One Piece: What’s the Deal With Usopp’s Nose?

As one of, if not the most, popular manga and anime franchises around the world, One Piece has several iconic characters and concepts. Fans across the world recognize the design of the Going-Merry, as well as Luffy's trademark scar and hat. Just as recognizable is the character of Usopp, who has a particularly unique look. As goofy-looking as the marksman may be, his appearance is somewhat based on some deep religious material.

With his elongated nose, skill with marksmanship and particularly mischievous nature, Usopp seems to have been inspired by the mythological tengu. This Japanese yokai is itself inspired by a Hindu deity, and similar elements of both sources show up in Usopp's characterization.

Usopp and the Mythological Tengu

The tengu is a creature from Japanese folklore, showing up mainly in the mythology of the Shinto religion. Combining elements of humans, birds and monkeys, it takes its mannerisms mostly from the latter. They are also based on a higher Shinto deity called Sarutahiko Okami -- a monkey-like god who was known for being surrounded by a ray of light. Although some of their other physical features have ranged considerably throughout the years, their long and often red noses have remained a staple design element.

Their characterization typically has them as troublesome, if not outright villainous, with some of the more vile variations of the creatures carrying off monks and nuns in vain attempts to seduce women. Even in their more innocuous versions, the tengu are shown as tricksters who enjoy nothing more than a good prank or practical joke. Other things associated with them are shooting stars, which are known to appear when they do. Although this all sounds far removed from the pirate adventures of One Piece, these elements show up quite a bit in the character of Usopp.

How the Tengu Inspired Usopp

Sogeking and God Usopp in One Piece

The biggest and most obvious similarity between Usopp and the tengu is their mutual large noses. Not only is Usopp's nose rather long, but it's also round and bulbous at the end, just like a tengu. Then there's the fact that Usopp is a trickster, known for his lies and tall tales. The tengu would especially enjoy messing around with travelers, lying to them and confusing them for a bit of fun.

Usopp initially pulled a fast one on the burgeoning Straw Hat Crew, as they were at first suckered by his grandiose stories. His huge nose and the lies associated with it also draw allusions to the character of Pinocchio, especially considering that "uso" in Japanese means "lie." Likewise, Pinocchio's desire to be a real boy and his eventually being swallowed by a whale mirror Usopp's wanting to be a real fierce man by virtue of faring the seas as a pirate.

Beyond the wooden boy, however, comparisons to the tengu continue to abound. The aforementioned connection to shooting stars is referenced by Usopp's attacks all having "star" somewhere in their name, such as "Hokaku Boshi," or "capture star." Finally, Usopp eventually takes the title of "God Usopp," being surrounded by light like a true deity. Of course, with his long, flowing hair, he resembles a cartoonish Jesus Christ, but this also likely references the deity that inspired the tengu, which themselves largely inspired Usopp. Sogeking, a superhero-esque guise for Usopp, has a mask heavily reminiscent of the rays of the sun. Sarutahiko was associated with the sun, making everything full circle.

All in all, it's certainly a lot of history and mythology to pull from in order to develop such a zany and wacky-looking long-nosed fellow, but it also explains why Usopp is the way he is.

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