After the two-year time skip, Zoro and Robin came back lighter skinned. I would have thought nothing of it, but after searching for "fishman racism" on Google, I ran into an article on Oda's racism towards "ethnic" people. One Piece is my favorite anime and I watch it a lot, so I don't take any "white washing" argument lightly. I don't even want to think of Oda as having racial bias, but I won't ignore the facts.

The article discusses different aspects of One Piece that can lead one to believe that the show has some racist undertones, but I won't go into detail about the article. The story about racism in One Piece mentions that Oda did tell the animators to change certain things concerned with the two-year time skip, and two of the dark-skinned characters came back way lighter. Is Oda racist? I don't know but I can't say he isn't, as the article had valid and reasonable points to prove that he at least has a racial bias.

Then after reading the article above, I am sitting around thinking about it from time to time. So was it actually white washed or did these changes happen for some other reason?

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    Could you reference the article? That way interested people could access it too. I would be interested in reading such an article. Also could you explain the jump you make from making a characters skin lighter to being racist. I don't see the connection there. Apr 5, 2015 at 12:21
  • I phrased it wrong, I meant some racial bias, not racism exactly. Anyways, in the article, she mentions the lighter skin tones thing. I was thinking they were white washed out of racial bias, not full blown racism. Apr 5, 2015 at 17:32
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    Related: anime.stackexchange.com/q/7539/6166 May 26, 2015 at 14:29
  • Whether One Piece is racist and whether Oda is racist are two entirely different questions. A work of fiction has a degree of autonomy from its author. A racist can write a non-racist work and non-racist can write a racist work (perhaps unintentionally with the latter). Mar 30, 2016 at 0:46

3 Answers 3


Well, Zoro did spend those two years in a dark island/gloomy castle, so he probably didn't see much sun. Robin also spent her time in the mountains, I believe, which were hardly places to get sun tans (compared to her old job in a desert).

I don't think the skin pigment changes had anything to do with racism, as these kinds of changes were more associated with tans and less with race.

  • Ah okay, I got you. It did not mean anything to me until I read the article. Apr 5, 2015 at 10:51
  • But, then that begs the question, why wasn't vivi darkskinned? If Zoro and Robin got lighter because they weren't near the sun, Vivi should have been at least pre-time skip Robins shade. Same with all of the women from Shandoria, an inherently darker people (both Shandorians and Alabastians) have pale skinned women. Apr 5, 2015 at 18:05
  • Vivi spent her entirelife in the blazing sun, along with all the Alabasta people but a lot of them (almost all their women) are pale. By your thought process, they should all look like people in the middle east. Apr 5, 2015 at 18:07
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    @HellionCazzy Well Vivi is a girl, so she probably put up tan reducing creams to look prettier, her servants held up sun umbrellas and she was always inside studying unlike the boys that were outside playing and tanning. These days most Japanese girls want to look lighter, because it looks prettier on them. It's a typical beauty standard for Japanese girls, nothing more to it you know. Apr 5, 2015 at 22:41
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    Okay thank you. That is what I was trying to get answered with my question. I assumed their beauty standard was being pale. But every time I asked people made stuff up about the conditions the character was in. At least now I got a real answer. Peace Apr 5, 2015 at 23:32

In Japan, being white is a sign of being rich and wealthy since the working class is out in the fields so they would obviously have a darker skin tone. It's been like this for thousands of years. Oda is appealing to the wealthier class. There is a huge prejudice. You don't see many anime characters that have a darker skin shade anymore because Japan's definition of beauty is being white. There are African American characters yes but not the in between. And don't even get me started on the over-sexualization in One Piece and the RIDICULOUS reasons Oda gave for drawing Robin and Nami the way they're drawn in the timeskip. Also, go compare the straw hats timeskip to pre timeskip. It's like Luffy went from being 16 to 14 lol.


Oda does use race and culture in a lot of places and some of them may seem offensive to a group or race. One example would be underneath the Corrida Colosseum the Officer Tower has moon and stars which resembles the Turks. Earlier Ottoman's did have the control over of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea markets. Ottoman's also had the biggest slave trade in that time and lots of slaves worked at the docks.

Is Oda racist?

This may seem offensive to some Turks cause it's clearly the bad guys which remsebles to Turks but does that make Oda a racist?

It's hard to imagine someone who doesn't have any racial bias. But if you look at Fishman Island arc you'd notice that Oda tried to explain the whole racism thing as stupid.

So was it actually white washed or did these changes happen for some other reason?

Nilone4's answered it effectively. In simple One Piece is an anime/manga series which needs to generate money by making what people want to see.

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