Literary character inspiration for One Piece anime characters
A piece is one of the most iconic animated series in history, featuring a vast world filled with thieves, heroes, and everything in between. The setting is original and everything seems to fit perfectly into the world. On top of that, inspiration is drawn from almost everywhere to create one of the most diverse and interesting sets of characters in the industry (some of whom really deserve more time in the spotlight).
Here are some of the most notable characters from A piece. They seem to draw inspiration from a wide range of literary works, spanning multiple languages, eras, and genres. All this shows how much the foundation for A piece it’s true.
ten Charlotte Perospero could almost be a creation of Roald Dahl
With the Sweet-Sweet Fruit and a particularly flamboyant style of clothing, it’s hard not to see this member of the Big Mom Pirates as a funhouse mirror version of Willy Wonka from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the chocolate factory.
While Willy Wonka’s methods and actions can certainly be questionable at times, he has nothing on this criminal confectioner who seems to stop at nothing to carry out Big Mom’s will. The fact that such an eccentric character blends so well into the story is a true testament to the strength of A pieceis written.
9 Shirahoshi looks a lot like a famous fairy tale character
It’s almost impossible to escape the parallels in the circumstances between Shirahoshi and the Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic story. Besides being mermaid princesses, the two feel trapped in the depths of the ocean and wish to explore the wider world, though the shadow of danger looms large (especially with the revelation that Shirahoshi is actually one of the three ancient weapons).
While Hans Christian Andersen’s classic is infamous for having an incredibly dark ending, hopefully the presence of the Straw Hat Pirates leads Shirahoshi to a better ending!
8 This mythological figure has much in common with the god Ener
Although his resemblance to Slim Shady definitely suggests that multiple sources may have influenced the character, God Ener seems inspired by a number of mythological thunder gods. Raijin from Japanese mythology, who is also associated with a ring of drums around his person, seems to be the chief among them.
Both Raijin and God Ener can be seen to have a strongly mischievous streak (although this is probably understated in God Ener’s case) and protective of the lands they rule over. In the end, God Enel finds himself in space with a lunar army. It’s definitely not a traditional part of Raijin mythology.
7 Charlotte Cracker might just have a sweet spot for this classic character
Another member of the Big Mom team, and still on the theme of sweetness, albeit inspired by entirely different and much older source material. Although much more aggressive than its literary counterpart, this cookie-based brawler is very reminiscent of the classic folk tale of the Gingerbread Man.
However, it is significantly less gentle than the original and much, much more dangerous. As such, it’s more likely that those who encounter him should run, run as fast as they can, to ensure they don’t get caught by this gingerbread man.
6 Donquixote Doflamingo is named after an iconic Spanish novel
The Spanish novel Don Quixote tells a story of disenchantment and a changing world, and in some ways the book’s namesake portrays it in One Piece as well. A member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and fighting alongside the Marines in the Summit War at Marineford, he helps support the corrupt regimes that the Straw Hat crew find themselves in conflict with.
Luffy’s fight against this villain in the Dressrosa Saga is a real turning point for the series, as he faces a character who embodies the opposite of his ideals and threatens to upset the world order. Their conflict is perhaps among the best fights in anime, although there is real competition for this title.
5 Boa Hancock appears to be inspired by Greek mythology
Along with her sisters, Boa Hancock is apparently based on the terrifying but iconic gorgons of Greek mythology, highlighted by the fact that they are surrounded by serpentine imagery and bear the same name. She also has the ability to turn those who cross her path to stone, though this is due to a Devil Fruit and not the curse of a Vengeful God.
Despite his formidable power, this member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea is much friendlier to Luffy than Medusa probably ever would be.
4 Gecko Moria may have its roots in the creations of a famous science fiction writer
This spooky client is deeply reminiscent of HG Wells’ Doctor Moreau, down to the island filled with his own monstrous creations. Both men are tragic yet antagonistic characters who lend a distinctive horror feel to their respective lyrics (the genre is a wonderful blend with anime).
The connection between the Thriller Bark arc and The island of Dr. Moreau are highlighted by the existence of Dr. Hogback. The doctor actually makes human-animal hybrids, which roam the island in addition to the other monsters lurking there. This is exactly what the protagonists of HG Wells’ novel encounter.
3 Cavendish is as complicated as this Victorian icon
With a main character of a cultured gentleman, juxtaposed with a dark personality that can emerge and wreak havoc, Cavendish evokes the duality of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The central two-faced figure in Robert Louis Stephenson’s novel can be played more menacingly, but there’s a litany of creepy characters in the world of One Piece.
Cavendish’s dark side, Hakuba, is certainly not portrayed as weak. In fact, he might be one of the most powerful captains in the Grand Fleet. In addition, the place where a murder is committed in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is called Cavendish Square, drawing a stronger connecting line.
2 Usopp and Pinocchio are practically kindred spirits
In Straw Hat Crew, Usopp is a long-nosed liar with a youthful spirit, who grows in courage and honesty as the series continues. Obviously there is a comparison to be made with Pinocchio, the eponymous character of the classic Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Additionally, Pinocchio and Usopp seek to prove themselves to their respective father figures, Gepetto and Yasopp (although Usopp isn’t the only shounen protagonist to do so). With increasing amounts of Pinocchio-related content being released, it will be interesting to see if Usopp’s star rises in the future as well.
1 Luffy is based on a classic archetypal character
While Luffy is truly an icon in his own right, the character actually seems heavily inspired by dragonballSon Goku (the shounen hero archetype with hidden depths). Goku, in turn, was apparently based on Sun Wukong from Travel westa 16th century Chinese novel by Wu Cheng’en.
Both Luffy and Sun Wukong are characters defined by their bravery, with extravagant powers that aid them in their adventures. Almost every anime fan is familiar with Luffy’s rubber powers, but Sun Wukong’s size-changing staff and ability to transform add another layer of similarity.
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