I noticed even in the Englished Dubbed version of One Piece many of the props (flags, signs, etc) use Japanese symbols rather than alphabetical words, and now, watching on the Subbed version, I notice some things are actually written in English. For example an island entrance says "Punk Hazard" and "Danger" in English, even though they're speaking Japanese.

I've noticed this kind of inconsistency elsewhere too, for example, even in the Subbed version, you hear many English words and names, such as their shipwright saying "Super!". I've nopticed more things like this throughout the entire series, having watched many episodes in Dubbed and Subbed versions.

So, is there an explanation for why English and Japanese are intermingled so heavily in One Piece? it seems odd for the text to be inconsistent. Maybe they produced a few different versions with different text forms, but that would be odd since it's not even an English dubbed version in some cases.

Was the writer bilingual? Or was it perhaps a strategy to please English and Japanese viewers equally? Or some other reason?

  • 2
    Your question is a combination of this question and this question.
    – Ashishgup
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 4:51
  • 3
    Not sure what your mother tongue is, but does your language not have loanwords or use foreign words to make it sound cooler? Like how many French expressions are used in the English language for example. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 15:59
  • I think your title should rather read "why is the written language not uniform (or: mixed) throughout One Piece?" as it has been actually pretty consistently mutilingual from early on. Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 10:25

3 Answers 3


Ashishgup mentioned general aspects of English in Japanese anime and conversely in his comment.

Beside that, note that English is an obvious feature of One Piece. The name of the manga itself is "One Piece" in Japanese, not ワンピース !

Looking at the Japanese version of the manga, you can quickly notice that shop signs, some brands, city signs and even some fight moves are written in English. All important characters are introduced with their name dubbed in English in the background.

It seems then consistent that the anime keeps this feature (the anime being derived from the manga and not the other way around).

As for why it is so: mixing languages is more than ever a trend in all languages. Some mangaka will do it more than others. Eiichiro Oda does it quite a lot.


Culturally English seems to show up in anime and manga a lot. However, for One Piece there is an additional reason. This story takes some inspiration for characters from real-life pirates (and other individuals) which were primarily English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. The characters are generally not Japanese.

Just focusing on Straw Hats:

Sanji, Robin, and Brook use french for their attacks. Robin also mixes in Spanish while Brook mixes in German. Franky is obviously an American and keeps speaking American English. Luffy, Usopp, Chopper, and Nami seem to be mostly English speaking. Basically, Oda sometimes borrows words from the languages he thinks are appropriate for that character whenever he wants to for emphasis. Zoro is thoroughly Japanese despite not being from Wano. Instead of languages, he names otherworldly imagery for emphasis.

Interestingly, this doesn't line up well with the nationalities in the SBS. Otherwise, Robin would speak Russian, Luffy would speak Portuguese, Usopp would speak an unspecified African language, and Nami would speak Swedish.

The Doflamingos use Spanish. The World Gov. uses English. This does not explain all uses of English and it does not explain them at all in universe.


I'd probably say it's because the language barrier between English and Japanese is huge. Learning Japanese if you speak english or learning english if your Japanese are both really tall tasks... in the older anime you'll see tons of inconsistencies for when they try to throw in some english. They didn't plan on messing up some of the translations. It just happened. It's the same way for when Americans try to speak Japanese and aren't fluent. We sound funny and make simple mistakes. They say english is the hardest language to learn. Its definitely one of them.

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