If you’d ask any anime-consumer to name the most representative anime character of the last decade, the majority would probably reply the same: Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece. The pirate, the rubber man, the man who will rule the seas.
We all have the same image of Luffy: a childish, funny boy who gets a little bit too excited about everything. But is that all there is? Luffy is simplistic, but at the same time, he’s very complex. He’s got a lot of different aspects to him. Because of that, and by popular demand, it’s time to get to know a bit more about the next Pirate King.
WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS.
Yes, Luffy is childish and clueless, but he’s not stupid. A lot of people seem to assume that from him. But he’s not stupid, he’s just… simple. Luffy likes running and playing around, he laughs at the most stupid things, he’s always smiling and he’s generally care-free and content with his life. He’s like a little kid because he’s innocent and naïve. If someone is explaining the reason behind a conflict, he’ll fall asleep. If someone is about to tell a long story, he’ll say “nevermind”. And if someone has just said something a bit more complicated he just looks confused while he picks his nose.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent. He defeated Foxy by using the crystals that got stuck to his afro, he studied CP9’s special abilities to create Gear Second and Gear Third, he manipulated the zombies in Thriller Bark to find out Usopp, Nami and Chopper’s location… etc. I think it’s safe to say that Luffy just has… a different type of intelligence.
Despite behaving like a child, there’s been certain tough situations in which Luffy’s been forced to realise that not everything in life can be solved by stretching. Sometimes life gets hard and you have to think things through before acting. In that sense, Luffy is like an animal (MONKEY D. Luffy, he): he’s very impetuous and acts based purely on instinct. Because of that, he’s put himself and his nakamas in danger in several occasions. However, after losing his nakamas, his big brother and spending two years training, Luffy has grown up. Along with the series, Luffy is now more serious. Even though he’s still the same old Luffy, he’s a bit more mature now and we’ve been able to see that in different situations. Before, he wasn’t surprised when finding out someone was a Shichibukai or a Tenryuubito. But he was surprised when he found out that Fujitora is an Almiral. Luffy knows that it’s gonna keep getting more and more dangerous in the New World, and he knows he’ll have to give it all to protect his nakamas, not to repeat what happened in Sabaody. Zoro also reminds him of this when Luffy first loses to Caesar in Punk Hazard.
Luffy is energetic. He just can’t stop moving. He loves adventure, seeing exciting things and he’s always optimistic when facing the unknown. Luffy is fearless and won’t back down when seeing pirates who are supposed to be stronger than him, just like when he met Whitebeard or when he talked on the phone with Big Mom. Luffy is self-confident and prideful. He knows he’s strong and he believes he could beat anyone if he tried hard enough. That would also explain why he’s always so impetuous, because he thinks he can do anything. That’s also why he wouldn’t stand it if someone were to tell him what Zoro did for him in Thriller Bark. That self-confidence and his willpower are what help him win the fights. It doesn’t matter that his opponent is stronger than him and that’s he’s severly injured. He’ll never give up and he’ll keep standing up over and over again.
Oda once said that Luffy’s true and only love was adventure. From that statement, it’s also been assumed that Luffy is asexual. Is his sexuality canon? We’ll call it semi-canon for now, but it’s definitely a headcanon of everyone and Oda hasn’t proved us wrong for now.
Another aspect of Luffy is that he really loves his nakama. Someone once said that the Straw Hats crew is like a family. Since Luffy never had a family of his own (with the exception of Garp appearing every now and the brotherhood he formed with Ace and Sabo), he treats his nakamas as family members. Just like Naruto, Luffy has an ability to inspire people and make friends wherever he goes. That’s also why he earned the respect of his nakamas so quickly. After Ace’s death, Jinbei made him realise he still has people who care for him. You don’t even have to attack his nakama, just saying a bad word about any them is enough to make Luffy rage and want to kick your ass.
What about Luffy’s goal in life? There’s been a lot of talk over why Luffy decided to be a pirate. He doesn’t seem particularly interested in money, treasures and big fortunes. His ambitions go further than what is plain superficial. His ultimate goal is FREEDOM. Freedom to go wherever he wants to go and freedom to be whoever he wants to be with the people he loves the most. Just like his father, Luffy couldn’t care less about rules and the World Government. If he believes something is right, he will do it. If he thinks something is wrong or unfair, he will fight it. For that, he’s become famous for causing major troubles and his bounty goes up to 400,000 berries.
I don’t want to conquer anything. It’s just that the person with the most freedom on the sea is the Pirate King.
Luffy is pure and he has a good heart. In fact, Akira Toriyama believes that Luffy is able to ride on a Nimbus Cloud because he’s good, innocent, humble and doesn’t have bad intentions. Luffy is also selfless. During the Gyojin Island arc, he said that he didn’t want to be seen as a hero because… “I want all the meat“. Yeah, not that selfless but you get the point.
At the end of the day, Luffy just wants to be free to live the life he wants to live and eat as much meat as possible. Luffy is just what I thought he would be before I got into this series: A simple funny guy who loves goofing around but, at the end of the day, would fight until the end for his friends.