One Piece, the renowned manga and anime series by Eiichiro Oda, paints a vast world filled with complex relationships.
One of the most compelling aspects of the series is the deep-rooted animosity between Fish-Men and humans. But what fueled this hatred? Let’s explore.
Historical Discrimination and Oppression
For generations, Fish-Men and merfolk faced brutal discrimination from humans. To many humans, these sea creatures were considered inferior, often treated as nothing more than beasts or exhibits.
Sabaody Archipelago, a hub of slave trade, bore witness to the magnitude of this subjugation. Fish-Men and merfolk were frequently captured and sold as slaves, a trade backed by the World Nobles.
This abhorrent practice was not just a testament to the systemic oppression but also a stark reminder of the value (or lack thereof) placed on their lives.
The Sun Pirates and Fisher Tiger’s Legacy
Fisher Tiger, a significant figure in Fish-Men history, once escaped from the clutches of the World Nobles in Mariejois. Despite gaining freedom, the scars of enslavement and humiliation were indelible.
He became a beacon of hope and resistance for many, forming the Sun Pirates, a group aimed at liberating oppressed Fish-Men and retaliating against their human tormentors.
Fisher Tiger’s tale exemplified the trauma Fish-Men endured at the hands of humans. His refusal to accept human blood during a life-threatening situation solidified his deep-seated distrust and disdain for humans.
His story and eventual death fanned the flames of animosity, influencing future generations of Fish-Men.
A Complex Moral Code
While Fisher Tiger was undoubtedly resentful of humans, his moral compass was nuanced. He released the human slaves during his raid on Mariejois, proving that his fight wasn’t against humanity per se but against oppression and prejudice.
However, the trauma he experienced made it impossible for him to embrace or trust humans fully, a fact tragically highlighted when he refused a life-saving blood transfusion from a human donor.
A Twisted Cycle of Hatred
As with many tales of enmity, the hatred between Fish-Men and humans became a self-perpetuating cycle.
The more Fish-Men resisted and retaliated, the more they were vilified by humans. Stories of their revolts, often spun with bias and prejudice, further fueled human distrust and fear.
On the other side, the more Fish-Men heard of their kin’s suffering and subjugation, the deeper their resentment grew.
This cyclical animosity led to many tragedies, including the Fish-Man Island’s tense relationship with the surface world.
The island, a sanctuary for Fish-Men and merfolk, was a constant target for human pirates and slavers, further aggravating the wounds of the past.
Hody Jones: A Product of Deep-rooted Hatred
Hody Jones, the primary antagonist of the Fish-Man Island Arc, represents the culmination of years of pent-up rage and prejudice.
Unlike previous generations who had direct experiences with human cruelty, Hody and his crew harbored hatred built on stories and legacies of the past.
Their extremism, devoid of personal traumatic experiences, showcased how deeply the seeds of animosity were sown.
Queen Otohime: A Beacon of Hope and Reconciliation
Queen Otohime, the benevolent ruler of Fish-Man Island, was a beacon of hope in the turbulent relationship between Fish-Men and humans. Her vision was clear – she believed in a world where both races coexisted in peace and harmony.
Her tireless efforts to mend the rift were centered around educating her people, teaching them the value of love, understanding, and coexistence.
The Celestial Dragon Incident
A pivotal moment that showcased Otohime’s unwavering resolve was the incident with a World Noble, or Celestial Dragon, named Mjosgard. When his ship crash-landed on Fish-Man Island, rather than facing hostility or retribution for the historical crimes of his class, he was saved by Otohime.
This act of compassion was not just a humanitarian gesture but also a strategic move, showcasing to her people that the cycle of hatred could be broken with kindness.
However, the path of peace was never smooth. The Celestial Dragon’s initial arrogance and subsequent attack on one of the island’s citizens brought tensions to a boiling point.
Yet, Otohime’s decision to protect him, even at great personal risk, and his eventual change of heart symbolized the potential for transformation. The Celestial Dragon’s gratitude and Otohime’s compassion exemplified that even the deepest divides could be bridged.
The Legacy of a Signature Campaign
Following the Celestial Dragon incident, Otohime embarked on a campaign to gather signatures from her people, advocating for migration to the surface in a bid for unity. She hoped that by intermingling and understanding humans, the age-old animosities could be eradicated.
This campaign, though faced with challenges and skepticism, stood as a testament to Otohime’s dream for a better future.
Sadly, the tragic assassination of Otohime shortly after securing the signatures demonstrated the depth of resistance to change from certain quarters. However, her legacy lived on, inspiring many, including her children, to continue the pursuit of peace and understanding.
In essence, Queen Otohime’s interactions with the Celestial Dragon and her signature campaign crystallized the broader theme of One Piece – the idea that understanding and compassion can overcome even the most entrenched prejudices and hostilities.
In Search of Coexistence
Despite the overwhelming hatred, there were voices of reason and reconciliation on both sides.
Queen Otohime of Fish-Man Island advocated for peaceful coexistence and understanding, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and empathy.
Similarly, characters like Luffy and his crew demonstrated that bridges of friendship could be built, cutting across species and breaking the chains of historical prejudice.
The animosity between Fish-Men and humans in One Piece is a layered narrative, intricately woven with historical discrimination, tales of resistance, and the enduring hope for a harmonious future.
Like many elements in Oda’s masterpiece, it serves as a reflection on real-world issues, urging readers and viewers to challenge deep-rooted prejudices and work towards mutual understanding.
Also Read: Whitebeard’s death in One Piece explained