Those who entered the fantastic world of One Piece through Netflix’s live-action adaptation just had their first run-in with Den Den Mushi, and it would seem that the reactions were less than glorious. In fact, both newcomers and die-hard fans weren’t quite as prepared for the more realistic take on transponder snails—you read that right, snails are the telephone in the world of One Piece.
Despite their terrifying appearance, One Piece newcomers should know that Den Den Muchi actually aren’t terrifying at all, at least in nature. In fact, they’re classified as type B creatures, which denotes them as being “Small Friendly.”
In One Piece, transponder snails are similar to telephones and are used for communicating.
The typical Den Den Mushi is SpongeBob Gary’s One Piece cousin—it’s roughly the size of a typical house cat, but unlike Gary, transponder snails have a distinct ability to engage in telepathic communication with one another across extensive distances. Paired with their ability to flawlessly replicate speech, they’re the closest thing the world of One Piece has gotten to an actual telephone.
The speech replication is quite extensive, as it includes intonations and other intricacies of individual voices. It may even go a step further with the snail mimicking facial expressions and even the emotions of the person on the other side of the “wire.”
Thanks to these traits, One Piece transponder snails are affixed with dials, receivers, and other supplementary components, thus transforming them into long-range communicator devices. Some even have mechanisms that allow them to transfer documents and even photos, akin to modern real-world fax machines.
So, much like the real-life phone, when a number is dialed, the transponder snail will establish a telepathic link with whichever snail whose mechanism corresponds to the dialed number. The entire mechanism isn’t perfect—they still managed to create an interface between living tissue and machines—but a well-kept and cared for snail can reach across really long distances, often covering entire oceans.
Furthermore, besides mimicking the ringing noise, Den Den Mushi also has a separate “ringtone” for SOS calls—they weep and cry rather loudly when they receive it.
The typical Den Den Mushi is SpongeBob Gary’s One Piece cousin—it’s roughly the size of a typical house cat, but unlike Gary, transponder snails have a distinct ability to engage in telepathic communication with one another across extensive distances.
Now, before PETA comes a-knocking, the One Piece transponder snails don’t actually mind being tamed and used as communicators. They’re quite lethargic by nature and usually spend a lot of time sleeping—nearly all the time. The arrangement in which they’re used as communicators is akin to a symbiotic relationship.
Besides mimicking the ringing noise, Den Den Mushi also has a separate “ringtone” for SOS calls—they weep and cry rather loudly when they receive it.
They “rent” their telepathic capabilities to their users in exchange for access to plenty of food. Their accessories, such as the aforementioned dials and receivers, aren’t actually causing them any injury and can be removed at any time with relative ease.
It’s also important to note that they’re not as universally widespread as real-life phones; they’re quite common on Marine bases and ships but not as common among civilians and even less so among pirates.
The Straw Hat pirates of One Piece have only acquired a Den Den Mushi after they acquired their second ship, the Thousand Sunny, in manga and anime. Just imagine having a giant snail on your office desk, which actually mimics the ringing noise each time someone tries to contact you. How would the smartphone look, then?