The World Government in One Piece is considered the primary antagonist of the series. Monkey D. Luffy is proud to proclaim that he wants to become the Pirate King and we applaud him as he tries. We consider pirates to be the heroes. Why? One Piece has managed to confuse the idea of justice and who delivers it. Is the World Government too harsh? Are they corrupt? Who are true wielders of justice? Have the lines between who is or isn’t just been blurred too much to declare who’s good? Why do we believe that the world government are the bad guy and are we right when we do so?
I like the angle you're approaching the narrative in One Piece. There is a lot of room to talk about a lot of things here. Like , we as the readers view Luffy and his crew as the heroes, the protagonists fighting against the Navy and other Pirates as antagonists. But time and time again, the main characters, often Luffy, proclaim that they aren't heroes. They're pirates. But time and time again he and his crew do heroic things. They have saved countries from civil war, stopped arms dealers, and trashed the laboratories of people doing experiments on children. If he was a Marine these acts would have him lauded as a hero, but since he's a pirate we are conflicted and unsure what to call him.
He also often clashes with the Marines, who in our experiences are the bad guys trying to stop Luffy from advancing forward and doing basically whatever he feels like. But when you examine the way marines are spoken of and treated outside of the pirates perspective they are often well respected and their presence is a comfort to common people.
Now there are exceptions on both sides of the coin, the Blackbeard pirates on the one hand and the CP9 on the other. To understand what this means for our heroes, we need to look at the motivations of the characters to do what they do. Akianu the leader of the Marines is driven by his desire to uphold the law, he has a twisted sense of what justice is and enforces it with an iron fist. On the other hand most pirates want to be Pirate King, meaning they want to find One Piece, Roger's treasure.
We have met multiple pirates with different reasons for wanting this. Buggy wants money, Crocodile wants power, Donflamingo wanted revenge, and Luffy wants freedom. He wants to be able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He wants to be Pirate King because that is the most free person in the world.
Luckily for most people who encounter him, what Luffy wants is to eat, sleep, eat and sleep, and help his Nakama (friends). Almost all of the heroic things he's done is because of his sense of morals. Whether a Nakama asked him to help them or someone did something that pissed him off, all of the good things he wanted to do were simply because he felt he was free to stop them.
Regardless of if they were Marines, Pirates, or the Shichibukai. He has stood up to them all because he wanted to. We gravitate towards Luffy for the same reason that the characters in the manga/anime do. He is capable of doing what he wants and often what he wants to do is what we want him to do. – joncarlos3rd5 years ago