What kind of Yamato is after all?

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Of the (literally) 1000+ characters from One Piece’s 1000+ (also literally) chapters and episodes, few have enjoyed such meteoric popularity as Yamato. Yamato ranked eleventh in last year’s Global Popularity Poll, organized by manga publisher Shueisha and voted on by fans.

This result is stunning for two reasons. First, Yamato is ahead of several Straw Hats, including Usopp and Chopper. Secondly, this poll took place even before Yamato was introduced in the anime, which means that the upvotes only come from readers of the manga. The character’s popularity is encouraging for another reason: at the time of the poll, Yamato was celebrated by a portion of the One Piece fanbase as transgender.

If Yamato’s sexual identity is beyond doubt, what about his gender? A bit of context is in order. After the Straw Hats travel to Onigashima, Yamato is first introduced to us as “Kaido’s son” (Kaido is one of the “Yonko”, or Four Emperors). Yamato also begins by wearing an outfit that hides his figure and a Hannya mask.

Everyone in the Beasts Pirates refers to Yamato with “he/she” pronouns, as do episode descriptions on Crunchyroll. After Yamato’s introduction, Luffy quickly calls him “Yama-o”, which translates to “Yama-guy” and matches the nickname structure he uses for Trafalgar Law (“Oi, Tra-o!! “).

But in the fall of 2021, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda said in a Vivre Cards series that Yamato was female. This plunged part of the community into disarray and confusion. Additionally, after the reveal of Yamato’s face, the anime and manga again feature Yamato as “Kaido’s daughter”.

Yamato identifies with Kozuki Oden, who is male. But one can also assume that if Kaido refers to Yamato as his “son”, it’s not out of respect for Yamato’s personal wishes, and certainly not out of respect for the person who gave Kaido his scar. Yamato is presented to us with explosive handcuffs, shackled by Kaido himself, after all. Kaido is really the type to give birth to a girl and say, “No way, I need a son. So you are my son. All of this added confusion to Yamato’s pronouns as the battle over Onigashima continued.

There is also the question of the Hannya mask, which is a powerful symbol. However, as ubiquitous as it is in Japan, many people outside the country don’t grasp the symbolism. The Hannya mask is one of the most recognizable masks in Noh, which is a dramatic Japanese dance. It specifically represents “feminine rage and pain”. Very poetically, “When the mask is held straight forward, it looks angry. When the mask is held a little lower, it looks sad,” which certainly fits Yamato’s character.

Abused by kaido?

yamato and kaido

Yamato as a child was abused by Kaido….. When Oden nearly killed him, and he came out as a hero, Yamato was hypnotized and inspired by him… She started to imitate Oden to the point of wanting literally being Oden… She became obsessed with Oden and even started calling herself Oden.

Yamato doesn’t want to be a man, she’s not uncomfortable with being a woman… (it’s obvious because she doesn’t even make an attempt to appear as a man, so she certainly does not have gender dysphoria). But being oden was like a coping mechanism that kicked in due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of Kaido…

Yamato Basics

The idea of ​​Yamato not wanting to be seen by others as a woman and using a hat to hide was dropped. The book also mentions that, compared to today’s manly Yamato, Yamato’s early sketches appear more feminine.

After all, the series posted an update this week that included plenty of unreleased Yamato storyboards and drafts. This is where a never-before-seen scene was shown that followed Yamato as she spoke with Momonosuke about their gender identity. In this draft, Yamato directly states that she is a girl, but this moment was ultimately cut by Oda. As you can see, this scene also shows Yamato with a more feminine design than One Piece fans are used to, so it’s clear the character has evolved a lot.

But still ?

Some people feel that the bath scene is enough to show that Yamato is a trans man. In our opinion, this is not enough to prove that this is the case, but this track is not necessarily to be excluded. In view of the reaction of others, this could simply mean that she feels comfortable in the company of men and that nudity is in no way taboo for her.

yamato bath man

Regarding our writing, we use the pronoun “she” for Yamato, because we take the posture of the author, Oda himself. If this posture were to change, we would do the same.

Either way, the debate may never end, as the expectations of fans are diverse, but some take it as a big event that Yamato can be trans, to feel represented in the series, that’s why this question is so big. But we believe that everything is possible and that everyone can make their own interpretation of the character, without it necessarily being considered wrong or right, white or black. Case to follow.