One Piece Just a Matter of Time - The Delayed Recruitment Pattern

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to the third installment in my series of Female Straw Hat Patterns. Part 1 covered the various patterns established by the uncanny similarities between Nami and Robin's introductions, character designs, and actions, while Part 2 analyzed an alternative to the long established MFMM Recruitment Pattern that many theorists are likely familiar with by this point. In the first, we concluded that Monet (based on her position during her formal introduction in her name card scene), Carrot (having the most similar hair to Nami and Robin pre-timeskip while also being able to match them post-timeskip in her Sulong form), and Pudding (leading Luffy into a trap that resulted in him being caged and awaiting death at the hands of an arc villain) were the three that most closely matched the patterns set up for the previous female recruits. In the second, we determined that while the current MFMM Pattern means only one of the aforementioned girls can actually be recruited, including Luffy and Vivi changes the pattern to being -M+F (one fewer male recruit per sea, one more female), meaning that the final lineup of the New World recruits is shaping up to be Momo (male, recruit #9.5), Jinbe (M, #10), Pudding (F, #11), Carrot (F, #12) and Monet (F, #13).

One of the counterarguments that I've seen for both Pudding and Monet though is that they aren't relevant, that if they were going to join, they would have retained their place in the story instead of being pushed back in the narrative. I'm not going to go into explicit detail about the sorts of things that they could contribute if they were to come back, as I feel that those have been discussed enough within the One Piece theory literature, but I am going to talk about the precedent that Oda has established for delays in recruitment. Using this pattern, not only can we predict approximately when Pudding or Monet may return and join, but also when Carrot could likely receive her formal invitation and what other characters we've discussed previously may actually still have a chance or be knocked out of the running.

Let's look at the data:

Nami, our first female recruit, begins sailing with Luffy at the end of the Orange Town Arc. Let's call this point 1. While Luffy wholeheartedly feels that Nami is an official member of his crew, in her mind, she is still a thief sailing under the flag of the Arlong Pirates. For all intents and purposes, at point 1, Nami does not consider herself a Straw Hat Pirate.


Even when asked directly, she denies being an official member of the crew.

Since it's only one chapter and officially counted as a part of the Orange Town Arc, we're going to skip the Island of Rare Animals.

Next is Syrup Village, point 2, where during the battle against the Black Cat Pirates, Nami declares that this is a battle they cannot lose...


...because she would lose her treasure if they did. While it's played off as a joke, the truth of the matter is that her mind is still set on her own goals of raising enough money to free Cocoyasi Village, which losing this battle would obviously get in the way of (barring losing her money, she'd also definitely lose her life).

After the crew sails to Baratie in search of a chef, point 3, Nami steals the Going Merry, reiterating that she, as stated earlier, never actually said she was a part of the crew, and that her time with them was contingent on how much money she could make from them.


Yes, she feels remorse for her actions because she had grown attached...


...but her resignation to the possibility of never seeing them again comes from the belief that she is chained to Arlong as a member of his crew. Even now, after becoming close with the Straw Hats, she cannot bring herself to consider herself one of them, as she is inescapably a member of the Arlong Pirates, and her involvement with them was only for the sake of accumulating money to give to Arlong.

Finally at Arlong Park, point 4, when the crew comes to retrieve Nami, she insists directly to their faces that she was never one of them.


Yes, at this point, she is partially just trying to get them to give up on her so they don't get killed by Arlong, but that doesn't change the fact that she is not their ally. She likes them, she wants them to live, but she does not have and never has had any intention of sailing under their flag as a Straw Hat. It is only after Arlong's betrayal that her heart begins to sway.

After Arlong sends Captain Nezumi to steal Nami's treasure and the people of Cocoyasi Village decide it's time to revolt, Nami's emotions peak and she attempts to cut away the Arlong Pirates' Jolly Roger tattooed on her shoulder, a clear symbolic rejection of her membership on his crew.


After stopping her from brutalizing herself any further, Luffy places the Straw Hat atop her head to reassure her that he is on her side and hope isn't lost yet.


Needless to say, the meaning behind the gesture, Luffy allowing anyone else to wear his most valuable treasure, is not lost on Nami. As clear as the symbol of stabbing Arlong's Jolly Roger was as a rejection of him, this scene is a clear symbol of Nami beginning to truly identify herself as one of the Straw Hats. These two symbols culminate in her response to Arlong's ultimatum: side with him and let things continue as they have been, or side with the Straw Hats and forfeit the lives of her villagers.


If choosing death in this situation isn't a strong enough indicator of how Nami identifies herself, her agreement with Luffy's assertion that she is in fact a part of his crew should be.


Despite the fact that Nami began her journey with Luffy at Orange Town, from her perspective she did not join the crew as a proper member until Arlong Park. Therefore, the delay from her introduction to her official recruitment (at least on a mental level) goes as follows:

Orange Town (1) --> Syrup Village (2) --> Baratie (3) --> Arlong Park (4)

She joins in the fourth arc after her introduction.

Now let's look at Robin.

She first presents herself to the Straw Hats at the tail end of Whiskey Peak (1), isn't directly involved at all during Little Garden (2) or Drum Island (3), and then is a major antagonist during Alabasta (4), wherein after Luffy saves her life, she stows away on the Going Merry and requests to join the crew.


Just to recap: Whiskey Peak (1) --> Little Garden (2) --> Drum Island (3) --> Alabasta (4)

Four arcs, just like Nami. Unlike Nami, however, Robin considers herself a member of the crew immediately, and when she departs later on at Water 7, it is to protect them out of her love for them, not out of duty for anyone else.


I don't think anyone could argue that Robin doesn't consider herself a full-fledged member either in the time leading up to her departure or when she leaves.

It's also worth noting that because they were introduced at pretty much the same time, Vivi also follows essentially the same path as Robin, though her's is slightly off. Despite being introduced as Miss Wednesday inside of Laboon (and therefore during the Reverse Mountain Arc), Vivi actually begins her adventure with the crew at Whiskey Peak, so while you could argue Reverse Mountain is her starting point, I would consider it to be Whiskey Peak (1).


She then fights as one of them on Little Garden (2), negotiates for help with the people of Drum Island (3), and finally receives a formal invitation at Alabasta (4).


Of course, she declines, but asks that should they meet again she be considered their friend.


As an aside, her wording there is quite similar to Nami's when she initially left the crew, though Vivi's is much more hopeful as she believes it's something that could conceivably happen.

As I said before, even though she was officially introduced to the story an arc earlier, her journey with the Straw Hats as Vivi rather than Miss Wednesday perfectly mirrors the time it took for Robin to join from her introduction: Whiskey Peak (1) --> Little Garden (2) --> Drum Island (3) --> Alabasta (4). Four arcs, just like Nami, culminating in her confirming that she would like to consider herself a member of the crew, but cannot continue with them out of love for her people.

Before we start looking at other candidates, I want to point out that the girls aren't the only ones with delayed recruitments. The currently newest official member, Jinbe, actually has his recruitment delayed twice.

After initially being invited at Fishman Island...


...he refuses because of business he has left to attend to, that being that he is currently a member of the Big Mom Pirates.


At Whole Cake Island, during the raid on Sanji and Pudding's wedding ceremony, Jinbe officially severs ties with the Big Mom Pirates.


However, before he can officially make any vows with Luffy, Jinbe is forced to stay behind to help his old crew, the Sun Pirates, survive a battle with Big Mom's forces so that the Straw Hats can escape Totto Land.


Luffy of course already considers Jinbe a member of the crew by this point, but if Oda's refusal to put Jinbe in any of the group shots on color pages is any indication, he isn't meant to be considered an official member just yet. It isn't until the beginning of the raid on Onigashima at Wano that Jinbe returns and is officially introduced in his new name card as a member of the Straw Hat Crew.


No matter how you look at it, though, it hasn't been four arcs exactly since either of those instances: Fishman Island (1) --> Punk Hazard (2) --> Dressrosa (3) --> Zou (4) --> Whole Cake Island (5/1) --> Reverie (6/2) --> Wano (7/3). It doesn't matter which starting point you use, it doesn't come out to four arcs. Unless...

There's actually two ways to shift our perspective here. The easier one, although it's still up in the air considering the official arc breakdown obviously hasn't been made public yet, would be to consider Onigashima as independent of Wano. Like I said, we don't know yet if Oda will consider it to be, but there is precedent to assume he may do just that: Water 7 and Enies Lobby.

Though the two are technically the same arc, given that they share the same antagonists and the story isn't resolved by the end of Water 7 proper, Enies Lobby is still a separate island and is officially recognized as its own, independent arc. Similarly, Onigashima is also a separate island that the crew must travel to, with the main plot points of Wano thus far going unresolved. In fact, there are a ton of parallels between the transition from Water 7 to Enies Lobby and that of Wano to Onigashima.

1. Both transitions take place during a storm (Aqua Laguna and the storm at Tokage Port)

2. Both see Luffy allying with two other formerly opposing forces (Paulie of Galley-La and Zambai of the Franky Family at Water 7, Law of the Heart Pirates and Kidd of the Kidd Pirates at Wano)


3. Both see the cast specific to those islands betrayed by someone they trust (Galley-La betrayed by the members of CP9, the Red Scabbards betrayed by Kanjuro)


4. Both see a friend taken away, necessitating they be rescued at the destination (Robin by CP9, Momo by Kanjuro)


5. Both showcase a new Straw Hat, though their official status in the narrative is somewhat tenuous (Franky doesn't officially join until after returning to Water 7 but is featured in cover art as if he's already joined, Jinbe has officially declared he will join and is identified as an official Straw Hat, but there is one hang-up that I will explain momentarily)


With so many parallels between the two arcs, Onigashima is shaping up to be its own arc within the overall Wano Saga, but we'll only know for sure once official sources confirm in some way. That said, if this is the moment that Jinbe is officially considered a Straw Hat, then that still leaves us at point 3, Wano, rather than Onigashima, which would be point 4. Fortunately, Oda has given us an out. When Luffy attempts to make a toast to Jinbe's official induction into the crew, he decides that it would be better to hold off until after Kaido and Big Mom are defeated so that everyone, the Straw Hats, the Heart Pirates, the Kidd Pirates, the Samurai, the Minks, everyone with a vested interest in overthrowing Orochi's rule can party together.


With that, from his departure from the Big Mom Pirates at Whole Cake Island, Jinbe's delay is four arcs: Whole Cake Island (1) --> Reverie (2) --> Wano (3) --> Onigashima (4). If we start from his invitation at Fishman Island, though, we're in a bit tougher of a spot, since that still leaves us at 8 arcs, double the initial pattern. While one could argue that being specifically double may be a sign in and of itself, I'm not going to do that. Instead, we're not going to be looking at individual arcs, but rather the sagas...well, sub-sagas.

See, technically it's only been three sagas since the beginning of the greater New World Saga: Fishman Island, Dressrosa, and Yonko. However, the Yonko Saga is such a massive undertaking so far that I don't think it'd be wrong to split it up into two between Big Mom and Kaido. I suppose the justification for Whole Cake Island being a part of the Yonko Saga rather than its own is because Big Mom isn't defeated in it and it's meant to be a detour before going to Wano, but it feels too big to let it be swallowed up in my opinion. Hence, I will be referring to it as the Totto Land Sub-saga (Zou and Whole Cake Island).

From there, Jinbe can be seen as spanning four sagas and sub-sagas rather than arcs: Fishman Island (1) --> Dressrosa (2) --> Totto Land (3) --> Wano (4). If it helps, you can also consider it as major overarching enemies: Hody Jones (1) --> Doflamingo (2) --> Big Mom (3) --> Kaido (4). If that's still not good enough, though, we actually can extend all the way back to his proper introduction for full sagas, giving us the Summit War (1) --> Fishman Island (2) --> Dressrosa (3) --> Yonko (4). Whether you're looking at it through units of arcs, antagonists or sagas, Jinbe definitely has options for his delays to be considered as lasting four segments of the story.

Now that we've established a delay of four story units (arcs, antagonists or potentially sagas), let's see how all of our candidates match up.

Let's start with Carrot, since she's the most involved in the current story. Carrot is introduced during Zou (1) and also boards the Thousand Sunny at the end of the arc, before the officially recognized start of Whole Cake Island. She then travels to Whole Cake Island (2) with the Straw Hats, where she participates in pretty much all of the major events therein. After the crew escapes from Whole Cake Island, the story detours to Reverie (3), then finally returns to Wano (4) where Carrot is a part of the invading force on Onigashima. If Wano and Onigashima are taken as a whole (which they still could well be at this point), then the end of Wano is when we can expect Carrot to receive her formal invitation. If Wano and Onigashima are separate, then unfortunately, Carrot may just end up slipping through the cracks. If that happens, I envision her deciding to become a pirate in her own right, perhaps reviving the Nox Pirates, and becoming a Fleet Captain for the Straw Hats. Carrot's been built up far too much for her not to be at least a recurring ally, but I'm still confident that she'll join the crew proper. Honestly, though, we probably won't know whether Onigashima counts as a part of Wano or stands alone until some time after it ends, so Carrot may or may not join before we know for sure. Of course it's also possible that Oda is skipping Reverie in the count since it's so short and concurrent with everything else, so Carrot could still be counted as Zou (1) --> Whole Cake Island (2) --> Wano (3) --> Onigashima (4), but either way, that throws off Jinbe's delay in units of arcs, which would demonstrate that Jinbe's delay was in units of sagas instead. Whatever happens, if Carrot doesn't join the crew by the end of Wano, then I don't personally expect her to join at all, but for all we know she's using sagas or antagonists and is either on her first or second depending on which.

Next is Pudding, who is currently running at exactly the same pace as Jinbe. By that, I mean that you can consider her starting point as her official introduction, following the arc path of Whole Cake Island (1) --> Reverie (2) --> Wano (3) --> Onigashima (4), or you can consider the fact that her first appearance was during the Fishman Island arc when Big Mom received the news that Fishman Island wouldn't be able to deliver the sweets they promised her.


If we look at it this way, then we're going by antagonists, again, like Jinbe, and follow Hody (1) --> Doflamingo (2) --> Big Mom (3) --> Kaido (4). Of course, if she isn't at Onigashima like I expect her to be, then she could still be going by saga and would, like Carrot, either have two or three left beyond this point.

Monet's time table is much more stringent, unfortunately. She has, without a doubt, passed the arc requirement: Punk Hazard (1) --> Dressrosa (2) --> Zou (3) --> Whole Cake Island (4) --> Reverie (5) --> Wano (6) --> Onigashima (7). Unless Jinbe having double the arcs turns out to be the New World's subversion of the pattern, then Monet's missed that particular window of opportunity. However, if we look at it by antagonists or full sagas, we've still got time.

By antagonist, her path would be Doflamingo (1) --> Big Mom (2) --> Kaido (3) --> ??? (4), buying her one more saga or sub-saga's worth of time.

By saga, her path would be Dressrosa (1) --> Yonko (2) --> ??? (3) --> ??? (4), buying her two whole sagas. I'm inclined to think it will be the former though, because honestly, One Piece isn't going on forever, and at its current pace, I'm not sure how many more sagas there can be. There are a lot of conflicts and loose ends to deal with, each of which could easily take up their own full arc and overlap with each other to create numerous sagas, but if Oda wants to finish up in the next four or five years, he's probably going to have to deal with a few things at a time. Therefore, while I don't think it will be damning if it doesn't happen, I think Monet will come back at some point during the next most major antagonist's saga or sub-saga. Let's say for example the next full saga is split up into a Blackbeard sub-saga and a Shanks sub-saga, with the whole thing being...I don't know...the Yonko Saga 2, why not. Monet would, presumably, need to arrive by the end of the Blackbeard sub-saga, lest she be delegated to a saga that comes after. She'd still have a chance to arrive, but it would look even shakier and be that much harder to justify. That said, I do have a strong hunch of what the saga she'll return in will be like, but that's for another time.

Of course, this pattern isn't actually all that useful if it's only able to justify holding out hope, it needs to be able to trim the possibilities as well.

Anyone introduced before the timeskip has long since run out of arcs and antagonists, but some of the later additions still have just a smidgen left in their sagas. Specifically, Hancock and Marguerite, introduced during the Summit War Saga like Jinbe, are just about to run down the clock: Summit War (1) --> Fishman Island (2) --> Dressrosa (3) --> Yonko (4). Assuming that the Yonko Saga is ending with Kaido (which I guess with a title like that it could easily include Shanks and Blackbeard), the two of them are all but deconfirmed, as there isn't really any reason (or feasible way) for them to come all the way to Wano from Amazon Lily, which is currently under attack from the Marines. I suppose since Koby is the one spearheading the attack, he could conceivably draft up a new deal between the Kuja and the Marines under the banner of SWORD, which then would connect them back to Drake who is certainly going to be involved in the conflict on Onigashima, but that's a bit of a stretch in logic given the likely time constraints. Therefore, unless the Yonko Saga continues on beyond this point, I think we can say that our two Kuja candidates can be considered out of the running.

The girls of Dressrosa, Rebecca and Viola, are in the same boat as Monet, being introduced during the Dressrosa arc under Doflamingo, so any chance Monet has, strictly speaking they do too, though I still don't think they have much in the first place as I said in part 1.

Tashigi is out of the running no matter how you look at it. She was introduced all the way back in East Blue, and has long since run out of arcs, antagonists and sagas. At this point her only hope for four story units is seas, so unless there's a saga in the Black Sea of space or along the Red Line (both of which I'd very much welcome), I think she's out of luck. Actually, I suppose the Sky Island Saga could be considered a White Sea Saga in its own way, so if you really want to get technical, she has until the end of the New World, but I think that's stretching this whole pattern way too far. Jinbe's subversion is big enough and completely debatable, I don't think there's any need to assume Tashigi will subvert it further.

I didn't mention her in the previous theories since she had nothing really going for her in the other patterns, but Perona is also out for sure, with Thriller Bark being five whole sagas back at this point.

Ginrummy first appeared at Zou, but interestingly that appearance was during Dressrosa, so she's either out of arcs or just about to run out. She hasn't gotten enough attention thus far to justifiably say she might reappear down the line, but Onigashima is the perfect time to determine if she's got any promise.

Tama and Hiyori, having only just appeared at Wano, are probably about to be in their second arc if Onigashima counts, so I'm not currently expecting anything of them in this regard, but they've got the most time to work with.

Let's review: based on the similarities in Nami, Robin, Vivi and Jinbe's character arcs, a female recruit (or possibly any New World recruit at this point, regardless of gender) is not likely to be recruited at the end of the first arc they are introduced or featured in, but in the fourth from whichever counts as their starting part. If we look at the candidates in units of arcs, as presented by Nami, Robin and Vivi, then anyone introduced before Zou is out, but if we look at it in units of antagonists or sagas, as potentially presented by Jinbe, then anyone introduced in the New World is still fair game. Either way, though, pre-timeskip characters are as good as deconfirmed. If this theory and my previous two are all true and work in conjunction, then I think we can expect Carrot and Pudding to join at the end of Wano (currently a distinct possibility, since Carrot is a part of the raid on Onigashima and the Big Mom Pirates are at the banquet), and Monet to reappear at some point within the next saga.

Before I wrap up, I just want to say one thing: a pattern is just a pattern. It is an attempt to predict the future based on the past. Patterns can be changed, and they can be broken. If there is something you want to see, know that so long as One Piece is going, there is always time. Do not despair, but do not disparage either. Though I say Tashigi won't happen, that is simply my observation. If you believe in Tashigi's chances, I will never, under any circumstance, tell you that are you wrong, only that I do not believe in them myself. I have faith in my observations, and I will stand by them until the day they are proven definitively right or wrong, but I will not insist that you take them as gospel. All I hope is that this theory helped turn the wheels in your head and, if I'm lucky, was a fun read for you.

Until next time, thank you all for reading.

-Tokiro Oumaga
 
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