Anime, Character Analysis, Manga, One Piece

Ranking the Straw Hats (Pre-Timeskip)

Get ready to see a lot more One Piece focused content on here. I’m getting so damn close to catching up and my hype train is flying off the rails at full speed. So… be prepared for a lot of this.

There are a lot of reasons to love One Piece. The world is amazing. It’s genuinely and consistently hilarious. The fights are creative and interesting. The stories are incredibly well told and engaging. The list is as long as the series itself.

But none of that would matter if the characters at the center of it all weren’t incredible.

The catalogue of incredible One Piece characters is absolutely huge. There are dozens, hundreds, of memorable and likable characters sailing across the wild seas of this wacky world! Be they pirate, marine, neither or both, the cast in this series is absolutely amazing!

And at the heart of them all are the Straw Hat pirates.

Today, I’m going to rank all of my favorite Straw Hat pirates. Note: I’ll only be judging them on the pre-timeskip material. I’ll come back to this topic once I’m all caught up to dive into it further and see how my opinions have changed.

With that, let’s set sail with the lowest ranking crewmate:

Brook

Alright, this one kinda seems a bit unfair. I’ve had all of an arc and a half with Brook so far, so I can’t really compare him to the characters I’ve been hanging out with for hundreds of chapters. Still, even if he had been around for longer, I just don’t really find Brook all that compelling.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Brook is a bad character. His backstory is super sad and his relationship with Laboon is one of the most wholesome things in the entire series. But that’s pretty much the only thing that doesn’t get old almost immediately.

The skeleton jokes are kinda funny at first, but they get old fast. Why did we need another pervert character when Sanji was already so annoying in this regard? Why did we need another swordsman when Zoro already existed? Up to this point in the story, the only thing that really stands out is the fact that he’s a musician.

Which is pretty good. I hum Binks’ Brew way too often.

Still, he is enjoyable enough to earn his spot in the crew. Plus, from what I’ve read into the post-timeskip material so far, he gets some pretty cool stuff. But we’ll get to that another time.

Chopper

I might’ve put Chopper higher, considering his monster form that we see in Enies Lobby. But not even that can put this adorable little reindeer any higher than he is.

I do think that Chopper is a decent character. His backstory is solid, he has a solid dynamic with the other Straw Hats, especially Usopp, and he’s just freaking cute! Look at this little bastard! Tell me you don’t wanna give him a hug!

My main problem with Chopper is that he doesn’t really stand out. He doesn’t get to fight that often and all of his medical antics are mostly glossed over. Granted, he has some strong character moments; his whole arc in Thriller Bark is pretty decent, even if it’s short lived.

As cute as Chopper is, he doesn’t really do a whole lot for me. Who knows? Maybe he’ll get his time to shine at some point.

Franky

Dude, I love this big speedo wearing weirdo! I’m honestly kinda hurt, putting him this low on the list! But… well, I love all the others way too much.

I do think that Franky’s backstory is the among the least interesting in the crew. Granted, that may be because it was overshadowed by everything else that was happening in that arc. Still, I don’t think that his story with Tom, Iceberg, and all of them is all that intriguing.

However, he more than makes up for it in terms of personality. This dude may seem big and threatening, but he’s actually one of the most empathetic and compassionate members of the entire crew! Plus, he’s got enough energy and love for all the stupid shit he does that you can’t help but grin whenever he’s on-screen! He makes you feel SUPER!!

I do think that he lacks much of a spotlight. He doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out aside from explain what the Thousand Sunny can do. This is a much smaller problem in the early parts of the post-timeskip material. But from Thriller Bark to Sabaody, he mostly stands in the background, only kinda helping out in certain fights.

Still, he’s got enough energy and charisma to earn him a spot over Brook and Chopper.

Sanji

This is still one of the funniest gags in the entire series.

Sanji used to be way higher than this. He used to be so damn cool! But he’s just gotten lamer and lamer as the story progressed. For some ungodly reason, Oda has leaned harder and harder into the pervert gag.

You know. The gag that was never all that funny to begin with?

Ignoring that, early Sanji was pretty great. He always went off on his own little adventures, then came back swinging to save the day! He had some of the strongest moments in the early arcs, like Mr. Prince in Alabasta!

But after Enies Lobby, he rapidly goes down hill. His awesome moments are slowly replaced by nigh constant pervert gags. It gets old and it gets old fast.

Luckily, the early stuff is still good enough to keep him here. Plus, his fights are pretty cool, his rivalry with Zoro is pretty fun, and his loyalty to the rest of the crew (despite what he might say) is pretty endearing.

Usopp

Back in the day, Usopp was my #1 Straw Hat. But as the story has progressed, he’s definitely fallen down my rankings. And if I were to be judging him on the post-timeskip material (which I’ll be doing once I’m all caught up), then he’d definitely be lower. But since that barrier is in place, I can talk about Usopp at his best!

Usopp has some of the most enjoyable fights in the entire show. Watching this little coward muster all his courage and wits to overcome an insanely powerful enemy for the sake of others is not only super satisfying, it’s straight-up inspiring!

Plus, he straight-up stole the show in Enies Lobby! His conflict with Luffy, driving him out of the Straw Hats and forcing him to grow and redeem himself in their eyes. It’s one of the most satisfying and emotionally engaging story threads in the entire series!

Sure, his constant cowardly gags can get a little old. But when he needs to step up, you can always count on Usopp. And is that not the mark of a brave warrior of the sea?

Luffy

Here he is, boys and girls! The captain himself!

Luffy is a perfect main character for One Piece. He’s so damn fun, lovable, and even admirable! His straight-forward approach is always a delight! Watching everyone come up with all these complex and well-made plans only for Luffy to scream “WHAT?! I ALREADY BROKE IN AND STARTED FIGHTING! WHAT WAS THE PLAN?!”

Plus, I love his powers! Watching him stretch every part of his body is super interesting and fun! You can tell that Oda put a lot of though into how to make a rubber-man a cool fighter! And somehow, he absolutely nailed it!

Luffy is the perfect protagonist for this kind of series. He’s an absolute delight in every scene he’s in. Whether he’s beating the hell out of a fish person to protect his friends, weeping for his family, or just jumping into danger for some brain-dead reason, this kid is an absolute delight!

All hail the future King of the Pirates!

Nami

Holy fuck, Nami is such a great character! She has the most grounded and endearing personality, her backstory is absolutely heartbreaking, and she stars in several of the best scenes and arcs in the entire series!

For a money-grubbing thief, Nami is easily the most responsible member of the crew. Often times, she is the sole voice of reason, although she’s often accompanied by the cowardly Usopp, with whom she has an adorable brother-sister kind of relationship. Watching her try and literally pound sense into Luffy and the other idiots never gets old!

Plus, she’s got the most fun and interesting fighting style among the entire crew! Her manipulation of the weather to create illusions and fend off her foes is super unique! While most of the others get by on their strength and abilities, she keeps up purely with intellect and clever tactics!

Not only that, but she stars in the arc that turned One Piece from ‘good’ to ‘amazing’: Arlong Park. The ‘help me’ scene is easily one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the manga’s whole run!

Nami is one of the greatest characters in this entire series. But I do enjoy the next two a bit more. But not by much.

Zoro

Out of all the Straw Hats, I think Zoro is the one to most consistently make me chuckle. There are roughly five Zoro gags I can think of off the top of my head that had me laughing so hard I had to stop reading and catch my breath. Seriously, how does Oda consistently make his terrible sense of direction so entertaining?!

As funny as he is, though, that’s not what makes me love Zoro. Rather, it’s his undying loyalty to Luffy. This dude is the only member of the crew to always have Luffy’s back, no matter how terrible an idea his captain may come up with. For god’s sake, this dude stuck with him ever since they were floating around in a fucking paddle boat!

And, obviously, he’s badass. Zoro gets some of the most intense and engaging fights in the entire series. His fight with Mr. 1 in Alabasta is in my top five One Piece fights (I’ll need to write that article someday). He adds a nice bit of samurai movie flavor to this insane story of pirates, which is nice.

All in all, Zoro is a phenomenal character and a fantastic addition to the Straw Hat crew. But as much as I love him, there is one Straw Hat that stole my heart completely. So, unfortunately, I can’t put Zoro at #1. That spot firmly belongs to…

Robin

I have such a crush on Robin, guys. It’s a problem. Send help.

Robin is such a phenomenal character. Her backstory and character arc are some of the most emotional, engaging, and memorable parts of all of One Piece for me. Ever since she was introduced in Alabasta, she has stolen every scene that she’s in.

Well… up to a point.

Her journey with the Straw Hats is absolutely incredible. Watching her slowly open up to them over the course of Skypiea and Enies Lobby is easily my favorite part of this whole damn series so far. I love seeing her go from ‘the lady who joined the crew because Luffy saved her life against her wishes’ to the woman who nearly gave her own life to protect them.

Plus, her backstory is easily the best out of all the Straw Hats. Honestly, the only one that can really compete in my mind is Nami’s! It’s such a sad tale, but it also opens up a lot of mystery that will undoubtedly have ramifications for the story later on. I hope that, when the answers to all the mysteries start to unravel, she’ll finally start getting screen time again.

Which leads to my problem with Robin. After Enies Lobby, she does finally open up to the crew, which is amazing. But her time in the spotlight goes down significantly. Sure, she has some absolutely hilarious gags, especially with Franky; her dry and dark sense of humor is a perfect change of pace from the rest of the crew. But she doesn’t many moments to really be cool or stand out! I genuinely can’t remember a single Robin fight after Enies Lobby!

Still, at the moment, she is my favorite Straw Hat. Her backstory and character growth are amazing and she adds an incredible layer to the crew. Plus, she’s got a fantastic design and some creepy powers, which I find awesome! I only hope that she’ll get more time to stand in the spotlight as the series progresses.

Though, from what I’ve read of the post timeskip material so far, I’m gonna be waiting on that for a while.

Conclusion

Please don’t be mad at me. As harsh as I was towards some of the lower ranking crew members, I still love all these guys to death! On their own, they all stand out! But together? They’re all as brilliant as the sun!

Dude, if you haven’t read One Piece (what are you doing here?), you’ve got to fix that. The fans aren’t blowing smoke up your ass! All the hype is completely real! This story and all the characters within it are among the best in all of Shounen Jump.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I need to go back to binging Dressrosa.

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