It’s been a while since I’ve singled out a particular chapter of a long running manga and wrote a post about it, but this chapter bugs me on a number of levels. It was very painful to read this chapter because I’m a pretty big One Piece fan and I always liked Zoro, yet this chapter felt like all the bad things sticking out from time to time about the series finally came together in this one chapter. Sigh. Ok, here we go:

So the basic gist of this chapter is that Tashigi stays back with Zoro to fight Monet because she doesn’t believe Zoro can cut a woman. This is all fine and well especially since she looks down on him for this view, but that’s all going to be undermined by the fact that Tashigi can’t handle Monet on her own and Zoro has to step in to help her out (and to tell her off for talking big but not delivering). While he does admit to disliking slicing certain things (aka women), he still proceeds to cut Monet in half. Now this would have been a good subversion to the can’t hurt a women thing shounen works like to employ, but alas Zoro purposely doesn’t use haki so Monet survives the blow and Tashigi is the one to deliver the finishing blow. She calls him out on it next chapter, but Zoro refuses to admit he didn’t want to kill Monet because of her gender. He even starts talking down to Tashigi because she’s so weak.

Now the first thing I want to reference is that this could have been a good opportunity for Oda to finally address the Designated Girl Fight trope that has plagued his manga since its start. Unfortunately, this fight doesn’t accomplish that for a number of reasons. For one, Monet is never a real threat to Zoro. She’s only a threat to Tashigi, which reinforces the idea that female fighters are weaker than their male counterparts. When Zoro gets serious, all it takes is one slice from him to bring Monet down. She is but a mook to him rather than a serious opponent and you cannot subvert the trope without building up and executing the fight as a tough fight between two equally matched fighters. Second, Zoro doesn’t actually deliver the finishing blow, it is left off to Tashigi. This actually bugged me more than it should have because the one thing I liked about Zoro was that he didn’t discriminate based on gender. Or at least that was how he was in the early parts of the manga. Clearly, Oda is now going to retroactively change that and I’m really bothered by this change. If there is something that Zoro shouldn’t like to cut, it would be innocents, like established early on, and not women. Monet is a fighter, cutting her down shouldn’t be unpleasant. She isn’t innocent.

Monet paralyzed by fear after Zoro cut her in half.

The other thing that bugged me about this chapter is how Oda went to great lengths to undermine Monet as a fighter. After Zoro cuts her, Monet is unable to properly reform like any Logia user can because Zoro’s “blood lust” has terrified her to the very core of her being. We’ve already seen something similar with Perona when Usopp took her on. Maybe it is a coincidence that the only two times a male Straw Hat has faced a female villain, they have defeated them via fear rather than cutting them down, but it doesn’t leave a very nice message. It once again reinforces the idea that female fighters are less prepared emotionally for fights and don’t have the same will of steel as the male fighters who can look at death and not fall apart from fear. I do not recall any male opponents being submitted into fear (outside of mooks). It’s just not a very nice picture overall, and as much as I like One Piece, I cannot defend these two chapters. They were very gendered in a very unpleasant way.

The final aspect that stuck out to me was when Tashigi found it embarrassing that Zoro had to carry her away from the poison gas after the fight with Monet and she asks him to put her down before they reach her subordinates. Zoro retorts that she should stop being so proud. This is very ironic coming from someone like Zoro who would rather die than have his pride hurt (although his pride was wounded during the East Blue Saga. How I miss those times when the manga was actually a lot more willing to break tropes and take risks with characters. ;__; ). If there is one person who would understand the value of pride, it would be Zoro. Yet he doesn’t and it feels like he’s not taking her as a warrior seriously because he doesn’t respect her pride. This once again, undermines Tashigi as a warrior. She had to be carried off by Zoro and can’t even save her pride. Her pride isn’t even taken seriously.

What do you think about these two chapters?

–SW

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