Akainu – One Piece character analysis

Akainu - One Piece character analysis

Akainu – One Piece character analysis

Akainu - One Piece character analysis

When we think about Akainu, we directly think about his notorious idea of absolute justice. But do we really know what that means? If absolute Justice means following the rules without any question, wouldn´t that mean that Akainu in his own eyes fails to act justly when working with the warlords or confronting the Gorosei? No, there is actually a deeper meaning to the principal of absolute justice.

And that is what we are going to explore together today. A common misconception in storytelling, is the idea that talking about a character is the same thing as talking about the person that this character embodies in a story. You sometimes hear people talking about whether a character is good or bad, based on the actions they take in relation to other characters.

I think, most of you don´t need me to tell you, that a good guy can be a bad character and that a bad guy can be a good one. No matter if it´s Hollywood or the anime world, anti-heroes and great villains have been a prominent element of storytelling for quite some time now. However, today, I want to talk about a different misconception, that people seem to be less aware of.

And that is the big issue of whether or not it´s okay to like and enjoy an evil or morally questionable character. As you know, taking a liking to the villain of a story is a quite common thing, and yet often people get called out for enjoying a character that clearly commits evil or at least questionable acts.

How can you like Doflamingo, when he has committed so many acts of violence and cruelty? I think all of you have had this experience before. What often gets overlooked in this kind of argument however is the fact that a character and the person they represent in their respective world, are not the same thing.

Liking a character and liking who that character is are two fundamentally different things indeed. Liking the character implies liking the way that character is designed and integrated into the story. This is simply a question of good or bad writing. Liking a person in a story on the other hand refers to liking their actions, their values and their personality.

Liking Doflamingo for being an excellent villain to Luffy and bringing complexity and high stakes to the story is essentially different from liking Doflamingo because he tyrannically rules and suppresses an entire country. Do you see the point I´m trying to make here? So, when we talk about Akainu today, I want you to be aware that I personally don´t agree with his actions and his sense of justice as a person.

But I nonetheless think that he is an amazing and great character, that I deeply enjoy seeing in the story. So, whatever your perspective on Akainu might be, remember to distinguish between Akainu the character written for the story of One Piece and Akainu the person acting in the world of One Piece. Therefore, we will first look at his character and how he is written and then deconstruct what his sense of absolute justice represents in the story.

After all, being one of the central antagonists of the series, Sakazuki doesn´t have a purely evil ideal. Oda simply takes his desire to bring down the evil of the world and gives it a dark twist in perspective. This is the same principal he uses with Black Beard, who like Luffy follows his ideal of dreams.

Or like Doflamingo, who like White Beard follows the ideal of family. According to Oda, the ideal you hold might be good and just, but it is the practical execution of this ideal that truly determines who you are as a person. So, let´s find out what Akainu actually means when he talks about absolute justice.

Before we get into the steaming volcano of personality, that is Sakazuki Akainu, though, a quick update on our small challenge. Once again you have reached the goal I set you and gotten 3500 likes on Aokiji´s blog. So, this time, I will raise the bar significantly and challenge you to reach 4000 likes in the first 24 hours this blog is online, and the next admiral will be out within the week.

Akainu - One Piece character analysis

But now, without any further a due, buckle up, it´s about to get hot. Sakazuki Akainu is a muscular and broadly built man that with over 3 meters in height, is taller than any of the straw hats, including even Jinbe. His design was based on the Japanese actor Bunta Sugawara, with facial features strikingly similar to his anime counterpart.

In one of his movies, we can even see him smoking a cigar and wearing the exact red suit with the pink rose, that we know all too well from Akainu. Additionally, Sakazuki also has a large tattoo in the shape of a flower and flame pattern across his left chest and shoulder as well as a small tattoo of a sword on his right arm, that might hint at the secret sword unit inside the marines.

Naturally, Akainu is also a physically strong character, that also wields the powerful magma logia devil fruit. In fact, he is so strong, that Oda once even stated in an interview that if he were to become the protagonist, he would be able end the One Piece series within a single year. Let that sink in for a second.

Born in the north blue, even as a child, Sakazuki had a grim demeaner and a sense of justice. He joined the marines around the same time as his fellow admiral Borsalino and quickly rose in their ranks due to his notorious strength. A decisive moment in his past was the incident of Ohara, that heavily shaped his idea of justice and set up the contrasting relationship with his fellow admiral Aokiji.

During the war at Marineford, he was the decisive factor to win the war in favor of the marines. And later, after being victorious over Aokiji in their duel, he rose to the position of fleet admiral. Putting morality and ethics aside, from a purely militaristic perspective, his appointment made perfect sense.

Being the one to ensure White Beards death and carrying out Ace´s execution, he easily outperformed his two fellow admirals and even the former fleet admiral Sengoku during the war. In the context of all these events, Oda depicts Akainu as a hardline and almost extremist military leader, that in many ways hints at the strict and brutal militaristic history of Japan, that is filled with warlords, shoguns and generals.

These were notoriously known for following the values of their country, but in the process overlooking and stepping on the people they were actually meant to protect in the first place. Outside of his duties, Akainu shows little interest in anything besides conflict and war. Despite having a burning obsession to fulfill his desire to eradicate all evil and end the pirate era, Sakazuki is a surprisingly level-headed character who knows to contain himself and not act impulsively.

In fact, this sense of thoughtfulness and cleverness makes his character so different from many other villains, that have a similar basic design. Based on his appearance and his extreme believes, one would expect Akainu to be an erratic and impulsive monster, that goes berserk whenever something goes against his will or hurts his pride.

But just the opposite is the case. Akainu is surprisingly determined on thinking things through. Not in the way Aokiji does of course, determining who a person truly is and what a specific situation calls far. Akainu much rather determines how to get his desired result in the most efficient and effective way possible.

We can see this for instance when he manipulates Squadro to attack White Beard or when he ruthlessly destroys a ship full of innocents on Ohara to ensure the success of his mission. And of course, he also manipulates Ace into taking him on one vs one, by taunting his beloved captain and in the end preventing the pirates´ success.

In close connection to this, Akainu also strongly believes in thoroughness. Based on his concept of absolute justice, he swears by the idea that you have to finish what you started and IF you start it, you have to go all the way. The best example of this is once again the incident of Ohara, where after sacrificing a ship full of innocent civilians he states the following: In other words, Akainu justifies his evil actions with the necessity for thoroughness in the context of working for the greater good.

Akainu - One Piece character analysis

A concept that you might be well familiar with from the Harry Potter books. Finally, Akainu also has a strong sense of pride. Pride in himself, but in extension also pride in the institution of the marines and what they represent for the people. While he doesn´t feel the need to act honorable in the face of pirates he can´t stand the idea of the marines failing to abide with his absolute justice in the eye of the general population.

That is why he is furious with Fujitora, who shared with the world what had transpired on Dressrosa after Doflamingo´s defeat by Luffy. Notably, next to Aokiji, we can also already see a gaping hole between Akainu´s and Fujitora´s ideas of justice here. Most interestingly, however, is his anger directed towards the Gorosei, when they try to cover up Doflamingo´s resignation from the warlords.

When they dismiss his concerns for the public image of the marines, it becomes very clear that Akainu doesn´t agree with the notion that the institution of the marines is nothing more than a mere a tool for the world government, that can be used in any way they please. So now, based on this premise, let´s determine what Akainu´s absolute Justice actually is.

To learn, where Akainu´s perspective on justice formed, we actually don´t have to speculate, but simply look at the master himself. Oda stated in an SBS that the idea of absolute justice stems from Sakazuki´s decision to burn down Robin’s homeland Ohara completely without any chance for survivors in order to demolish all evil.

I think this is extremely interesting, since it not only suggests, that Akainu was not as determined before the incident, but also because it shows us how the same impactful event has brought two initially not so different people to morally opposite sides of the same spectrum. Being confronted with the extreme brutality of the buster call, Akainu coped with it by justifying it with the need to always be absolute and thorough, while Aokiji decided to go against his superiors and fulfill his own moral justice.

Based on this, Akainu´s idea of justice seems to compel him to always follow the law, with no regard for the situation or the people involved. Rules are rules. There are no exceptions and no second chances. Sakazuki follows this credo in the believe that it is the only way to end the root of all evil in the world.

The great pirate era. As a result, he has definitely heavily contributed to the marine’s success in the past. Being the decisive factor in the war, his wits and ruthlessness were two major factors in defeating White Beard and finishing Ace´s execution. Part of that is also his strong believe in the meaning of bloodlines.

While Aokiji looks at a person’s actions, Akainu judges a person’s heritage as an indicator for how big of a threat they pose. We can see this in the intensity with which he goes against Ace, the son of the pirate king and against Luffy, the son of the most wanted man in the world. All these examples show us the contrast between the soft and liberal Aokiji and the strict and conservative Akainu.

When looking at these decisions, one could possibly find an argument, that Sakazuki is simply a hard-liner that takes drastic action in a suffering world. However, as we all know, Akainu is also responsible for some horrendous and extreme actions, by which Oda puts him in the clear category of an antagonist.

One of the most prominent examples of this is of course the killing of innocent civilians on Ohara out of a whim. A decision that he made on his own and not based on orders. Another example would be him pushing for the complete annihilation of the pirates during the war, not caring for the suffering of his own men and their desire to stop the killing.

In a way the worst example of this, however, is the execution of his own men for refusing an order, without any chance for a trial. This has nothing to do with justice or thoroughness but is simply an act of tyranny and cruelty. We can see this behavior again, when Coby dares to stand up to him during the war, his sentence barely being stopped by Shanks.

These examples show us very well, how the wrong take on the right ideal can create suffering for those that were meant to be protected by it in the first place. Sacrificing civilians and soldiers alike just to get the job done, is not what justice is about. What is even more interesting to me, however, is that Akainu´s justice might actually not even be that absolute after all.

There are a number of things that should clearly violate the idea of absoluteness. Working with the warlords, in other words pirates, should be impossible under Akainu´s idea of justice. Yet he does it, to make use of their strength. Ignoring Wano and not moving against the Yonko should be a no-go when you want to be thorough.

Akainu - One Piece character analysis

But he decides against it, well knowing that his forces might not be sufficient. Arguing with Fujitora that coverups are necessary, while the existence of coverup´s themselves should be impossible under his vision. Letting Aokiji go after their duel out of respect, while brutally executing a random foot soldier.

And last but not least opposing the Gorosei and world nobles, while at the same time supporting their system of slavery, racism, exploitation and undisputed dominance of the weak. How can you justify these actions, when your ideal is the absolute nature of rules? The answer to that is as surprising as it is simple.

Akainu´s justice claims to be absolute in regard to the rules of the world. But it is actually based on his own set of ideals and values. So, in the end, he and Aokiji both ended up following their own sense of justice, while taking opposite paths after the destruction of Ohara. Both want to achieve justice at heart and are opposed to the actions of the world government.

And yet they are as different as it gets in their execution of this ideal. What all of this leaves us with now, is the hidden moral need that Oda has given Akainu for his future conflict with Luffy. The need to understand that evil isn’t determined by your blood or affiliation, but much rather by who you are as a person and whether your actions hurt those around you.

And even though he has lost his path, I am sure he will get there. After all, in his heart, Akainu is burning for true justice. I hope you guys enjoyed this blog. If you did don´t forget to hit that like button. The winner of last week´s title contest for Aokiji is Matthew Kwon with the Aokiji Coolzan.

I love it. But I also saw many other great ideas! Make sure to share your version for Akainu. I´m curious what you can come up with. If you feel like more One Piece Content and want to learn about Aokiji´s lazy justice next, simply click here and you don´t even have to move. Otherwise I hope to see you around next time.

AND until then. Have a wonderful week.

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