From Eminem to Danny DeVito, 10 characters in ‘One Piece’ based on real people
Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time, and even the biggest mangaka to have ever existed could use a little help behind his ingeniously complex characters. One Piece‘s Eiichiro Oda is, undeniably, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, mangaka of all time, responsible for creating the world that masses know and love today. From a very young age, Oda has been titled a genius when it comes to world-building, a highly praised literary trope in the world of fantasy, regardless of the medium.
From the get go, fans have been finding the similarities between celebrities and characters in the One Piece universe. From physical appearance details like hairstyles and even outfits, Oda’s intentions behind a character design always transpires in one way or another. Despite so much of the pirates’ inspiration lying behind real-life pirates from our history, when it comes to their physical traits, one would be surprised that celebrities like Eminem and Danny DeVito are the perfect canvas for some of the beloved fictional personas in One Piece. While many of these are just fan speculation, Oda himself has confirmed many of the celebrities behind his fictional creations, and here they are.
Sanji — Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink
Despite fans conspiring about the celebrity behind the looks for the Straw Hats’ cook, Sanji’s inspiration was actually a much more unusual guess. According to Oda, the womanizer cook was inspired by Reservoir Dogs‘ Mr. Pink, but the similarities are limited to their physical appearance. Both Sanji and Mr. Pink sport similar outfits, with the Sanji’s iconic suit reminiscing the film’s mafia clothes. Both characters also opt to have a goatee as a beard style and have light-colored straight hair that has a tendency to look messy.
Personality-wise, they could not have been more different. Mr. Pink is quite obviously someone that doesn’t like taking risks and is quite afraid of acting out, as opposed to Sanji’s all-in attitude, unafraid of fighting on any occasion. Regardless of their strikingly divergent differences in demeanor, the cook and the gangster could definitely be brothers from another mother.
Dr. Hogback — Danny DeVito as Penguin
Although never confirmed, Dr.Hogback is quite literally a perfect side-by-side caricature of the already extravagant rendition of Penguin by Danny DeVito. In Batman Returns, an odd-looking and borderline unsettling adaptation of Oswald Cobblepot is portrayed by the national treasure DeVito himself, and his similarities to the Thriller Bark merciless antagonist Dr.Hogback are quite obvious.
Funnily enough, even the circumstances and the environment in Thriller bark seem to take inspiration from several fantasy stories. While Batman Returns may not be one of the speculated sources for the eerie yet comedic arc, Dr. Hogback and Cobblepot’s similar appearances are enough to make a strong connection between the two stories.
Emporio Ivankov — Tim Curry as Frank ‘N’ Furter
At first glance, the imposing image of Emporio “Queen of the Queers” Ivankov is a strikingly obvious ode to Tim Curry’s Frank ‘N’ Furter. From the stockings to the curly hair and even the makeup, it would be nearly impossible not to notice the similarities between these two extravagant characters. Much to everyone’s surprise, however, Ivankov’s inspiration doesn’t just come from Tim Curry’s character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In reality, it appears that Oda was also inspired by voice actor Norio Imamura, a cross-dressing actor whom Oda met at the theatre. The actor later auditioned for the role of Ivankov and obviously got the part as the Okama Queen. In 2010, Imamura had to step out from his role in One Piece due to a country-wide controversy in Japan after the actor published a full-body naked picture showcasing his tattoos, deemed indecent by many.
In Volume 57, Oda shared in his SBS the inspiration behind the three admirals, including Aokiji, Kizaru, and Akainu. All of these strong, overpowered, and actually cherished characters (other than Akainu) are inspired by Japanese actors who have completely changed the world of Japanese cinema. Aokiji is inspired by late actor Yusaku Matsuda, Akainu in Bunta Sugawara, and Kizaru in Kunie Ataka.
All of the aforementioned actors have now passed away, honored by their work in cinema and forever materialized by the numerous characters they have inspired over the years. Volume 74 also confirms Fujitora’s appearance to be based on the late actor Shintary Katsu in his role as Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, while many other members of the marines are also known to have been inspired by several Japanese actors.
Enel — Eminem
One of the most popular fan speculations is that Enel is inspired by Eminem. To rain on everyone’s parade, Oda himself has never actually confirmed the inspiration behind the Skypiea antagonist. Regardless of the unconfirmed information, many fans believe that the former tyrannical “god” of Skypiea is a very clear nod to one of the biggest rappers of all time. From the skin tone to the iconic blond hair, Enel’s appearance is suspiciously similar to that of “Rap God” himself, Eminem.
When it comes to their personalities, it’s difficult to find a clear connection between both “gods,” other than their arrogance. However, Enel’s cocky attitude, obvious god complex, and undefeated attitude resonates with Eminem himself, even if accidentally.
Capone Bege — Al Capone
The inspiration behind everyone’s favorite soft-hearted mobster is, obviously, Al Capone. From the same last name and birthday to the fedora and cigar, Bege’s very clear resemblance to the world-renowned mobster is clear as day. Although never fully confirmed by Oda, this connection seems almost too obvious, so much so that the author doesn’t even need to come out and say it; Al Capone obviously inspired the character design for Capone Bege.
Both Capones share yet another similarity: They are both crime leaders, responsible for organized crime, and multiple counts of murder. In a fun turn of events, Bege is still a very beloved character among One Piece fans, with an undying dedication and loyalty to his family.
Whitebeard — Hulk Hogan
When it comes to Whitebeard, there are several speculated sources of inspiration. Oda has only shared that Whitebeard’s appearance and even some of his famous lines derived from a pub owner from a bar frequently visited by the author. Sadly, the pub owner has already passed away, not providing a visual depiction of the inspiration for Whitebeard.
Nonetheless, that has not stopped fans from making a connection between the late leader of the Emperor’s crew and pop culture icons. Many have pointed out that Whitebeard’s iconic white mustache is evidently inspired by Hulk Hogan and even his muscles are reminiscent of the wrestler. Whether or not that is true, one thing’s for certain: no one can pull off a white mustache quite like these two.
Diamante — Steven Tyler
Although unconfirmed by Oda himself, Diamante and the rock singer from Aerosmith share plenty of similarities in their appearances. The major antagonist in the Dressrosa arc has a demeanor and appearance much similar to Steven Tyler. His clothes, face and facial expressions, wavy hair, and even his attitude are reminiscent of the music legend.
While on the scene, Diamante is playing and singing with a microphone, behaving like a rock singer, making it all the more likely that Diamante is inspired by Tyler in more ways than one.
Shakuyaku — Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace
As Oda slowly starts to unravel Shakky’s backstory as a Kuja Empress, the author has actually never specified his source of inspiration for the Amazon Lily empress. As was expected, fans quickly took to figuring it out the inspiration behind Shakky themselves, taking note of the similarities between Shakky and Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.
Both characters sport a short black bob and are seen accompanied by their trusty cigarette. Personality-wise, Mia and Shakky have a cool demeanor, and both have note-worthy husbands who fall in the crime scene.
Killer — Daft Punk/Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
The second in command in the Kid pirates crew bears a very obvious resemblance with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo: the famous helmet. The french duo known as Daft Punk became increasingly popular in Japan through their animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, when the musicians often wore helmets designed to make them look like robots in human forms. Considering the enormous popularity from the film, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable if Killer was indeed inspired by Homem-Christo’s signature look.
Most of the inspirations behind One Piece‘s ingenious character design and world build falls on a speculation source undeniably anchored by fans. Nonetheless, so many of these traits are quite obviously inspired by real celebrities in Japan and the United States alike, as Oda has claimed to often take bits and pieces of his real-life experiences into the world he has been building for over two decades.
One Piece can be found and streamed on Crunchyroll.