2 min read

Luffy and Freedom

Anyone who knows me well knows how much of a One Piece fan I am. I remember trying to first read the series and finding it too goofy, right after catching up to Naruto and Bleach. Gave it a spin a couple years after and I've been hooked ever since.

One core concept that the series explores is what it means to be free and I am yet to see see anyone that embodies that more than Luffy does. It's there from the start of the series when he frees Koby from Alvida, down to when he sets Robin free. I was randomly thinking about the marineford arc and Luffy having to face his granddad, Garp. Along with the rest of the marines. Got me thinking about how freedom runs through Luffy's entire lineage but neither his dad or grandfather embody it as much as he does. Both Garp and Dragon believe in the need for people to be free but they both operate under set structures in the end, each with specific goals or ways of doing things. Garp with the marines and Dragon with the revolutionary army. While they both want their own flavours of freedom, they both don't get to act freely. Garp can't always go against the structure of the marines. He can't stop islands from being wiped out by buster calls, or free citizens on islands controlled by warlords. He wants to be free but in the end, he's bound to a code. Dragon, meanwhile can't always do as he pleases because he is limited by the resources he has and also because the revolutionaries try to spur people into wanting freedom using agreed upon strategies. They both value freedom and the ability for each person to make their own choices, but they're both in places where they're not really free.

Luffy on the other hand understands what it means to be free and actively lives it out. He follows it with how he recruits his crew, starting with Zoro. My man was ready to let his future number 2 die if he didn't ask for help. He steps in to save Nami from Arlong after she asks. Same for Robin. It doesn't mean that he doesn't care until you ask him to, as he as an extremely emotionally intelligent character, and by the time you're asking, he's learnt enough about you to know whether or not you are acting freely.

On the subject of being bound to a code, Luffy does not conform as he has shown on different occasions that he he willing to sacrifice his dreams for others to be free. We see this first hand when Boa asks him to choose between continuing on his path or unfreezing some women she'd turned to stone and he immediately picks the latter. To him, it wouldn't mean anything for him to be the freest man in the world if it meant that people had to stay enslaved because of him. The fandom jokes a lot about the Strawhats destabilising countries because Luffy got offered food but everytime Luffy goes to war for the citizens, he has to stake his life on it and court death, and he does it every single time without fail, without asking himself if it's the right thing to do. He just does it.

Luffy makes he happy. He does not conform, he inspires others and lives life the way that he wants to. He's one of the few fictional characters that I can relate to, because everything about him is free, something that I still aspire to.