Although pirates are the protagonists of One Piece, one of the recurring antagonists of the Straw Hats are the Marines. The Marines serve the World Government and maintain the order of things as they currently are, both for better and for worse. Despite their status as guardians of the peace, they also suffer from deep corruption, as the higher ups are some of the strongest people in the world, and they are one of the most powerful groups in history.
Marines are often described as horrible people who take advantage of those who trust them for their safety. Marines take this trust for granted and abuse the cities in which they are stationed. Although not all Marines are horrible human beings, the vast majority are. Those most susceptible to corruption are those closest to the nobility of the World Government. Many times, they abuse not only citizens but also their own men. Having to face pirates in a constant attempt to maintain order of things, these are some of the toughest fighters in the world.
One of the greatest examples of this corruption is Admiral Akainu. He is rumored to be the most hated character in the entire series, and is an example of how power rises to the head and does not understand the true meaning of justice. Instead, it follows the doctrine of Absolute Justice, which means it will punish anyone caught breaking the law, no matter the circumstances. Many Marines follow this doctrine, thinking they are the only force for good in the world. There are no shades of gray for them, and the pirates – along with anyone who helps them – must be destroyed at all costs.
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World Government leaders do nothing to stop this mindset and abuse as it helps them stay in power. Without a system of checks and balances, the two corrupt forces oppress the people they are supposed to lead and protect. Senior officials only get their jobs when the leaders see it that way, regardless of whether the promotion is truly deserved. They only seek to promote those who uphold their own corrupt laws. For this reason, the members of the Marine Corps who obtain positions of power abuse them, knowing that no one will stop them.
With such a corrupt system, it’s no wonder the Marines are so hated among ordinary citizens. Although there are people like Koby who try to change the system from within, it is difficult when even world leaders refuse to do anything to quell the abuses. While some want the Marines to be a force for good and change, that dream seems a long way off given the current state of affairs. The townspeople can’t do much against them because several of the admirals are Devil Fruit users, have been genetically enhanced, or are simply incredibly strong, so the average citizen is unlikely to be able to stand up to them. However, with Luffy so close to defeating Kaido and Big Mom, change could be on the horizon.