Aside from its literary brilliance, one of the most striking features of One Piece is the magnitude of its world-building and the sheer volume the main storyline has attained since the first volume was published twenty-five years ago. The still-expanding, voluminous narrative has often discouraged even hardcore otakus from venturing into the fictional world of pirates of the four seas. Understandably, while adapting the story for live-action, the makers at Netflix decided to omit, splice, and jump through several story arcs by jamming over 100 chapters into the first season, a strategy that will be followed in the following seasons as well.
To hint at the narrative that will shape up in the near future, the closing moments of the finale of the first season teased a certain character who will begin his hunt for Luffy and his Straw-hat crew soon enough. The individual in question is Smoker the White Hunter, a reputed Marine Captain, whose inclusion in the story will be interesting in the second season as it will allow the narrative transition from East Blue to Grand Line to be smoother as well. Let’s have a brief discussion about Smoker’s possible impact on future storylines along with the characteristics of the Marine, and it goes without saying that it’ll contain major spoilers.
How Does The Straw-Hat Crew Come Under Smoker’s Radar?
After beating Arlong and his crew and rescuing Coco village, the ragtag team of Straw-hat pirates prepares to set sail for the Grand Line to resume Luffy’s quest to become the king of the pirates by obtaining the One Piece. The first friend Luffy made during his first nautical adventure, the Marine Greenhorn Koby, presents him with a wanted poster that recognizes his recent notoriety, thereby fulfilling Luffy’s wish of becoming an infamous pirate. Luffy’s wanted poster can be seen all throughout the places the Straw-hat crew has visited so far—the places from where they belong—right from Baratie, Windmill village, to Syrup village. Even Red-haired Shanks gets a copy of the poster from Warlord Mihawk and celebrates this good news with his crew.
While this newfound infamy might seem exciting to Luffy, it also entails concerns as bounty hunters, vengeful pirates, and Marines will begin the pursuit of the Straw Hat as well. Just before the credits start rolling, the camera moves through a smoke-filled room where a Marine official (face not revealed) is seen seated, who focuses on Luffy’s wanted poster and burns it using his cigars. One Piece fans will easily recognize the character as Smoker the White Hunter from his iconic dual cigars and white hair. A young Smoker was supposedly also present during the execution of the former pirate king Gold Roger, as shown in a blink-and-miss scene in the first episode of the series. Luffy will soon meet his newest adversary, Smoker, as Smoker is stationed at Logue Town, possibly the next stop of the Straw-hat crew in their journey to Grand Line.
Who Is Smoker? What Role Does He Play In A Larger Narrative?
The first season showcased the contrasting aspects of the World Government’s anti-pirate administration through a set of associated characters. While there are corrupt Marine officials like Captain Axe-hand Morgan (whose villainy was dialed down compared to manga) and Captain Nezumi who abuse their power, officials like Vice Admiral Garp stand out as shining examples of nobility and honor. Smoker falls into the second category, and there are some similarities he shares with Garp in this aspect. The headstrong, rebellious, and impulsive Marine captain believes in his own form of justice that goes beyond the rules set by his superiors. Smoker doesn’t believe in the absolute justice preached by the Marines; instead, the fierce official is a believer in idealism, which causes him to clash with his superiors on a regular basis. In the marine world, Smoker represents the benevolent, sensible form of justice that prioritizes civilian welfare over meted-out punishment for miscreants.
What separates Smoker from the rest of the Marine Captains is his smoke-related powers, as indicated by his name. Like Luffy, Smoker, too, has consumed rare Devil fruit, which has granted him smoke manipulation abilities, which he uses effectively to hunt pirates. Aside from his powers, Smoker is a well-built, extremely skilled individual capable of holding his own in front of multiple adversaries. Smoker wields a Nanashaku Jitte, which he uses to hunt Devil Fruit consumers, as the weapon inflicts similar damage as seawater does to them. As if he weren’t already cool enough, Smoker also rides a unique three-wheeled motorcycle known as the Billower Bike, which runs on his smoke powers.
In the series, Smoker is aware of the Straw Hat crew and already knows that they were behind the destruction of Arlong Park and the theft of the Grand Line map from Shell Island. Stationed at Loguetown, which is situated on the closest island to Grand Line, all Smoker has to do is wait for Luffy and Co. to arrive. Also, the fact remains that the same island was the hometown of the legendary pirate Gold Roger, which is perhaps the reason why a young Smoker was present during his execution. Without spoiling much, all we can state is that Loguetown will act as the arena where Luffy and Smoker confront each other in the second season, and a significant character is going to appear as well.
The first season positioned Luffy’s grandpa, Marine Vice Admiral Garp, as the secondary adversary the Straw-hat crew had to face time and time again, who, after a confrontation with his grandson, decided to relinquish their pursuit. In the second season, Garp’s position as constant pursuer will be taken by Smoker and his associate Tashigi, and the youthful dynamic in both parties is going to be a sight to behold.