Hump Day Husbandos: Eustass Kid (One Piece)

Hump Day Husbandos

I have yet to showcase my affection for One Piece considering how well covered we are here on Rice Digital thanks to Conor’s consistent coverage of it. But I’m taking the opportunity to pay my own respects to Eiichiro Oda’s most beloved manga creation right now, in the best way I know how: with a Hump Day Husbando piece on one of my favourite characters, Eustass Kid!

Like any other female viewer of the anime or reader of the manga, I of course fall prey to the resident heartthrob characters such as Zoro and Law, what with them having a lot of screen time and narrative material to flesh them out. But my preferences are always to highlight and appreciate the more underrated and unnoticed husbandos in any given piece of entertainment.

Case in point: Eustass Kid (and Marco, but we’ll save him for another day) is my best boy of One Piece, and I’m assuming simply saying “I like to be different!” won’t cut it for an explanation. (You’re learning – Ed.) So it’s on with defending my questionable taste, then!

Who is Eustass Kid?

Eustass is the captain of the Kid Pirates, and acts as a rival to Luffy. He is first seen as one of the most promising names within the Worst Generation, and serves as both friend and foe over the course of the very long journey across the water. He wants to be the first to locate the One Piece before Luffy, and to become the Pirate King instead of Luffy.

Eustass has a nasty habit of being too boisterous and hot-headed for his own good. When we first encounter him, he has a higher bounty on his head than Luffy himself; this is all down to the chaos he tends to cause — even at the cost of countless innocent lives — when attempting to find the quickest and easiest way to make a name for himself. His reckless and violent behaviour is exacerbated by the numerous opportunities he gets to honour himself and his ego — even if that means pitting himself against far superior foes such as Shanks or Kaido.

In all honesty, a hot-headed red-head is exactly my type, and the main reason as to why Eustass takes my fancy. But what seals the deal is everything that comes along with his troublesome behaviour and his tendency towards being somewhat morally grey. We love a bad boy, but the real treat is just how truly captivating of a character Eustass proves to be, especially when we look deeper into his goals, actions, and what the future most likely has in store for him. Who knew he’d be such a sympathetic character? Who could have predicted you’d be cheering for him when he finally proves his worth and obtains some long-overdue victories. It’s not just me, right?

Why you’ll love Eustass Kid

Eustass Kid - One Piece

Eustass may not make the best first impression, but that’s honestly one of the most entertaining parts of his character. Because, for better or for worse, his potty mouth, juvenile attitude and appearance, and extraordinarily big ego means there’s plenty of scope for character development.

He’s quick to resort to violence, can be needlessly cruel, and tends to think with a one-track mind if someone was to even slightly glance at him funny. But many of his most impressive traits comes from him being unapologetically himself.

He stands by his own words and ideology without any doubt in his mind, even if it’s potentially at the cost of his own life. And despite his distasteful habit of running his mouth too much, he ensures that he has the facts to back up what he has to say, proving himself to actually being quite knowledgeable and analytical when the time calls for it. And best yet is his whole motive for becoming the havoc-wreaking pirate we know him as today: it’s all down to his disdain for how the World Nobles behave and function in such a deplorable, inhuman way. He has a heart after all!

But what’s especially significant when viewing the legitimate goodness in Eustass is in his clear affection for his own crew. It may not always be noticeable, but when it is, it’s when it counts most. It’s especially touching when we see him prioritising his crew’s wellbeing over his own personal goals — such as when he’s desperately trying to locate them instead of taking down Kaido — and when we see him following his core motive not just for the sake of his own pride, but for his crewmates’ honour too.

One of the most telling signs of his ability to make life-long friends and care for others is his relationship with his childhood comrade and crewmate, Killer. The pair have risked their lives for one another, and Killer is the only one who can rein in Eustass when he’s not thinking straight. But that’s not the only endearing interpersonal dynamic Eustass is involved with — the childish rivalry between him and Luffy is not only a highly entertaining watch, but it also reveals even more to his character depth and importance to the overall story.

Why we love Eustass Kid

Whilst clearly being presented as Luffy’s rival, Eustass’ primary function as a side character within the One Piece universe is also as a foil character to him. Foil characters serve the purpose of exaggerating the positive qualities of the protagonist by exhibiting contrasting traits, and there are plenty of examples of this being Eustass’ true place in One Piece.

For one thing, Eustass shares the same life-long dream of becoming the Pirate King and locating the One Piece first. This simple fact reinforces how both are as goal driven as the other, but the way in which they aim for the same destination is vastly different. It’s especially noticeable early on when we see their contrasting temperaments towards others questioning or challenging their dreams.

Additionally, neither of them are ever convinced that they should conform to others’ expectations, even in the face of danger and possible defeat — yet they are at constant odds with one another in terms of both attitude and approach, even in how they communicate with others.

In Luffy’s case, he has a vast amount of vocal supporters thanks to his extroverted personality, whilst Eustass has a much easier time making enemies thanks to his attitude.

Another blow to his character is how much misfortune and bad luck he has to deal with — a fact that is almost certainly influenced by the real-life pirate Oda took part of his name from — though this is mostly down to to his choices and their consequences, which tend to run parallel to Luffy’s own decisions. On top of that, Eustass has suffered betrayal from an alliance, and this lingers on his mind — whereas Luffy’s alliances tend to go well for him. The result, of course, is that Eustass becomes even more distrustful of others.

Ultimately, Eustass ends up having to constantly deal with the consequences of his recklessness. It’s been theorised plenty of times before that Eustass’ tendency towards failure will ultimately bring his character to an end — his final act as Luffy’s foil.

But even if that ends up being the case, even if he never does live up to all his potential… his latest run-in with Big Mama made me especially proud of him. I love this man, with all his imperfections and untapped potential. He never gives in, is both physically and emotionally strong, and stands by his morals, despite constantly living in the protagonist’s shadow.

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Lilia Hellal
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