This year marks the 26th anniversary of One Piece. Eiichiro Oda’s tale of a teen’s dream to become the Pirate King. His odyssey is rich in settings and characters, which is roughly 1,174. This month saw the release of Chapter 1080 of the manga. Additionally, episode 1060 airs at the end of the month. At a time when 24 episodes are the norm, One Piece is a proven beast among anime series.
Honoring Oda’s long-running series, I thought it might be fun to count down the top ten One Piece characters. This was no easy task, as there are hundreds of characters from which to choose from. Exploring the internet and polling friends, we’ve come up with a list of series favorites. The downside is that some memorable characters did not make the list.
As you read this post, please feel free to let me know if I overlooked your favorite One Piece character. My favorite is Buggy the Star Clown. Please leave a comment below and let me know your picks.
A list of the top 10 One Piece characters:
10. ‘Snake Princess’ Boa Hancock
- Birthday: September 2
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 409 ‘Hurry! Back to the Crew – Adventure on the Isle of Women’ (2009)
The newest One Piece character to grace our list, Boa Hancock is captain of the Kuia Pirates. Created by Eiichiro Oda, she first appeared in chapter 516 of the manga published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on 29 September 2008. Sold into slavery, the ‘Snake Princess’ and her Gorgon sisters would come to despise men and the World Order. While in captivity, the World Nobles forced Boa to eat the Mero Mero no Mi devil fruit. This act would give her the ability to turn people into stone, thus the Gorgon reference.
Sublimely beautiful and tall, Boa towers over her sisters. She has long black hair and light brown eyes, which appear dark blue in the anime. Her physique is well-proportioned, with her being more ‘endowed’ than either Robin or Nami. Due to Boa’s upbringing, she is strong-willed but this façade masks a vulnerable side. Her stubbornness gives way to passion at the sight of ‘Straw Hat’ Luffy.
A fan favorite, the ‘Snake Princess’ lands at the tenth position of beloved One Piece characters.
9. ‘Sniper King’ Usopp
- Birthday: April 1
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 8 ‘Who Will Win? Showdown Between the True Powers of the Devil Fruit!’ (1999)
Coming in at number nine, we introduce the heart and soul of the Straw Hat Pirate crew. The ‘Sniper King’ hails from Syrup Village, where he fantasized about sea adventures and crewing his own ship. His ability to tell tall tales was purposeful. Eiichiro Oda modeled Usopp’s character from Pinocchio and Aesop’s Fables. He used the Japanese word for lie or ‘uso’ to name the ‘Sniper King.’ However, Usopp’s fanciful thinking makes him a gifted inventor, painter, and sculptor.
Being human among superhumans, one could forgive Usopp’s delusions of grandeur. The ‘Sniper King’ has distinctive black hair and a long nose. With no special abilities, Usopp fights using a slingshot to launch shots he created called Boshis. This ammo can deploy explosives, fire, smoke, and hot sauce. He would come to learn plant-based fighting and acquired Boin Archipelago.
The series comedy relief, Usopp would prove to be the Straw Hat Pirate’s heart during the Water 7 arc. A bit annoying at times, the ‘Snipper King’ remains a favored One Piece character.
8. ‘Red-Haired’ Shanks
- Birthday: March 9
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 4 ‘Luffy’s Past! The Red-Haired Shanks Appears!’ (1999)
Don’t let his laid-back persona fool you; ‘Red-Haired’ Shanks is a fierce pirate captain. He is one of the Four Emperors, a group of four pirates deemed the most powerful sea captains. This is because Shanks’ swordplay is on par with the series’ master swordsman, Dracule Mihawk. He can use Busoshoku Haki, a spiritual sword fighting technique. Despite his skills, the Red Haired Pirate crew are faithful and embrace their captain’s devil-may-care attitude.
Standing six-foot-6 with red hair, Shanks is a grand figure. He wears a distinctive facial scar, earned from a fight with Blackbeard. This brand left Shanks cautious about further matches with Marshall D. Teach. He also lost his left arm, while saving a young Monkey D. Luffy from a Sea King serpent. These wounds hold no power over Shanks’ outlook on life.
One Piece creator, Eiichiro Oda, feels a kinship with ‘Red-Haired’ Shanks’ worldview. Perhaps, this is something that all One Piece fans share as our red-haired pirate continues to be an anime favorite.
7. ‘Fire Fist’ Portgas D. Ace
- Birthday: January 1
- Anime First Appearance: Ep. 91 ‘Farewell, Drum Island! I’m Going Out to Sea!’ (2001)
Captain of the Spade Pirates, folks quip that Portgas D. Ace is the ‘Ace of Spades.’ Ace is the son of Gol D. Roger and his lover, Portgas D. Rouge. Eiichiro Oda would bless Ace with a New Year’s Day birthday because the ace is the first card in a deck. Monkey D. Garp would adopt the intelligent, caring lad upon his father’s demise. He is the older brother of Monkey D. Luffy and Sabo. The three siblings all share a reckless streak but Ace’s personality is least like the ‘Pirate King.’
Slightly taller than Shanks, Ace is a powerful young man with curly black hair. His freckled cheeks give him a youthful look. The ‘Ace of Spades’ sports many tattoos, with Whitebeard’s sign, inked across his back. He suffers from extreme narcolepsy, which serves as a running gag. Ace’s special ability is to manipulate fire. He acquired this gift from eating the Flame Flame fruit.
‘Fire Fist’ Ace is a major supporting character in One Piece. Favored in series fan polls, Portgas D. Ace stands tall at number seven.
6. ‘Cotton Candy Lover’ Tony Tony Chopper
- Birthday: December 24
- Anime First Appearance: Ep. 81 ‘Are You Happy? The Doctor who is Called a Witch!’ (2001)
Tony Tony Chopper is an icon among One Piece characters. Hailing from Drum Island, ‘Cotton Candy Lover’ is the sixth crew member to join the Straw Hat Pirates. Eating a Devil Fruit, the young buck took on a human hybrid appearance. Cold and alone, Hiriluk and Kureha would take Chopper into their lives. They gave him the skills to become a capable doctor. Wishing to build friendships, he brings his medical background to the crew of the Going Merry.
Fun-sized, Chopper comes in at a little over two-foot 11. His look includes a hat given to him by Hiriluk and shorts. This is someone who wears their heart on their sleeves, which shows whenever anyone refers to him as a tanuki. Embracing Usopp’s many tall tales as truths, Chopper is also a bit naïve.
A beloved mascot, Eiichiro Oda’s original concept could have had the opposite impact. His concept would never see the light of day and Tony Tony Chopper would become a favored One Piece character.
5. ‘Devil Child’ Nico Robin
- Birthday: February 6
- Anime First Appearance: Ep. 67 ‘Deliver Princess Vivi! Luffy Pirates Depart’ (2001)
Nico Robin or ‘Devil Child” hails from Ohara, an island located in the West Blue. An island of archaeologists, a Buster Call would wipe it from the map. A survivor, Nico set out to find the true history of the world inscribed on the Rio Poneglph. She is one of two people who can decipher the poneglph, which the World Government forbids. This quest would place her on a collision course with the Straw Hat Pirates.
A buxom woman, Nico is tall and framed by shoulder-length black hair. Eiichiro Oda’s muse for her design was Quentin Tarantino’s Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. The ‘Devil Child’ can grow extra body parts, which came from eating the Flower-Flower fruit. She would learn how to harness her ability to shape her clone arms into wings, giving her the gift of flight.
Insightful and reserved, the ‘Devil Child’ is one of the least likely characters to join the Straw Hat Pirate crew. These are just a few traits that make Nico Robin a favorite among anime and manga fans.
4. ‘Cat Burglar’ Nami
- Birthday: July 3
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 1 “I’m Luffy! The Man Who Will Become the Pirate King” (1999)
Nami is the first female crew member of the Straw Hat Pirates. An orphan, Marine Bellemere would take in the young Nami and her adoptive sister Nojiko. Growing up, the angsty girl studied cartography and worked on the family’s orange farm.
When the Arlong Pirates invaded her island, Nami would lend them her map-reading and cat-burgling skills to prevent her village’s destruction. Luffy D. Monkey would defeat Arlong, opening the door for Nami to pursue her goal of charting the world.
An attractive young lady, Nami is of average height with orange hair and brown eyes. Eiichiro Oda modeled her design from Ann and Silk from his earlier manga, Romance Dawn. She is not a devil fruit user, so her fighting ability comes from a weapon called the Clima-Tact. The staff-like weapon harnesses the power of the weather to defeat foes. She serves as the ship’s navigator and treasurer.
Within the world of One Piece, Nami is a popular character. The “Cat Burglar” Nami’s blend of good looks, intelligence, and playful nature earns her a top spot on our list.
3. ‘Black Leg’ Sanji
- Birthday: March 2
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 20 ‘The Famous Cook! Sanji of the Floating Restaurant’ (2000)
A prince of the Germa Kingdom, ‘Black Leg’ Sanji renounced his title to become a ship’s cook. Shipwrecked and starving, ‘Red-Leg’ Zeff saved the young cook’s life. Sanji would become the elder pirate’s ward and sous-chef. His dream is to one day find the All Blue, the place where fish from the four seas come together. The pursuit of this dream would lead him to become the fourth member of the Straw Hat Pirate crew.
Sanji is a fit, long-legged man with golden hair. He often wears a black suit and smokes a cigarette. Eiichiro Oda drew inspiration for the character from Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs. Relying on his legs for fighting, the style is similar to the martial arts of Capoeira and Taekwondo. His only weakness is pretty women, whom he tends to fawn all over them.
Coincidence or not, his birthday lands on National Banana Crème Pie Day. Since his debut, ‘Black Leg’ Sanji’s rich personality has galvanized a solid fan base behind his character.
2. ‘Pirate Hunter’ Roronoa Zoro
- Birthday: November 11
- Anime First Appearance: Ep. 1 ‘I’m Luffy! The Man Who Will Become the Pirate King’ (1999)
Roronoa Zoro is a master swordsman and the first crew member of the Straw Hat Pirates. Facing a death sentence by Captain Morgan, Luffy D. Monkey, and Koby rescue him. A bounty hunter, the ‘Pirate Hunter’ is the Straw Hat Pirate’s most flexible fighter. The World Government considers his skills to be the greatest threat to their rule. His only known weakness is a poor sense of direction.
Average height, Zoro has a muscular build with spiky green hair. Due to his hair color, Sanji refers to him as ‘Moss Head.’ The ‘Pirate Hunter’ has scars across his body, with the largest given to him by Dracule Mihawk. Zoro is a master of the Three Sword Style, which he learned while growing up in Shimotsuki Village. His dream is someday to be the world’s greatest swordsman.
The ‘Pirate Hunter’ is a source of comedic relief and epic battles. These are just a few of the qualities that make Roronoa Zoro one of our favorite One Piece characters.
- Trafalgar Law
- Vinsmoke Reiju
- Nefertari Vivi
1. ‘Straw Hat’ Luffy D. Monkey
- Birthday: May 5
- First Anime Appearance: Ep. 1 “I’m Luffy! The Man Who Will Become the Pirate King” (1999)
A free spirit, Monkey D. Luffy’s hyper and relaxed nature betrays his OP abilities. Born in Foosha Village, his father is the ‘World’s Worst Criminal’ but raised by his grandfather the ‘Hero of the Marines.’ He sought the path of becoming a buccaneer hearing the stories told by ‘Red Haired’ Shanks and his crew. His dream made a reality is one of self-determination. This desire is what sets Luffy on the path to becoming the ‘Pirate King.’
A teenager, he has black eyes with a scar under his left eye and messy black hair. His trademark straw hat was a gift from “Red-Haired’ Shanks. Eiichiro Oda took inspiration from Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series to create ‘Straw Hat’ Luffy. The child captain’s rubbery body comes from eating the Gum-Gum Fruit, which took away his ability to swim.
The ‘Straw Hat’ Pirate’s captain, Luffy is a leader with determination and heart. These are the traits that set Monkey D. Luffy aside as one of the great protagonists in shōnen.
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