A common point of criticism when it comes to One Piece is the lack of strong and interesting female characters. And there certainly is something to this argument, especially when looking at recent arcs. Nonetheless One Piece also celebrates diversity as much as no other anime does.
It is not very surprising then, that the story is home to one of the most amazing female characters out there. And that in an industry that often seems to suffer from a bad case of same-face syndrome. Nami is anything but just another shy manga girl. Right from the beginning, we got to know her as the clever and lively person that she is. In more than just one way, she is an incredibly exciting character.
Despite appearing weak compared to someone like Zoro, we knew right away that Nami is badass in her very own way. She has an incredibly strong will, especially for a young girl that had to live through truly tough times as a child. Despite seeing her foster mother being killed in front of her eyes, she decided to protect her village by working for Bellemere´s murderer Arlong instead.
And over the course of the story she keeps reminding us of just how strong her will is over and over again. To get a grasp of this, we look at the tea party, where she was even able to withstand Big Mom´s conqueror’s Haki outburst. Closely connected to this is Nami´s bravery. Even though she is often seen as a coward together with Usopp and Chopper, she actually has more than once proven her will to fight when necessary.
Most prominently, we see this in her fight against Ms. Doublefinger, where she stands her ground, even while being seriously wounded. So, I would argue that in her own way she is the exact opposite of a coward, especially when you consider that she lacks the monstrous fighting strength of a Luffy, a Zoro or a Sanji.
But as we all know, there is a lot more to Nami than just her strong will: Nami is smart. She is the type of character that has the wits that you always look for in an anime. Next to Robin she is arguably the smartest member of the straw hats and was even revealed by Oda to be the 3rd smartest person from the entire east blue.
What is truly fascinating though is how broad her understanding of the world is. As we all know Nami is the navigator of the crew and therefore has excellent knowledge of the weather, the sea, navigation itself. And she is even an excellent cartographer with the goal to map the entire world. Being in charge of the ship, she often can be seen giving orders to the crew to lift the mast or to draw in the sails.
Nami also is really smart with money. Having dedicated much of her life to collecting riches in order to free her village from Arlong, she has developed an obsession with money and treasure. This makes her pretty much the only straw hat that actually cares about the crew´s spending’s, which is also why she acts as the matter of fact treasurer on the ship.
The only thing that Nami seems to value even more than a big pile of gold, are the people around her. She is one of the most compassionate and emotional members on the crew. This means in no way that she is overly sensitive or emotional. On the contrary, we know how tough and confident Nami usually is.
What this actually means is, that she cares deeply for others and wants to help those who are in need. Nami is able to show us a broad range of emotions in the face of all the events that take place around the straw hats. This allows her to easily make new friends wherever she goes. Looking at it from a different perspective, it is easy to recognize that this goes hand in hand with understanding people.
In other words: Nami also is socially smart. Understanding people and their motives allow you to also understand different situations and how to act in them. This is, what often makes Nami the voice of reason in the crew. If she deems an island to be dangerous, she will often try to convince Luffy to not go there.
Nonetheless, she will respect and follow Luffy’s orders when he demands so. As you can see, Nami is a tremendously interesting character that not only has a very strong will, but that also has a brilliant mind. I would argue that it is this combination, that makes her such a great manipulator. Manipulation describes the act of influencing someone or something in order to achieve a certain goal, often out of self-interest.
In a different context, in can also mean actively taking control of someone or something. In other words, a manipulator is a person who controls or influences others in a clever and sometimes unfair way. So, let´s take a look at what makes Nami such a master manipulator and why this makes her so important for the crew.Being the clever and confident woman, she is, Nami is able to manipulate on more than just one level.
Having grown up as the infamous “cat burglar” the skills to get what she wants is a central part of her character. In essence, Nami manipulates in three different ways. The first thing that Nami manipulates on a regular basis is the weather. She is able to do that by using her so-called Clima-Tact to manipulate the weather in her surroundings. When combined with her immense knowledge of meteorology and weather systems, this staff can achieve some truly devastating results.
Originally created by Usopp, the Clima-Tact has been upgraded frequently over the course of the story. The newest version contains almost all the science of the sky island Weatheria, where Nami spent the 2 years during the time skip studying. Recently, with the addition of Big Mom´s personal homie Zeus after the events in Whole Cake Island, the staff got another major upgrade.
As a result, Nami is now able to create different weather phenomena, including wind and lightning. This manipulation of the weather allows her to fight alongside her Nakama and further improve her capabilities as a navigator. The second target of Nami´s manipulations are her enemies.
Since her fighting style is focused around her climate-tact, she uses it to manipulate her enemies with it as well. The perfect example of this is her mirage tempo, that creates illusions for her opponents in order to trick and irritate them. The effectiveness of this can for instance be seen in her fight against Kalifa of CP9. But Nami wouldn´t be Nami, if she couldn´t manipulate her enemies on a psychological level as well.
After all she tried to manipulate Arlong for most of her life, by pretending to be on his side. Using her wits and her great understanding of people and situations, she can easily manipulate her opponents. We see this playing out for the first time, when she lures a few members of the buggy pirates onto her small boat by showing them a fake treasure. She then sneaks on board of their ship and sails away with it.
But Nami outdid herself especially in the Whole Cake Island arc. At first, she realizes the power of Big Mom´s Vivre Card and uses it to force King Baum and the Homies of the forest to obey her. Later she goes on to manipulates King Baum into helping her and Luffy escape to the ship and later also tricks the homie cannon balls sent after the Sunny.
Most importantly of course though she manipulated Zeus into hitting Big Mom herself with lightning twice and later EVEN into becoming her servant. These and many other examples show, HOW great Nami is at taking advantage of her cleverness and skills in order to take down her enemies. Finally, an unexpected third group affected by Nami´s manipulations, are the allies around her.
Back in the East Blue for instance she tricked the crew in order to steal the Going Merry from them. She frequently exploits Sanji’s feelings towards her and she also knows how to influence the other members of the group to a certain extent, with the exception of Robin maybe. The most amusing example of this type of manipulation though is most likely after her arrival on the sky island Weatheria during the time skip.
After stealing some of their research and trying to escape the island she was confronted by the inhabitants of the island. Yet, Nami easily manipulates the residents of Weatheria into forgiving her earlier escape attempt and theft. She later even convinces them to give her a house among other things so she could stay on the island to train for two full years.
Additionally, she also manages to convince one of the inhabitants to teach her more about the Weather Balls and the changing climates and weather patterns of the New World, despite the fact that she had previously taken him hostage in order to escape. What all of these examples show, is how amazingly Nami is able to use the power of manipulation to not only influence friends and foes alike, but even the weather itself.
So now that we know how skilled Nami actually is, how does this manipulation benefit her and the crew? Well first of all, I think we can all agree that being able to manipulate the weather is a pretty useful skill to have for any pirate crew. It can be used to bring the navigation of the ship to new levels and at the same time can be used as a surprisingly strong weapon in fights.
Especially today´s Nami is anything but useless when it comes to battles and conflicts. And obviously, being able to manipulate and outsmart your opponents using your own or other people´s skills is a crucial advantage in many of the dangerous situations that the straw hats end up in. At the same time Nami is able to use her manipulation to turn former enemies into valuable allies.
Great examples for this are characters like Zeus on Whole Cake Island, Vivi on Whiskey Peak or Lola back on Thriller Bark. In other words, through her manipulation Nami allows her crew to master critical situations and at times even profit from them. But of course, this Nami analysis wouldn´t be complete without mentioning a few other characteristics of her, that make her so important for the crew.
The fact alone, that Nami navigates the Grand Line for the straw hats would be reason enough already. Without her, Luffy and the others would most likely never have made it so far. But Nami is also one of the most important members when it comes to creating the crew’s dynamic that we love so much.
Like every other straw hat, Nami has a special and close relationship with her captain. But, unlike many of the others, she has a very unique and individual relationship with every other crew member on the ship. No matter if it´s her mood swings regarding Sanji or her adoration of Chopper. Seeing her interact with everyone on the ship feels incredibly natural.
You could even say, that she takes the role of a big sister in the crew that keeps everyone in check. That also includes standing up and fighting for her Nakama when she has to. And it also means not letting any of the crew members just disappear but fighting for them to stay. All in all, I can´t help but say that Nami is an amazing character, that could be a role model for girls, if it weren´t for the unnecessary degree of fanservice, especially in the anime, that her character has to go through.
Because Nami is an important character for any reader. While all straw hats have their relatable moments, Nami is exceptionally so. Her broad range of emotions, her cleverness as well as her growth as a character give the reader the feeling that they might make it in the world of One Piece as well.
And while I hope that we will get more strong and interesting female characters in the future of the story, I am sure that Nami will keep being amazing. But now let me hear your thoughts on this. What do you like or dislike about Nami? Do you think there is too much fan service for her character? And what does the future hold for her? If you liked this blog, don´t forget to like share and subscribe to be notified for any future content of mine.
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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.