai?
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. If you do not like Boa Hancock, I’m looking down on you so far I’m actually looking up.
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: 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.
If that wasn’t enough, Robin is inarguably one of the smartest characters in One Piece, and 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 just so wholesome.
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.
(Images: Toei Animation)
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