One Piece is a series with a lot of characters. Shocking, I know. The 1000+ chapter long story has a huge cast. But among that cast, very few characters are properly fleshed out. Only the most important characters, mostly the Straw Hats themselves, are even given a backstory.
Then there’s the best non-Straw Hat character in the entire series: Trafalgar D. Water Law. He also has the award for ‘name with the most words in it’.
Law is one of the most interesting characters in all of One Piece. Not only does he have one of the strangest power sets, but he also has one of the darkest backstories of the whole lot. Which is quite a feat, considering that Nami, Robin, and Sanji have some pretty fucked-up shit in their backstories.
But none of them have a fucking submarine. Therefor, Law is the cooler character. Don’t @ me.
The Wound: Lone Survivor
This shit is gruesome, dude! Oda, calm down! You don’t need to try topping Ohara!
So, a bit of setup: Law comes from Flevance, a country that got rich off of a toxic material called White Lead. This slow poison eventually started killing all of his people, and those that survived were picked off by the Navy. To survive, Law hid beneath a pile of corpses and escaped.
Not dark enough for you? Cool! Cause we’re just getting started!
Eventually, Law found his way to the Doflamingo Pirates, where he enlisted. His only objective: destroy everything. After the trauma of watching everything and everyone he knew get destroyed, Law wanted to exact his revenge. After all, he only had a few years left to live. Why not wreck some havoc before the end?
This is where he met Corazon, Doflamingo’s younger brother. Unlike the captain, Corazon was actually a really nice guy, one that devoted his efforts to finding a cure for Law’s disease. Together, they abandoned the Doflamingo Pirates and began a hopeless search for a miracle. Over the course of their trek, the two forge a powerful bond.
And you already know where this is going.
Turns out, Corazon was a spy for the Navy, working to take his brother down from within his own crew. Knowing this, Doflamingo tried to lure his little brother into a trap, luring him in with the promise of the Op-Op Fruit, the only thing in the world that could possibly save Law from his disease. So, Corazon did the only thing he could do: he ratted his brother out to the Navy, stole the Op-Op Fruit, forced Law to eat it, and sacrificed his life to help Law escape from his psychotic brother.
Phew! My god, that’s a hell of a backstory!
The Want: End the Madness
You may think that Law’s objective is the same as most characters in this world: to find One Piece. And Law certainly wants to find it! But that’s not the most important thing in the world to him.
See, Law sees Corazon as the only family he ever had after his real one was slaughtered. So, when he discovered that Corazon’s greatest desire was to defeat Doflamingo, Law took it upon himself to complete that desire. He acknowledges this during his fight with Doffy in the following quote:
Corazon was too kind hearted to pull the trigger. So I’m here to do it in his stead!Chapter 700-something, Dressrosa arc; I lost track and I don’t want to hunt it down, I’m sorry.
This simple desire for revenge is what drove Law. That’s why he allied with Luffy. That’s why he formed the plan to turn Kaido against Doflamingo. He claimed the plan was to defeat Kaido himself, but that wasn’t entirely the case. At its core, it was all about getting his sweet vengeance.
Unfortunately, Law made a little mistake with that plan.
The Lie: Puppet Master
Law’s plan to defeat Doffy and Kaido wasn’t a bad one. In fact, given how badly it made Doflamingo panic, it was pretty solid! If they were going up against any other villain, it might’ve even worked!
But here’s the problem: Law tried to play the part of the puppet master. He tried to use Doflamingo’s own tactics against him. And as he learned the hard way: you can’t manipulate a master manipulator.
Law that thought the only way to beat Doflamingo was to play his own game. Unfortunately, as we see many times throughout One Piece, that isn’t a tactic that works. All that ended up doing was letting Doffy play him like a fiddle.
If not for a certain member of his generation, he would’ve failed on that day.
The Need: The Worst Generation
Monkey D. Luffy is many things. Selfish. Stupid. Reckless. A glutton that puts all other Shounen heroes to shame. But he’s also honest. Straightforward. Blunt. And more than anything: he cuts straight to the heart of the problem.
Which made him the perfect man to take down Doflamingo.
Law realizes the same thing when all hell breaks out over Dressrosa. So, he does the only thing he can: shrug his shoulders and go along with Luffy’s madness. He still tries to plan it out; Law isn’t a reckless moron like Luffy. But he doesn’t try to be manipulative and pull people’s strings anymore.
Does he get his ass kicked? Yes. But Luffy beats Doflamingo to a pulp, so he gets a victory by proxy.
Dressrosa is an incredible arc through and through. One that I can’t wait to talk about in-depth once I’m all caught up. There are so many pieces to its puzzle that, when put together, make it one of the best stories in the series.
And at the center of it all is Law.
Going into One Piece, I was aware of Law’s popularity. At first, I only kind of got it. But I think I can safely say that I get it now. And I’ll be riding that ship all the way until the end.
Or… the submarine, I guess? You get the point.