Fans who have followed One Piece for a long time, have noticed how Oda inserts one or more references to series, movies, or themes he likes in the manga, it is very common for him to get inspiration from other works to create characters, improve his plots or even to make the islands and ships more special.
His main hobby is creating animals of different species, but what about our favorite protagonist? It has been said that he is based on Sun Wukong or Goku, but at the end, Who is Luffy based on?
I’ve been following One Piece since 2008 so it’s a good occasion to explore the inspirations that led to the creation of our captain’s personality and physique, let’s sail!
Overview on Shonen’s main character
In order to understand the structure of a shonen main character, we have to evaluate the best-known of all shonen main characters: Goku.
When Goku appeared almost instantly he became one of the most influential characters in Japan because of his innocence, charisma, eating a lot, and love for fighting, an interesting fun fact is that Dragon Ball Z would focus much more on Goku’s son, Gohan, but the Sayan was so popular that Akira Toriyama was forced to bring Goku back.
The four bases mentioned have been the most used by future generations of mangakas, it has even been mentioned that Naruto also takes influences from Dragon Ball for its characters, so it wouldn’t be strange if the same thing happened to Oda.
Who is Luffy based on?
This leads us to think that Luffy is partially inspired by Goku, however, it may simply be because of the main characteristics that shonen protagonists tend to have.
Although Goku and Luffy share certain characteristics, there is a common literary character they both share: Sun Wukong.
Inspiration from Sun Wukong
The character Sun Wukong has been used for games, movies, series, and even inspiration for other characters, and it’s no wonder because his story is extremely interesting and he has an engaging personality.
Sun Wukong is the protagonist of a Chinese epic novel ‘Journey to the West’ a mischievous, brave, warrior monkey with magical powers, who finds his way to immortality.
There are several similarities that Luffy and Sun Wukong share, one of them being that Luffy’s surname is Monkey, and the animal is Wukong.
Although physically they might not seem to share anything, we could add that they both smile a lot even when fighting, excited to be able to show their power.
While in personality they have much more in common: innocence, love for food, and fighting, they usually defend the people they care about, and they have charisma and a pure heart, although the monkey is very mischievous and creates trouble because he can and wants to, while Luffy is a pirate so he is usually a bit selfish when it comes to sharing his meat.
By this I mean that they both don’t want to be heroes, they just follow what they think is right. Also, with Gear 5 we’ve seen how it even looks like Luffy can walk on clouds like Sun Wukong, so you could certainly say that Oda took several things from Sun Wukong.
If you want to know more about, check : Is Luffy based on Sun Wukong?
Inspiration from Goku
Goku was the character who first deconstructed the Sun Wukong character, this also shares a name with the Chinese monkey being one ‘Sun’ and the other ‘Son’, as well as taking characteristics in personality and physique.
Physically Goku possesses a monkey tail and can turn into a giant monkey on full moon nights.
In personality, they share a love of fighting, eat a lot, tend to smile a lot, pure hearts and both tend to pick fights, although Sun Wukong tends to be more violent. Also, Goku had a flying cloud, so he can walk on clouds like Wukong, and had a staff like the monkey.
These similarities with Sun Wukong link him a lot to Luffy, plus, Akira and Oda are close friends, so he probably helped him a bit in shaping Luffy’s personality.
If you want to know more about, check : Is Luffy based on Goku ?
Who is Luffy based on? Final words :
Oda has commented on many occasions that his love of pirate history is what led him to create One Piece, although neither Sun Wukong nor Goku shares this goal, they do form a striking personality for the reader.
While it seems that Sun Wukong is the main inspiration for the creation of Luffy, Goku was probably the one who cemented the inspiration for Oda, making the author confirm (by the reception of the public at the time) that a pure-hearted protagonist with a passion for fighting was the best choice to make his story more interesting.
However, to answer the question : Who is Luffy based on ? I would venture to say that Luffy has his own characteristics that make him stand out, for example, he never calls himself a hero, he recognizes that his goal and inspirations are selfish, yet he understands that he needs the skills of others to survive.
While Goku, although he loves his friends, tends to want to fight alone and without a solid goal, but simply to become stronger or enjoy himself, and Sun Wukong does not escape this, although he has companions in his quest for immortality, he tends to be alone.
Luffy recognizes how much he cares about the people around him, often even though it may cost him his dream, and though he loves to fight, along the way he has discovered that running away is always important too.
Is this how Luffy is his own person, do you think Luffy is inspired by any other character or legend? Let us know in the comments.