Analysis: Adopted Family, “Real” parents and One Piece


Did you know adopted childrens have no responsibility towards their biological parents? because you may be surprised to know some people do think that.

It is often said “Blood is thicker than Water” as a way to reffer to the importance Family Unity. Likewise, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” often reffers to childrens ending up like their parents. The idea being that the blood connection between individuals means one has a responsibility towards those they share a biological connection with or that they are somehow destined to be like them because they have the same blood.

Oddly enough, those words, when applied to adopted childrens, are rarely used to reffer to their adoptive parents, but rather to their biological, “real” parents.

Spoilers for the Manga & Anime One Piece

At the very least it does seem like a very popular idea in fiction, with plenty of stories of heroes who in their journey discover who their “real” parent is and immediatly bond with them or recognize as such over their adoptive parents (Luke’s Uncle and Aunt from Star Wars being possibly the most recognizable example of this).

It doesn’t seem to matter if the “real” parent had been missing for the character’s entire life, once they are revealed as being the biological parent, stories seem to have a preference towards making the hero bond with their “real” parent if they are alive or, in case they are dead, take over their legacy or sins for no other reason than a blood relationship. The most guilty of this probably being the “Royal Reveal”

of course, some stories do try to justify a parent’s abscense and, often times, the disappeared parent trope happens after said parent had left an impact in their children’s life, as oppose to be a vague concept the character is told to hold in high spirit for no other reason than them being their “parent”.

This is a common pitfall. That of assuming a blood conneciton means a a character has more value as a parent, even though they may have missed their children’s life, than someone who raised them in the first place.

It is done to the point that, sometimes, characters keep their heritage secret or have the heritage hidden from them, and when the story reveals this heritage it is often treated as if said characters where their parents or is otherwise treated as if it should change the character’s life.

The Manga One Piece, where the author has expressed one of it’s core message is the idea of “family is who you choose”, takes this idea and defies it through the character of Portgas D. Ace. The Older brother of the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy, who are both pirates.

At one point in the series, Ace is captured by the Marines, one of the major antagonist groups in the entire series, and his execution is what kickstarts the Marineford Arc, which involves a full-out war between the Marines and the pirate Whitebeard (Ace’s Adoptive Father as well as captain. However, it should be noted that he is not Luffy’s, the only connection between the two is Ace).

When the execution is about to start, Grand Admiral Sengoku makes an important announcement:

This reveal, of his heritage, during his execution, takes the entire world by storm. It is a classic reveal of a character’s secret heritage (this instance being Gold Roger, one of the most important characters in the entire series).

First of all, Ace knows about Gold Roger being his biological parent and, instead of having Ace acknowledge Roger as his “Real” Father, he keeps on recognizing Whitebeard with that role.  He does recognize his biological mother “Portgas D. Rouge” who died trying to protect Ace.

Second, Ace did not keep it a secret from his adoptive family, and likewise, they don’t particularly care for it either:

So, while it is a big reveal for the readers and the world, Everyone close to Ace not only knew this already, they find it trivial at best and are respectful of Ace’s wishes to not see him as Roger’s son. Roger is acknowledge by Ace as someone related to him, but that recognition is not as his father, but rather as a stranger responsible for how the world saw him and an aspect of his life he doesn’t enjoy talking about. And that feeling is both acknowledge by his adoptive family and respected.

It is the rest of the world, that wants to harm and kill Ace, that deny this notion and believe have a greater saying on Ace’s heritage.

And thus the arc becomes a battle between a world that insist that Roger is Ace’s real father (and that because of it he deserves to die) and Ace’s REAL family (the adoptive one) who deny this notion of Rogers being Ace’s real father.

This, at the same time, is a culmination of Ace’s character conflict. Since he is “Roger’s Son”, according to the world “he doesn’t deserve to live”… because of a matter of blood (this is called “sins of the father”).

The question he holds on throughout his life because of who his biological father was is “should i have been born? do I have a right to live?”.

And that is the tragedy of the character, that the world keeps on saying Rogers has this ownership over who Ace is as a person. But in the end, even though Ace’s dies, he isn’t executed as Roger’s son, he dies protecting Luffy. Protecting his real family.

While the world that only saw him as Roger’s son acomplished killing him, he did not die because of it. Luffy had succesfully freed Ace and they were escaping, the execution had failed and he was mortally wounded because of his instinct to protect his adoptive brother.

He died because he decided to protect his adoptive brother. He did not die in the name of Roger, but rather in the name of his real family. He chose to die as Luffy’s brother.

And that’s the final message of the arc: Roger is not Ace’s father, he is not his family. To him, He was just the guy who had sex with Ace’s mother. Whitebeard, who fought a war to protect him, was his father. Luffy, who defied the world, was his brother. Roger, whose only contribution to Ace’s life was having the world hate him by association, is not.

And to further show this point, he is buried alongside his real father and family, Whitebeard:

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