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Shiki_Dance
September 14, 2010, 06:01 PM
Crazy-long post coming up. Mitigated with spoiler tags. Ye have been warned.

Ok, I see a lot of people talking about “tactics” or “intelligence” within the Strawhats, but it many times seems improperly considered to me. Certain obvious examples are brought to the fore while more subtle examples go unnoticed. Or situations that don't at first seem like traditional “tactics” are ignored. I decided to go down the list of Strawhats and give my view about each character – just as I personally see it, others can agree or disagree. I'll note that often my viewpoint comes from an experienced writer's perspective, so there may be points made that come from an understanding of how a situation arises out of necessity for the plot and character balance. I will write mostly from the stand point of battle, but other aspects may be included if they are needed to make a point. Because of this battle focus, this likely means there will be more written about the characters we see fight the most.

Luffy:

This is the one character that I can never see actually using any sort of strategy. But rather than just being out of stupidity (or IS it?), it is an essential character point – he relies heavily on his instincts, which are very, very, good. So to start using strategy seems like it would only hinder his instincts.

But that's not to say that he doesn't have some level of knowledge or understanding. He demonstrated some knowledge of mushrooms on Amazon Lily (and then promptly proceeded to eat ones he knew nothing about), he knew how to use the gold on this arm to disperse the giant storm cloud Enel(Eneru?) made over Skypiea (or was he just thinking “punch it and it will go away”?). How deep his understanding goes is questionable. How much is instinct and how much does he really know? Aokiji once summed it up nicely when Luffy challenged him to fight one one one. Was it to prevent Aokiji from attacking his crew mates out of honor (the same way Zoro prevented Kuma), or did Luffy actually think he could win?

It should be noted that Luffy is usually fighting someone stronger than he is, and must use uncommon tactics and lateral thinking to defeat them. His unpredictability is his strength. Though again, this is probably more instinctual than actually thinking, but its hard for us to know exactly.


Zoro:

I feel Zoro is getting the shortest end of the stick (so his comments will likely be the longest). A lot of people place him extremely low on their intelligence rankings, which always seemed strange to me because, next to Robin, he is most likely to make calm, insightful and mature comments and situation summaries, and one of the first to understand what needs to be done. He was the first to accept Merry's critical condition, making the comment that, while people get stronger over time, ships' wounds simply pile up until they can no longer sail. On Thriller Bark, while other characters questioned why the heck he wanted to fight Oars(Oz?) thinking he just wanted a fight, he explained very succinctly why it was implicitly important to fight him: Many of the enemies use trickery in their tactics, which Luffy may not be able to overcome. If he can't by sunrise, they're all in trouble. However, if the rest of the crew can at least get Luffy his shadow back, then Luffy can continue to fight. Even Robin seemed as though she hadn't thought of this.

Maybe it goes overlooked because the comments are often short and subtle in the long run (I only listed a couple of the numerous examples). Maybe the comedic “getting lost” aspects overshadow the meatier ones (this is especially true for the anime, which tends to overplay all the characters' faults). There is also the fact that, as a front-line fighter, he is needed to support Luffy, charging down the strongest enemies, giving other characters the ability to accomplish other tasks. In my opinion, Zoro is an extremely tactical fighter, but it's subtle and more a “within the battle” sort of tactics. But that's not to say he hasn't displayed other insights, the most blatant example being the double-mark on Alabasta. As opposed to Luffy's instinctual fighting style, Zoro's seems more based on knowledge and skills he's acquired throughout their journey. The biggest turning point being after his battle with Daz Bones (Mr. 1). Previously, he fought by “using all his strength.” After, he understood more what it means to be subtle in his fighting style, and his personality seems to be reflecting that calmness. Though he obviously loves to fight, his emotions never take over to the point where he blindly attacks. He is always in control of himself.

Like Luffy, his fights are often either against someone of equal or greater strength, so he must grow his skill within the battle, or think laterally to get around his disadvantages. Unlike Luffy, he usually seems to actually think about how to do this rather than rely on instincts.

He also displays leadership qualities when Luffy isn't around (and sometimes being an important advisor when he is around). Again, the fight with Oars is a good example (directing attacks in order to bring Oars down), and another at Enies Lobby after Luffy ran off on his own (prompting other characters to question why Zoro isn't the captain). Though it may not have technically been stated in the manga that he is officially the crew's first mate, he takes his position seriously. Recall that, when Luffy recruited Zoro, Zoro's condition was that if Luffy did anything to get in the way of Zoro's goal, he would make Luffy apologize being spilling his guts. But what really happens? Zoro, for Luffy and the rest of the crew, gives up his dream and his life to protect them. He later gives up his pride (which might be considered even worse than his life for a person like him) in order to aid his captain. I bring this up because it is a sort of tactics – calmly deciding the best way to aid the crew and then acting on it.

In summation, while he may not possess Robin's knowledge or Nami's intelligence, Zoro easily displays the greatest level of insight (maybe even a kind of practical wisdom) within the entire crew and utilizes it effectively both within and without battle. If Luffy is the heart and soul of the crew, Zoro is the sword and shield.


Sanji:

Sanji displays the most easily recognizable tactics, something other readers have picked up on and thrown him near the top of their IQ ranking lists. Personally, I think he's getting a bit too much credit. But I do not deny that he definitely uses extremely effective tactics and uses them well. Unlike Zoro, rather than tactics within battle, he is often off to the side accomplishing tasks that benefit the crew that don't involve front-line fighting. Sometimes these tactics are intentional (following Robin onto the sea train), sometimes it is more about him finding himself accidentally in a situation but being able to take advantage of it (Mr. Prince was only born out of Crocodile mistaking him for Mr. 3 plus Bon Kurei not seeing him on the Merry).

A note that I feel must be made: Sanji's style of tactics are NOT battle tactics. These examples people are using are sideways goals. If someone were to be responsible for making a battle plan, it would not be Sanji (more likely it would be Nami, but they all have different strengths and insights and would likely work together). Unlike Luffy and Zoro, his fights don't often involve any sort of lateral thinking, and just need him to be stronger than the other guy. Therefore, we have not seen much of Sanji even needing to use tactics within battle. Recall his position is the cook, while Zoro's only clear purpose is to fight. Even though he is clearly the crew's third strongest fighter, there is definitely a gap that has been widening between he and Zoro. What is made of this post time-skip remains to be seen. It depends on what Oda, as a writer, wants to do with him.

Sanji is also a very emotional person, in that he lets his emotions get to him both while he fights, and also outside of them (like picking a fight with Zoro, blaming him after Usopp left the crew for not permanently putting down the Franky Family while they were attacking Zoro on Merry). This gets him into trouble sometimes, but also gets him out of it sometimes. He seems strongest when he's pissed off.


Nami:

In an SBS, Oda stated that of all the characters we met in East Blue (not out of all East Blue, just of who we met), Nami has the third highest IQ (first being Ben Beckmen, second being Kuro). Her intelligence also seems to get overshadowed sometimes by the comedy aspects of her character, but they do come out. Her use of the Clima Tact is the most obvious example. She is able to think of what it can do and how to use what it can do to her advantage. Of course her navigation of the ship, and her unofficial position as Quartermaster account for a lot of this (for those who don't know, on a traditional pirate ship, a member of the crew was elected by other members to be in charge of distributing loot. It was important that this person was neither the captain nor his first mate so that neither could be accused of unfair favoritism and undermining their authority). Though Luffy ultimately has say in where they go and what they do, Nami's considerations are definitely taken seriously and the other crew members unquestionably follow her directions when it comes to the ship and navigation.


Usopp:

Like Nami, Usopp's fights require tactics because he doesn't have the physical strength to do otherwise. I would consider him clever, but not necessarily a particularly wise person. He builds tools that suit him and can use them to his advantage. He also has a practical side to him that none of the other guys show. But I think this is in part from his being cautious rather than confident. If he has foreknowledge, we've seen what he can come up with (Usopp vs. Luffy). But foreknowledge is rare, and he can't take advantage of that ability. Personally, I would like to see a bigger focus on his sniping skills after the time-skip. We'll see.


Chopper:

Chopper's smart. He is a doctor after all. He has his brain point “scope” ability that he doesn't use nearly often enough in my opinion. Except for the fight against Oars, we don't really see him use his knowledge in his fights very often. This is probably partly due to his naiveté and youth. A lot of people talk about him controlling Monster Point, but I would like in the future to see Chopper fight using his skills and knowledge rather than brute strength. Maybe something like Dr. Indigo, but with Chopper's own unique flair.


Robin:

Easily the most knowledgeable of the crew. She uses her experiences and knowledge to aid herself and the rest of the StrawHats. She can also use her intelligence to her advantage during battle. She is not physically very strong. The arms she sprouts are no stronger than her real arms. So she uses tactics to turn her abilities to her advantage. I'll be honest and say that I'm a bit disappointed with Robin – since joining the crew, she's been getting less and less formidable as an opponent. Her strengths are not about her ability to fight, it's her knowledge, sure. But when she was still an enemy, she was very hard to beat. Where did that go?


Franky:

Franky seems like he must be a smart person on some level, right? I mean, he's like an engineer. Somehow this doesn't extend to his personality much, nor to anything outside of shipbuilding/construction in general. Maybe it's because Franky is still relatively new to the story, or because of the sheer comedic level to his character, but I don't really have much to say about him. I kinda think of him like Usopp with confidence – he is clever and uses his weapons to his advantage, but he doesn't strike me as wise.


Brook:

I honestly can't think of anything to say about Brook. He is simply too new to the story to have any real examples of anything.


Still here? Haha, I'm impressed.

I wanted to bring this up, not because I wanted to claim that so-and-so is smarter than what's-his-face, but because I wanted to illustrate the differences between the characters and how I view them. Not in a ranking of intelligence, but rather to show that they are for the most part equal, just different. They all have strengths and weaknesses in different areas. Essentially, this post came about because I was getting annoyed with seeing things like “Zoro's a moron” or “Sanji is the best at battle tactics." It is perfectly fine for people to have those opinions, it was just interesting that they were so different from my own reading even though the source material is the same. I will note that Oda probably said it best: "They're all idiots."

Thoughts? Additional opinions? Alternate interpretations? I ask that because this is based on how individuals may interpret things differently, this may be quite opinionated, therefore please remain respectful. You can help your position by providing manga examples as evidence (I don't put much stock into anime-only situations).

Apologies for any grammatical and/or spelling errors, post is too long to effectively go over everything easily.

tret16
September 14, 2010, 08:01 PM
I got to admit, i liked reading your post, and that's saying something concidering that whenever i read a long ass post like these i stop reading halfway through and just answer according to what i have read... I didn't find myself doin that this time, maybe because you did the spoiler thing which seemed to break things up a bit and didn't seem to overwhelming. so in turn i'm gunna answer you topic the same way.

Luffy:

For your information with Luffy i got to say that i agree for the most part. But there is something that i slightly disagree with but it's nothing major. When it comes to him fighting on instinct, there's no question that he uses ALOT. BUT i also believe that he has quite alot of battle stratagy. Now i say this mainly because of one importent aspect in his life, and that was his childhood with Ace and Sabo. When they were fighting, they showed alot of practice fighting and learning off of eachother which then gave them a sense of how to fight and how to move. But this alone doesn't make me believe that he has stratagy. The main thing is the one person who visited both of them durring there stay in the forest, and that's Garp. When you put him into the mix it's not hard to believe that he taught Ace and Luffy the value of stratagy while in the middle of battle. I turn i believe that Luffy uses more stratagy in the midst of battle then you give credit for, it's just that in order to keep Luffy's carefree attitude, Oda simply didn't put it in like he did for the other. By this i mean he didn't write an inside voice for Luffy while in his big fights. Well that's my insight on Luffy for you.

Zoro:

When it comes to Zoro i agree one hundred percent. I read as people constantly stated that Zoro is an idiot left and right and i believe i even stated in a thread that he was infact pretty smart and that his direction sense being way low didn't mean anything when it came to actual intellegence. And that is infact what i think makes people believe that he's an idiot, his lack of direction is so bad that people believe him to be stupid... It's a comedic point for him that's all... Oda is clearly known that every single strawhat crew member has a comedic point to them and for Zoro, his lack of direction sense is his. so i got to say i agree with you on this one. I would give you a chapter where it shows it, but you have already given the best examples.

Sanji:

For sanji i got to say i disagree with you on that. Mainly when it comes to his battle strategy, durring battle he has shown to be very resourceful it's just overlooked because of Usopp mainly. Durring there fight in Ennies Lobby, while in his battles he found the time to deduct that he needed to open the gates of justice. Now i know that this doesn't necessarily mean anything when it comes to battle but i'm looking at the battle as a large scale one. When armies go into battle they need to think of territory advantages and also where there high ground is, too me this is very importent and like you said he has a very strong sense of his outside battle stategy. But to most this can be the same two things. So when it comes to intellegence i find Sanji to be near the top also.

Nami:

Well when it comes to Nami, there isn't really anything to argue. Everyone seems to understand her intellegence and you said it well enough in your post. And the fact that she's thinking of the future and the New World so that she can better navigate shows that her intellegence is more importent then her strength but didn't fail to notice that there is infact a way to increase her power.

Usopp:
Well, i pretty much agree with you when it comes to Usopp. He's more of a improvisor then an actual tactician. He know's his strength and know's how to get around it. I for one would like to see him gain a little on the strength side before he gains more on the sniping side. Mainly because if the enemy did manage to get in close to the point where he can't shoot with his fire and other type of shots he can fight hand to hand. (Or a 10 Ton hammer)

Chopper:
Whe it comes to Chopper i got to SLIGHTLY disagree with you. Just because someone is a doctor doesn't mean they are smart. It just means that they know alot about the body and have a passion for helping people. And when it comes to his scope point or whatever it was called, that's more of and improvised fighting style like Usopp. Like you said he is simply too young to be having a well based fighting style or strategy point of view in the group. What i expect from Chopper in the time skip is infact a little more knowledgewith his age. You do learn the most when your the youngest afterall.

Robin:
Well it's no mistery that she's the smartest in the crew, but that's mainly because of her age and also her upbringing. With age comes wisdom and she is infact the oldest one in the crew aside from Brook.

Franky:
I don't know about Franky, he seems to be a very smart guy but Oda never show's it to us. He seems more focused on showing hm as the main comic relief in the manga. I can see that there is alot there and that he could very well be one of the smartest, but untill i see it first hand i'm just gunna halfto say that he's mainly a technician smart then an actual overall smart.

Brook:
As for Brook i do see some smart from him even though he's just as much as a comic relief as Franky. He's the oldest one in the group and has seen quite alot and seems to know alot about older pirates and also techniques that are used. When the strawhats and Brook first met he showed alot of intell when it came to fighters styles and levels. (Zoro and the Zomby swordsman). For the main reason why i say he's smart is because he seems like he could be the worldly knowledge type, kinda like asking your grandfather for insight. He has been alive for a long time and was bound to have a little insight in ones self even though he was on his own.

Well i have given you my imput and i hope to hear what you think of my thought on character intell.

Shiki_Dance
September 14, 2010, 08:48 PM
Well i have given you my imput and i hope to hear what you think of my thought on character intell.

Thanks for your thoughts! I really enjoyed reading your input. I will gladly give my thoughts on your response.

As for Luffy, I agree with you. Maybe it wasn't very clear in my post, but I did try to give the impression that in the manga itself, it's not terribly clear how much of Luffy is instinct and how much is actually strategy. Oda gives the impression that it's mostly instinct, but there is the very strong possibility that there's much more to it than that. I expect there will be more to him as he gets more experience and further growth as a character. I'm very interested to see what happens post time-skip.

For Sanji, I never wanted to reduce or obscure his accomplishments. He is quite strategically minded, just in a different way than the other characters (I say they each have their own particular strengths in this sense). Enies Lobby is indeed a good example of this. I simply meant that these strategies are usually - but not always - outside of actual fights (and I only made that distinction to separate his tactical sense from Zoro's, which is more often - though not always - inside actual fights). My main concern with Sanji is that I think that people often rank him too highly relative to other characters - I don't mean to reduce him, what I mean is that other characters are made out to be stupid in comparison, while I think of them as at the same level just with different ways of thinking. For example, I don't think Zoro is less intelligent than Sanji, but he has different priorities and considerations that he addresses during a major confrontation. People were making Sanji out to be some kind of Sun Tzu style strategist, but I think that's not the point of his character and is taking things too far.

I think your point about Chopper brings up an interesting distinction. That's the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge being how much someone knows (book learnin'), and wisdom being the ability to use what you know and apply it, or to think on your feet. Chopper has knowledge, but you're right, maybe he's too young to really have gathered the wisdom he might later have. I think it's possible the same thing might be said of Robin. She is very knowledgeable, but she in turn has the wisdom to use her knowledge. And then we get characters like Zoro (for example), who displays a very interesting level of wisdom even though he's not a particularly knowledgeable character.