This will probably be my last post in this thread for a little while on this particular topic. Like Shift, I started to believe Carrot would join following Pedro's death and I do still believe that scene marks a turning point for her character. Her story is decidedly left unresolved. Pedro wanted to sail with Roger, but was put on the waiting list. "Every person has their time to shine." Pedro later set out to sea to search for the Road Poneglyphs and prepare the way for Roger's successor because he knew the ones to follow in the Pirate King's footsteps would play a pivotal role in liberating the world, bringing the New Dawn. He named his crew 'Nox', synonymous with Night because there is no night which doesn't end in a sunrise. Pedro invaded Big Mom's territory to acquire her Road Poneglyph and paid with 50 years of his life.
When Luffy and the Straw Hats arrived on Zou and were shown the Road Poneglyph by Inuarushi and Nekomamushi, an honor only previously bestowed upon Roger, Pedro know the person he was waiting for had arrived at last. He accompanied the Straw Hats to Whole Cake Island to make sure they acquire the Road Poneglyph. Rescuing Sanji was important, but not his primary objective. Pedro wanted to make sure the Straw Hats fulfill their destiny. He had all the hallmark signs of a Straw Hat - a unique quirk, climbing to high places, which makes him uniquely qualified for a particular ship position (lookout). He had a tragic backstory and desperately needed someone to beat up Big Mom and force her to return the 50 stolen years of his lifespan, much like Brook needed Luffy to get his shadow back from Gecko Moria. He had a dream, to help Roger's successor fulfill the long held Mink Prophecy, realize their destiny, and become the Light of the New Dawn. Most of all, he had an unyielding belief that Luffy would be the one to succeed Roger and become the Pirate King. To me, Pedro's death is an intentional subversion of expectation. This is the New World, the Emperors are borderline forces of nature, and the best the Straw Hats could do was escape from Tottland with their lives. Instead of Luffy putting his life on the line for Pedro, Pedro sacrificed his life for Luffy and the Straw Hats.
In his final moments, he imparted his belief in Luffy and the Straw Hats to Carrot and then passed on Roger's words, spoken to him as a direct response to his desire to sail with the Roger Pirates; "Every person has their time to shine. Keep moving forward."
Carrot then fought evenly alongside the Straw Hats in the escape from Tottland and her Sulong transformation played a critical role. Oda has put her story on a backburner in the very crowded Wano story arc, much like Jimbei's story fell into the background after Fishman Island. And yet, he hasn't forgotten. Carrot, blaming Perospero fr Pedro's death, rushes off to face him. From the conversation between Shishilian and Nekomamushi we learn her judgment was clouded by rage, which contributed to her loss.
Most significant is the manner in which the scene played out; After Carrot fails to 'avenge' Pedro, Perospero mocks her and tells her to hop back home and eat grass. As she is being ridiculed, she remembers Pedro's words, the exact opposite of what she is being told by Perospero: "Keep moving forward." Pedro willingly gave his life. He wasn't killed by Perospero and vengeance won't bring him back. He went to Whole Cake Island knowing it would be his last voyage. Carrot still needs to find her moment to shine. She still needs to understand what Pedro's final words meant and find a way to act on his will. She cannot return home now. It wouldn't be a satisfying conclusion to her character arc. The bad guy tells her to go back home. At the same time, she remembers her mentors words to not give up. Which is very clear indication her story arc has not been resolved. Oda set up the encounter between her and Perospero. He could have had her and Wanda beat up Perospero, avenge Pedro, and close off Carrot's arc. That could have been her 'moment to shine.' But it wasn't. It was very purposely no the end of the road. Killing or maiming Perospero would do nothing to honor Pedro's legacy or to carry on his will - to help the Straw Hats reach Laugh Tale. That's what Pedro was trying to do. The New Dawn prophecy is another way to describe the same promised day the Fishmen are waiting for - 'walking the path toward the sun.' It's no coincidence these prophecies all use sun and moon / day and night motifs and are deeply believed by the groups closest to Joy Boy, the protectors of the Road Poneglyphs.
If Carrot wants to honor Pedro's will, she needs to fight for the same things he fought for - to help the Straw Hats reach Laugh Tale, understand the role they're meant to play in this New Dawn prophecy, and then go a step beyond Roger and actually act on the True History. To rise up and confront the World Government, Imu, and whatever dark forces plunged the world into a state of night 800 years ago. This is a dream / goal which can only be accomplished on the crew of the Pirate King. It's not only important to the Straw Hats, but to the Mink people as well.
Carrot's story needs closure because Oda chose to open this particular book. What critical narrative function did Carrot play in the Whole Cake Island arc? Why did Oda need to bring along two Mink companions rather than just one? What I'm getting at is, there was a clear thread connecting Pedro and WCI. He had a score to settle and was once crewmates with Pekoms. Many said Carrot was carried along for all that time to 'hype up Sulong' and yet, so far, her Sulong scene is by far the most focus and attention Oda has given to the Mink's transformation. Even Inuarushi and Nekomamushi's sulong forms were rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things on Onigashima. The reason this question is asked is because Carrot is in such a rare class of characters at this point. She has sailed with / accompanied the Straw Hats for 3 consecutive story arcs, sailed aboard Sunny between multiple islands, and is one of the most prominent characters in the entire series (ranks behind the Straw Hats, Vivi, Law, Kinemon, Big Mom, and Doflamingo in overall number of chapter appearances).
The only other characters to have accompanied the Straw Hats for multiple islands had an express purpose in the narrative. Even Johnny and Yosaku served the narrative function of guiding the Straw Hats to Baratie, then facilitated the crew splitting up and reuniting in Cocoyashi Village. Usopp, Zoro, and Nami needed t go on ahead and Luffy and Sanji needed to catch up. It was their bounty poster of Arlong which prompted Nami's departure from he crew in the first place.
The only other characters to have sailed with the Straw Hats for so long are Vivi, Law, Kinemon, and Momo - all characters with a very clear and important role to play in the broader narrative arc of the series. And Vivi is already considered to be a Straw Hat. What I mean to say here is, the Straw Hat's companions always have a purpose for sailing with them. There's always a clear reason Oda is pulling this character along through the narrative. It's never 'gee, my editor likes this character, let me put them in 95 chapters and have them sail on the ship with the crew to three different islands.' Pedro's purpose in the greater narrative arc of he series is clear, but Carrot's isn't. And so that should beg the question, 'Why is this character here? What does Oda plan to do with her?' There are no shortage of characters in One Piece. The cast of the entire Big Mom / Kaido saga is already incredibly bloated. And yet Oda chose t bring along a companion who at first had no clear purpose. He has since continued to build her character arc.
Carrot was naive, unaware of the dangers of a voyage at sea. She stowed away because she wanted to see the world. She thought the trip would last half a day. And then, her first time leaving Zou, she witnesses the death of her mentor Pedro, and steps up to the plate in a big way. In Pedro's final moments, he suddenly tells her about a prophecy and he critical role the Straw Has are meant to play. And then he dies and though she shares a cathartic moment with Sanji, she of course still doesn't fully understand the meaning of Pedro's sacrifice.
This is the entire reason I believe Carrot is going to join. It's entirely based around what I perceive to be an incomplete character arc, inherited will, and a need to accompany the Straw Hats to the end of their voyage to receive closure.
The rest of the things I have mentioned in her favor are not a smoking gun and don't mean anything in isolation. In fact, none of these things are great aruments, nor do they prove much of anything. I just think they're points of interest in support of a character I already believe is going to join. Her placement on the cover of volume 88, sailing with the Straw Hats aboard Sunny between Wano and Onigashima, being the only Mink to receive Wano wardrobe changes along with the Straw Hats in Acts 1 and 3, being central to the big reunion panel in chapter 977, the first time all 10 Straw Hats have appeared together on panel in a full decade, forming bonds with multiple members of the crew (Franky didn't bond with everyone before joining; he was much closer to Usopp, Sanji, and Robin than anyone else; barely spoke a word to Zoro and had relativley little panel time with Luffy before their departure from Water Seven), etc. Many of these distinctions, individually, fit characters who haven't joined the crew.
The only meta narrative point I do consider important is that there is seemingly more consistency in theme and design in Carrot's character than the rest of the minks. There's a direct connection between her name, the way she dresses, and her being a rabbit mink. She eats carrots, dresses like a carrot, is named Carrot. But more significantly, she seems to be based on the myth of the Moon Rabbit, which also seems to be the basis for Sulong Transformation itself. I think such a critical aspect of Mink lore being so closely tied thematically to an individual member of that race, and one who has accompanied the Straw Hats for so long no less, is noteworthy. Also worth mentioning, her name being Carrot, Kyarotto, is perhaps an homage to Son Goku, Kakarotto, the protagonist of Dragon Ball. It goes beyond the name - both Goku and Carrot transform under the light of the full moon and in Sulong, Carrot's appearance, long flowing hair surrounded by sparks of electricity, and abilities, flight primarily, resembles those of a Saiyan. Admittedly the Goku / Dragon Ball references may be subjective. I do however, think it's really important to pay attention anytime the moon or sun / moon and day / night motifs are involved.
Talking about stuff like crew position, color, etc. That's all ancillary, superfluous.
What I'm trying to communicate is, the sole reason I think Carrot will join is because of the way I'm reading her character arc. It has nothing to do with being a furry, being delusional, being a casual reader, or all the other claims being casually tossed about. I was totally on board with Franky, not Paulie, and supported Jimbei ever since he called the school of Whale Sharks. Have also been totally on board with Vivi returning for a long time. And I'm way ahead of the game on Smoker joining :ninja:. There's nothing deficient, delusional, or dishonest about my posts. I'm not here to trashtalk anyone who thinks differently. Meta narrative stuff is fun / interesting to mention, but it's not really what I'm looking at in evaluating a potential crew member.
In talking about both Yamato and Carrot, I have mentioned where I think there stories could go and where I think I could be wrong or what things I could see changing my perspective.
For Carrot, I could see her not joining and instead remaining on Wano if she is somehow pointed in the direction of believing Momo is the one to bring the New Dawn instead of the Straw Hats. I don't know who other than Yamato could convince Carrot of Momo's importance and relevance to the New Dawn however and so I'm not sure how it would work that Yamato, who has spent lots of time with Momo and has proclaimed he will be the one responsible for the Dawn, sails with Luffy to help the Straw Hats become the Dawn, while Carrot, told by Pedro that the Straw Hats will bring the Dawn, remains on Wano with Momo, a character with whom she has not yet spoken. I think in his case it would be a package sort of deal. I suppose she could form a new Nox, but I don't know what purpose that would actually serve. The Straw Has will already have 3 of the 4 Road Poneglyphs after Wano. If Carrot is going to carry on the will of Nox to find the fourth Road Poneglyph, why would she not simply go with the Straw Hats? And considering she has never been to sea before, is she really fit to captain a crew? She's not even a leader among the minks. If she had finished things with Perospero, I'd say returning to Zou might make a bit more sense, but as things stand now, it would just be a completely abandoned character arc if she runs back home to eat grass withou having a moment to shine.
I have never been closed off to the idea of Yamato joining or said it isn't a possibility or that there isn't any evidence. What I have been trying to express is my believe some critical pieces are needed still for Yamato to join, most notably a dream. I do still lean toward Yamato playing a different role in the story, but have explained what things could change my mind on Yamato.
I'm very honestly trying to evaluate the trajectory of their character arcs based on stated goals / desires and how those ends would best be achieved. If I'm wrong, it's because I miscalculated or misjudged the direction Oda was taking the characters. It's really not any deeper than that. No jumping through hoops, moving goal posts, arguing in bad faith, or being a furry (lol what?), or anything like that. I'm no really holding a double standard with the meta narrative clues. At least not more than anyone else. The truth is, I think these clues are largely subjective and there is inherently a bias toward whichever character you already believe is going to join. So of course, I'm more inclined to believe meta narrative clues for Carrot, a character I believe is going to join, are more meaningful than clues for another character. But again, this is subjective. It's not the meat of the argument and so I'll never say any of that stuff proves a character is going to join without a shadow of a doubt.
But the reason I don't know I can add anything in this topic is there seems to be very little interest in entertaining any arguments against Yamato at the moment. But more than that, it's a waiting game with Carrot. I still believe her arc is headed in certain direction and nothing so far has indicated a change in directory. Sure, she's not getting the focus I would like to or expect to see, but still, nothing to say she's headed toward a different destination. No closure, no sign she has found some alternative path for carrying on Pedro's will. But because her story is presently on the backburner, there seems to be a growing sentiment that all belief in Carrot joining must now be abandoned to still be considered rational.