One Piece: Rebecca the Gladiator

One Piece: Rebecca the Gladiator

Introduction to Rebecca

I’m about halfway through the Dressrosa saga of One Piece (on episode 690) and I already have multiple topics I want to discuss within the arc. So rather than waiting to put it all in my final review of Dressrosa, I’m going to do two or three discussions about specific topics within the arc.

And the first of those topics is on Rebecca and her swordsmanship.

I really like Rebecca’s character for a few reasons. Her character showcases a rough idea of what it was like to be a gladiator. I think she has a very good design compared to similar characters. And she probably has some of the most realistic swordsmanship in the One Piece series.

Rebecca is also just one of those extremely likable, saga-specific, supporting characters — much like Vivi during Alabasta and Camie during Fishman Island. And unfortunately, that also means we probably won’t see too much of her once the arc is over. She’ll be around, but it’s not like she’s going to join the Straw Hat crew.

Gladiatorial Combat

As we see in Dressrosa, “professional” gladiators were slaves. I think this is something people often forget. It’s not like gladiators were the professional athlete’s of Rome who decided to go into that line of work. These were generally people who were sold into slavery and then forced to fight (and die) for the amusement and monetary gain of others.

But that also doesn’t mean that every fight that took place within the real Colosseum was a battle to the death. After all, if you have highly skilled and entertaining gladiators, you don’t want them to die. Gladiators such as this would bring in larger crowds and also make more money for their owners.

Rebecca is not one of those gladiators though. She’s not a privately owned slave and she’s definitely not beloved by the citizens of Dressrosa. She’s basically one of the throwaway gladiators who are sent out to die.

Rebecca thrusting her sword from the anime series One Piece (Dressrosa)
Rebecca thrusting her sword

Two other aspects of being a “professional” gladiator that Rebecca embodies are the idea of fighting for her freedom and the fact that she’s highly skilled at combat. In this arc, we’re told that Doflamingo will grant freedom to any gladiator who achieves 1,000 wins, and while this number isn’t realistic, the idea behind it is.

Gladiators who were exceptionally popular and successful could be freed by the emperor.

And as we’re told by some of the other gladiators, Rebecca is the one who stands the best chance of achieving this goal. She’s highly skilled at combat. But while Rebecca is skilled due to her training as a child, it’s actually not unheard of for gladiators to be some of the most deadly and efficient fighters.

Since they’re forced to fight or train every single day, they have a lot of experience. This is in part why the slave revolt led by Spartacus was able to defeat multiple of Rome’s armies. So the idea that a gladiator like Rebecca would be one of the strongest swordsmen in the country isn’t a stretch.

Character Design and “Armor”

While the ideas about gladiators that we see Rebecca embody are fairly realistic, her character design isn’t really. It’s possible that you could see female gladiators dressed in a similar fashion to her, but if that’s the case it would have been because they were doing a re-enactment battle in the Colosseum.

I shouldn’t have to point out that her “armor” isn’t exactly realistic. But as I said, if they were doing a re-enactment, especially one involving the Amazons, then I suppose it could be possible for some female slaves to be forced to fight in costumes that would be somewhat like Rebecca’s.

Looking at her outfit though, the cape stands out to me first. This isn’t something you would want to be wearing in a combat situation. It would just get in the way and restrict her motion. Then, of course, we have the classic female Roman armor in anime trope of armor from the knees down.

Rebecca taking an offensive stance from the anime series One Piece (Dressrosa)
Rebecca taking an offensive stance

Nero from the Fate series has this same design. But while I don’t like Nero’s design, I think Rebecca’s is more acceptable. This is because while the rest of her outfit is very revealing and definitely not going to protect her, it’s at least made of metal like armor. And she’s actually wearing a helmet.

Looking at her helmet closer, it makes no sense for the faceguard to be adjustable. It looks like her helmet was half based on that of a medieval knight. Her helmet should be a solid cast piece that comes down farther on the sides of her face.

But I do also need to again point out that her “armor” and general outfit are not realistic whatsoever. There’s really no reason to wear heavy, armored boots like she is and then no other real armor besides a helmet. If she’s going to be wearing a bikini anyway, she might as well forgo the boots to get a bit more agility.

I’ll admit it’s an aesthetically pleasing design, though. The colors work well together and the outfit has a surprisingly good mix of “sexy” and “cool.”

Weapons and Fighting Style

While Rebecca doesn’t really use a shield, she does have one. Why is this worth mentioning? Because it’s connected to her character design.

In a lot of games and other media, we get depictions of warriors (often knights) with plate armor and a shield. However, if you’re wearing plate armor, you don’t use a shield — the armor is your shield. So when I saw that Rebecca was initially using a shield to protect herself since she doesn’t have full plate armor, I was mildly impressed.

But her shield doesn’t exactly match with her sword. And in fact, her sword is all wrong for the context of the Colosseum. She’s using a long, one and a half or two-handed sword. I’ll assume it’s one and a half since she does hold it with one hand when she has the shield.

Gladiators wouldn’t use a sword like this.

Rebecca fighting Suleiman in the Colosseum from the anime series One Piece (Dressrosa)
Rebecca fighting Suleiman in the Colosseum

The name gladiator comes from the gladius, which is the type of sword they use. It’s a short sword that’s primarily used for thrusting and stabbing. But while Rebecca has the wrong sword, she does actually use the right fighting style the majority of the time. She uses her sword as if it were a gladius.

In the picture above, we see Rebecca fighting against Suleiman. Suleiman is performing a wide swing like we see most swordsmen in One Piece do. But Rebecca is holding her sword in front of her body and at the ready. So in this particular situation, she would have an easy thrust right into Suleiman’s chest before he could execute his swing.

That style of actually using a sword as intended (for thrusting, not swinging) combined with her use of her surroundings is really why I like Rebecca so much. Even though she doesn’t fight to kill, she actually uses proper techniques which is why she’s so successful within the Colosseum.

Sure, her style isn’t always the most realistic, but compared to the vast majority of other sword-wielding characters, Rebecca actually knows what she’s doing.

Conclusion

Who do you think the best supporting character in One Piece is? At this point in the series, I definitely have to say that Rebecca is my favorite. I know a lot of people out there like Vivi, but I just don’t think she’s as interesting to discuss.

If you enjoyed this Rebecca appreciation post (and discussion of her character, I guess), then click the like button ❤ down below. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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