Why can’t Oda, the master storyteller and plot artist of One Piece write good female characters? Eiichiro Oda is one of my favorite mangaka of all time and the proclaimed writer of the epic over 900 chapter-long, continuing manga, One Piece, the current top-selling manga. He continually astounds readers with his beautifully interwoven story arcs, character development, and unique artistic style and yet one aspect of his work persistently falls short of the mark — his writing and designing of 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?
"Oda doesn’t seem to respect a woman’s ability to battle a man on equal footing" Because it doesn't really exist. It can happen, given some circumstantial factors, but overall its a fallacy created by the more moden concept of equality. Of course the concept itself is righteous and necesary, as both men and women should be respected equally and given the same opportunities. But like with many other things, this causes a large part of the masses to confuse and misunderstand some aspects. And before this possibly devolves into me getting called sexist (because it tends to be the "easy rebuttal" button for some people), for pointing this out, lets clarify one thing: I AM a woman, but that doesn't make me blind to some very obvious facts that a lot of people seem to be intent on forcibly denying no matter how clear they are. Men and women are equals, but they're not "the same". We are fundamentally different in many aspects, which includes the physical one, and no amount of self-righteous denial will change this. It has been proved time and time again that in all disciplines involving physical strength and speed, even the top female athletes tend to fall far behind their male counterparts. The same can be said from women in military combat positions, who always get outperformed by men in similar circumstances (meaning, with similar amounts of experience and training). This is an undeniable fact. Oda doesn't often put female characters fighting on par with male characters, because in the real world that IS how it works 99% of the time. Of course a woman with extensive fitness and combat training can beat a man with much less of both, which gets represented in scenes like Kalifa steamrolling through countless strong male fighters from the Galley-La company, but the point is, when both men and women have a similar level of preparation, the intrinsic physical advantage men hold over women comes to play in full force, greatly tilting the balance in their favour. Again, it has nothing to do with sexism, but with being realistic.
– CarmenDia2 years ago