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ONE PIECE #613 - - Special Review

So... what DOES this say about gender roles?

Well, at least one of these villains has finally been axed off (unless I’m reading that scene incorrectly). Of course, I’m sure it’s going to be another 100 episodes before this particular plot development comes back around with the resurrection of Monet, or the introduction of some hitherto-unrevealed colleague who’s bent on avenging her, or whatever.

For the most part, this was another episode concerned with moving our playing pieces from Point A to Point B on the board (or perhaps Chamber R to Chamber E in the Punk Hazard layout), so I’d rather take on the discussion point offered up during Zoro’s three-front duel with Monet and Tashigi.

Frankly, that kernel of an idea was more interesting that the fight itself…

Obviously, the topic of gender roles is an inexhaustible source of discussion in our online bubble of fandom. Whenever we’re dealing with wish fulfillment, it’s almost impossible for some demographic not to feel slighted over their place in somebody else’s power fantasy. No point-of-view is ever all-inclusive - - and the harder it tries to be, the blander it becomes. For an action adventure to play effectively, somebody’s got to be the hero, and somebody else has to be the villain, and somebody else has to be the victim that needs rescuing. And it’s very hard for the selection of those somebodies to not send a message, intentional or no.

Focusing that all down onto this episode, we have Zoro’s insistent refusal to fight women in the same way that he’d fight men; and the resultant offense that Tashigi takes to double standard. In theory, the playing field for these kind of stories should be totally level. In practice, however, there’s no way we’ll react to seeing a heroine like Nami (for example) take the kind of brutal beating that Goku routinely received from male villains like Cell without us feeling an added, and innate, level of revulsion.

So it’s interesting that Oda would choose to discuss this dilemma in the text itself. Is Zoro’s sense of chivalry actually sexist by modern standards? Or would we really be that comfortable watching him thrash Tashigi like a guy? For once, I’d rather just invite you vicers to continue the discussion here…

Watch this episode, "Showing Off His Techniques! Zoro's Formidable One Sword Style! here and decide for yourself, then read my comments about the previous episode here.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
zeemod155on Sept. 26, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.

I'd have to say Zoro's a bit gender-blind when it comes to judging an opponent's or ally's strength. And that mainly has to do with a moment in his past with his Tashigi-look-a-like, childhood friend, which was touched on a bit this episode. In this case I believe Zoro held back NOT because Monet is a woman but because he didn't need to. All he had to do was prevent her from advancing not finish her off (he only does this if they are a serious obstacle). Him being (widely considered) the second strongest in the crew makes him do this a lot, to sometimes fulfill that bad-ass "I'm too cool to even take you seriously role". I think of it more akin to when Goku didn't finish Frieza off in terms of how that had nothing to do with gender roles. When Zoro said he would have finished Monet off if Tashigi hadn't, I'm 99.9% sure he meant it.

SamJazon Sept. 26, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.

Logically, there shouldn't be an issue with a woman combatant taking the same beating as a male combatant. Women soldiers get killed just as much as male soldiers when on the front lines, (I assume, there might be a statistic to prove me wrong), but emotionally, yeah, there would be some wrenching in the gut.

And yet, when a woman beats up a man, it's played for laughs.

zaldaron Sept. 26, 2013 at 1:22 p.m.

Well, it shouldn't feel any different if a female is getting beaten up as opposed to a male. Equal treatment means equal treatment, that is why all the people who for example don't wrestle women I think are incorrect. They want to be involved in the same teams, they should be treated the same by their opponents. Now having gone to see a college wresteling match you could make the argument that the moves you make the places you touch it would be impossible to do without it becoming sexual but the argument then would be that it should be possible. This would be a harder argument to make though as you are asking to turn off years of evolution and biology..and that is extremely hard to do.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Sept. 26, 2013 at 11:38 p.m.

If you knew Zoro's backstory, you'd know he isn't concerned about gender in fighters. As a child, Zoro could never manage to defeat Kuina. She always defeated him no matter how hard he trained. Kuina's father owned the dojo, but he saw women as too weak to be swordsmen. Zoro hated the idea that he would win against Kuina because of biology and not skill. He encourage her that they would become the world's greatest swordfighters, then duel to see who was finally the best. However, Kuina died in a tragic accident soon after. The white sword Zoro uses is Kuina's sword. He wants to be the best for her sake using her sword.

Tashigi is only assuming he doesn't respect women as fighters. She also thinks he's a terrible villain using his swords for evil. Neither are true. This is her first real chance to get to know the kind of people the Straw Hats are, beyond their reputation and government news bias.

Look through Zoro's history. He never gives a killing blow after he's won. He'll win then walk away, giving the enemy a chance to live. You saw the same thing with Hyouzou last arc. He only wants to fight the strongest. He knew Monet wasn't a challenge to his abilities. That's why he was defending.

Tashigi's history follows her quest to get stronger. This battle show's her improvement, but she still has a ways to go. Zoro was going to stay out of Tashigi's fight until her life was in danger.

About women not taking a beating on ONE PIECE. You never saw the Enies Lobby arc. Robin took a terrible beating from Spandam. Though, I would say that watching that was incredibly uncomfortable. She did get some good payback.

MDoorpsyon Sept. 27, 2013 at 10:41 p.m.

"You never saw the Enies Lobby arc. Robin took a terrible beating from Spandam. Though, I would say that watching that was incredibly uncomfortable."

Personally, I would say that that scene was meant to be uncomfortable, but more for the fact that Spandam was assaulting her while she was defenseless, rather than just because she's a woman.

YotaruVegetaon Sept. 29, 2013 at 10:16 a.m.

I second @FoxxFireArt's comments. Zoro doesn't think he's better than swordswomen. He thinks he's either better than most swordfighters-- or he will be. That is his goal. He's also hung up on his tragic past involving a female. I don't recall him fighting many women. My memory on that is very spotty. Usually, he's fighting other men.

I think that what he did to the snow woman was even worse than death. leaving her in a constant, I don't know, t-1000 state.

Better yet, humpty dumpty. Just could not put herself back together again. Kinda made me feel bad for her.

@SamJaz: A woman beating up a man is played for laughs most often in a realistic setting, because it's based in the assumption that a woman can't harm a man in the same way a man can harm a woman. It plays off of what people stereotypically expect.

Petiewon Sept. 30, 2013 at 8:08 a.m.

@YotaruVegeta: Zoro didn't do anything that bad to her. His opponent was just so terrified that she couldn't control her powers and body for a bit. She'll be able to move again in a little while.

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