There are various nice issues about One Piece. Nonetheless, among the finest issues in regards to the collection is its distinctive and detailed setting. The world of One Piece is much faraway from our personal, that includes giant seas packed filled with unusual areas and big monsters. Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply that the collection is proof against real-world controversy. In reality, a query and reply session with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda confirmed that simply because one thing is ready in a fantasy world, it doesn’t suggest it may’t carry real-world baggage with it.
Many volumes of the One Piece manga have an “SBS (Shitsumon wo Boshu Suru)” column, which interprets to “I’m Taking Questions.” This column options collection creator Eiichiro Oda responding to questions and feedback despatched in by followers. This column typically options trivia in regards to the collection which you can’t discover wherever else. This consists of details about background characters and random particulars about the principle solid, like their birthdates.
Within the 56th version of the column, a fan requested what nationality the Straw Hat pirates could be if One Piece was set in the true world. Oda mentioned that “just going off of their appearance,” the Straw Hat pirates could be from many areas. Luffy could be Brazillian, Zoro could be Japanese, Nami Swedish, Sanji French, Chopper could be Canadian, Robin could be Russian, Franky American and Brook could be Austrian. Whereas many followers disagreed and debated the logic behind a few of these solutions. There was one different reply that made many uncomfortable.
Whereas answering the query, Oda mentioned that Usopp was from Africa. After all, this ignores the truth that Africa is not a rustic however reasonably a continent — a continent made up of 54 very totally different international locations, together with densely populated, culturally numerous ones like Nigeria and Egypt. Decreasing this massive and diverse continent all the way down to a single nation overlooks many alternative folks and cultures and treats them like a singular mass. Treating the African nations this manner is commonly used to intentionally different these cultures, treating them as a “great unknown” reasonably than a collection of developed international locations filled with particular person folks with their very own lives and beliefs.
Nonetheless, once you distinction this remark with Usopp’s look, issues begin to change into problematic. Many readers rapidly drew consideration to Usopp’s giant lips, declaring that this type of enormous, exaggerated lips was a standard racist trope. This trope has been used to mock and dehumanize Black folks for a few years and remains to be used immediately. This, coupled with the massive nostril, made many individuals uncomfortable because it makes Usopp look worryingly near a blackface caricature, an abhorrent trope that has additionally been used to insult and dehumanize Black folks all through historical past.
Usopp’s design, paired with the truth that, based mostly on what he seems to be like, Oda mentioned he could be “from Africa,” is an actual challenge, even when it was unintentional. Whereas referring to Africa as a rustic as a substitute of a continent is an sadly widespread mistake, when taking a look at it in tandem with Usopp’s design, it turns into laborious to disclaim that it veers far too near racial stereotypes for consolation. It’s a excellent instance of how creatives can unwittingly construct off tropes and cliches which have their origins in historic racism if they do not fastidiously take into account their inventive choices.
This incident exhibits that in a world of world media unfold, writers, artists and creators should be very cautious to verify they are not perpetuating offensive stereotypes inside their works.