I saw someone say yesterday, “of course the bonds of the oldest crew members are deeper than with the newest” “that’s just normal.” And I am… not a fan of that idea.
I’m not a fan of it because it sets up time as the only deciding factor in who is closest to each other—personality doesn’t matter, things in common don’t matter, the dynamics between them don’t matter—it’s just about time. It’s an idea that room in the heart comes on a first-come-first-serve basis, and that being crew members automatically means everyone is equally close to each other, and thus how much time they’ve spent together is the only determining factor in bringing some members closer to each other than others.
For example… I think Nami and Robin are very close with each other—closer than I think Nami is with Sanji or Zoro or Chopper. There are things that connect them together—things about each of them that help them understand each other and encourage them to spend personal time together. Remember how quickly Nami came around to Robin when she self-invited herself onto the crew? It wasn’t just because Robin gave her some of Crocodile’s jewels
Robin wasn’t just a welcome fellow woman on a ship otherwise filled with boys—she was a welcome mature, responsible, level headed, and capable person on a crew otherwise filled with loud idiots. Nami’s incredibly smart, and she has a great love of books, something that hasn’t been shown in any other members of the crew
Even the other members we think of as intelligent (Sanji’s a good strategist, Chopper is a fantastic doctor, Franky is amazing with shipbuilding, engineering, and robotics, etc)—none of them have ever been shown reading for pleasure or having any love for books themselves. But this is something Nami and Robin have in common. Even when Nami was still getting to know Robin, she was very impressed by how knowledgeable she was
These are the types of things that I feel helped really cement a strong bond between Nami and Robin and made them not just care about each other as crew mates, but also enjoy and like each other as friends. And remember Water 7, when the truth behind Robin’s betrayal was revealed? When Nami told Luffy about it, she couldn’t hold back her tears
I think that part of the reason this hit Nami so hard was because Nami knows exactly what this is like—to be forced to betray people you care about or risk seeing them dead. Not only was Nami forced to betray her villagers when Arlong made her join his crew, she had to betray Luffy and Zoro and Usopp (Sanji wasn’t part of the crew yet) in order to save her town and stop them from getting killed by Arlong. Nami knows what the kind of pain Robin went through is like. She knows how terrible it feels to knowingly hurt the people you care about because it’s the only way you can keep them save. She knows how terrible it feels to worry that people you love hate you for what you did for them. Not a single other member of the crew knows what that feels like. This is yet another front on which Nami and Robin can connect with each other and grow closer together.
I love Robin and Nami and the relationship they have together, and I’m happy that the point I was originally getting at gave me a reason to take a good look at their relationship through Nami’s eyes. But back to that original point… the members of the Straw Hat pirates are a family, and they ALL care about each other and would fight to the death for every single on of them. But to say that “the older the crew members the closer they are” feels incredibly disingenuous to me and ignores the fact that they are all unique people with their own interactions and relationships with every single other member of the crew. When I look at a relationship like Nami and Robin’s, I can’t believe that anyone would say “of course Nami’s closer to/has a deeper bond with ____. After all, she’s known them longer,” as though that’s the only thing about relationships that makes them matter.