Ok, I’m kind of biased here as I’m a big fan of Robin. I love her personality. That said, I do think it would benefit One Piece to show off some of its more under-represented characters. Namely Robin, Franky, and Brook. These three, especially Brook and Robin, seem to always get the short end of the stick and it’s especially jarring when Oda does it in favour of Zoro or Sanji. I love Zoro. He’s my second favourite right after Robin, but him, Sanji, and Luffy are dominating panel and fight time too much in One Piece. Case in point:

Zoro jumps out of nowhere to take on Neptune right when Brook was finally about to see some action.

This is a fairly recent chapter where Oda could have had Brook take on Neptune to show off his swordmanship and how much he’s grown, but instead Oda has Zoro jump in at the nick of time and hold off Neptune’s fork lance. Thing is, Oda has already given us ample examples of just how much more badass Zoro has gotten post-time skip. He broke a ship in two right when we first see him and he, Sanji and Luffy take on a bunch of undersea monsters while the group was travelling to Fishman Island. So the question is, was it really necessary for Zoro to steal Brook’s thunder here? I think not!

So the question becomes, if Oda is not interested in developing Brook at all, why did he bother introducing him. I think Brook has a lot of potential. His light body could make him very hard to hit and very quick. Character-wise, the bone jokes are kind of stupid and the panty thing is as well, so I seriously hope Oda uses Brook for more than lame humour. And the worst of this? Oda has given us a glimpse (later on in Fishman Island) of some of Brook’s really neat, almost haki-like, powers: he can project feelings into people (through music) and coat his sword with cold/ice. And he’s practically immortal as long as you don’t crush him (which again could be easily remedied with his quickness). Meanwhile Sanji just got air walking like CP9 and Zoro is even stronger/better with his swords. So in a sense, there really isn’t much to show off with these two as Oda has already shown off so much of them.

This is why I think Oda should have Zoro and Sanji step out of the limelight for awhile and develop his most under-used fighters, especially since what little we have seen shows a lot of potential. Brook, for example, has so many things at his disposal to make fights interesting: he’s technically immortal, he could be made really quick and hard to hit (if Oda wishes to pursue what he showed of Brook in Thriller Bark), he’s got his music inducing illusions and he’s got his sword skills. Clearly there is a lot of versatility with Brook and he could easily be a top-tier fighter if Oda let him. Obviously it’s not going to happen because Zoro is our resident badass swordsman, but I do think Oda should develop Brook into at least a mid-tier fighter.

The same could be applied to Franky. Like Brook, Franky could be a very versatile fighter and given how he is set up, the possibilities are really endless. He’s a cyborg, so Oda could easily give Franky a whole slew of abilities. The Fishman Island brawl made this even more pronounced because now, not only does Franky use his body, but he’s also got a bunch of weapons/machines at his disposal to make him even more versatile: the rhino bike and the tank. Not to mention they combine to become a mecha. Again, he could easily be a top-tier fight if Oda just gave him more room to shine.

Finally at the heart of this is Robin. I love Robin: she’s cool and collected, practically a walking encyclopedia, and has so much potential. Her devil fruit powers were always very versatile, but they have gotten even more so post-time skip. Let’s see Robin can: reproduce any part of her body anywhere she can see at no known limit (so she could sprout 1,000 arms if she wanted), she can sprout arms that become wings and stay air borne for a few seconds, she can now sprout half her body or full body giving her the ability to clone herself (and this again seems to be limitless), and she can now sprout big parts of her body (that seem to work very similar to Luffy’s third gear). The possibilities of what she could do in fights are endless: she’d make a good spy with her powers and personality (and this is touched on in her past), she practically cannot be touched given that she can now create a bunch of clones of herself and her powers can disarm and disable fighters before they touch her. Her one weakness was lack of power, but that’s now taken care of thanks to her giant limbs. Her abilities also allow her to pretty much go anywhere: scale a tower? No problem just sprout a bunch of hands you can use to step on/climb up. Add in her sharp intellect and she could easily out smart any one. Again, she has real potential to be a top-tier fighter and it would be really nice if at least 1 out of the two females in the crew were one of the strongest fighters in the group.

Yet, out of the three under-represented characters in One Piece, as of now, Robin as been the most neglected. Her last major one-on-one fight was way back in the Skypeia arc. That was 8 arcs ago: Davy Back, Water 7/CP9, Thriller Bark, Sabaody, Impel Down, Marineford, and Fishman Island. Whereas the other Straw Hats (including Brook and Franky) had their last major one-on-one fight on Fishman Island (with the exception of Nami, whose last major fight was during Water 7/CP9 arc). And to make matters worse, she had the least amount of screen time (after Brook) during Fishman Island arc. Unfortunately, the newest arc does not seem to be improving this either. She’s gotten more screen time now, but it’s been mostly fluff: watching the other members do the fighting, adding some non-consequential comments, etc. This is a real shame because she is one of the most interesting characters and her black humour is very welcome. And like I said, it would be nice if Oda made one of his female characters actually combat-based, rather than both being there just for fan service (and in Nami’s case, comedy as well).

Plot in One Piece is amazing as usual, so I’m still eagerly looking forward to each new chapter, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing Oda would stop playing the favourites game with Zoro, Sanji, and Usopp (yes, Usopp has a lot of great fights, even though he’s suppose to be one of the weakest members along with Nami). These three have been around since the very beginning, so they have gotten more than enough spot-light. It’s definitely time for the newest members to shine. If this just happened, then One Piece would be perfect in my eyes.

–SW

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