Science in Manga - Science Fiction One Piece
Tsuredure Thoughts has written an article on the science found in One Piece, below is a translation of the article, so un-suspend your suspended disbelief as we tease out the make-believe science that is shown in One Piece.
Science Fiction One Piece
- I knew Luffy's comrades were something special~
Am I right in assuming you've heard of the manga One Piece?
As I write this, it's a popular manga being serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. There's also an anime which airs every week on Sunday.
The story revolves around the numerous seagoing adventures of the protagonist (who aspires to become Pirate King) and his comrades. Many of the characters – most notably the protagonist – have eaten mysterious fruits called "Devil Fruit," and so possess special abilities.
For example, the protagonist Luffy, having eaten a "Gum-gum fruit," is a rubber ("gomu") man. His reindeer comrade, Chopper, is a mysterious transforming reindeer.
Among those people with special abilities appear flesh and blood humans who can't be expected to have any special powers whatsoever.
As I write this, four of Luffy's companions are billed as normal humans.
The world of manga is such that even superhuman feats can be satisfactorily explained with a simple, "Ah. I can use this power because I ate XX fruit"; stories where explanations like the aforementioned cause everything to make sense are science fiction, but when it comes to flesh-and-blood humans, of course, things are a bit different.
Those comrades fight on more than equal terms with these super-powered others, while being absolutely normal themselves. They're much too amazing, no matter what excuses they make.
What in the world are these people? How is it that, although they're flesh-and-blood, they're stronger than those people who keep committing superhuman feats?
This corner of scrupulous nitpicking, directed at those scenes which would be obviously weird if the character concerned were a "normal human," is written by one who loves One Piece in his own way.
*The author is a hardworking Lit. student, and so does not understand really detailed equations or specialized terms. He would like to be given a bit of leeway where such things are concerned.
Comrade Number One: The Case of Sanji-kun
Sanji-kun is employed as the ship's cook. Whether superb raw ingredient or tough opponent, he cooks 'em up quick and delicious. In addition, while he moonlights as a fighter, he's a cook who lives for his work: he never fights with his hands, always using only his feet.
On this occasion I will refrain from making the basic comment that a cook, whose taste buds are his life, has no business being a smoker.
What's scientifically strange about him is his destructive kicking power.
I'd like you to think about this carefully.
Usually, if you kick something, the rebound from the kick travels back through your leg. In Sanji's case in particular, he kicks things with his heel (swinging it vertically, down from above) quite often. Most of the rebound from the kick should go straight up.
Fundamentally, the stronger the kick, the greater the rebound.
Meaning: if you've delivered a kick forceful enough to shatter concrete and you weigh anything close to normal, your body should, by rights, go up in the air.
Why is it, then, that he almost always keeps his cool?
Not to mention that he occasionally kicks with both hands stuck in his pockets. In that position, the one leg that's acting as his axis has to take the rebound and shock of the kick in addition to supporting his whole weight. He shouldn't even be able to keep his balance.
What sort of leg is that?
As I am, regrettably, not a science student, I can't do detailed calculations. Still, considering the destructive power unleashed, I think there's enough force at work here to levitate an elephant... Merely keeping your balance would take quite a lot of strength.
I can think only that there must be a terrific gravitational pull at work on the undersides of Sanji-kun's feet, which keeps them clinging to the ground.
That, and his pivot leg must be made out of something incredibly tough. An "Iron Chef," indeed.
*I only remembered this later, but K-1 athletes have kicking power in the tons (It came up in Superhuman Kingdom)...Which I thought might mean that it's possible for humans to shatter concrete, but even a K-1 athlete would find it impossible to keep kicking with both hands stuck in his pockets...
Comrade Number 2: The Example of Zoro
A former bounty hunter who specializes in pirates, the groovy swordsman Zoro is – incredibly – an expert at a fighting technique called the "three-blade style." He has only two arms. How does he hold that third blade? ...The answer, simply, is that he holds it in his teeth, attacking that way.
Already at this point, anyone who's had even a little bit of kendo training is yelling with disbelief. When one attacks with a sword, an equivalent rebound will travel up through that sword. Any normal person would most likely drop that sword. However, Zoro never drops his blade. He rushes his opponent while holding the thing in his teeth.
So, how much jaw strength would you need to mount an attack using a blade held in your mouth, without dropping it? I can't do the specific calculations here either, but as he occasionally ties a rope to a lump of iron and uses it to weight-train his jaw, he probably has enough jaw strength to chew a rock to bits.
A human jaw, and yet its crushing power can be measured in tons!
That isn't the only fearsome thing about that third blade. If you attack with a blade held in your mouth, the rebound will hit your head pretty hard. You need more than just the jaw strength to keep from dropping the blade; you have to have a neck strong enough to stand the shock.
Even if Zoro's slight tendency towards idiocy is because his brain sustains fierce vibrations every time he attacks, which destroys brain cells (heh heh!)... Really, would a slender human neck be able to withstand such fierce impacts?
Bones may be strong when it comes to vertical shocks, but they're weak when struck from the side.
Necks are made out of lots delicate bones connected to each other. If you shake a neck hard, even if it doesn't break, it's perfectly natural for it to become dislocated. Nerves are concentrated in the spine; if that slips even slightly out of place, there's a danger of immediate half-paralysis.
...Regardless, Zoro is doing just fine... Which means...
...Simply that the connections in his neck are tough to a degree unimaginable in a normal human being.
Terrifying. This is a man who will never fall victim to whiplash.
Even if he decided to head-butt a speeding truck, I doubt he'd die. Hanging or the guillotine probably wouldn't do it either.
I expect that, should the navy ever catch him as a bounty, they'll have some trouble over how to manage his public execution.
Comrade Number Three: Nami-san's Condition
The two whom I previously described were, in fact, only prologue.
The most amazing one is Nami-san.
What's so amazing about her, you ask? ...The fact that she has the upper body strength to hoist up and swing around people larger than herself, with one thin staff and those slender arms of hers.
She is equipped with a weapon (the "Clima Tact") discovered by her comrade Master Usopp, which can do all sorts of different things depending on how it's assembled. Its absolute certain-death technique, "Tornado Tempo," is pictured at right.
In this terribly violent technique, small weights attached to wires fly out of the third tact and wrap around the enemy, who is then caught up in the tact's revolution and sent flying.
...Would it even be possible to make such a convenient weapon? I would like to corner Master Usopp over that, but, again, I'll refrain.
The problem is that, when the enemy (having been wrapped up in the wires) is caught up in the tact's revolution, his legs are raised off the ground.
Suspended above the ground. Meaning, the enemy's full weight is hanging on the end of the tact.
In other words Nami-san, who's holding that tact, is lifting the enemy's full weight.
In addition, since the enemy's body is bound to the end of the tact, she isn't just lifting a person, she's lifting a person caught on the end of a stick.
Parenthetically, when lifting someone on a stick, you need more strength than you would to lift that same person with your hands. (The longer the stick, the more strength it takes.)
Even more terrifying is that this technique manages to "catch the enemy's body up in the tact's rotation and send it flying."
Rotating an enemy who's been raised on the end of a stick... That means, while this rotation is happening, she's supporting the rotation's rebound with one solitary stick!
There's no way that's possible with a woman's upper-body strength.
As the tact doesn't break with the strain, the material it's made out of is pretty intriguing. Of still more interest, though, is Nami-san's body, since it isn't sent flying by all this.
When holding something which is revolving, it's necessary to have a backspin in order for the object opposing that revolution to maintain its balance.
I'd like you to picture the helicopter, which has two propellers: one in front, one in back, both rotating.
Nami-san produces this backspin solely by planting her own two feet firmly on the ground. (Plus, in this scene, her leg is injured -- And it's still possible!)
Nami-san's arm strength must easily be greater than the weight of Miss Doublefinger, whom she's lifting. The strength with which she braces her legs, even if they're injured, is great enough to allow her to swing a large adult around.
This is exactly what makes her fit to be a sailor who challenges the Grand Line.
Companion Number Four: Master Usopp's Circumstances
...Which brings us to Usopp. As touched on in Nami's section, the key to Usopp lies not in any physical prowess, but in his absolutely terrifying power of invention.
Even the tact which he gave to Nami-san is nigh impossible by earthly technology.
Of the three segments of this tact, one emits cold air, another emits electricity and the last emits heat.
As far as emitting electricity goes, you might be able to manage it by rigging up an electrostatic emission device inside the tact. To get cold air, though, you'd have to build an instantaneous refrigeration device into it, and, to get heat, a heat radiation device.
However, it would be difficult to make any of those devices so small they could fit inside a tact. If you factor in space for the fuel, things only get tougher.
...Actually, considering how it never runs out of fuel (even though Nami-san uses it all over the place), might the tact be an incredibly low-energy device, or a mysterious mechanism that works on no fuel at all?
Impossible. It just can't be done.
In addition, this tact also has the ability to shoot out water. And the amount of water it can shoot is obviously more than the volume of the tact.
Does it pull water in from the outside, refining it instantaneously? If such a device exists, couldn't Usopp's fellow sailors make it into something functional and become immune to mishaps at sea!?
...Or rather, couldn't Usopp quit being a pirate and be set for life just by inventing? (I mean, there's a dearth of satisfactory raw materials on the high seas, and he's still managed to make something this incredible. Think what that tact might have been had he had a proper laboratory in which to make it...)
Usopp is weak, certainly. If we're going from physical strength, he's the weakest in the party. But that amazing inventiveness of his makes up for his physical weakness with room to spare. I would like to declare here and now that he is in possession of a brain of such brilliance that, if he isn't careful, he might end up conquering the world with it.
Bonus / Vivi
While she is ultimately distanced from the companions, Vivi is also amazing.
Why? Because when she yells from the top of the clock tower, everyone in the square hears her voice.
"Please ... Stop the fighting...!"
If she screamed, would it reach? No, not a chance. Even if you bellow across a sports field to someone, they usually don't hear you.
Not to mention that sound is, fundamentally, something that travels upwards. Maybe it would work if you were below and yelled upwards, but you'd need tremendous volume in order to yell from above and be heard down below.
Could any human produce such a voice...? Adding that question into the mix, the fact that she has vocal chords which can handle that loud voice without breaking (even as she yells constantly) really makes her fearsomeness as a royal felt. Even opera singers would be startled.
In a shouting contest, she'd be the uncontested champion. As she is the possessor of a natural voice whose echoes can fill a town square, if augmented, that voice's destructive power would know no bounds. I would recommend that no one ever be careless enough to hand her a megaphone.
(...And as I say that, in that last scene, where she left the party, she definitely was holding one... A megaphone...)
Bonus / 2
The king who survived with a wound like that is pretty awesome, too. Long live King Nefertari (Vivi's father).
The Grand Line. It's said that, the farther you venture into its depths, the more monstrous the characters you'll encounter ... But I'm not worried about these guys. Why? Because they're humans who've already surpassed monsters.
No worries. If it's you people we're talking about, there's no way you'll die.
Actually, forget Luffy, it's you who are the monsters... (Cries)
Original Article: Tsuredure Thoughts