There is some criticism of One Piece over the so call "lack of character development."
Would a statement like "no character development" true at all in your opinion??
Or should one be criticize One Piece over that??
Spoiler showSome manga is better at other manga in some aspect. Vagabond does focus heavily on Musashi's transformation. I don't think one will argue that in this aspect, Vagabond is much better than One Piece. I recalled a quote from Vagabond that goes something like if you focus on a leaf, you will not see the tree, and if you focus on the tree, you can't see a forest. Vagabond is a great manga (though I don't really care for the recent stuffs however) but the manga's strong point is focusing on the character and since the world is already established in history (there isn't much work to be done). Neither was the plot since the plot is already also established. In contrast to Vagabond, One Piece is much more balance in term of world building, plot, characters, etc.
One Piece isn't a one character driven manga (this isn't a weakness, mind you). Rurouni Kenshin is a manga about Kenshin. Naruto is mostly about Naruto. By that I meant the story isn't really centered around one character's journey (Luffy) (or even 2 to 3 main characters for that matter) . I meant it is more obvious for other characters in other stories like Bilbo Baggins or Luke Skywalker or what not.
Why do I said that?? Because many characters are more fleshed out than Luffy until the climax of the first half. Characters like Sanji or Chopper or Nami or etc had also go through that cycle of a hero's journey.
To judge One Piece on Luffy's character development is like judging a fish on its ability to climb a mountain. In a way, it is the development of the strawhats crew overall that matter and how they deal with their environment. Don't you see the changes within the strawhats crew?? Or the changing internal relationships between them. Bonds and or nakamas.
But let's isolate Luffy as a character. Is there a personal reflection/arc/growth or what not??
But first assume if Luffy is a blank canvas. Would that make One Piece a bad manga?? If you guys are Europeans, then you should familiar with characters like Tin Tin and or Lucky Luke. Those characters may not have any depth to them but the overall comics are successful because it is the comic/author's signature style.
For a manga that is one character driven, the main character can't be a static character and most of the time is a dynamic character and must undergoes changes. Gon and Killua from HunterxHunter for examples. But One Piece isn't necessarily fit neatly in that category. And even if Luffy is bland, the One Piece manga can be successful at a whole. Changing that may change elements of what the manga is about. In One Piece, characters take turn being the static and dynamic characters per story arcs.Quote:Readers and critics have described Tintin as a well-rounded yet open-ended character, noting that his rather neutral personality—sometimes labelled as bland—permits a balanced reflection of the evil, folly and foolhardiness which surrounds him. His boy-scout ideals, which represent Hergé's own, are never compromised by the character, and his status allows the reader to assume his position within the story, rather than merely following the adventures of a strong protagonist. Tintin's iconic representation enhances this aspect, with Scott McCloud noting that it "allows readers to mask themselves in a character and safely enter a sensually stimulating world."
However, I would argue Luffy does have personal growth. Luffy's dumb and strong actually making him a perfect captain for the strawhats. That meant he need to depend on other characters. Such facts he admit himself. He needs Sanji and Nami and Usopp and Zoro (who is also a voice of reason) and etc. This particular trait enable other members to showcase their talents and roles within the crew.
In extension, his dumbness is such a nice contrast to his enemies brilliant (Kuro, Arlong, Crocodile, Enel, Lucci, etc). And this particular quick like many other quirks in One Piece had keep us greatly entertain. Because he is dumb and reckless that we got those adventures that we got. And can people honestly said they didn't enjoy how Luffy frustrated his enemies??
The first half of One Piece in many way is a flashback of Luffy's past. In which he completed the cycle of lost that many of his nakamas had went through before. Characters like Usopp and Zoro, whose past isn't really heavy, actually has more personal trials during the first half. While characters that joined much later who has less time with the crew like Franky and Brook's past is super heavy in able to flesh out their characters and given a reason why the readers should care for them.
Luffy's personalities reflect on that he needs people. He isn't a loner like say Musashi or Guts. In his childhood, his need for companions and through his willpower that he gained brothers like Ace and Sabo. Because that he was at a young age and combine with his maturity level, I don't think he truly process Sabo's death but rather just physically response to that via crying.
Kenshin's tormented past drive his actions from reversing himself back to his old self. Naruto's need of acknowledgement drive his ambition to become a hokage. Edward Elric's remorse of his sin drove him to find the philosopher stone. Going on an adventure to Luffy is like a need to eat meat (plenty of it), etc. But the real trait that reflect his character identity is that he needs people (nakamas, friends). Though one could see going on an adventure as spending time and making cherished memories with people.
The second physical aspect of Luffy is that he is strong. Because of he is strong and that because he has a strong will that he always get what he wants (mostly). As the series progress, he starting to realize he can't get things just because he wants it. In fact, when he told his crews to run away against Kuma showed quite a personal growth. Do you know people like Luffy in real life?? I meant people who don't want to deal with stress and tough decisions. That is Luffy. But circumstances force him to make decisions. And one of the greatest scene involving Luffy was when he said his heart is heavy after beating Usopp. Water 7 (not Enies Lobby) was an arc of growth for both the strawhats and that of Luffy.
So the story about Luffy's personal arc is not about losing something but rather prevent from losing things that he held dear. And when he lost every single one of his nakamas by Kuma. His story was rather simple and yet so very effective. His line of "I couldn't save a single nakama" was just enough to deliver that emotional impact. This time around (unlike the case of Sabo), he is more mature enough to process this. And when Ace died, he had to come to accept he doesn't have the power to achieve what he wants (hence the 2 years timeskipped). Zoro scolded him when he passed out against Caesar Clown. Luffy didn't really fight back on that issue but just acknowledge he doesn't have many more chances to screw up in the New World. Has Luffy had growth?? Sure he did, Luffy wasn't strong enough to break that depression after Ace's death. He would be even worst than Naruto after Sasuke left. Without outsider's influence (Jinbe), he would probably could never return to his former self. But the fact that he did, the fact he could be himself again among his nakamas showed a self growth that he didn't have before.
The second half of One Piece so far is even more plot driven than the first half. Since most of the characters are already so fleshed out and we already know who they are. I don't know how Oda will take it from here. But Luffy will get tangle with Garp's past enemies, Ace's old allies, and his father's influences. So he has much more room for development.
So ya, what are your thoughts on this topic?