Recently, a lot of my theories seem to be pointing to a similar conclusion: Pudding will be the next female Straw Hat. However, the narrative of recent chapters seems to be pointing more towards Carrot, despite the fact that she doesn't match nearly as many patterns for recruitment. While I would be perfectly happy to see both of them join, the MFMM pattern dictates that we will only be seeing one more female recruit in the New World, so unless the Straw Hats have another stretch of the world to explore, they'll likely be saying goodbye to one of them. The question is, how can we predict which one?
I talked about the MFMM pattern extensively in my previous theory, but there is another, related pattern that I only alluded to: the Failed Recruitment Theory. At some point in each sea, Luffy extends an invitation to someone to join the crew, and rather than getting a comical, flat-out rejection from them, he instead gets a heartfelt and sincere refusal, typically based on the character's duties.
In East Blue, the failed recruit was Gaimon, the little old man stuck in an empty treasure chest on the Island of Strange Animals. When Luffy found that the treasure Gaimon had been guarding for twenty years was already long gone, he extended an invitation to Gaimon so as to help him get off the island and save him from his isolation. However, Gaimon refused, as instead of the treasure, he now wanted to be the guard for the strange animals that he had grown attached to over the decades.
In Paradise, the failed recruit was Vivi, the prodigal princess of Alabasta who traveled with the Straw Hats in order to save her kingdom from Crocodile. After Crocodile was defeated, Vivi chose to stay as Alabasta's princess rather than continue on with Luffy and the others as a pirate.
Since this has happened in both seas so far, it's reasonable to assume that it will happen in the New World as well. The common consensus is that the New World equivalent of Vivi will be Momonosuke of Wano, as he is also a deposed royal who went undercover...
...to seek a way to defeat the powerful force threatening his country...
...with the help of his three retainers...
Chances seem good that after Kaido is defeated, Momo will want to stay in Wano to lead his people, just like Vivi did in Alabasta, but there's also the possibility that he will travel with Luffy to find Raftel just as his father did with Roger before him.
I don't personally see that happening, as it seems like it would be a poor idea for a leader to run off on an adventure after overthrowing their country's dictator, but Oda does love parallels, so anything's possible. Regardless of whether Momo stays in or leaves Wano, though, I don't believe he is the New World equivalent of Vivi. I believe that Wano will be the equivalent of Alabasta, but I don't think that Luffy will invite Momo into the Straw Hat Crew.
Remember, Vivi was strictly speaking already a member of the crew by the end of Alabasta. They offered Vivi the chance to continue traveling with them, not to join them for the first time.
Momo's situation is a little different. Yes, he did travel aboard the Sunny for a little while, but Luffy does not seem to consider him as a member of the crew at the moment. Instead, he considers him an allied leader.
Yes, an "alliance" to Luffy means being friends, but he's also allied with Law, a captain of equivalent status to Luffy. By forming an alliance with Momo, Luffy acknowledges him as someone more like a captain of another group than as someone within his group. In short, unless Momo asks to join Luffy, Luffy probably isn't going to invite him.
Momo also hasn't really contributed in the same ways that Vivi has; he hasn't had a fight yet, and other than flying Luffy out of the trash heap on Punk Hazard, he hasn't demonstrated any skills yet. With all of that in mind, Momo at the moment just doesn't seem like he would be a good fit with the Straw Hats.
However, there is one character who has demonstrated a number of parallels with Vivi and does seem like a good fit: Carrot. Just like Vivi, Carrot does not fit the mold made by Nami and Robin, and yet the narrative heavily implies that that she will be joining. Just like Vivi, Carrot has traveled with the Straw Hats as a friend...
...she's demonstrated useful skills that she can contribute to the crew...
...and has even defeated enemies on her own.
Unlike Vivi, though, Carrot is not royalty (as far as we know), but she does have her three teachers.
They're not quite the same as retainers, but Carrot's relationships with Wanda, Sicilian and Pedro feel fairly similar to Vivi's relationships with Igaram, Pell and Chaka. This parallel is only strengthened by Pedro's self-sacrifice, which seems to mirror either Igaram's failed decoy plan or Pell's self-sacrifice.
All three were caught in a seemingly fatal explosion, all of which deeply affected Vivi and Carrot.
What exactly this means for Carrot is up in the air, as it could indicate that either Sicilian or Wanda is also going to end up in an explosion sooner or later, or it could just mean that Pedro is going to be fine just like Igaram and Pell. Either way, it establishes another clear parallel between Vivi and Carrot.
It's also worth noting that this isn't something we really need to worry about happening with Momo's retainers, as Kinemon literally cut an explosion in half before it could hurt him.
This scene basically sets up that Kinemon is not like Igaram or Pell, at least from a narrative standpoint. Kinemon outright defied that narrative parallel, and while Kanjuro or Raizou could easily end up being caught in an explosion later, I feel that since Kinemon is the one that we've spent the most time getting to know, it wouldn't mean as much to the audience if Kinemon weren't the one to get hurt.
Also, both Vivi and Carrot have expressed their admiration for a sea-faring life, Vivi's stemming from a sense of nostalgia, and Carrot's from a sense of adventure.
To drive home this parallel, both of these panels come from the same chapter, 823. This gives a sense that the cycle is repeating itself, showing us Vivi after the end of her adventure and Carrot at the beginning of hers.
So with such a clear set up, a sea-loving character who quickly makes friends with the Straw Hats, contributes to the crew as any other member would, and loses a respected guardian along the way, we can predict that the conclusion of this storyline will be similar as well. As I said, Carrot isn't royalty, but she is a guardian of a forest of strange animals, just like Gaimon, giving her parallels to both of the previous failed recruits rather than just one like Momo. With that in mind, Carrot will likely choose to stay behind on Zou to protect her people, giving up on her dream to see the world. After a tearful farewell, the Straw Hats will lament not being able to continue along with their cherished friend whom they shared hardship and adventure with, only to end up recruiting an enemy from the current arc.
Just like with Vivi, Carrot is a close friend of the Straw Hats who travels with them, but along the way the crew meets a female antagonist who tricks them...
...and eventually joins them after losing anywhere to go home to.
Carrot is one of my favorite characters, but as much as it pains me to say it, she simply matches Vivi too well both in character and story structure, and doesn't match Nami or Robin nearly well enough to join the Straw Hat Crew. This doesn't happen often, but I truly hope I'm wrong on this one. The only saving grace about this is that I noticed it early and I'll have time to come to grips with it before Carrot leaves and breaks my heart.
You all are free to believe this or not, I just want any Carrot fans to be prepared for the worst case scenario, just in case.
Thank you for reading,
- Related Theories & Content:
Theory Red Herring - The Failed Recruitment
Just because someone seems like a shoe-in to join the crew doesn't mean they will.