A well-written backstory is essential for a character’s development. Characters with poor, or otherwise nonexistent, backstories often tend to burn out way faster than their counterparts with a good one. In this sense, a good backstory can more or less equate to greater character potential. Moreso, an author providing an elaborate backstory is their way of providing a bridge to connect the character in question with the viewer– what better way is there to connect with someone other than getting to know them more?
The author of One Piece, Eiichiro Oda, just happens to be one of the best with regards to weaving deep backstories. Each member of the Straw Hats has a backstory so deep it could bring a grown man to tears. With such sensational writing, it’s no wonder One Piece stands at the top of the anime platform. Here are the backstories of the Straw Hat Pirates, ranked from least to most tragic.
It’s weird how we know so much about Luffy’s childhood, yet at the same time, we know absolutely nothing. Our knowledge only stretches to him meeting Shanks, Ace, and Sabo; every event prior to that still remains in the dark. In the grand scheme of things, Luffy’s past appears to be just about lighter than anyone else’s. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it any less tragic.
Zoro is undoubtedly the Straw Hat we know the least about. We got a brief flashback brushing over a short period of his childhood earlier on in the series, and that was the extent of it. His childhood appears to be covered in layers upon layers of mystery. We are in the dark about his origins, parents, and any relatives for that matter.
Some speculate that the currently ongoing Wano arc will be the arc where Zoro’s entire past gets unveiled.
Frankly, the backstories of Luffy, Zoro, and Usopp are all very close on the tragic scale. Each of them might’ve lost a person dear to them, but they more or less moved on with it and found some sort of happiness while doing so. Usopp’s upbringing might’ve been one without parents, but he did have people close to him who he could share his emotions with.
Jinbe‘s past could be broken down into several pieces. Some were not that tragic, while others certainly do deserve a mention. The tragic nature of his past lies in him overcoming his hate and living up to Queen Otohime’s ideals. Adding up the shocking demise of Fisher Tiger and the division of the Sun Pirates, we can safely say that Jinbe’s past was a bitter story of an everlasting inner-conflict.
Franky’s backstory is where Oda ups the notch. The intensity of this backstory is visibly more severe than the aforementioned ones. Everything starts with him getting disowned and left to die by his pirate parents. From that point on, Franky’s life witnessed many spikes; both ups and downs. He met a wonderful new family, and came this close to losing said family. His father figure, as well as mentor, fell victim to the World Government’s dirty schemes.
Every member of the Straw Hat crew, with the exception of Luffy, has either lost their family, was disowned by them, or is downright unaware of their situation. Chopper’s case falls on the former two scenarios. Moreso, Chopper’s arc featured one of the series’ greatest/saddest moments– Dr. Hiriluk’s final speech. A speech that alternates between beauty and sadness. That moment alone set the One Piece backstory bar extremely high.
Nami’s backstory and the Arlong Park arc complement each other to produce one of the series’ most emotionally charged backstories. The build-up, pacing, and execution were all phenomenal to say the least.
To put it into perspective, Nami had to watch her adoptive mother get killed in front of her. And to make matters worse, she was forced to work for her mother’s murderers for more or less an entire decade.
Some might argue that Sanji’s backstory is much lighter than Nami’s, and they might be correct. But having said so, it should also be mentioned that receiving inhumane treatment from one’s own family can be much harder than losing a loved one. The feeling of being unwanted can easily break a human being to pieces and Sanji had to bear with it at a very early age.
Robin’s tragic backstory wasn’t as simple as losing a loved one or getting disowned by them. It’s a backstory that spanned two full decades. One that started with Robin losing not only her mother, but also her entire country! Even subsequent to the Ohara incident, Robin had to stay on the run for 20 years, experiencing multiple back-stabbings along the way. Her nightmare only ended with her iconic “I want to live!” bellow.
Immediately after the Water 7 saga came to a conclusion, we were introduced to Brook– the Straw Hat with the most tragic past! It’s frankly commendable how Brook managed to endure 50 years of sorrow and loneliness. Big props to him for managing to live through such experience without losing it.