One Piece provides fans with many great antagonists to rally against, but not all are created equal, and there are some easily identifiable top antagonists.
One of the longest-running anime of all time, One Piece has given fans some memorable moments and unforgettable opposition throughout its run. However, not all One Piece antagonists are created equal, and today we’ll be discussing the top 5 One Piece antagonists (so far).
The five best antagonists in One Piece (October 2021)
Many One Piece villains embody the saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and there’s only one villain so far who has represented this more than Crocodile. Crocodile gives viewers their first look at the true dark side of the Great Pirate Era, showing the flaws in the Shichibukai arrangements where innocent people and nations suffer due to this unchecked power.
Being the invisible hand instigating Alabasta’s rebellion, Crocodile flaunts his clout and pompousness throughout the arc multiple times, shown via his popularity with the citizens of Alabasta and leaving Luffy for dead, various times without learning his lesson, respectively.
It’s revealed Crocodile’s goal was to revive the ancient weapon Pluton. Pluton could destroy every nation in the modern world in addition to providing a means of fighting the World Government, solidifying him as one of the most frightening antagonists in One Piece.
While Crocodile educates viewers and the Straw Hats on just how far down the rabbit hole goes for the dark side of piracy, Arlong gives everyone a surface-level glimpse of what unchecked piracy can create. Taking over Cocoyasi village (Nami’s hometown) years before the story's start, Nami has spent her entire teenage life and even some of her childhood life as the Arlong Pirates navigator.
During this time, Nami also works towards her own goal of having 100 million Beli to give to Arlong to free the village, which Nami eventually amass. However, Arlong calls in a favor from a Navy friend upon realizing he may have to honor his promise with Nami (foreshadowing the corruption of the World Government, which is expanded upon later in One Piece).
The Navy official confiscates Nami’s treasure just as Arlong planned, forcing her to remain in his crew as a top navigator and allowing Cocoyasi village to stay under his control. The guile shown by Arlong in this arc is befitting of an antagonist on any scale. When combined with his strength, ruthlessness, and desire for power, he makes an antagonist from the earliest days of One Piece hold up as well as any other over time.
Not much is known about current Fleet Admiral Sakazuki (formerly known as Admiral Akainu), yet one punch turned him into the most despised villain in all of One Piece. Akainu employed every tactic he could to defeat the Whitebeard Pirates and execute Ace, from trickery and deception to outright cruelty as he rained fists of magma down upon the pirates like it was shooting fish in a barrel.
Akainu embodies the World Government’s cruelty and “no survivors” attitude almost as well as Rob Lucci. Oda pairs this mindset with overwhelming power, aggression, and one of the most dangerous Devil Fruits in the series. All of this, combined with his actions leading up to the finale of the Marineford Arc, make for one of the most dangerous, intimidating, and ruthless villains in One Piece.
3) World Government/Im-sama and Gorosei
Strangely enough, the World Government purports to exist for the world's safety, yet they constantly find themselves giving power to pirates who abuse it. Whether they’re dishing out absolute power or making use of it themselves, the World Government is easily one of the most prominent antagonists in One Piece.
Their indirect acts of villainy have been covered plenty here, so we’ll focus on some direct wickedness the World Government takes part in, namely the suppression of information regarding the Hundred Year Void. The Hundred Year Void is an extremely protected topic of research and discussion within the world of One Piece, and the World Government has taken extreme lengths many times to prevent the study of this period.
The most glaring example is their destruction of the entire country of Ohara simply for studying the Poneglyphs, which potentially hold secrets of the Hundred Year Void. Upon discovering a resident of Ohara survived, the Straw Hat’s very own Nico Robin, the government stopped at nothing to hunt her down in addition to another future Straw Hat, Franky, who held the plans for the battleship Pluton, which Crocodile so desperately desired.
More recent development shows that the Gorosei, the claimed leaders of the World Government, actually have a King they bow down to; Im-sama, who sits on the throne that none of this world is meant to sit on. This recent reveal only adds more intrigue to the World Government's intentions, alignments, and deception, piquing the interest of One Piece fans worldwide.
1) Donquixote Doflamingo
Donquixote Doflamingo is, without a doubt, the best antagonist in One Piece up to this point in the story. The writing of Doflamingo is so masterful that his character feels like it takes all the best parts of the antagonists leading up to him and emphasizes their strengths while learning from their mistakes.
He has Arlong’s raw strength, the cunning and knowledge of the World Government and Celestial Dragons, Crocodile’s desire for power, and Akainu’s ruthlessness. In addition to all this, Doffy has one of the most well-done backstories in all of One Piece. Combining it with Law’s backstory and history with the Donquixote family truly creates one of the most well-developed antagonists in all of anime.
Much of this talent for villainy can be displayed in the Luffy vs Bellamy fight alone. Doffy’s goal is to break Luffy down mentally and physically before even throwing a punch Doflamingo’s way. Doffy is exceptionally effective with this, visibly angering and distressing Luffy before the real fight begins.
Doffy also has an Awakened Devil Fruit, which is something else that elevates him to a higher threat level than that of other top antagonists in the story. It also alerts the audience that Luffy’s journey to maximize his Devil Fruit’s potential still has a long way to go before going toe to toe with the top antagonists of the One Piece world.
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