A pirate in the world of One Piece is anyone who raises a Jolly Roger, whether they commit an act of piracy or not. This is not, however, usually enough to give anyone a bounty, but is enough to be arrested by the Marines. Bandits are said to be the opposite of pirates. The two have not been known to get along with each other too well.
Types of Pirates
Pirates usually plunder towns, steal treasure and supplies, and commit atrocities that earn them a spot on the bounty list by the Marines and World Government. For example, the Candy Pirates committed atrocities as soon as they disembarked on an island, before they were stopped by Rob Lucci and the others. There are many exceptions to this, such as the Straw Hat Pirates, who have helped overthrow oppressive local governments through their actions, earning them the loyalty of several countries, including some allied to the World Government.
Female pirates, though unusual, are by no means rare. More often than not, the women tend to be the captains of their crew, with certain exceptions, like with the Straw Hat Pirates, the Bellamy Pirates, the Donquixote Pirates the Foxy Pirates, the Beasts Pirates, and the Whitebeard Pirates.
Children have been known to create pretend pirate crews with their own Jolly Roger, as shown by the Usopp Pirates. Though these crews are usually kids playing pirate, some may go on to become real pirates (as shown by Usopp) or become entangled in conflicts with real pirate crews, which occurred with the Usopp pirates. However, as long as they do not attract the attention of the Marines or World Government, they are presumably left to their own devices. However, most Marines tend to discourage children from viewing pirates as anything but criminals, and undercover Marine Donquixote Rosinante even pretended that he hated children to prevent them from joining the Donquixote Pirates.
Some pirate crews have their own methods and requirements to recruit new crew members. The Rumbar Pirates for example required that new members must love music. The Whitebeard Pirates on the other hand allowed anyone to join on their own will. The Straw Hat Pirates recruit members through Luffy's decision. Some crews, however, are more geared towards strength, as the Fake Straw Hat Pirates permit only pirates whose captains with a bounty of over 70,000,000 to join, while the Blackbeard Pirates have their standard in only the strongest may join. Some crews may even force others to join them, as Krieg intends to replenish his armada with the various pirates littered across the East Blue, the Foxy Pirates had many recruits via the Davy Back Fight, and the New Fish-Man Pirates forced many humans to join them as slaves.
Some pirates are known to take youngsters into their crews as Pirate Apprentices (海賊見習い Kaizoku Minarai?). These apprentices seem to partake in same activities as pirates proper, such as combat and looting enemy ships. Known former pirate apprentices are Buggy and Shanks in the Roger Pirates , Kaido in the Rocks Pirates, and Marco in the Whitebeard Pirates, with the latter eventually becoming the 1st division commander of the crew.
A pirate crew gains its name depending on the captain's liking, and mainly follows any of the following trend:
- named after the captain of the crew, such as Roger Pirates,Buggy's Delivery, Bellamy Pirates, and Barto Club.
- named after the captain's epithet, such as Red Hair Pirates, Whitebeard Pirates, Straw Hat Pirates, Blackbeard Pirates and Big Mom Pirates.
- named after a personal motif of the crew's captain, such as Heart Pirates, and Cook Pirates.
- named after a theme that runs in the crew, such as Beasts Pirates , Black Cat Pirates, Sun Pirates, and Firetank Pirates.
- named after the crew's location of origin, such as Giant Warrior Pirates, Space Pirates, Tontatta Pirates and Kuja Pirates.
- named after a crew that desires to continue a legacy of any sort, may be the same crew that captaincy is inherited via generation shifts, such as Flying Pirates, New Fish-Man Pirates and Happo Navy.
Hierarchy of the Seas
The Four Blues
Generally outside of the Grand Line, most pirates operating in the blues are considerably weaker than those inside. Often, they are left untouched by the Marines because their attention is drawn towards the Grand Line rather than the East, West, North, or South Blue oceans.
That is not to say that they do not have their share of villainous pirates, as even in the weakest of the blues, the East Blue, powerful men like Don Krieg and Arlong were found. Generally, few people in the four blues have access to Devil Fruits or general knowledge of them. Most pirates seen before the Straw Hat Pirates entered the Grand Line fight by using of some form of weapon, the only exception being Buggy (whose Devil Fruit was found by the Roger Pirates, in the Grand Line).
The Grand Line
Generally, the weaker pirates are often weeded out by the Marine or Shichibukai before they can progress any further. The unfortunate crews do not even make it to their first island due to not understanding on how the weather works in the Grand Line. The Grand Line is where one is most likely to encounter or confront Devil Fruit users, both in and out of pirate crews.
In the second half of the Grand Line the most powerful pirates are the Yonko. The second half of the Grand Line is their playground and it forms a rather dangerously balanced part of the One Piece world.
There is also another kind of pirate, known as "rookie" pirates, which the Straw Hats fell under before the timeskip. In fact, all the so-called "Super Rookies", along with the Bellamy Pirates from two years prior the current timeline are considered to be rookies. It is unknown what qualifies a person or crew to be a rookie, though the word generally means that they are new-comers or new recruits. This may mean that these pirates have only been active for a short time and are relatively new, though there is a case of a pirate being considered a rookie even after three years.
Any rookie pirate who has earned a bounty of over 100,000,000 is considered impressive, and can be considered as a "Supernova" (超新星 Chōshinsei?). The Worst Generation (最悪の世代 Saiaku no Sedai?) of Supernovas were during the Golden Age of Piracy, when eleven of them almost simultaneously appeared on Sabaody Archipelago, each holding a bounty of over 100,000,000, and each member had caused a great influence within the New World, as well as earning themselves much notoriety.
Great Pirate (大海賊 Daikaizoku?) is a term used for some of the most powerful and infuential pirates in the world. It is unknown what is required of one to gain this label, but Bartolomeo suggested that with the 5600 members of the Straw Hat Grand Fleet as his subordinates, Luffy would be openly recognized as one of the Great Pirates.
So far, the term has been used for the following individuals within the manga:
In the Golden and New ages of Piracy, an extreme minority of accomplished and prominant New World captains rule over the Grand Line's second half as emperors. Pirates regarded as emperors are extremely powerful as combatants, captain notoriously strong (and often large) crews, and hold immense levels of influence over the goings on of the New World. Typically, emperors of the sea will hold territory; islands which they either have defacto rule over or are directly involved in the internal politics of. In addition to this it's not uncommon for pirates of this level to have other notable crews serving under their own as subordinates.The Yonko (四皇, lit. Four Emperors) are a widly recognized group of four New World veterans who rose to prominance after the execution of Gol D. Roger and are widely regarded as the strongest pirate captains in the world. Of the five known pirates to hold this title, three were formerly members of the infmaous Rocks crew. There is a strong degree of overlap between the Yonko and those who are considered Great Pirates. In total, three of the Yonko have been refered to as such, with the other two being former members of a Great Pirate's crew in their youth. As the strongest and most influential pirates in the world, a certain level of strength and prestiege is needed to be recognized as a member of the Yonko.
The title of Fifth Emperor (５番目の皇帝 Gobanme no Kōtei) was unofficially given to Monkey D. Luffy by Morgans of the World Economy Newspaper following he and his crew's escape from Big Mom's territory. It should be noted that this title was given based on highly embellished accounts of the Whole Cake Island incident, and as such is seemingly not recognized by the World Government or Marines.
Pirates considered emperors of the New World are known to have many extremely impressive feats under their belt. Red-Haired Shanks, the second most recent addition to the Yonko, is known to have survived a duel against the greatest swordsman in the world, while Edward Newgate is widely known as the late Pirate King's career-long rival. All pirates to be referred to as emperors hold extremely high bounties, all of which are in the billions. The late Whitebeard previously held the second highest bounty of any pirate to have existed, while Kaido currently boasts the highest active pirate bounty (additionally, these two are regarded as the Strongest Man in the World and Strongest Creature in the World respectively.) When fully assembled, a pirate crew of this level may even be strong enough to stand a chance in a battle against the Marines and Shichibukai, as demonstrated during the Battle fo Marineford.
The Pirate King
The Pirate King (海賊王 Kaizoku-Ō?, also called King of the Pirates in the English versions) is a title given to the strongest pirate alive and owner of the legendary treasure that was later dubbed as "One Piece".
Before his death, Pirate King Gol D. Roger hid One Piece. It was rumored to be located at Laugh Tale, the island at the end of the Grand Line. The frenzy over discovering and owning such a massive treasure sparked the "Great Age of Pirates". Until One Piece has been claimed, there will be no current Pirate King.
Until his death, the closest person to becoming the Pirate King was Whitebeard. One of the Shichibukai, Donquixote Doflamingo, believed that had Whitebeard truly wanted to become the Pirate King, he would have already. Many people who had met Luffy, such as Vivi and Koby, believe that he will become the Pirate King; Kokoro also addressed Luffy as the Pirate King and Shakuyaku has stated that both she and Silvers Rayleigh were rooting for Luffy to achieve this goal.
The reasons for a person wanting to be the Pirate King vary, Gecko Moria and Blackbeard wish to acquire it for the power and influence the title would come with, while others like the Yonko are considered candidates for it because they are extremely powerful and very close to it, but of the Yonko, only Blackbeard and Big Mom have shown interest. Still others like Luffy and Crocodile (prior to the event that caused him to let go of it) wish to become the Pirate King because it is a dream of theirs. Luffy (and Crocodile in his youth) seem to want it for the adventures that are involved with becoming the Pirate King. The Pirate King is said to be the ruler of the sea (Enel asks Luffy about the country the Pirate King rules [after Luffy says that he will be one], Luffy answers this by saying that the Pirate King is the king of the sea, Enel then says that it would be a very interesting title).
When talking to Silvers Rayleigh, Luffy said that the Pirate King is not the most powerful or wealthiest person in the world, but simply the person with the most freedom on the sea. After hearing this Rayleigh smiled to himself, possibly because Roger himself had also stated this being his primary value.
History of Pirating
Before the Golden Age
Pirates have long been a part of the way of life in the One Piece world. The oldest known group of pirates mentioned were the ones under Dorry and Brogy from more than 100 years ago. However, despite pirates existing back then, none of them were known to be noteworthy enough to shake the world.
Then all that changed with the arrival of the great pirate Gol D. Roger (and others like Edward Newgate and Shiki). Roger set about to do what no one had done before - conquer the Grand Line. He succeeded and in doing so made his way to Laugh Tale and left behind something somewhere in the world, his most prized possession, One Piece. Roger brought about an air of romance about being a pirate and upon his death his final words sent others to sea to become a pirate. Things would never be the same again.
The Golden Age of Piracy
The death of Roger sent many pirates to the Grand Line, hoping to find his treasure and become the Pirate King. However, with the new wave of pirates came a new change that even Whitebeard noted.
Over the next few decades the old figures of the pre-pirate age began to disappear due to the span of time. This left fewer and fewer people aware of the days of piracy before Roger's death. Many old values shared by the pirates of the pre-pirate age slowly began to die. Even once commonly sung songs like Binks' Sake have begun to fade out of memory, save from the minds of those who still remember the olden days of piracy (such as those like Brook and Shanks). Although newer pirates still adopt these values, some completely go in a different direction, the most prominent is Bellamy who speaks of a New Age where pirates should stop dreaming.
With the Great Age of Piracy spiraling out of control, the World Government became deeply concerned. In response, they created the Shichibukai and sent them out to kill other dangerous pirates. The World Government also allowed themselves to easily be manipulated by Spandam into a machination to acquire Pluton to combat the increase in pirate activity, unaware that he had ulterior motives in mind.
The New Age
At the start of the storyline, the New Age was fast approaching. This New Age of Piracy was brought upon by changes in the world. Various characters who have mentioned it either spoke of a world on the verge of chaos, or a great age where pirates no longer chase their dreams.
Related to this oncoming age in particular was the capture of Whitebeard's 2nd division commander Fire Fist Ace by the Marines. This significant action resulted in the Shichibukai and Marines assembling together in preparation for a war against Whitebeard himself. During the war, Ace was killed and Whitebeard attempted to take down Marineford. It was also notable that before Whitebeard died, his famous last words proclaimed the real existence of One Piece that may also aid in increasing the amount of pirates going onto the sea for the treasure. Finally Whitebeard, who held the Age of Pirates together, died, leaving his vast territories for conquest by other pirates in the New World. It may also be noted that after Blackbeard took Whitebeard's Gura Gura no Mi powers, he said that this age will be "his age" shouting aloud for everyone in Marineford and Sabaody Archipelago (viewing via visual Den Den Mushi) to hear. The "New Age" is a phrase used to emphasize the fact that the world is changing, and different pirates obviously have different ideas about what the coming age will be like. Bellamy believed the coming age would be an age without dreams, while Blackbeard believes just the opposite.
Between the Golden Age and the New Age, eleven top rookie pirates, with bounties over 100,000,000 from nine different pirate crews arrived in the Sabaody Archipelago before the Whitebeard War, each having made their names and reputations in public. They were dubbed as "The Eleven Supernovas" by Shakuyaku who also said that one of them could potentially be responsible for inspiring a whole new generation of pirates and also forge the New Age. All of the Supernovas (with the exception of Zoro) witnessed the Battle of Marineford, while Luffy and Trafalgar Law actively participated in the battle, afterwards heading towards the New World to make their marks.
With the start of the New Age, a new wave of pirates went to sea looking for One Piece, having heard Whitebeard confirm its existence. A number of pirates from the previous era escaped Level 6, and it was noted by X Drake that a new age also means that the Marines themselves now must change with this. However the exact direction this new era will take is still as of yet unknown.
The Eleven Supernovas and Blackbeard have become known as the "Worst Generation" to the world. Whenever any of them causes an incident, other pirate crews get involved and annihilated. The Brownbeard Pirates were devastated by the Hawkins Pirates, and the Kid Pirates wiped out and mercilessly crucified an unknown pirate crew that were trying to go back to Paradise. The Blackbeard Pirates defeated and captured the Bonney Pirates and allowed them to be arrested by the Marines. However, Jewelry Bonney later escaped custody.
It has been hinted that things are moving farther and farther out of the government's hands, with pirates everywhere seeming less and less mindful of the government. Even the people of Luffy's hometown noted the increase in pirate activity in the seas after the war. To counter this, Fleet Admiral Sakazuki moved Marine Headquarters to the New World to better combat the growing threats to the organizations of Justice. It has been stated that the Marines have now been granted unprecedented power by the World Government.
Due to the abuse of the Shichibukai's privileges that led to two kingdoms suffering turmoil, the Levely has decided to abolish the system, with the Marines intending to implement the new SSG to supplant the seven pirates who were dismissed from their positions.
Early One Piece
First mentioned in Romance Dawn, Version 1, the two main types of pirates are Peace Main (ピースメイン Pīsu Mein?) and Morganeer (モーガニア Mōgania?). These terms were once again mentioned in Romance Dawn, Version 2, however, they are not mentioned in One Piece itself. This is largely because while some pirates display these original concepts, most pirates are a combination of the two.
A peace main is a pirate who goes on adventures and does not really care about treasure or fighting other pirates. That is not to say that they would not steal and fight other pirates at all, but their primary goal is usually not to own it and greed is generally not their motivation. More often than not, a peace main pirate sees his or her own crew as their most valuable treasure.
A morganeer fights for treasure and personal ambition. They are greedy, love to fight, and often enjoy causing other people pain and misery. Many pirates that Luffy and his crew meet are morganeers. Luffy dislikes them and only wants to recruit peace main pirates. The peace main pirates generally only steal from morganeers, so it is safe to say that relations between the two types of pirates are not the best.
- In One Piece, the Shichibukai are based on real world privateers. A privateer was a pirate with papers. As the name suggests, privateers were private individuals commissioned by governments to carry out quasi-military activities. They would sail in privately owned armed ships, robbing merchant vessels and pillaging settlements belonging to a rival country. Privateers sometimes went beyond their commissions, attacking vessels that didn’t belong to the targeted country. This extracurricular raiding and pillaging was indistinguishable from piracy. The Straw Hats themselves have done things similar to privateering such as fighting Crocodile and the Baroque Works for Albasta where initially, Nami only agreed to protect Vivi for a price.
- The "Age of Pirates" established by Gol D. Roger, is based on the real world's own golden age of piracy.
- "Pirate King" was a real historical title used by powerful Japanese pirates who operated in the Inland Sea.