There are probably more tattoo tributes to One Piece than any other manga and anime series ever made, which makes sense because it is the largest, longest-running, record-breaking franchise of its kind and shows no signs of flying a white flag anytime soon. One would think that story of an ambitious young man with elastic limbs sailing around the world would eventually run out of steam, but the creators of the brand have kept its swashbuckling antics going strong by finding innovative ways to keep the narrative fresh for 20 years and counting.
For those of you who somehow missed out on the global phenomenon that is One Piece, it follows the exploits of Monkey D. Luffy, a teenager who decides to devote his life to hunting down the mythical “One Piece” — a mysterious treasure possessed by the King of the Pirates — so that he can steal the artifact and have notorious title for himself. Along his way, he befriends nine companions, forming the Straw Hat Pirates, a group of fun-loving marauders who are as prone to hijinks as they are to getting into hot water.
The reason behind One Piece’s longevity and popularity is plain to see: it’s filled with some of the wildest characters ever created, the animation is extremely eye-catching, every episode’s adventure is both thrilling and silly, and, most important of all, it explores the blurry line between heroism and villainy in a refreshing way. Luffy’s famous lines from the 554th episode of the show best sums up its philosophical undercurrent. “I love heroes, but I don't want to be one. Do you even know what a hero is? For example, you have some meat,” says the protagonist. “Pirates will feast on the meat, but the hero will distribute it among the people. I want to eat the meat."
Owning a One Piece tattoo is about more than just openly sporting one’s fandom for the series. The upbeat spirit of the manga and anime comes along with having an homage to it on your skin. Nothing says you’ve got spunk like having the stretchy-armed captain’s grinning face on your body. Like chowing down on a piece of Devil Fruit, getting a tattoo of your favorite character is empowering. It illustrates that you, similarly to Luffy and the rest of the his zany crew, know how to take the helm and plot your own course in life. In short, it shows that you know how to have your meat and eat it, too.
To see more nerdy tattoos, drop by all of these artists’ Instagrams. Should you want a tattoo tribute to show that you’re down with the Straw Hat Pirates, have one of them design a portrait of Luffy or one of the Thousand Sunny’s other crew members for you.