Hidden is the surprise within the knowledge common to One Piece readers that it has become second nature and habit to define Luffy’s dream with the concept of “King of the Pirates”. But beyond the notion of Luffy becoming the Pirate King, what form does his other goal take that reflects the dream Roger held before being labelled “King of the Pirates” by the world. What words were uttered that shocked Oden, Whitebeard, Sabo and Ace and made them laugh (save Oden who couldn’t escape the shock)? What would Roger have said that Whitebeard called him a kid for? What left Ace in disbelief and made Sabo curious about the person Luffy would be in the future?
Shanks had confirmed in the past that the words Luffy said to him were the same as the ones Roger expressed. And as the “King of the Pirates” was not a title before Roger reached Laugh Tale, that would not have been a goal Roger strove for. This is supported by chapter 968 when Roger first heard about the “King of the Pirates” title that the public labelled him and he responded by stating the title has a nice ring to it. Whatever Roger’s dream was it was not becoming the “King of the Pirates”. The dream that parallels Luffy’s was the one Roger shared with Oden and Whitebeard in chapter 966. Oda intentionally cut away from the scene before revealing the dream the same way he did with Luffy’s declaration in chapter 585. Those two scenes reflect each other with Luffy mirroring the words Roger spoke to Oden and Whitebeard. Yamato confirms this in chapter 1000 after Ace shared Luffy’s dream with them. Yamato confirms via their internal dialogue that the words Luffy said matched the words the King of the Pirates spoke. A statement that stunned Oden.
Turning back to Shanks, he too heard Luffy say the same thing Roger did but when would Luffy have expressed this? Was it during the moment when Shanks gave Luffy the Straw Hat or in a moment that has not been fully revealed yet? Considering the passing on of the Straw Hat to Luffy is meant to signify Shanks’s belief in the next generation to inherit Roger’s will, it was likely the former. Luffy’s statement to Shanks in the docks is potentially what reminded Shanks of the words Roger spoke.
The declaration Luffy expressed before Shanks passed his Straw Hat onto him had three parts:
- To one day have a ship and crew better than [the Red Hair Pirates];
- To have the biggest hoard of treasure in the world; and
- To be King of the Pirates
The biggest hoard of treasure in the world refers to the One Piece. And given that the title “King of the Pirates” was born when Gol D. Roger sailed the Grandline completely, the latter parts of Luffy’s declaration wouldn’t have been what reminded Shanks of Roger’s words. Which leaves the first of Luffy’s declaration – “to one day have a ship and crew better than yours”. The fact that Shanks echoed what Luffy said – “hmmm…you’re gonna be better than us, huh?” – suggest that part of Luffy’s declaration is what caught his attention the most. Shanks had been inspired by Roger and in turn Shanks at that time may have been aware of what Luffy meant by ‘one day having a crew better than yours’.
To Luffy, Shanks’s Pirate crew was the “strongest” crew he had seen which is why he had initially wanted to join them on their journey and why Luffy defended them from the insults of the bandits. Through the events in chapter 1, Luffy comes to learn about what true “strength” is. Luffy initially thought others making you “look like a weakling” made you a “disgrace to all pirates”. But when Luffy sees Shanks again and learns of the type of “Pirate” he is, Luffy comes to understand what “strength” really means. Luffy understood at that time he was not ready to sail with Shanks and subsequently made the decision to become a pirate on his own. To become a Pirate just like Shanks one day…and to have a crew even “stronger” than his.
With that in mind, we turn to the statement Luffy expressed in front of Ace and Sabo. But before we look at what Luffy’s declaration could have been, it does seem important to first note what Sabo and Ace expressed as that does appear to influence Luffy in what he said to them following their statements. Sabo talks about preferring the “trash heap” the nobles scorned and despised over the elite district he was born in. Ace talks about becoming a great pirate even if the whole world refuses to accept him and hates him. Luffy in order to substantiate his brothers dreams and establish his own would have communicated a dream aligned with those feelings.
“I want to be…captain to the most derided/ridiculed/hated pirates in the world.”
Roger as well, prior to the expression of his desire, he talked about reaching the “Final Island”, obtaining the treasure hidden there and becoming the biggest pirate crew in the world. Roger at that time went on to state that upon accomplishing all the above, he would be…something. Roger was aware how the World Government wanted to prevent anyone from reaching the Final Island which means that when they do, they would be targeted by the World. Just like Luffy, Roger could have said:
“That’s right! And then I’ll be…captain to the most derided/ridiculed/hated pirates in the world.”
After hearing Roger’s words, Oden’s perspective on the world changed. Move forward a few years when Oden has to sacrifice his pride in order to save the Wano citizens – he had no issue being the fool and being mocked and scorned.
Once the Roger returned from Laugh Tale and news got out that Roger Pirates had sailed the Grandline completely, the whole world targeted them. Their accomplishment had caused a stir around the world and prompted the Marines into action. The majority of “society” also despised Roger and his crew for inspiring such a “dangerous” and “lawless” era.
It appears that once a Pirate crew reaches the Final Island of the Grandline – Laugh Tale – they will become the crew most derided by the world. Which would explain why Ace mentioned to Yamato that Luffy’s declaration made when they were kids existed at the end of his little brother’s dream (to be the King of the Pirates).
Every single Straw Hat Pirate has been mocked and scorned. Yet they continue forward, pursuing their dream.
What Luffy initially perceived as a weakness had been rewritten into a strength that Luffy admires thanks to Shanks. Luffy hopes to be just like Shanks in the future. The Shanks that sacrificed an arm to save him on that day all those years ago.
When Luffy told Shanks he would one day find a crew as strong as his, he really meant it. A crew that didn’t bother getting laughed at or being scorned. A crew that despite the rejection of the world, continued forward, laughing and having an adventure. A crew that could express their dreams, no matter how mundane, and not concern themselves with the public perception surrounding it.
Luffy and Roger’s dream that had remained a mystery does not have to be a new revelation. It is a dream that has already been ingrained in the pages of One Piece. A dream that has existed within the readers mind from the very first chapter.