One Piece is one of the best Manga ever. With being the best selling of all time, it has a huge fan following all over the world. One Piece has several great backstories as Oda takes care in giving his characters more depth. It is a daunting task ranking them but I tried ranking them from worst one to best.
No Spoilers for anime only!
Arc: Orange Town
This flashback tells the story of Buggy and Shanks during their time with Rogers pirates as apprentices. Buggy tries to sell a devil fruit they stole in secret but swallowed accidentally due to Shanks’ interruption. Also, Buggy lost his treasure map in the sea and got nearly drown if Shanks hadn’t saved him.
This is a funny flashback that didn’t try to be sad, hence this takes the last place.
Arc: Syrup Village
One Piece has a lot of weird stories but Gaimon’s arc has to take the cake for being the most random and absurd arc. Gaimon found a small cliff with treasure boxes inside it but unfortunately, he slips and gets stuck in a box. His crew failed to notice it and they left without him. He has been living in that box ever since befriending the animals.
The flashback is sad but Gaimon isn’t that relevant character and he seems to be content with his situation now.
Arc: Whole Cake Island
Katakuri during his childhood wasn’t afraid of showing his mouth regardless of the ridicules he received. But the enemies took their hatred of him on Brulee. Katakuri decided to hide his mouth due to that and also beat the people that attacked Brulee.
Katakuri is an amazing character and this flashback explains his reasoning behind hiding his face. This flashback gave the Luffy-Katakuri fight even more depth.
Arc: Syrup Village
Yasopp left Usopp and Banchina to join Shanks’s crew leaving his family alone. Usopp used to lie that pirates are coming hoping that his father will come back. He started this practice when his mother fell ill hoping that it will make her better. Unfortunately, his mother died later but Usopp continued to lie.
Usopp’s backstory goes under the radar compared to other iconic backstories, but Usopp’s backstory is really sad. He lost his mother and lived the majority of childhood without a family, though the villagers weren’t that unfriendly.
Onimaru was a companion of late Daimyo, Shimotsuki Ushimaru. After the Daimyo’s death, he remained near the cemetery protecting the weapons from thieves. Later he met Kawamatsu who took care of him while being injured. But Onimaru felt betrayed when he saw Kawamatsu stealing the weapons. Then Kawamatsu explained the reasoning behind it and Onimaru disguised as Gyukimaru, has been collecting weapons ever since even when Kawamatsu went to jail.
This is a simple touching story in the Wano arc even though we didn’t get that emotionally attached to both Onimaru and Kawamatsu.
Arc: Orange Town
Chocho is a dog that appeared in the early parts of the series. Sometimes back, Chouchou and his master ran a pet shop. But his master suffered an illness and left the town, eventually succumbed to death. Regardless of that, he has been protecting the pet shop that his master runs despite presumably knowing the fate of his master.
For a minor character such as Chocho, this flashback is well done and it made the Orange town arc so much better.
20. Baby 5
Baby 5 backstory is a minor one with not even having a full page. Her mother abandoned her in a forest and asked her to not move. She even told Baby 5 that she was of no use. Baby 5’s persona is that she needs to be wanted by someone and will do anthing for it. It is amazing how Oda managed to tie that gag persona into her backstory.
Arc: Drum Island/Alabasta
Vivi’s flashback occurs in two different instances. The first one is the incident with Wapol where he slaps Vivi in Reverie but she doesn’t make a big deal of it. The second one revolves around her time with
Koza during her childhood. This part tells the story of when she was kidnapped and helped by Koza.
It isn’t the greatest of the backstory One Piece has given but still memorable.
Arc: Romance Dawn
Zoro’s backstory explains his time in a dojo where he had a rivalry with Kuina. Both aimed to become the strongest swordsman but Kuina, unfortunately, died from falling from the stairs. This part also emphasized Zoro’s view of women and swordsmanship in general.
But for an important character such as Zoro, his back story isn’t as impactful as other Strawhats’ backstories. Also, the theme of even women can become strong is lost in the series. Even the death of Kuina seems unconvincing and Oda knowing for showing epic deaths missed the mark here.
Arc: Romance Dawn
This is the origin story of Luffy when he met Shanks and the crew and ate the devil fruit. Shanks also saved Luffy from bandits and gave Luffy the Strawhat. Luffy is heavily inspired by Shanks and these incidents shaped his goal of becoming a pirate.
This is a very short one and compared to other great flashbacks this pales in comparison. But it is still a great introduction to Luffy as a character. Also, Shanks remains a mysterious person even now and this arc gave an idea about his character and what a pirate means.
Arc: Post Marineford
This flashback tells the story of Ace-Sabo-Luffy during their childhood. This arc shows the personal growth as well as the physical growth of all these three characters. Also, there is another plot in this arc involving the Goa Kingdom and nobles. Sabo’s assumed death made Luffy and Ace grow stronger mentally.
This isn’t the saddest arc but more of an adventurous one. It happens right after the summit war saga and is just perfect. It also gave Ace’s death more meaning as they both have already lost a brother.
Rebecca-Viola-Toy Soldier’s flashback is told from different POVs. Doflamingo took over as the King after manipulating King Riku into killing civilians using his devil fruit. Then Kyros even cut off a leg to save Riku but was turned into a toy.
Kyros turned into a toy soldier thus no one remembers him now. Rebecca’s mother Scarlett was killed by Diamante. Viola with no other option had to work under Doflamingo for saving Riku’s life.
Anime destroyed this backstory by showing it every episode. But if we overlook that it is genuinely an amazing flashback. The way it was structured is unique as we get to see the single incident from different people’s POVs.
This flashback takes place after Sanji left his Vinsmoke family. Sanji and Zeff got stranded on an island with only one bag of food. Zeff didn’t take any of the available food and gave it all to Sanji. Zeff cut his leg and ate them for several days. Finally, they were rescued and opened a restaurant.
This is probably the first flashback that showed how great One Piece backstories can be. Zoro and Usopp’s stories didn’t hit as much as this one. Also, anime changed Zeff eating his own leg but in the manga it was brutal.
13. Boa Hancock
Arc: Amazon Lily
Boa Hancock’s backstory takes place in only a few panels and most of the story is told by Boa rather than showing them. Oda is very nuanced about this flashback and by showing only the above panel just left the actual sufferings to readers’ imagination rather than showing what happened. I really like when authors don’t explicitly show dark stuffs but be nuanced about it.
Boa Hancock and her sisters were kidnapped and sold as slaves to Celestial Dragons. Later Fisher Tiger saved all the slaves and formed the Sun Pirates which Hachi was part of. The very thought of their life as slaves gave the sisters nightmare and even Luffy asked them to not say any of it.
12. Big Mom
Arc: Whole Cake Island
Big Mom was an abnormally large child and her parents left her in Elbaf at the age of 5 since she caused too much destruction. Mother Caramel took care of her but Big Mom’s strength proved a problem for others. Big Mom went on a rampage to get Semla killing Jorul in the process. Caramel then left Elbaf and later planned to sell Big Mom to World Government. Caramel arranged Semla for her sixth birthday but she also ate Caramel and other children unknowingly in her state of excitement.
The sad thing about these is that she doesn’t even remember any of them. Big Mom’s backstory is without doubt the most underrated ones in the series. We really cannot blame Big Mom for her child-like activities as she never meant to do any of the bad things. Unfortunately, she is a natural-born destroyer where even her childish tantrums will lead to a lot of destruction. I also believe if someone not as wicked as Streusen took care of her, she could have genuinely become a good person.
11. Senor Pink
Senor Pink’s backstory is the most unexpected backstory in the series. Senor Pink design looked like a gag that Oda does usually but I never expected an actual valid explanation behind it.
Senor Pink lied about his profession to his love, Russian, and married her. Later he lost his kid due to illness and Russian found the truth about his profession. She went into a vegetative state when stuck in a landslide. Senor Pink visited her but she didn’t recognize him. Once when he wore his son’s Bonney she smiled. Later he made a baby outfit as his whole appearance regardless of the ridicule he faced.
Oda doesn’t touch upon romance much but when he does he produces masterpiece as this.
Arc: Water 7
Franky, after abandoned by his pirate father worked under Tom as a shipwright disciple. Franky had a great talent for creating battle ships. Meanwhile World Government was prosecuting Tom for building Roger’s ship but Tom made a deal to make Sea Train as a reprieve. Tom successfully built the ship, but the CP5 used Franky’s battleships and attacked civilians thus scapegoating Tom as the culprit.
Tom was sent to Enies Lobby and Franky tried to stop the sea train from with his bare hands thus greatly injuring him.
Franky’s backstory is a masterpiece but unfortunately overshadowed by Nico Robin’s. The theme of the flashback even was relevant in the current Enies Lobby storyline. Also Franky wasn’t introduced as a likeable character but this backstory made one of the most likeable instantly.
9. Sanji-Vinsmoke family
Arc: Whole Cake Island
This part of Sanji’s backstory deals with his time as a kid in the Vinsmoke family. Sanji unlike his siblings didn’t possess superhuman abilities but turned into was just a normal human with emotions. Due to this, he was abused by his father and his siblings. He also lost his mother Sora. Later Judge put him in a cell being ashamed of him. Finally, Reiju freed him and allowed him to escape thus relieving him of his nightmare childhood.
Sanji was always portrayed as the kindest among the Strawhats and his backstory gave more insight into that. Sanji is first and foremost a cook and other things come later.
Arc: Thriller Bark
Brook and his crew promised Laboon that they will come back one day but they were never able to fulfill that. Brook’s crew died as a result of a battle just before Brook’s eyes. As a result of his devil fruit, Brook was granted a second life but he had to live alone for 50 years holding onto his life just to meet Laboon.
It is just cruel to even think how someone can live alone for 50 years.
Being alone is one of the saddest things that any human being can experience and Brook’s story showed that. Also, anime elevated this scene to the next level.
Arc: Arlong Park
Bellemere found Nami and Nojiko in a war-torn town and decided to take care of them by herself. She lived on Tangerine grove and gave everything to her daughters. Arlong arrived and found her home and demanded a fee from her to stay alive. Bellemere used the available money to save Nami and Nojiko, as she couldn’t even lie about not being their mothers. Arlong shot her in the head. Nami started working under Arlong hoping to buy back the village.
For many, Arlong park is the defining arc in the series and made them hook onto the series. This backstory is one of the main reasons for that
Noland-Kalgura’s backstory is a different one compared to all of the other ones we have seen. This backstory tells the friendship between Noland and Kalgura when both of them are at opposites sides of belief.
Noland stopped their ritual of sacrificing a young woman to God for protection from disease. Noland instead offered a scientific solution thus bonding with Kalgura. Later Kalgura became angry at Noland for cutting down the sacred trees. But when he learned that Noland cut them to stop disease he regretted it and asked the leaving Noland to come back one day. But when Noland came back with Lvneel king that island wasn’t found anywhere. Noland was executed for lying and died a sad death.
Noland was an exceptional man during his time and it is pity that he is known today as pitiful liar.
Arc: Drum Island
Chopper was a reindeer that ate the human-human devil fruit. Due to his blue nose, he wasn’t accepted in his tribe and his monstrous human form made him unacceptable in human society too. Only Hiriluk took care of him but Hiruluk had a fatal illness. Hiriluk died at the hands of Wapol and Chopper realized the importance of being a doctor.
This one also showed a found family where the younger member loses the parent figure. But it put a different spin to it and added the outcast theme to it. Chopper didn’t belong to any part of the society and it is a scary thing anyone can experience.
4. Fisher Tiger- Otohime
Arc: Fishman Island
Fisher Tiger-Otohime’s backstory really hits home the most out of all others. Fisher Tiger was genuinely a good person and so was Otohime. Both wanted nothing but good for the Fishman and both lost their lives in the struggle. Even in real life, there are problems that aren’t easy to solve that will satisfy all. I really liked that Oda portrayed the Fishman discrimination issue as nuanced as possible.
Fisher Tiger freed the slaves on Mariejois and formed Sun Pirates with the Fishmen. He was asked to get Koala to her home and Koala began to trust Fishmen gradually. But he was betrayed by humans and was attacked. Even at his death, he refused human blood because he hated humans and revealed that he was also a slave once.
Otohime parallelly tried to get Fishmen to support her cause of living above the land under the sun. Sun Pirates’ journey caused trouble in her cause. Later she even took a bullet in the path of a celestial dragon hoping to achieve her dream of living above the ground. But she was killed by Hody but was falsely spread as killed by a human.
3. Doflamingo – Law
Doflamingo-Law backstory comprising of both Doflamingo’s origin and Law’s origin.
Doflamingo was a celestial dragon but his father wanted to live like a normal person. But the people hated the Celestial Dragons that they nearly burnt them alive before Doflamingo’s Conquerors Haki saved them. Doflamingo later killed his father and formed a pirate group where Corazon joined later.
Law’s village was ordered to be destroyed due to the fear of White Lead disease even though it doesn’t spread. Law’s sister, parents, and friends were all killed and he had to escape among the corpses. Later he joined Doflamingo where Corazon tried to save him of his disease and even succeeded it. But Doflamingo killed Corazon after knowing Corazon was a spy from the marines.
Law part in the backstory is great but it had a repetitive feel to the other flashbacks. But Doflamingo’s backstory is one of the best antagonist origin stories ever. Doflamingo isn’t a morally greyish villain but a purely evil one but he had several depths to his character.
Oden’s backstory is one of the riskiest decisions Oda took. A flashback without the Strawhats and that too for 15 chapters is a huge risk but he managed to pull it off.
This part tells the origin of Oden and Scabbards. Later it showed Oden’s journey with Whitebeard and then with Roger where he saw Laughtale. Then it showed Oden in Wano which was now under the control of Kaido and Orochi. Oden in his final heroic act entered a boiling pot and held his scabbards in a lid for one hour and died heroically.
There are certain moments like Roger’s laugh, Roger vs Whitebeard, etc which felt surreal reading weekly. Oden, Whitebeard, and Roger are three of the larger-than-life figures and this backstory even elevated them more. The death of Oden is one of the most epic deaths in the story only rivaled by Whitebeard.
1. Nico Robin
Arc: Enies Lobby
Nico Robin lived in her uncle’s house suffering great abuse. She learned history in the Libray of Ohara and even became an archeologist at the age of 8. She was feared as a devil due to her devil fruit.
Later Jaguar D. Saul came and informed them about the buster call. During the commotion, Robin finally met Olvia but their reunion only lasted few moments. Aokiji left Robin alive in honor of Saul but the entire island and its people were destroyed.
Nico Robin’s backstory is the saddest backstory for me. It showed Nico Robin’s loneliness and certain moments like the reunion with her mother broke me. Also, the World Government’s authoritarian behavior is shown in this flashback and this flashback elevated Enies Lobby as one of the best arcs ever.
Agree or Disagree? Do comment your opinions.
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