Usopp, the apparent black sheep of the Straw Hat crew
and were transported to ours battle-shōnen favorite what would happen? We could make friends with our favorite characters, sure; you could even contribute to their adventure to a small extent. But, barring a deus ex machina, the bitter truth is that we would be people absolutely normal in a world of monsters, gods and power levels unthinkable. In short, we would be like Usopp in one piece.
Since its introduction, Usopp it was a pdivisive character. Perhaps also due to the fact that Syrup’s was not the most exciting narrative arc of the saga, our adorable neighborhood liar without powers fails to stand out among the few but brilliant members of the crew. Without underlining the obvious with Luffy, the incredible power of Zoro and Nami, with her cunning and skill as a navigator and thief, already pose a primal question: what is Usopp’s role?
The self-insert of the reader par excellence
What seems evident to the reader from the first moment is that Usopp’s main role is there comic shoulder. As well as one piece – or the Strawhats – missed it, seen absurdism which permeates the world created by Eiichiro Oda. Usopp has brought a new kind of comedy to the series: theany man thrown into the chaos of events, in the midst of incredibly strong actors who have no conception of what is healthy and normal. In short: the perfect character in which the reader can identify. An ordinary person, not even particularly strong, in the midst of supernatural powers, fantastic creatures and divinities, what could he possibly do? Run away screaming, that’s what. And try them all to save your skin. This is a trait Usopp shares with Nami – and here is the birth of their camaraderie and friendship – but as much as they both laugh, Usopp’s struggles are perceived more eagerly by the public, as a man. In addition, he fights from afar, not in melee, and uses plants and as weapons flowers, often coming out of the struggles seriously injured. My lady, where are we going to end!
So how do you get out of these absurd and dangerous situations? An indispensable ingredient is, without a doubt, the fortune. Combining it with her innate gifts, she somehow manages to get away with it. But what are they? Perhaps dormant powers waiting to be awakened? A superfine intelligence that mere mortals can only envy? None of this. Usopp is smart and has excellent aim – skill that will lead him to become the sniper of the crew – but neither of those two things are incredible – especially for a kid who grew up on his own who had to learn to fend for himself rather quickly. He thinks of everything in order to avoid a head-on collision and he is not interested in values ”virile”Of pride and dignity in order to arrive alive at the end of the day. When he is forced to fight, he does so using a thousand subterfuges, lies, bluffs, deceptions and tricks – as well as a good dose of “facies sicut asinus” to blend it all together. When things go wrong, however, often the aforementioned luck puts a hand in it, pitting it against ad hoc opponents to make it shine – just think of Perona or Sugar.
Well aware of its limitations, Usopp he often reflects on his weak condition. Sometimes joking, perhaps in continuity with his comic line with Nami; but sometimes things get serious. As during Water Seven. The saga set in the pseudo-Venice has always been one of my favorites thanks to the considerable emotional load it permeates. Looking specifically at the case of Usopp, in this saga we find the culmination of dozens and dozens of chapters of doubts, insecurities and ill-concealed self-hatred. The Going Merry, ship and means of transport of the protagonist crew, has come to an end. Tested by all their daring adventures, she can no longer be repaired. Luffy comes to make a choice to continue their journey: abandon the Going Merry and find another ship.
For Usopp it is unacceptable. Not just because the ship was a gift from Kaya, but because it represents her identity. Before he even claimed the title of sniper, Usopp was the handyman of the crew: a resourceful brain who not only helped create the jolly roger of their flag, but also invented Nami’s Clima Tact – demonstrating not only invective but also a fair amount of scientific knowledge. But, above all, we have always seen him improvising himself as a carpenter, repairing the damage to the Going Merry. For Usopp, the ship is a real companion who joined the crew with him; and now that she can no longer be of use to the crew, she is being abandoned. This touches a nerve, not just because of the boy’s big heart: Usopp projects himself onto the Going Merry. He knows he is just an ordinary person in the midst of a group of monsters of superfine power and intellects. There will come a time for him too when he will no longer be useful to the crew. Will they abandon him in the same way?
The breaking point
At Water Seven, Usopp is then personally reminded of his weakness, being violently beaten and robbed of the money needed to repair the Going Merry. Although the culprits – the Franky Family – will be quickly punished by the crew, he is put down in black and white as Usopp is unable to defend his partner and, consequently, himself. He failed to protect your seat on the ship.
And here we are witnessing the most emotionally charged combat of the saga: Usopp versus Luffy. In that moment he manages to put aside his cowardice and to give up every drop of ingenuity and courage that he possesses, incredibly managing to stand up to Luffy when he is wounded. After just a few months of navigation, drawing on all his resources, has made great strides; but that’s not enough. In the end, the victory is for Luffy, who leaves him the Going Merry. Although this clash acts as an actual mutiny and Usopp has left the crew, events will take him aboard the train bound for Enies Lobby, making him walk the same path as his friends again. Unable to escape, Usopp is put to the wall. And this is how Sogeking was born.
Usopp and Sogeking: escapism in an alter ego
Oda uses the very little subtle expedient of maskperfect visual vehicle of the new identity of ours adorable neighborhood liar. Wearing it, Usopp creates a idealized alter ego, which embodies all the qualities he wishes to have: courage, charisma, strength. To everyone – or almost – his identity is immediately obvious, but it doesn’t matter: as long as he has Sogeking as his shield, Usopp can continue to stand by his teammates, saving his – and their – dignity.
During Enies Lobby, we witness some of the character’s high points. The destruction of the World Government flag is certainly one of One Piece’s most iconic and beloved moments, but when Usopp feels he has failed even as Sogeking, even as his ideal self, and Sanji instead it makes him understand that everyone has their own role and that they are not all the same has always moved me. “I will do everything that you cannot do … and you will do everything that I cannot do!“And way of sniping, to protect Robin from afar. Something only he could do. Not to mention the emotional pep talk to Luffy, when Usopp takes off his mask and risks his life against Lucci to give his friend and captain the strength to stand up and defeat even that seemingly invincible enemy.
God Usopp the Prophet?
Another piece of his lore that has been revealed little by little over the years breaks the fourth wall of One Piece: the retaliation of Pinocchio. That Usopp is based on the famous character of Collodi is no mystery and even his name is a reference to him being a storyteller: Use of 噓 (う そ, use) or lie and Aesop (Aesop, the author of fables ). Since his introduction he has always bluffed and lied, sometimes attributing non-existent merits to himself and at other times telling of adventures he never lived. Here, it would be better to say not still lived, because Usopp’s lies always come true – sometimes prophesying a monster to face or the introduction of this or that character – so much so that the fanbase has started keeping a list of those who have not yet done so, theorising about where and when!
Usopp’s true role in the crew
It is fascinating to see how, from the beginning, Usopp’s character was not meant to become who knows what fighter or leader. A popular theory sees Luffy’s first four companions recruited as directly complementary to him: he’s stupid and can’t navigate, so here’s Nami, a crafty navigator who often sticks with him, Zoro is a diehard warrior who can keep up with him without any problems, Sanji a master cook who satisfies the bottomless pit he calls stomach.
And Usopp? Usopp satisfies the more childish and genuine side of Luffy, what makes him still look like a child in the eyes of many. Usopp is the trusted friend with whom Luffy can let go of the worst bullshit, just be the kid that he is.
He has a big heart and cares about his friends, but he chooses courage only when cowardice is no longer an option. At the same time, in the most unthinkable moments he manages to bring out a stubborn and noble lion heart. He would like to be a great warrior of the seas like the giants he admires, but he fights from afar and safe, given his role as a sniper. In the infinite difficulties of him it turns out to be the most human and likely character of the whole crew. Ultimately, Usopp’s primary role, the ordinary man, is perhaps one of the most important. Even the Pirate King needs someone with whom he can take off his crown and be himself.