Man and the Sea

Free man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unrolling of its billows;
Your mind is an abyss that is no less bitter.

You like to plunge into the bosom of your image;
You embrace it with eyes and arms, and your heart
Is distracted at times from its own clamoring
By the sound of this plaint, wild and untamable.

Both of you are gloomy and reticent:
Man, no one has sounded the depths of your being;
O Sea, no person knows your most hidden riches,
So zealously do you keep your secrets!

Yet for countless ages you have fought each other
Without pity, without remorse,
So fiercely do you love carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, implacable brothers! 

Charles Baudelaire

One thing (among many) I love about One Piece is how different and interesting most antagonists are. They have deep and rich personalities, sometimes a cool backstory too, great strength, funny laughters (!), great character designs, etc. But there’s one antagonist we scarcely talk about, and in my (humble) opinion it counts as one of the most - if not THE most - important of them all : the Sea.

If you think about it, One Piece is all about crossing the most unpredictable and dangerous oceans in the world to find a treasure. No Sea, no pirates. No pirates, no One Piece. No One Piece, no fun. Isn’t sailing the perilous Grand Line the first real (and expected) challenge to take up in order to become the Pirate King?

The Sea is the first antagonist Luffy ever met. Shanks used to make fun of him as a child for not being able to swim! Then Luffy became a rubberman, thus making the Sea a mortal enemy. Poor boy doesn’t even know how to navigate on his own! With Nami’s help, he could make it so far to the New World with everyone safe, but how many times have they thought they were gonna die in a storm, swallowed by the Sea’s watery mouth, how often have they feared she would steal them all, take them in her furious arms, bring them against her abyssal womb and cradle them goodbye? How many sea creatures have they faced? How many terribly dangerous phenomenons have they witnessed when the Sea got so angry and violent?

"Wild and untamable" The Sea’s unpredictable, destructive, hazardous. The Sea doesn’t care which side you’re in, won’t consider your position, age, rank, sex, family or friends. Not matter how strong you are, if you ate a Devil’s Fruit or can use haki, the Sea does what she wants. The Sea is brutal yet fascinating and mysterious, moody, bitter and cold as death but also full of life; she’s a restless graveyard (Merry *sobs*), infinitely beautiful, forever untamed, eternally FREE.
Luffy once stated: “I don’t want to conquer anything. I just think the guy with the most freedom in this whole ocean is the Pirate King!”. I also see it that way: you only get freedom if you can, somehow, understand the Sea. Make it your friend, your ally, your family. Sail with it, not against it. Learn to respect it.

O eternal fighters, implacable brothers!” Because the Sea isn’t just one antagonist. It’s also the path to everyone’s dreams, the salty string that brought the Strawhats together, their everyday home. It’s the nest of the world! Just like our Blue Planet… just look at the maps to see how vast the Sea is in the OP universe. Even the Wold Government’s flag depicts it: the four dots don’t symbolize different countries or organizations, but the four Oceans: North Blue, South Blue, East Blue and West Blue. And we’re not even talking about All Blue! We’re all children of the Sea… as stated by Whitebeard. The Sea carries everyone’s hopes and dreams, but she can also crush them all in a heartbeat.

"The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul" And eventually… the Sea’ll be there at the end of the Strawhats’s journey. She’ll be the last obstacle to the One Piece, I’m sure of it. And once Luffy finds it, once he reaches his dream and gets the Great Treasure, he’ll finally be… as free as the Sea itself. Her equal, her brother.

Free man, you will always cherish the Sea.

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