The record-breaking manga One Piece is widely appreciated for the incredible variety of characters that the author, Eiichiro Oda, introduced and developed. Some of the most iconic characters in the series were introduced many years ago but are yet to receive the deserved focus due to the longevity of the series. Among them, one of the most prominent is fan-favorite "Red Hair" Shanks.
Given Shanks' impact on Luffy, his role in the One Piece world, and the relatively small amount of dedicated screen time, fans have been waiting for years to see him in action and learn his backstories through dedicated flashbacks.
While Shanks is most likely one of the strongest characters in the series, not much about him is known. This charming and mysterious aura makes him unique in the eyes of the fans.
This thread will list the main reasons fans love Shanks as a character but also consider some of the more controversial aspects that could make him disliked by a portion of the One Piece fandom.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1058 and reflects the writer's personal views.
Reasons why One Piece fans hate Shanks
1) Shanks' relationship with the World Government
The World Government is in constant conflict with pirates but seems to hold Shanks in special regard. Despite his status as a notorious pirate, Shanks was allowed to meet the Five Elders in private during the very important Levely and in the sacred land of Mary Geoise during the Levely.
The Five Elders know that Shanks represents a remarkable potential threat, but they consider him a man who will not try to overthrow the world by himself. Therefore, the Five Elders would tolerate his actions unless they were to reveal an immediate danger. This concept could explain the unusual relations between the World Government and Shanks.
It's also hard to understand the terms between Shanks and Sengoku, who, as the former Marine Fleet Admiral, has been one of the most prominent soldiers at the World Government's disposal. The two seem to hold a certain level of mutual respect, something very rare to happen between a pirate and a marine.
When Shanks came to Marineford, he proclaimed that the battle was over unless any side was willing to confront the Red Hair Pirates. He also affirmed that the pirates would give Whitebeard and Ace proper burials. Surprisingly enough, Sengoku agreed to his requests and declared the war over, taking full responsibility for himself and receiving Shanks' gratitude.
2) Shanks always looks cool, making him a cliché
Every time Shanks appears in the series, he always looks cool and in control of the situation, making him extremely popular among One Piece fans. According to some fans, this makes him a boring clichè of the typical talented and badass fighter who acts as a mentor for the main character, just like the fan-favorites Kakashi Hatake from Naruto and Kisuke Urahara from Bleach.
Because of this, while many fans love Shanks' attitude, others dislike him or at least don't understand why most people appreciate him so much. In their opinion, Shanks is a Gary Stu-kind of character who is written to always look good, to the point of becoming tiresome.
3) Shanks is overhyped
While some One Piece fans consider Shanks a boring clichè of the typical badass mentor who always looks good, others find him overrated, claiming he has relatively poor achievements compared to his supposed hype. In other words, these fans consider Shanks to be all smoke and no roast.
Some people question Shanks' strength, affirming that his body is too weak compared to other Yonkos. While to hurt Kaido and Big Mom extremely powerful attacks imbued with advanced versions of Armament Haki and Conqueror Haki are needed, Shanks got his arm torn off by a Sea King in East Blue and his body scarred for life by Blackbeard before the latter gained Devil Fruit powers.
Others claim that Shanks is noticeably below Mihawk. Being the latter's equal before losing an arm, he shouldn't be able to compete with Hawk Eyes anymore after such an impairment, which is hindering for a swordsman.
4) Shanks acts in a shady way
Shanks is not just a powerful pirate who holds the title of Yonko. He seems to be a clever individual with his agenda. The One Piece fandom was shocked at the sight of Shanks meeting with the Five Elders in their very home, the sacred soil of Mary Geoise. To this day, his enigmatic intent to tell them about a certain pirate has yet to be explained.
Shanks doesn't seem to be a bad guy. He willingly sacrificed a part of his body to protect Luffy, gifting him with his beloved straw hat, a precious memento of Roger's will. Shanks also tried to stop Ace from attacking Blackbeard and to give advice to Whitebeard about Blackbeard's intent and the potential danger he could represent.
On the other hand, there is something shady about Shanks and his relationship with World Government, as shown by his mutual respectful terms with the Five Elders and former Marine Fleet Admiral Sengoku, which are very uncommon for a pirate. Fans can't wait for this enigmatic relationship to be explained.
5) Shanks' goals are ambiguous
While there's not enough conclusive evidence to label Shanks as an evil individual, his goals and motivations are yet to be revealed. He recently declared to Benn Beckman, his close and trusted right-hand man, his intention to compete for the One Piece. This means that Shanks will take on everyone who seeks the same path, possibly including Luffy and the Straw Hats.
Shanks is certainly very mysterious, and his goals are ambiguous. Throughout the One Piece series, he seemed to want Luffy to succeed, but now they could collide as contenders for the same ambition. That would not necessarily mean that Shanks is a villain, just that he is a competitor to Luffy because they share the same objective.
Until his recent claim for the One Piece, Shanks always seemed interested in maintaining a neutral position, seeking balance. He promoted a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of conflicts. Some fans wonder if this behavior is a result of what Roger asked him to do after coming back from visiting Laugh Tale. Popular speculation is that Roger asked Shanks to watch over the future Pirate King.
Reasons why One Piece fans love Shanks
1) Shanks inspired Luffy to become a pirate
When Luffy was a kid, his grandfather, the hailed Marine Hero Monkey D. Garp, wished for him to become a marine. But when Luffy met Shanks, he was so impressed with him and his crew that he decided to become a pirate. To this day, he idolizes Shanks and deeply respects him as his role model, childhood hero, and the man he wants to surpass eventually.
Shanks protected Luffy at the cost of sacrificing his arm. He even entrusted him with his signature Straw Hat and made Luffy promise that he'd return it to him only after becoming a great pirate. The profound bond created by these heartwarming actions is universally appreciated among One Piece fans.
Shanks stated that Luffy reminded him of a younger version of himself and that he sees the future of piracy in him. Throughout the series, Shanks often showed delight and satisfaction at seeing his achievements celebrated in the newspapers. Since Luffy was a kid, they have yet to meet face to face. Fans question if they will ever meet on their path to claim the One Piece.
2) Shanks and Mihawk share a thrilling rivalry
Shanks has a world-renowned rivalry with Dracule Mihawk, the World's Strongest Swordsman. Their ferocious battles are hailed throughout the entire Grand Line. Even Whitebeard, the World's Strongest Man, acknowledged those clashes as legendary.
The One Piece Magazine recently revealed to the readers that the rivalry between Shanks and Mihawk is akin to that between Gol D. Roger and Whitebeard. However, Mihawk has seemingly given up on fighting Shanks after the latter lost an arm.
During his battles against Mihawk, Shanks wielded his sword, a large saber named Gryphon. Fans speculate that it could be one of the rarest swords in the One Piece world, but there is no information about Gryphon's grade to this day. Oda recently revealed that Shanks could coat his sword in a fiery aura, a testament to his impressive swordsmanship and Haki skills.
Outside of combat, Shanks and Mihawk have a friendly relationship, seemingly getting along regardless of their polarly opposite personalities. They even had a party together to celebrate Luffy's first bounty. When Shanks entered Marineford, Mihawk refuted to fight him, stating that his agreement with the World Government included fighting against Whitebeard, but not against his former rival.
3) Shanks is easily one of the most powerful One Piece characters
Shanks's status as a Yonko makes him one of the strongest characters in the One Piece series. He is a powerful swordsman and Haki master who can match even the World's Strongest Swordsman, Dracule Mihawk, and use the rare Conqueror Haki. Even after losing one arm, Shanks' strength remains exceptional, enough to match Whitebeard in a clash and block a punch from Admiral Akainu.
Fans often wonder how Shanks can be of the same caliber as the other Yonkos while being a regular human with no Devil Fruit compared to natural-born monsters with inhuman attributes and Devil Fruit abilities. This is an even more surprising achievement, given that Shanks is the youngest among them. Most likely, this is due to his extremely high levels of Haki and swordsmanship.
In recent One Piece chapters, fans witnessed the power of Shanks' Conqueror Haki. It emanated from the seas around Wano all the way to Admiral Ryokugyu, who was fighting inside the Wano mainland. Despite his status as an Admiral, one of the strongest fighters at the World Government's disposal, Ryokugyu began crying out in pain and was seemingly paralyzed. Intimidated, he gave up his fighting intent.
4) Shanks has an incredibly influential presence
In the One Piece world, very few characters have a greater reputation than Shanks. He is the captain of the Red Hair Pirates and one of the Yonko, the four great pirates who led the New World. Shanks is the one who inspired Monkey D. Luffy to become a pirate, gifting him the straw hat that Roger left him. He is also the only known swordsman who was able to match Dracule Mihawk in a fight.
Shanks is a very calm and carefree man who hates needless conflicts. However, he steps in to fight without a second thought if his friends or those under his protection are threatened. Shanks seems to carry a personal grudge against Marshall D. Teach, the pirate known as Blackbeard, whom he has known since his youth and considers the greatest potential danger of all.
Shanks is the youngest of the Emperors, yet he seems to be the most influential among them. He commands enough power that his words are enough to immediately end the war at Marineford, with no one stepping up to challenge him, not even the very overconfident Blackbeard. Shanks' influence is such that the Five Elders, the leaders of the World Government, accept to meet him.
5) Shanks was the apprentice of Gol D. Roger, the Pirate King
"Red Hair" Shanks had to find his way to the top. He started his pirate career as an apprentice in Roger Pirates, the first and only crew to conquer the entire Grand Line and find the One Piece. As a mere one-year-old infant, Shanks was found by Roger and Rayleigh in God Valley. How exactly he ended up in that situation is yet to be explained. In any case, they took him on board.
Eventually, he became an apprentice in the crew, together with Buggy. The two used to argue over meaningless things. When Roger Pirates reached Laugh Tale, Buggy became ill, and Shanks stayed with him. For this reason, they didn't go there with the rest of the crew. After Roger returned from Laugh Tale, Shanks asked him something, only to shed tears after the Pirate King's answer.
Shanks shed sorrowful tiers at the sight of Roger's execution in Loguetown, showing the depth of his bond with his former captain. He inherited Roger's signature straw hat, which he would entrust to Luffy many years later. Because of this, One Piece fans commonly consider Shanks as the metaphorical bridge connecting Luffy to the first Pirate King.
Judging by their very similar fighting style, based on Haki and swordsmanship, many fans speculated that Gol D. Roger inspired Shanks in the way he fights. A further demonstration of this could reveal itself if Shanks were to showcase some moves from the first Pirate King's repertoire, which he could have possibly learned during his time as an apprentice in Roger Pirates.
Shanks is easily one of the most iconic characters in the One Piece series, but so much about him is still a mystery. What are the terms of his relationship with the World Government? What are his true goals? Will he ever meet Luffy again? How does he compare to Dracule Mihawk? The number of unanswered questions about Shanks is at least as big as his charisma.
Considering the major impact Shanks had on Luffy and his influence over the world of One Piece, fans are dying to learn more about him. The author, Eiichiro Oda, recently revealed that the series has just entered its endgame and is nearing its end within the next few years. Hence, it's reasonable to think that the time for Shanks to receive his well-deserved spotlight is finally about to come.
Poll : Do you like Shanks as a character?