So in my mind this is how the next 2 arcs (Wano and Elbaf) playing out.
I think the reason Oda has split this arc into acts like we have never seen before is because Luffy will leave Wano and then return.
-FIRE FESTIVAL FAILURE AND WANO SUB – ARC
I think the Fire Festival is going to be a failure and Luffy will need more recruits to save his friends/ he will need Marco’s Flames of Rebirth to heal O-Tama. So he will leave Wano and we will sort of get a sub arc of Luffy going to go and find Marco and the rest of the Whitebeard Pirates on Whitebeard’s home island along with the Reverie and other things. It only makes sense because Luffy still hasn’t seen Ace’s grave yet, and it would fulfill O – Tama’s dream of reuiniting with Ace. I think that’s were we will also see Weevil clash with Luffy and somehow Luffy will win him over to his side and recruit him for the battle against Kaido along with the rest of the Whitebeard Pirates. At the same time this happens too, we will also see the Reverie unfold more and Cobra dying and Alabasta being expelled from the World Government. Also I really don’t think that Big Mom brought Jinbe and the Germa 66 forces with her to Wano as prisoners. I think they’re imprisoned back on Whole Cake Island. So I see another part of this little sub-arc is Blackbeard attacking Whole Cake Island in order to obtain Big Mom’s Poneglyph and Katakuri and the Big Mom Pirates stationed back at Whole Cake Island having to fight them off. Blackbeard succeeds in stealing Big Mom’s poneglyph and will then head on to Wano to obtain Kaido’s poneglyph. Katakuri tries to clean up this mess and releases Jinbe and the Germa 66 forces imprisoned to help bring down Blackbeard and retrieve the poneglyph and together they sail out to Wano to chase after Blackbeard. I also believe that the captain of ROCKS is imprisoned somewhere in Wano and Blackbeard is aware of this so he will also set him free in Wano to add to the whole fiasco so he has more of a chance to steal the poneglyphs and devil fruits at the end of the arc. Another part of this sub arc that I see is someone on the inside of Impel Down freeing Doflamingo and he also decides to join the party on the way to Wano. We see the Reverie continue to unfold, and the Revolutionaries continue to battle it out with the Marines, the Revolutionaries retrieve Kuma back and make their exit. This marks the beginning of the war of the Revolutionaries vs. Worrld Government. After the World Government hears about Blackbeard’s raid on Whole Cake Island and Doflamingo’s escape from Impel Down, they have no choice but to head to Wano to get back Doflamingo, and stop Blackbeard from obtaining the rest of the poneglyphs.. That is where Ryokugyu and Fujitora would come into the picture. Luffy trains for a bit and powers up and is ready to head back to Wano to face off against Kaido for Round 2. Then I see this arc ending by showing all these big players on their way to Wano.
-RETURN TO WANO: KAIDO’S PAST
I have seen multiple theories that Wano was made by Oars the continent puller. We know that not all giants are from Elbaf and Elbaf could very well be a representation of Ygdrasil where the main breed of giants are on the main island/where the tree is located and the different branches lead to a subset of islands where the other breeds of giants lived (i.e. frost giants- Kaido’s race, dwarf giants- Big Mom’s race). For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to call these subset of giants not residing on Elbaf’s mainland as “abnormal giants”. Oars 1 was tired of the oppression these groups faced, so he moved these islands together in order for these abnormal giants to live together to create their own version of Elbaf. I believe he intentionally moved all these groups around the Flower Capital where the Samurai lived by the assurance that these Samurai and the Kozuki Family would protect the abnormal giants and allow them to live in peace from invaders. He planned on moving Onigashima which was home of the Frost Giants (but they refused for whatever reason. They were perfectly happy living on their own, they had close ties to the mainland of Elbaf possibly) so Onigashima remained separate from the rest of the abnormal giants centered around Wano. I believe that Oars 1 served as a representative for all the abnormal giants living in the sections of Wano around the Flower Capital (Okobore Town, Kuri, etc.) and they had a good relationship with the Kozuki Family and many samurai. Generations later, tensions begin to rise between the giants and the Wano residents to fight over land and resources and this leads to a lot of conflict between them with Oars 1 and the Kozuki family trying to deflate this conflict. Maybe the samurai began hunting the giants kind of like a tradition. Maybe a swordsman who brings down a giant then earns the honorary title of samurai? After this conflict, many Wano residents begin to detest the Kozuki family and a plan is set in place to overthrow them by the Orochi Family. Fast forward after and Oars 1 decides to travel to Onigashma again to try and convince the Frost Giants to join the rest of the abnormals and Orochi family samurai then ambush Oars and kill him. They then wipe out the frost giants on Onigashima, and frame the Kozuki Family for doing so. Kaido witnesses his entire race being slaughtered before his eyes and the death of his family. He begins to detest the Kozuki family and the Orochi family “save him”. They plan on turning him into a killing machine against the Kozuki family. Kaido and Oars III are the sole survivors of the abnormal giants
-ORIGIN AND GOAL OF THE ROCKS PIRATES
After this Kaido flashback, I think Blackbeard will sneak his way in pretty lowkey somehow, while the rest of these groups will make some sort of big entrance into Wano. I believe that the Captain of ROCKS is imprisoned somewhere deep in Wano and Blackbeard tries to set him free to add to the whole fiasco so he has a better chance of stealing the poneglyph (I will explain how Blackberad knows ROCKS captain below). After Blackbeard frees ROCKS captain, this is where we will get to see the whole history behind this group. In terms of history of ROCKS, I see the captain of ROCKS being Shanks father (the certain pirate they wanted to talk about). Before the ROCKS Pirates started, the 4 Road Poneglyphs were protected by 4 groups allied to the Ancient Kingdom. 1. The Minks, 2. The Kozuki Clan, 3. The Giants of Elbaf and 4. Shanks D. Clan being the protectors (possibly the remnants of this clan stationed on Pirate Island- Blackbeard’s current territory and originally protected this Poneglyph for generations). These protectors would only allow those who are worthy to learn the secrets of the Poneglyph. I see this clan also consisting of Haki beasts. Each generation they pass on the information of this Poneglyph and train its protector to become a Haki expert to protect it. This role and its secrets are passed down from generation to generation, and when this role was passed down to the captain of ROCKS, he becomes selfish and greedy and is more interested in getting all the Road Poneglyph’s to become Pirate King rather than protecting the Poneglyph, and this was his motivation for starting the ROCKS Pirates. He wanted to take the poneglyphs by force to bring down these 4 groups of protectors of these Poneglyphs. He selected powerful members who had past vendetta’s and grudges against these 4 groups to help him fulfill this mission. He first slaughtered the rest of his Shanks D. clan so they would not be able to stop him. Then he sought out Big Mom because he knew of her grudge against Elbaf and they ravaged Elbaf and stole the Poneglyph from the giants (where Big Mom also obtained the spear of Elbaf). They then headed to Wano and that is where they met Kaido. I think while they were looking for him, he was about to be captured and killed by some samurai but Big Mom stopped them and saved Kaido’s life (this is the life long debt I think they’re referring to). They then ravaged Wano and stole the poneglyph from Oden’s father. Finally they needed a way to get the poneglyph that belonged to the minks but at the time they were under Whitebeard’s protection. So Shanks father convinced Whitebeard to join ROCKS without telling him the true purpose. These 4 beasts together under ROCKS began to be referred to as “the Four Emporers”. After recruting Whitebeard onto ROCKS and getting close to him, he tried to take the Minks poneglyph by force on Zou and this is where the conflict between the Whitebeard pirates and the other members of ROCKS began. Garp then eventually stops them and the captain escapes and ends up in West Blue somehow where he meets Shanks mother. The rest of ROCKS disband and Big Mom and Kaido each take one of the respective Poneglyph. I think there is something unusual about the fourth Road Poneglyph. I think the generations of Shanks ancestors are the fourth Road Poneglyphs themselves. They have the writing inscribed on their back or something.
-DEFEAT OF KAIDO AND BIG MOM
Not sure exactly how it is going to go down but Supernovas team up and Kaido and Big Mom both go down. Blackbeard comes in at the end and takes Kaido’s fruit so he has the strongest of each of the three types of devil fruits.
2- ELBAF ARC
-BLACKBEARD VS. SHANKS
This is the final destination for both of these crews before Raftel. They both have to reach Elbaf to get the final Road Poneglyph that is Shanks. I don’t see Blackbeard and Shanks clashing on the actual island of Elbaf. I see it more of a parallel of the clash between Ace and Blackbeard. My theory is that the Blackbeard Pirates will arrive at Elbaf before the Straw Hats and Shanks suggests that him and Blackbeard go to another island (maybe Pirate Island- Blackbeard’s territory) to settle things between them to buy time for the Straw Hats to make their way to Elbaf while the rest of the Red Hair Pirates and Blackbeard Pirates stay behind on Elbaf (I see Blackbeard playing dirty, he promises Shanks that it will be 1 on 1 but he leaves half of his crew on Elbaf to retrieve the last Road Poneglyph and duel it out with the Red Hair Pirates and the other half follow him and gang up on Shanks). This is where I see Shanks’ character development really occur and the history between them revealed. I see Shanks as a kid travelling with his father to different islands training to improve his Haki to become the protector of the poneglyph and one day they travel to Blackbeard’s home island which was ravaged by war and find him crying staring at the moon like we saw in the SBS. Captain of ROCKS pirates then decides to take him in/adpot him and they train together. Shanks is a prodigy and masters Haki right away and is the family favourite while Blackbeard lives in his shadow all these years. They both become pirates and clash a few times with each other whenever Roger Pirates come across Whitebeard Pirates. We saw that Katakuri could see a few minutes into the future with his haki, I think Shanks haki is so strong that he’s able to do this on a large scale and he’s able to see years into the future. He has a vision about a young boy from East Blue becoming Pirate King and bringing down the World Government. That’s why he ends up in East Blue looking for Luffy.
-USSOP AND HIS FATHER + MAIN ANTAGONIST
Since I assume the rest of the Red Hair pirates will be back on Elbaf we’ll see Usopp come face to face with his father and probably detest him for leaving while he was young. I think the Captain of ROCKS will still be alive after Wano and he will be the main antagonist for this arc that Luffy has to defeat. He is fighting him back on Elbaf while Shanks and Blackbeard dual it out on Pirate Island.
-LUFFY REUNITE WITH SHANKS
I think after ROCKS Captain has been dealt with Luffy will go to Pirate Island to see Shanks to see him on the verge of dying. Luffy tries to return the straw hat but Shanks tells him to keep it. Adds a lot of drama and he gives him some encouraging words to bring down Blackbeard and gives him the confidence he needs right before he sets sail to Raftel.
Like I said, this is just how I see everything playing out in my head. Thoughts?
*Theory by grandlinepirate