Kizaru – One Piece explained

Kizaru - One Piece explained

Kizaru – One Piece explained

Kizaru - One Piece explained

Much like Shanks or Blackbeard before him, Kizaru is an elaborate, carefully constructed puzzle box of a character that no matter how closely you look at, always seems to be missing some essential pieces to reveal its full picture. This shouldn´t come as a big surprise, since he only has received very limited screen time in the story so far.

Thoughtfully planed character development after all, is one of the most crucial parts in creating a vivid and capturing story line. And as we know, what is most needed for genuine and organic character development, is especially one thing: Time. So, one would think that having only limited screen time for such an enormous cast as One Piece, would be a striking disadvantage, resulting in shallow characters with little room for emotional involvement.

And yet, it´s EXACTLY characters like Kizaru, Shanks or Blackbeard that have readers most excited. So, what is the secret behind this apparent paradox? The answer to that is simple: Oda is a master of mystery. He takes the apparent handicap of certain characters in the story and turns it into a strength. He makes use of every single panel, that this character is shown in, to fletch out a certain image for his audience.

However, compared to characters with more screen time, he doesn´t give them slow, organic growth over time. Much rather he hands us little puzzle pieces of information about that person. Based on these pieces you can create a rough image of the character in your mind. However, these pieces can be turned and rearranged in different ways, and thus allow for different interpretations and perspectives.

A great example for this are all the small pieces we have gathered for Blackbeard. Many of them are so different that you can puzzle together various possible images for his character. In some scenes he seems to be goofy. In others he seems cruel. And in again others he seems straight out scared. This impression of inconsistency is complemented by his mysterious power to consume multiple devil fruits as well his ambition to become pirate king.

It is really barely more than a handful of clues about who Blackbeard is. And yet, he might be the most heatedly discussed character in the entire series. The same applies to Shanks about whom we also only hold tiny bits and pieces. And of course, one of the characters that can´t be left out of this list, is Kizaru.

Being the Admiral, that we know by far the least about, with the exception of Ryokugyo of course, Kizaru is a prime example of how Oda manages to create amazing characters, by only giving them a basic set of traits and leaving the rest ambiguous and unclear. How fitting then, that Kizaru follows the path of unclear justice.

And even though, there only is so much that we know about his personality and role in the story, Oda has left us enough pieces of the puzzle to allow us to figure out what it means. So, in this blog, we will try to put together the purpose Kizaru has in the story of One Piece. And to do so, we will answer the most crucial question surrounding his character: What is unclear Justice ? Before we can look at his ideological concept of morality and justice however, we first have to understand, who Kizaru is as a person.


Kizaru - One Piece explained

Same as with his fellow admirals, Borsalino Kizaru is based on a famous Japanese actor. Thus, his conceptual design is heavily based on a character played by actor Kunie Tanaka in his youth. Beside their strikingly similar lineaments, their similarities include Kizaru´s outfit, his birthday and even his real name, Borsalino.

The epithet ‘Kizaru’, he acquired when rising into the ranks of the admirals. Same as with his colleagues, this epithet consists of a color and an animal. In Kizaru´s case this is Ki for Yellow and Zaru for monkey, making him the yellow Monkey. Accordingly, Sakazuki is Aka-Inu, the red dog. While Kuzan is Ao-Kiji, the blue pheasant.

Oda chose these animals based on the famous folktale of Momotaro, who befriended a pheasant, a dog and a monkey to accompany him on his journey. Next to his very interesting visual and contextual design, Kizaru is without a doubt also one of the most powerful characters in the world of One Piece. In fact, based on his devil fruit, it is actually quite hard to determine HOW strong he might actually be.

After all, being light itself, would easily make him the fastest character in the story. Additionally, if Oda were to be more or less physically accurate with his fruit, it would most likely also make him the most overpowered character. However, we can assume that there are certain limitations to that power.

Nonetheless, we have never seen Kizaru go all out before, so we don´t know what he might truly be capable of. Accordingly, we also do not know a lot about Borsellino’s past. There is a single image of him as a child, suggesting him to be rather kind and smart, while brooding over a pile of books. We know that he joined the marines at a young age, around the same time as Sakazuki.

Similar to his peer, he quickly rose through the ranks and reached the status of a vice-admiral at a fairly young age. The only thing we know about his time then, is that he was responsible for capturing Arlong after Fisher Tiger´s death. Small fun fact regarding this panel: The hat that Kizaru is wearing here is actually called a Borsalino, which is the name of Italy´s oldest manufacturer of luxury hats.

See. We are learning stuff about the world, while taking about One Piece. Isn´t that fun? Moving on. The most defining arc for Kizaru´s character is undoubtably Sabaody, where he is sent after Luffy´s attack on one of the Tenryubito. While he has no problem taking on the entirety of the worst generation on his own, he doesn´t manage to catch even a single one of them in the end, being hindered by Rayleigh´s and Kuma´s interception in his pursuit.

While he is one of the strongest forces present during the war at Marineford and taking on the likes of Whitebeard and Marco singlehandedly, he doesn´t play any major role in the war´s outcome. What really stands out about Kizaru´s character, therefore, are not his actions, but much rather his personality.

And I´m not gonna lie, it´s one of my favorites in the story so far. Oda depicts Kizaru as an easy-going and laid-back person. In fact, he is so laid-back, that at times he appears to be slow in his reactions and almost slothful, which has resulted in a number of stoner jokes surrounding his character. And you guys better put some good ones in the comments.

What makes Kizaru a true favorite of mine however, is the fact that he is one of the rare characters in the story that has a genuinely sarcastic nature. He often talks about how scary or shocking a situation is, but completely lacks the corresponding facial expression. In my personal opinion, characters with a sarcastic take on things are immensely entertaining.

However, they are quite hard to write and convey to a general audience, which is why they are so rarely found inside the Shounen genre. As a result, this trait gives Kizaru an air of cleverness and sharpness, in comparison to other characters that take everything at face value. This impression is complemented by his cool composure.

Kizaru - One Piece explained

No matter how intense a situation might be, he always appears to be in control of his emotions. To the reader, this conveys a sense of strong confidence in his own abilities. We can see this in his absentmindedness during battle, not fearing any damage, as well in his lack of awareness for collateral damage.

Despite his immense battle strength, but maybe in connection to his laid-back personality, Kizaru seems to lack personal ambition. Not only is he the only of the former three admirals, that doesn´t aspire to become fleet admiral, he also seems to have no interest in authority in general. He doesn´t like giving orders but prefers receiving them.

We can even see him taking directions from Sentomaru, one of his own subordinates. Nonetheless, Kizaru is deeply respected within the ranks of the marines. His most defining trait, however, might be his fearlessness. Not only does Borsalino take on Whitebeard and the entire worst generation by himself, but he even offers to go to Wano and confront Kaido AND Big Mom on his own.

Something that even Akainu is reluctant to do. Now, as mentioned before, all these puzzle pieces give us a rough image of Kizaru’s character. However, we still lack the full image. For instance, we have no idea what Kizaru actually values or what his great desire and drive is. We have no idea why he joined the marines in the first place or what his vision for the world is.

We can´t see it yet. It´s all. Unclear. What we DO know however, is that Kizaru shares neither Akainu´s sense of absolute justice and hate towards pirates nor Kuzan´s kind and forgiving nature. He much rather appears like an old teacher, that intervenes and lectures when necessary, but stays out of everyone’s business otherwise.

We even see him specifically targeting Luffy to lecture him about the gap between him and those on the battlefield. So, based on these insights we have gathered now, let´s deconstruct what the concept of unclear justice actually means and what it tells us about Kizaru´s role in the story. Based on his personality and the construction of his character, I would argue that there are three distinct interpretations of Kizaru´s concept of unclear justice.

The first one of these is rather straight forward: Kizaru´s justice is unclear, because he often seems indecisive and without directions in his decisions and objectives. Back on Sabaody for instance, he immediately delays his mission to look for Sentomaru. Once Sentomaru contacts him, he goes back to looking for Luffy, before once again getting sidetracked by the other supernova.

Once he defeats them however, he doesn´t bother to capture them, but once again leaves to find the straw hats, finally ending up not capturing any of them, but sacking 500 other pirates instead. It is quite possible, that this stems from his sense of invincibility. Which makes you wonder, how powerful Kizaru truly is, if he´s able to be this unfocused in his actions.

His way of decision making lacks a clear direction and strive as Akainu and Aokiji do, which makes it unclear. And speaking of his two fellow admirals, this brings us to the second way of looking at his justice. Because it is especially unclear, when put between the two extremes that are Akainu and Aokiji.

Kizaru - One Piece explained

Kuzan´s justice is unclear, because it falls on neither side of the spectrum. He neither follow´s Sakazuki´s absolute justice, that is built on hatred towards all pirates and militaristic strictness, nor Kuzan´s lazy justice, that is based on morality and fairness. Instead, as the Sabaody example shows really well, Borsellino’s sense of justice seems to be movable on the scale between red and blue.

Trying to capture the straw hats, failing, but then capturing 500 other pirates in the process shows us how his sense of just action sways between thoroughness and fairness. While it might be very easy to agree with one of the extreme positions, Kizaru might actually be the admiral that is the most objective out of the three.

Being neither unnecessarily cruel nor unnecessarily forgiving, Kizaru can be seen as the balanced middle between Akainu and Kuzan. Now, obviously this doesn´t take into account how flawed and unjust the political structure of the One Piece world is, which might arguably make Kuzan´s path more justified, at least for me personally.

But based on the assumption that the marines are a neutral organization in the service of the people, Kizaru would bring the necessary flexibility and flexibility in his actions. The thing is, that we don´t know what ideals Kizaru follows and what his dream for the world is. Which already brings us to the last meaning of unclear justice: Oda deliberately keeps Kizaru´s true nature unclear for us to see.

We still miss a few decisive pieces of the puzzle to truly understand, who Kizaru is as a person. So, I am fairly confident, that Kizaru will have to play a major role in the future of the story. And once, we will learn more about him, we might also get a better picture of him.

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