Just a topic I've had on my mind today. I feel lik most people consider One Piece an incredibly typical shonen (An extremely well executed one, but still). I mean, it has so many of the typical tropes found so commonly in Shonen. Or does it? As I've been thinking, a lot of aspects of One Piece are way less typical and way more unique than its given credit for. Especially in the realm of today's manga, I feel a lot of aspects of One Piece are way less common than we think. So I've decided to create this thread so that we can discuss in what ways One Piece is a typical shonen action manga, and in what ways it isn't. You can discuss any range of topics related to this issue, but keep in mind that this is mainly not about the quality of the execution, just the nature of the tropes it employs, as well as why it might be that way.
Personally, one thing I really want to discuss is Luffy as a main character. It's easy to think of Luffy as the really standard Shonen protagonist. After all he's dumb, but a good guy who always stands up for his friends. However, while Luffy does have a lot of the standard traits of a shonen protagonist, I've realized his character type is way less common than you might think. To illustrate this point, I decided to look at the most recent list of ongoing manga in weekly shonen jump. Now before I say anything, how many of these manga do you think have main characters who actually fall under the same or close character types as Luffy? While admittedly there are a few series I haven't read, I feel I'm fairly informed on those I haven't and the answer I found surprised me. From how I see it, NONE of the other series have a character who really falls under the same archetype (Naruto used to, but the character has moved away in a completely different direction at this point with few of the notable traits remaining, and those not being prominent). Now to clarify what I consider Luffy's archetype, I'd consider it to be the idiotic, goofy hero who gets serious when the stakes are up and who constantly seeks out fun and adventure. Another important aspect to Luffy's archetype is that he's also a variant of the delinquent with a heart of gold. He isn't a messiah type character that is often common, since he ultimately acts for smaller, more personal reasons rather than any lofty ideals or goals. Even when Luffy does save a kingdom, it's never because its the right thing to do, but because its what a friend of his wants, or because the villain ticked him off. Luffy's a good person, and he makes friends quickly, so this does tend to get him into those situations a lot, but he's not looking to help as many people as possible.
Luffy's archetype was definitely more common back when One Piece started, an Luffy himself is notably derived heavily from Goku. But n interesting thing about Luffy is that while his character pulls from common archetypes, it doesn't fall neatly into them either. I mentioned earlier that Luffy was a variant o the delinquent with a heart of gold, and this is true. But he's also very different from other such characters such as Oga from Beelzebub or Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho. Unlike the typical version of this trope, Luffy really isn't that violent a person. He does seem to enjoy fighting strong guys, and he is quick to fight people when he gets really angry, but unlike most of these types of characters, Luffy tends to avoid fighting weaker opponents and isn't likely to start a fight over his own pride. A key example is him not fighting Bellamy until Bellamy attacked Cricket. Another difference to both that archetype and the typical goku archetype is that what Luffy is really getting excited over is the challenge and adventure rather than the fights themselves. The fights are just an extension of this most of the time, and Luffy seems to derive just as much entertainment, if not more, from running from an angry mob as he does from fighting strong opponents.
Honestly, I feel like manga is actually shifting away from idiot Luffy like protagonists. Protagonists in modern manga seem to be more often than not at least of average intelligence. Another trend in modern shonen action (Since the archetypes Luffy belongs to have never been that prominent in other genres in the shonen demographic from what I can tell). I also feel like the more successful newer series have been less and less utilizing this character type. This seems strange since the character type was popularized large by Goku due to DBZ's success, and One Piece has been even more successful. But on the other hand, I think it's because One Piece has done so well and Luffy himself is done so well that the character type has become harder to find in modern manga. Readers by nature tend to compare works, so other characters of the same type probably just tend to look bad and generic by comparison. The better writers probably also try to avoid making a character too similar for similar reasons, especially since One Piece is still ongoing.
Now this isn't to say Luffy doesn't have a lot of typical shonen hero traits. Most notably is stuff like the desire to protect his friends and his magnetic personality. But these traits, while very important to his character are often expressed in more unique ways. For example, when Luffy makes friends with a former enemy, it feels less like an act of forgiveness and more like he really didn't care too much once he blew off his steam and beat them up once. Once he beats up an enemy, he tends to not care about what they do next and thus he doesn't have a hard time making friends with them afterward. The ones he can't forgive are the ones who deeply hurt those he cared about most, like Crocodile, Blackbeard and Akainu (Arlong probably also would fit into this group). The rest are usually just guys who made him upset, but whom he doesn't even tend to remember all that well after the fact. He doesn't make friends with them because he thinks they can become better people, because he's prepared to stop them again if they go bad, or because he feels they're like him. He just doesn't usually care much once he's beat them up and probably doesn't even remember most of the events to well.
An interesting note is that when I thought of Manga I was reading and which ones had characters similar to Luffy, the first that came to mind wasn't shonen at all. It was Xin from Kingdom, a seinen manga.