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Toei Animation Throws Support Behind Incorrect Belief That ‘One Piece’ Heroine Yamato Is A Transgender Man

From Fishmen to the LGBTQ, ever since it set sail in 1999, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece has regularly featured some of the most naturally diverse cast members in the history of both manga and anime.

Luffy, Crocodile, Jinbe, Daz Bonez, Inazuma, and Emporio Ivankov on Eiichiro Oda's cover to One Piece Vol. 56 (2009), Shueisha.
Luffy, Crocodile, Jinbe, Daz Bonez, Inazuma, and Emporio Ivankov on Eiichiro Oda’s cover to One Piece Vol. 56 (2009), Shueisha.

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But despite the series’ wide range of characters, each with backstories, appearances, and personalities different from the last, trans activists have made a battleground out of the identity of the recently introduced daughter of Emperor Kaido, Yamato.

Yamato Oden pose
Yamato (Saori Hayami) strikes Kozuki Oden’s iconic pose in One Piece Episode 1006 “”I Won’t Forgive Him! Chopper’s Determination!” (2022), Toei Animation

According to them, because the Yamato is a tomboy who uses male pronouns, a habit born from both being abusively raised as a boy by her father in order to fulfill his desire for a son and wishing to follow in the footsteps of her hero Kozuki Oden, she must be a transgender man [2].

Unsurprisingly, they also considered any dissenting opinion as outright transphobic.

Yamato (Saori Hayami) spends a moment alone with Portgas D. Ace (Toshio Furukawa) in One Piece Episode 1013 "Yamato's Past! The Man Who Came for an Emperor of the Sea!" (2022), Toei Animation
Yamato (Saori Hayami) spends a moment alone with Portgas D. Ace (Toshio Furukawa) in One Piece Episode 1013 “Yamato’s Past! The Man Who Came for an Emperor of the Sea!” (2022), Toei Animation

Further fuel was added to this debate when, in a January 27th tweet promoting Yamato’s fight against her father in episode 1049 of the One Piece anime, the English Toei Animation Twitter account referred to the aspiring Straw Hat member with masculine pronouns.

“Yamato rages against his father to free Wano!” wrote the studio. “Catch the latest episode of #OnePiece, streaming now on Crunchyroll!”

Toei Yamato Trans
Toei Animation via Twitter

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However, contrary to Toei Animation’s tweet, there is overwhelming evidence to prove that Yamato is, in fact, a cis gender woman.

Upon first being introduced at the end of chapter 984 of the One Piece manga, though she claims that she has chosen “to be a man”, Yamato is introduced via text box as “Kaido’s Daughter”.

Yamato's introduction
Yamato’s Introduction in One Piece Chapter 984 “My Bible” (2020), Shueisha. Words and Art by Eiichiro Oda via Digital Issue

Notably, Yamato’s gender declaration is regularly cited by activists as evidence that the brave warrior is a transgender man. However, as detailed by Twitter user @NoxDRaz, this read is yet another case of Western readers taking the Japanese language too literally.

“The ‘I chose to be a man’ is not meant to be taken literally, but rather as ‘I chose to become Oden, who happens to be a man’,” he wrote in September 2021. “The difference is pretty big, & as far as I know, nowhere does Yamato state in Japanese that she wants to become a man in general.”

Yamato woman
@NoxDRaz via Twitter

Further, as translated by @NoxDRaz, the Oda-approved [4] character profile featured on Yamato’s official collectible ‘Vivre Card’ confirms that the the 28-year-old Kanabō club-wielder is, in fact, a woman.

front of vivre card
Source: @NoxDRaz Twitter

Providing more context to the information, @NoxDRax explained, “If Yamato were meant to be seen as a man, the Card would state they ‘chose to become a man’, but it doesn’t. Plus, the original has no gendered-pronouns; aside from ‘boku’, but that can also be used by girls.”

Yamato vivre
@NoxDRaz via Twitter

Then there’s the ‘Essence Entry’ featured on the back the Vivre Card which, as seen in a translation provided by Twitter user @jimmyspace123, consistently refers to Yamato with female pronouns.

Yamato vivre card
Back of Shueisha’s One Piece’s Yamato’s Vivre Card via @Jimmyspace123 Twitter

“Daughter of one of the Younko Kaido, Yamato proclaimed herself ‘Kozuki Oden’ after being moved by the manner in which he died,” reads the entry. “Since then, she has spent many years confined in the walls of Wano by her father, who wants her to remain in the country.”

“Odens log that she coincidentally got in her hands on in Kuri, and the promise she made after bonding with Ace, are her guiding principles,” it concludes. “Throwing in with Luffy and the others seeking to open Wano, the unleashed Oni Princess bears her fangs.” 

yamato book
Yamato (Saori Hayami) is filled with wonder after opening Kozuki Oden’s Journal in One Piece Episode 1048 “For the Future! Yamato and the Great Swordsmen’s Pledge” (2023), Toei Animation

Then there’s the fact that the Oni Princess has been featured in a number of female-specific figure lines, including Bandai’s Glitter of Ha, Banpresto’s Grandline Lady, and Ichiban Kuji’s One Piece Girl’s Collection.

Glitter of Ha
Black Maria, Yamato and Ulti Ichiban Kuji’s One Piece Ex – One Piece Girl’s Collection -Glitter of Ha- (2022), Banpresto via Twitter

Yamato was even featured in a February 2021 ‘One Piece Heroines’ color spread. Illustrated for Weekly Shonen Jump by a number of artists from its sister Shoujo magazine Ribon, the spread was produced to commemorate the publication of One Piece‘s 1000th chapter.

ONE PIECE x Ribon Heroines
Shueisha’s ONE PIECE Heroines depicted by Honoka Kinoshita, Mayu Murata, Nana Haruta, Mayu Sakai, Noriko Asaka via Twitter

Toei’s use of male pronouns is also quite the contradiction to their tweet from November 3rd, 2022 in which they explicitly wished a Happy Birthday to the “Princess”.

toei Yamato Princess
Toei Animation via Twitter

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