This One Piece Character Was Surely Inspired By Michael Jackson

One Piece features a truly enormous cast of characters, and author Eiichiro Oda needs diverse sources of inspiration to design them all. Longtime fans know that Oda often recreated famous pirates like Edward Teach and Anne Bonny, but he also borrowed designs from Japanese actors and even Jim Carrey movie characters. This real-life figure inspiration may include Jango, but One Piece fans aren’t 100% sure.


Jango was introduced back in the “East Blue” saga during the “Syrup Village” story arc that pitted Luffy’s small crew against the scheming Captain Kuro. Jango was an amusing hypnotist who behaved a lot like the late Michael Jackson and even had the shoes to match, so fans are burning to know whether Jango really is a tribute to the King of Pop or if it’s just a coincidence.

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Jango Looks Like Michael Jackson & Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler

Jango the hypnotist in the One Piece anime

Superficially, the minor One Piece villain named Jango, a former member of the Black Cats pirate crew, is a cross of Michael Jackson and Steven Tyler. On the one hand, Jango has the facial features and long hair of the Aerosmith star, but he also has many Michael Jackson mannerisms such as a colorful personality, often walking backward, dressing in vivid colors and even busting out some fancy dance moves. Jango didn’t dance much in the main One Piece anime, but in a featurette of the second One Piece movie, he performed a Michael Jackson-style dance, complete with moonwalking and characteristic yells and grunts.

One Piece fans are eager to know if this was on purpose, as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Jango is the East Blue’s own King of Pop. However, according to online sources such as the One Piece fan wiki, there is no direct confirmation that Jango’s character design had either Michael Jackson or Steven Tyler in mind. Eiichiro Oda often provides “behind the scenes” information in the One Piece manga’s SBS section, but no SBS section has confirmed Jango’s inspiration. For now, One Piece fans can only speculate about whether Jango is truly anime’s new King of Pop, but One Piece‘s other characters lend strong credence to this theory.

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Even if there’s no direct proof that Oda based Jango on Michael Jackson, the similarities are still amusing, and best of all, many other One Piece characters are confirmed to be modeled after real-life historical figures or actors. An example is the three original admirals of the Marine Navy, each designed with a Japanese actor in mind. The brutish Akainu was based on the late Bunta Sugawara, while Kizaru is modeled after the late actor Kunie Tanaka, who played a movie character named Borsalino whose sunglasses and outfit inspired Kizaru’s own. Similarly, the icy ex-admiral Kuzan takes after the late actor Yusaku Matsuda, who lent the One Piece character his outfit, hairstyle and birthday.

For now, One Piece fans can only infer that Jango was meant to be a Michael Jackson cameo. However, with so many One Piece characters being cameos of real-life people, it seems almost certain that Jango is indeed modeled after the King of Pop, especially with the added context of the Jango’s Dance Carnival featurette, where he did most of his dancing. Fan theories like this are part of the fun of the One Piece fandom, encouraging fans to see connections between fiction and reality and wonder what exactly is going on with Oda’s unpredictable but undoubtedly entertaining imagination.

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