Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor I
Why can't Oda, the master storyteller and plot artist of One Piece write good female characters?
Why can’t Oda, the master storyteller and plot artist of One Piece write good female characters?
Oda has displayed an immense array of designing abilities, drawing influence from artistic and regional styles from all over the world and yet all of his female characters have the same face and body shape. Vivi, Nami, Robin, Rebecca, Shirahoshi, etc. All of these unique characters would look the same if you gave them the same hair and eyes, something that would not work for the male characters who display many different kinds of eye shapes, hair styles, body types, nose shapes, etc.
In terms of writing as well, even characters who are supposedly "strong" like Rebecca (a freaking gladiator), are swept up and saved by male heroes. Oda doesn’t seem to like to give his female characters proper adversaries to fight, a necessary component to completing a character arc in the world of One Piece – all plots lead to a final showdown of some sort. And yet the female characters only face off against other villainous female characters of the same caliber (Nami vs Kalifa/Miss Doublefinger) whereas Luffy and Zoro are always given stronger and better challenges.
Oda doesn’t seem to respect a woman’s ability to battle a man on equal footing; its a logic that doesn’t seem to exist in the narrative. Throughout the series Oda betrays a serious awareness of historical and political issues regarding human injustice, inequality, authoritarianism, colonialism, etc. And yet why is it that he utterly fails in turning this critical eye to gender?