Character Discussion Cutting The Mist Towards The Brilliant Sky: Captain Tashigi


The Road To Harmony
The One Piece series is home for many beloved characters. However, like most series, there are those who are unfortunately not as appreciated. Tashigi fits that category. Of the reasons for why she is one of the more commonly derided cast members range from her strength, or lack thereof, perceived annoyance, or a core dislike for what she apparently represents as a character. This piece isn't here to tell you your opinion is wrong, but to share with you a bit of my perspective and analysis on the Navy Captain, and why she is my favorite One Piece character. Her humanity, reflecting on views she held, those who have and who she has impacted along the way, and how she plans to move forward.

The One Piece story is primarily told from the perspective of the pirates, therefore their counterparts, the marines, are easy to paint as the more villainous faction. Tashigi exists as a much needed counterbalance to that notion, bringing an idealistic yet innocent charm in her role as naval officer. She upholds in her sense of justice which is bringing in those deemed as wrongdoers. Particularly those she views as misusing swords. Swords are Tashigi's true passion in the world, having an encyclopedic knowledge the famed blade and blade craftsmenship. And to her, seeing them abused by pirates to kill and or gain is something she seeks to undo.
Her studious nature underlines the hardwork she puts in everything she does. Including her swordsmanship, which is noted by several. Surviving through the War of The Best with minimal injuries. She was seen instructing them during a cover page, presumably on swords, displaying her theoretical knowledge and experience, a testament to her honest work ethic.

This is in spite of the apparent hardships the path of the sword promises for female fighters.
Tashigi continues to improve her skills in the blade, developing two forms of haki well before she is a Vice Admiral, a rank which requires you to know some level of haki. Tashigi at age 23 has achieved the rank of captain, knows observation haki and armament haki, has demonstrated mastery of some of the Six Powers. These are attributed to her pride as a soldier. Something she takes to heart, and refuses be dismissed simply for being a woman, breaking the glass ceiling on more than one occasion.

She does not tolerate law breakers, mostly pirates, which she has been brought up to detain and fight against. However, she has over time soften on this stance for reasons that will be explored. Her kindness is on display over the course of the story. When the children of Punk Hazard had little where else to go, she was the one to offer them solace alongside her division. Her devotion to her comrades, especially Smoker, is nigh unrivalled, as she will drop even rational thought in order to defend them.
She's a klutz, near-sighted, and a bit scatterbrain, Smoker scolding her for not putting on a proper soldier appearance. Tashigi, in return, does take his words to heart, as she becomes more mature and focus as the story goes, but never completely shedding her old quirks.

Tashigi hasn't interacted extensively with many characters, but her important and established webs are some of the most well realized ones in the series, despite how briefly they're touched on.

Her most significant bond in the story, Smoker fills the role of both superior and mentor figure for Tashigi, as she still climbs the ladder of the military. Smoker is often harsh, berating her for showing signs of weakness, or what he considers "lack of discipline" or tact. Tashigi takes his criticisms in stride, knowing he has her best interest in mind.
Smoker's scolding does have a purpose, however. He guides Tashigi to be the best that she can be.

Tashigi does her most to return his trust in her. And she is willing to follow him to death, if need be. The most prominent good marines, Smoker and Tashigi both come from the same place when confronted with the ugly reality of the organization they are a part of.
This has strengthened their bond, and reinforced them to have each other's backs during these uncertain times where their loyaties of what is "right" are tested.

Roronoa Zoro
Her pirate counterpart in every sense, Tashigi and Zoro are mirrors as fighters, how people look at them, and their upbringing. Tashigi is the unassuming sword nerd, with a specialty on technique and grace, and a firm tie to duty. Zoro is the fierce swordsmaster, who overwhelms those he faces with a characteristic intimidation, yet free-spirited. Despite their differences, they are both bred from hardwork and willpower, and a passion for swords expressed through different fashions.

Their story has been of breaking down the boundaries that were built between them. Coincidental ones, such as Tashigi's likeness to someone dear to Zoro, preventing him from seeing Tashigi for who she was, or the artificial one manufactured by the public that pirates and marines are enemies and should never be more than that. The two began as unsuspecting strangers, to bitter enemies, to begrudging allies, to now possessing what appears to resemble a genuine friendship.
Their journeys have matured them, and they've come to learn qualities about the other that are admirable. But most importantly, their ideals have been challenged or renewed. In Tashigi's case, she has remarked on Zoro's strength, as well as his forwardness to protect those who need protecting, not unlike her, whereas Zoro has called to attention her growth and a stubbornness not to quit that rivals his own. It's uncertain what the future holds for their next encounter, but it is sure to be from a place of greater understanding of one another.

The misfit marine division, once headed by Vergo, were notorious for being a group of troublemakers that didn't abide to proper conduct. They were taken under Smoker and Tashigi's wing, and since then Tashigi has been the one leading and looking out for them, even to the chagrin of Smoker.

Tashigi's leading of G-5 has shed more of her true nature as a woman of tremendous kindness and caretaking, putting her own life on the line in order to protect men she views as dear. Even the lowest of the low to everyone else is an invaluable comrade to her, to the point of throwing her pride and arguing with Smoker in order to aid them. A proactive display which may shed light on her future standings.

Likewise, G-5 deeply respects and cares for Tashigi, referring to her as "Captain-chan." Though they can be lecherous in their motive, they do come from a place of genuine affection for the woman who has been holding them together.

Straw Hat Pirates
While Zoro is her most significant Straw Hat development, the others have left their mark on Tashigi's path. Luffy was the very first pirate Tashigi cooperated with, albeit with reservations.

However, we see a progression in her mindset in her interaction with Nami. Tashigi, who once lamented her pride by aiding pirates, expressed with sincerity and humility for them to trust her to care for the children Caesar and his cohorts kidnapped. Sanji, a member of the Strawhats, rescued her from certain death, even lambasting the artificial walls the world formed between their kind. These are cases of the marine and pirate wall being teared down, revealing the good people underneath the labels.

The monolith that she upholds. The navy are a symbol for truth, security, and stability in the world. They were all that Tashigi believed in. From her time fighting and experiencing the world more through a rookie's perspective, the marines she at one point adulated weren't as ideal as she had known. Though she still maintains many healthy connections within the organization beyond her branch, like the up and coming sensation, Coby, as well as his partner Helmeppo, to name a few. Her future as part of the military is hazy, but suggestions from Kuzan to her superior on things becoming , or the top secret Navy group SWORD unaffiliated with the greater organization, reveal more soldiers who've been disillusioned by the current regime. It has yet to be seen whether she takes up their example/joins them.

We've established who Tashigi is, and what her preliminary traits and plotpoints are, but there's a deeper, introspective aspect to her arc that Oda underlines through the question of morality and true power in story.

From the start, Tashigi was a girl with high hopes and aspirations. A female fighter, with a good head on her shoulders, and a dream that's inspiring yet daunting. She has made key strides towards her goals, either by growing stronger as mentioned before, or successfully acquiring various meito from select criminals, but the reality is that it's been so much harder for her to realize her goals compared to other characters in the story. She has been defeated countless times, humiliated in the process, and still comparatively weak in the grand scheme of the world. Therein lies a unique beauty in Oda's approach to her story. A character overcoming hardship and hopelessness has been in her blue print since inception. The name "Tashigi" comes from the japanese name of a flightless bird known as the common snipe (田鴫, Tashigi ). She shares this distinction with her often compared to lookalike Kuina, who was cut down before her prime, being done in by the most mundane of circumstances. Oda's comment for the name choice goes as follows - "Though a bird cannot fly, it does not mean it never will." Oda drives this point on by laying out her inability to make a choice or difference in the things she believes and fights for. You could say he's "grounding" her. Against Crocodile, he scoffed that her "Justice" means nothing. Only winners matter in these oceans.

Trafalgar Law defeats her and refuses to finish her per her desire, believing the weak should not choose how they die.

The dark, darwinistic ladder of the One Piece world is in display via Tashigi's point of view. Having high spirits and a good heart aren't enough in this world. Those who want to make a difference need the strength to make their dreams a reality. But what is strength? What exactly has Tashigi been learning, lacking? She has grown stronger as a fighter, that much is clear, but the progression is undercut by her lack of notable performances.

Examing the young woman at the beginning of the story, we have a wide eyed optimist that was getting ahead of herself, clumsy, and nervous around her superior. She thought of pirates as nothing more than irredeemable criminals. It was all simple. Pirates are bad, Marines are good. But her "truths" would be questioned or dismissed by the reality in front of her. Having to confront the idea that "might" makes "right" on a consistent basis. By Sir Crocodile, and echoed by his fellow former Warlord, Donquixote Doflamingo, who made further points on the cruel reality of the world.

This monologue applies to Tashigi's growth. The reality of knowing your simplistic world view was a lie, that you aren't judged for how good or evil you are, but your "strength." Children are "weak," therefore they either remain ignorant of the struggles all together, or continue to suffer under the oppression they are incapable of doing anything.

"Kids who have never known war-"

"Kids who have never known peace."

This philosophy relating to Tashigi is bolstered by Doflamingo-
speaking of those with the power to make decisions in a similar vein as Law towards the Captain.
Only the strong can write the course of history. The weak have no say, whatever you upheld does not matter, for you can never make a difference because you are a weakling.

But Tashigi will not be one of those weaklings....

We contemplated on what it means to be strong, or who writes the rules. Is overwhelming those who stand in your way the only defiinition of strength, or is there something more? Bellemere, whom Tashigi was compared to by Nami, lived her life how she chose. When Arlong was collecting payment for the people of Cocoyashi village to live, Bellemere could've kept secret the fact she was a mother from Arlong to avoid not having to sacrifice herself, while conforming to the fishman's demands. A proud mother of two children, she faced death without regret, living by her own terms to the very end.
Tashigi carries a similar resolve to Bellemere, though to a grander scale. While she was raised to believe marines were nothing but good and pirates nothing but evil, the labels have started mattering less, just as how Doffy said. Tashigi's heart lies on the side of altruism, and while it borders on idealism, she does maintain it, even ready to sacrifice her pride in the face of what she once viewed to be evil scums, continue to hone her abilities on a harsh swordswoman path, and become a possible beacon of reform to the marine corruption.

This has led to her gaining fierce followers in G-5.

The admiration of the Straw Hats.

The respect of "that man."

And the faith of the one she trusts above all.

However small, Tashigi has been leaving her mark on the world that chewed and spit her out. Becoming more independent in her ideals, ready to challenge the seas again with a better outlook.

Closing Statements
To round off, Tashigi is a normal woman, fueled by her beliefs of carrying out noble deeds. These values have been challenged and re-examined. Once a pawn to an idea of justice, she divorces what she's been taught to serve what's in her heart. And that has become her source of strength. And while her leaps have not been as massive as other players in her generation, she continues on the harsh path a stronger person, with stronger support. One day, she will fly.

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Beautiful analysis!

Their story has been of breaking down the boundaries that were built between them. Coincidental ones, such as Tashigi's likeness to someone dear to Zoro, preventing him from seeing Tashigi for who she was, or the artificial one manufactured by the public that pirates and marines are enemies and should never be more than that.
I really loved this part.
Superlative post.

I am very convinced (since a long long time) that Zoro and Tashigi will end up together one day. I don't think that Zoro will stay to Wano for the rest of his days, he will more likely keep traveling and exploring the world even when the story will be over. There is a quite strong parallelism between Tashigi and Kuina and it's too shallow to ignore it.
Very well done @KiriNigiri ! You did a very good and well-thought analysis of Tashigi's character, of her relationships with her mentor, Zoro, the Straw Hats and her men, and about her future path.

This may be the best character analysis post I have seen on this forum. And I too hope to see Tashigi gets some good development, to see her and Zoro's relationship more explored the next times the two are together and to finally see her get the boost in power and skills that she deserves and to become a key figure for the new marine era that will be free of corruption and fanaticism.
I think this thread is well written but it does nothing to change my opinion of Tashigi. She’s a character with an impossible goal, no real aim to change the marines and sports a victim complex the size of the Milky Way itself. All of these contribute to making her an extremely unlikable character.

Kuzan and Fujitora actually have aims to change the system or find their own justice because the marine higher ups are corrupt and fail to protect civilians. Tashigi wants... who even knows. Or cares. She can’t do anything to back up her big mouth. She didn’t earn Zoro’s admiration, his quote at the end of the Monet fight was ironic seeing as he did 99% of the damage and let her take the credit for something that was almost entirely his doing.

My problem with Tashigi is that she has the greatest victim complex known to man. She thinks Zoro and others look down on her because she is a woman. This is untrue. The strong look down on everyone regardless of gender. Mihawk belittled and humiliated Zoro simply because he was that much stronger. If he treated Tashigi the exact same way, she would call him a sexist for no reason. Tashigi is obsessed with gender when she should be obsessed with training and how pathetically weak she is. Nami went from being an ordinary girl to being able to block a fishman’s attack with her staff. That’s a real go-getter woman and this is why Nami gets stronger and actually earns respect for her lightning. Tashigi, step the fuck up or shut the fuck up.
I think some people forget Tashigi is only 23. She's not a Marine higher-up, she's barely started to make her own way into the world. The purpose of her character is to represent the next generation, and how people sometimes starts as flawed or holding wrong convictions, but under the right circumstances will grow into competent and strong leaders. It's pointless to compare her to the much older and experienced Kuzan or Fujitora, or even to Smoker or Hina. The only Marines she could be compared to are Coby and Helmeppo.

I also don't see her as "obsessed with gender". Her accusing Zoro of looking down on her because she's a woman is part of the whole misunderstanding between them centered around Kuina. But that's just something between her and Zoro. It's not like she goes around calling everyone sexist like Kalifa accuses everyone of sexual harassment. That would be annoying.

I think the point of Tashigi's character is to learn and to grow, not really in strength (though she did learn two types of haki and rokushiki, for the powerscalers), but as a person and a Marine. She started from being a prejudiced recruit who only saw the world in black and white and is slowly turning into someone who sees the world free of prejudice.