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Even For a ‘One Piece’ Anime Watcher, Knowing Who the New Straw Hat ISN’T Is Devastating

Fellow anime friends: beware your blossoming attachments

Screenshot of Luffy being sad

SPOILERS AHEAD for the One Piece manga! However, know that I’m only caught up on the anime, so I’ll be phrasing this in the vaguest of terms, without other spoilers for the end of the Wano arc.

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The One Piece cosplay meetup at Anime Expo 2022 was a joyful, giddy occasion, especially for me and the handful of others dressed up as Yamato, Kaido’s (transgender!?) son and Luffy’s ally during the Onigashima Raid. Even as someone just caught up on the anime (I’m working on the manga), Yamato’s path seemed clear: with the Ace connection on lock, Yamato would follow in the footsteps of their role model, Kouzuki Oden, and join the crew of the future King of the Pirates as they find the One Piece in the series’ final saga. The (at least) one hundred One Piece fans amassed for the cosplay meetup were so certain of this that the Yamatos coyly stood in the back of the “all Straw Hats” picture, only the horns peeking out—as if foreshadowing the nakama to come.

Welp. That picture aged poorly.

Judging by headlines alone, in the last few weeks, Yamato’s future with the Straw Hats seemed to be even more on lock. Multiple outlets claimed Yamato to be the “New Straw Hat” weeks ago. But then, upon the release of chapter 1057, anger and devastation seeped into my Twitter feed. It was the first time I had seen this much of the One Piece fanbase genuinely upset with mangaka Eiichiro Oda, which is weird, because One Piece fans are typically very supportive of Oda. But soon, I was with them.

The reason? All that foreshadowing, all those deep connections to other characters, was dropped. Yamato decided to stay in Wano. Yamato didn’t get on the ship.

The Straw Hats left Wano.

Without Yamato.

YouTuber RogersBase uses the world “fake out” in his chapter recap video, which pretty clearly sums up how fans are feeling. Yamato grew very quickly into an incredibly popular character. Even before Yamato debuted in the anime, they ranked within the top 15 characters in a 2021 global popularity poll—ahead of literally a thousand characters fans have known for much longer throughout One Piece’s 25-year history. This popularity only grew once the character was introduced in the anime later that year.

In short, I and my fellow Anime Expo Yamatos, and many other fans, were really, really excited for Yamato to join the Straw Hats. And we were … kind of betrayed. I am legitimately heartbroken over this.

It would be one thing if Yamato didn’t join if Carrot—the other viable candidate and another popular character—had become the tenth Straw Hat instead. I noticed the Yamato and Carrot fandoms sparring a bit on Twitter last week and got concerned. (My ideal situation? Have ’em both join and double the Straw Hats’ non-cis-male membership! Screw the fact that Luffy said he wanted ten crew members the second he left his hometown!) But Carrot didn’t join, either. The Straw Hats apparently just sailed away.

The fans who have jumped onto Twitter to gloat about neither Yamato nor Carrot joined have been—I have tangentially, and yet, not surprisingly noticed—overwhelmingly male. Is it because Yamato and Carrot kick too much ass? Probably, yes. (There are absolutely pockets of the One Piece fandom where people are assholes about Yamato’s gender identity.)

Although, to be honest even further, we’ve never seen Jinbe’s chemistry with the rest of the Straw Hats as a full-fledged crew member. Though it’s several arcs coming, Jinbe technically officially joined the crew in Wano, and Oda has never added two new crew members at once before. It might have thrown off the balance of things. Is it obvious I’m trying to make myself feel better?

I chatted with a friend who said they “have a suspicion Yamato will be gone for a bit but come back later,” a la Jinbe, which I sure hope is right. Although, considering the mystery surrounding the Reverie still, I’m wondering if Luffy’s 10th crew member is someone who will rejoin the Straw Hats. In other words: What if it’s Vivi?

In the meantime, to my fellow Yamato fans, especially my fellow anime watchers who otherwise have months of false assurance left in their One Piece Wano experience: Let’s pour one out for our fave. Goddammit.

(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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