No other character represents the moral landscape of the one piece world as well as Monkey D. Garp, the hero of the marines. As the father of the most wanted person in the world as well as the grandfather of the future pirate king and the son of the old one, Garp without any doubt plays a quite unique role in the story, especially given the fact that he is one of the most respected members within the marines, the sworn enemy of pirates and revolutionaries alike.
And yet, the two defining traits of his character, next to his kindhearted and goofy nature are his strong sense of duty as well as his love for his criminal family. And as we will see, it is exactly this stark polarization of beliefs that make him such a tragic and lovable person. This is the story of Monkey D. Garp.
Garp is mostly known for two feats, the defeat of the rocks pirates on god valley, as well as the capture of gol d. Roger. Even tough Garp has enjoyed immense respect and special treatment within the marines for them, both of these events have been doctored. As we now know, Roger actually handed himself in willingly to trigger the next pirate era.
Meanwhile, he actually fought side by side with Garp to defeat rocks, which makes it very hard to assess how strong he truly is. since he was able to fight with some of the most powerful beings in the one piece world however and was offered the position of admiral multiple times, it is pretty safe to assume that Garp is very much the real deal.
From a storytelling perspective, Garp actually has a quite unique character design. Or, to put it in better terms, he doesn’t seem to fit in any traditional trope or category. Even though he is the grandfather to both luffy and ace, and was the one who trained them both, he doesn’t really fit the trope of the classical old man mentor.
That role falls to Rayleigh for luffy and to whitebeard for ace. a better fit might be that of a parental figure, that he Cleary is to both of the boys. However while he showered both of them with love, he also didn’t exactly stick around all too much. in the end, I believe that Garp is several important supporting characters mashed into one.
He represents the old era from the marines perspective, that includes other legends, like Roger or whitebeard. He is a father figure to the main character, balanced in such a way that luffy has experienced both love and care in his childhood, while still benefitting from the classical shone-hero-without-parents trope, that gives him independence and drive.
Kind of ironic actually that luffy mostly grew up an orphan, even though he has an actual father and grandfather who are both still alive and well. The biggest role Garp plays in the story however, is that he represents the blurred moral lines between the different groups operating in the one piece world like no other.
as we all know, the notion that all marines are good and all pirates are evil is pretty much thrown out the window within the first few chapters. instead, we learn that there are good marines and bad marines, just as there are good pirates and bad pirates. And of course a ton of people who fall somewhere in between.
We know that the marines, while claiming to fight for peace and justice, also serve at the will of the celestial dragons, a tyrannical regime of hedonic slave owners. At the same time, while a lot of pirates simply seek freedom from this regime of oppression, many are just as terrible on the other end of the table, killing and terrorizing the innocent civilians who are helplessly caught between both fronts.
And Monkey D. Garp is the personification of the question: What does it mean to be good. This is actually a really interesting theme in the monkey family. While luffy values family above all else, as we see with his crew and ace, and rejects any sense of duty to any system, his father Dragon ended up putting duty above all else, even if it meant abandoning his own child.
Garp meanwhile is literally torn between both duty and family, looking for a way to balance them, not always successfully. In the end, what all three of them desire in the end is freedom and a just world, free of the terror of the celestial dragons, but also from pirates like Blackbeard or doflamingo. However, based on each of their ideals, Luffy chose the path of piracy, dragon that of the revolutionary and Garp that of the marine.
And while luffy represents the best within the world of pirates, Garp very clearly embodies the best within the marines. His approach to justice – I have actually talked about that off the 4 admirals as well – are by far the most human and relatable, making him the flagship of the type of marines, that we as an audience want to see, and that inn the future will likely end up becoming the new normal.
This includes people like smoker or Aokiji, who see him as a role model, but also a line of young marines like Coby, who Garp chose and trained himself. I would argue then that Garp, as a member of the d. Clan and the notorious monkey family is the one who is quietly nursing a more just and independent generation of marines, with the freedom and desire to actually work for and protect the people and not the celestial dragons.
His inner divide between love towards his family and duty towards the organization he believes to bring justice to the world. [Jon Snow] We can see this divide very Cleary in the the fact that Garp has a very interesting approach to dealing with pirates, which is judging them based on their actions and their personality, as he is well aware of the dark system overshadowing the marines.
We know this, because Garp doesn’t make a secret out of his disdain for the world nobles. in fact, the only reason he never accepted any promotion above vice admiral was, because the positions of admiral and fleet admiral are under the direct command of the world government. As a result, similar to smoker and luffy started to build an actual relationship with Roger after chasing after him for many years.
In the end, their relationship was of such mutual respect and understanding, that they not only fought together, Roger actually entrusted Garp with his precious child, telling him that he trusted him as much as his crew, which, lets be honest is a real goosebump moment. Whether he also told Garp about his plans and the knowledge he found on laugh tale remains to be seen, but Garp was willing to accept his old rivals request and took Ace in.
Garp entrusts Ace to Dadan And some time later, Luffy too, occasionally paying them visits and hoping to shape them into future Marines. each have their own reason to become a pirate and disobey him. But this doesn’t change the fact that they are family. He continues to pour his love on them, albeit through fists of love.
And Garp wanting Ace And Luffy to become Marines shoes us how much he actually respects his job, no doubt hoping to make his boys part of his new generation. And yet he keeps laughing whenever he hears about luffs exploits in the world, even when the marines are involved. And so its no real surprise that marineford was not only the climax of luffys character arc, but of grapes as well.
When he sits next to his grandson, who is about to be executed, There was not a hint of a smile. Garp instead cries. Cries not only in sorrow of seeing his grandson in such a situation, but cries because of his inability to do anything about it. His life as a Marine tied his hands up. In the end, Garp decides to choose duty.
As he takes down Marco, who had no issues dealing with the other admirals so far, he boosts the morale of the marines. And just moments later, he has to witness Luffy, his second grandson, running towards him. The ultimate dilemma. Now he was standing in the way of one grandson rescuing his other grandson.
In this moment of turmoil, as he sees his happy days with the boys pass before his eyes, he gives himself up and allows Luffy to punch him and pass. And so I believe that the true reason Garp is so incredibly enraged at akainu killing ace, is that right from the start, he never actually thought Ace was going to be executed.
Instead, he fully expected Whitebeard and his crew and later luffy would save Ace. As a result, we got one of the most emotional and heartbreaking scenes in the story as Sengoku has to restrain him from murdering akainu. And the same goes for his reaction to shanks arriving, who was responsible for setting luffy on the same path as ace.
And so on this day, Garp, the Marine won. But Garp, the man, lost. Now I personally would like to think, that Garp will have the chance to choose again at some point in the future, so save his other grandson or stay loyal to the marines. And this time he will choose family over duty. If you want to watch more of my character anlysis, you can simply click up here.
Or, my latest blog, right down there. Thanks for reading, peace.
That’s me, Andreea Blaga, author of the blog anime-everything.com. I work as a content creator in the US. I am also passionate about Japanese Anime.