Mink in the Fur: Innocence
Has anything about childhood versions of Dogstorm, Catviper, and Kawamatsu hit you as somewhat uncommon? You were probably quick to note the difference between their eyes in the child and adult versions, namely the dots that serve as their eyes as children. This is an interesting technique that Oda-sensei uses to great effect from time to time and while it may not entirely be intentional, the impressionable impact is largely undeniable. That is to say, his ability to express child-like innocence through dot eyes. The words and actions of the trio in this chapter assume an endearing power when their perpetual wide-eyed expressions depict boundless positivity.
Note how in the first half of the chapter, realistic depictions of Cat Viper’s *sclera and pupils* are only present in three panels; one is used for expressing fear, one for a gag effect, and the last is shock. Meanwhile, Dogstorm’s *sclera and pupils* are entirely absent in the first half, even when he’s in similar situations as Catviper. However…Kawamatsu -a character who experienced the trauma of losing his mother- is depicted with sclera and pupils five times in the first half of the chapter and these are also during times of *happiness* as opposed to Catviper’s traumatic or gag-related depictions.
This is also why adult characters like Pekoms or Bepo (coincidentally minks themselves) also appear so endearing; a point driven home in Pekoms’ own debut chapter. As soon as characters gain sclera, they take on an ‘experienced’ look that seems to fully grasp the full meaning of harsh life lessons. This may explain why Kawamatsu may have been depicted with sclera and pupils more often and what’s more, we’re literally shown that as soon as Dogstorm is depicted showing ‘proper conduct’, Oda-sensei chose to draw him with sclera.
Incidentally, while Luffy has enormous sclera, it’s an interesting coincidence that while other characters have had their irises drawn in detail during emotional moments, Luffy retains perpetual vacuous black dots. Is this a subconscious stylistic decision on Oda-sensei’s part to help Luffy retain his child-like innocence?
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