In chapter 951 King is revealed to be from an unknown race. After Big Mom’s capture by Queen in Udon, she is taken to Kaido in Onigashima, where she is overseen by the three All Stars until Kaido arrives.
Not seeming particularly perturbed by her capture, Big Mom asks King to join her crew, as he is a member of one of three races which Big Mom does not currently have representation for in her kingdom of Totto Land.
Of those three races, we know definitively that Giants are one of them, given that Big Mom has a sour relationship with Elbaf.
Of all other established races, we have seen all of them either in Totto Land or the Big Mom Pirates. In our first shots of Totto Land, we see humans, Minks, Longlegs…
…Snakenecks, Merfolk, and Dwarves.
Among the Big Mom Pirates and the Charlotte Family, we also see Longarms…
…and naturally, Three-Eyes.
Given that Big Mom’s invitation to King implies that having just one member of any given race is enough to count as having that race in her kingdom, I think it’s safe to say that she is not including the Three-Eyes as a race that she is missing. I do think it’s a little odd that there aren’t more than just Pudding, though, since Pudding must have a father, but that’s not really related to what we’re talking about right now and is a discussion for another time.
We also know that among Big Mom’s collection of rare creatures, she has a Longlimb…
…and some mushroom-like creature called a Kinokobito (literally Mushroom-Person).
Whether a Kinokobito is a type of human or just a creature that looks humanoid is up for debate, but either way, it seems likely that Big Mom would count it as a part of her kingdom, so I think we can safely say that these two are also not among the missing three.
Another that she may be missing are the Kappa.
Now, there is some debate on whether or not Kappa are actually their own race within the world of One Piece or if Kawamatsu is just a Fishman. Personally, I think the latter, given that he has webbed hands, is a strong swimmer, and seems to possess immense physical strength as the strongest Yokozuna in Wano. If he isn’t a Fishman, I imagine he’s from some reptilian or amphibian race, given that he is clearly amphibious. Either way, Fishman or not, I think it’s pretty clear that Kawamatsu is not actually a Kappa and that’s just what the isolationist people of Wano call his race given that they are not familiar with the outside world. Until further notice, though, I am considering Kawamatsu a Fishman, particularly because there is reason to believe that we already know the other two races Big Mom is referring to.
This brings us to the meat of this theory: King’s race.
Originally, when Jack called King and Queen “big brothers,” I assumed they were all half-Fishmen or at least all half-human with different parental mixes, and that King was just wearing fake wings as part of his eccentric design. They certainly aren’t a part of his Devil Fruit, at the very least, since his Dragon-Dragon Fruit, Model: Pteranodon gives him reptilian wings, not feathered ones.
However, it was revealed in the Vivre Card Databook that Jack is actually a full Fishman. Now, it is of course possible that King and Queen are half-Fishmen, but nothing about their designs really imply that, so I think it’s fair to say that they are probably adoptive brothers of different races, and now that Big Mom has established King is from some race that was thought to be extinct, it seems pretty likely that his most identifiable feature, his wings, is indicative of his race.
So, what race is King?
The obvious first conclusion that most people would likely come to would be that he is of the Sky People, the only winged humanoids that we have seen in the series up to this point.
They are a rare race of humanoids that used to exist in the Blue Sea but disappeared (specifically, the Shandians), and we never see any of them in Totto Land, so it would make perfect sense for them to be the lost race that Big Mom is missing. To that point, I wholeheartedly believe that the Sky People are one of the three that she was referring to.
But I do not believe that King is one of them.
Remember, Big Mom says that King’s race disappeared from history, but for that to be the case, his race must have once been known to history. As far as we know, the only interactions that any of the Sky People had with the people of the Blue Sea were the Shandians befriending Montblanc Noland four-hundred years ago. Based on the North Blue story of Noland the Liar, it seems that the only part of Noland’s “lie” that survived was the City of Gold, not the winged people. In other words, there is no known record in the Blue Sea that the Sky People ever existed to go extinct.
Secondly, Big Mom certainly knew about the Sky People before meeting with King, given that Urouge defeated one of her Sweet Commanders, Snack, so badly that he was no longer fit to be a Sweet Commander.
I find it hard to believe that with Big Mom’s renowned information network that she wouldn’t have looked into and learned something of Urouge’s origins. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn’t already know about Sky Islands and how to get to them, since fellow Yonko Shanks and Kaido have both been to Sky Islands (Shanks while sailing with Roger, Kaido trying to kill himself by jumping from Ballon Terminal). It is possible that she doesn’t know about the Sky People specifically, since she’s never gone out of her way to go to Skypiea to scoop some of them up to bring to Totto Land, but maybe Skypiea specifically is just too difficult to get to for whatever reason. I don’t know, and again, that’s not what this theory is about.
Urouge does seem to be specifically from Birka, so maybe Big Mom is referring to the fact that Enel destroyed Birka. This also wouldn’t really work though, since that would imply she considers all three variants of Sky People, Birkans, Shandians and Skypieans, to be independent races, which would mean that her number of missing races is no less than four, not three. Maybe she thinks the eradication of Birka was the eradication of all Sky People. This is completely possible, but it seems too speculative for me since it relies entirely on assumption and not integration of fact.
But let’s say that from a narrative perspective, Oda wouldn’t want to have two races of winged humans, and King definitely is of the Sky People. Which group is he a part of, then?
Is he a Skypiean or a Shandian, whose wings are small and point to the sides?
Is he a Birkan, whose wings are rounded and point down?
They certainly do look closer to that shape, but again, the Birkan wings are much too small. Moreover, King’s wings have a much more defined skeletal curve, which not only clearly differentiates them visually, it also implies to me that his wings are actually usable for powered flight.
There’s also the fact that King’s feathers are black, or at least dark, but they’re colored white in the anime for some reason, so who knows, maybe he’s just constantly using haki on his wings in the manga.
In terms of size, Urouge’s wings are actually pretty close to King’s, and do actually have a somewhat more defined skeleton than most Birkans, but given that Urouge is significantly more muscular than most known Sky People, I wouldn’t be too surprised if his wings are bigger on the basis that he’s bigger.
Interestingly, though, Urouge’s wings used to have the Skypiean shape, and he even had the Skypiean antenna hair, implying that he was actually born Skypiean and his wings somehow changed over time.
This could back up the idea that Urouge is just super jacked, and that his wings changed shape from working out, but it’s also possible that Sky People wings are actually just accessories which can be removed and swapped out. After all, they are frequently seen outside of clothes without any clear openings and Enel seems to have replaced his wings with drums.
Furthermore, as previously stated, the wings of the Sky People likely aren’t functional, as if they were, then when crossing the White Sea, the Skypieans wouldn’t need Wavers or Dial Boats…
…Shandians wouldn’t need Breath Dial skates…
…Shura wouldn’t need to ride Fuza to fly…
…and Gedatsu wouldn’t need Cloud Dial shoes to escape his own swamp clouds.
Time and again, it’s demonstrated that the Sky People require vehicles, mounts or other augmentations in order to move across the White Sea, which they wouldn’t need if their wings were functional. Therefore, it is likely that their wings are just too small to be usable, unlike King’s comparatively massive wings.
Granted, we haven’t actually seen those wings in use, as thus far we’ve only seen King fly in his pteranodon form. However, there is one character that has wings that do look fairly similar to King’s who we have reason to believe can use them. Someone that was introduced within Wano: Tenguyama Hitetsu.
Once again, when Hitetsu was introduced, I assumed his wings were either the result of a Devil Fruit or just accessories, but now that it’s been established that there may be some form of winged race, I must say that chances seem good that Hitetsu was introduced this arc as a way of introducing the winged race to the story at least somewhat ahead of the official reveal. This may also imply that the winged race is extinct in every nation other than Wano, and that, while rare, they may still be found within its borders.
Like I said, aside from the color, Hitetsu’s wings look very similar to King’s, both in terms of size and shape, with strongly defined bones curving far upward. Again, much like King, he has not been shown actually using them, but it is worth noting that in his introduction in the anime (episode 894), Hitetsu is shown quickly ascending to the sky, accompanied by windy sounds before becoming suspended in the air. Now, obviously it’s possible that he’s just jumping really high like Carrot does, but the ambiguity of the scene implies to me that he was flying and Toei simply did not want to reveal it yet.
Whether their wings are capable of powered flight or not, I think it is quite clear that Hitetsu and King are of the same race. But again, what race are they?
Anyone that’s read my theories in the past may have already figured out what I’m going to say: Hitetsu and King…are Birdfolk.
Yes, I know, I’ve always said in the past that the Birdfolk are humanoid birds, with scaled legs and talons on their feet, feathers all over their body, their wings and arms one and the same, and complete with beaks on their faces. Unfortunately, while doing research for this theory, I discovered that Oda has dashed that particular theory, as Big News Morgans, the cornerstone of my Birdfolk theory as it stood, was revealed to be a human Devil Fruit user with the Bird-Bird Fruit, Model: Albatross. Therefore, the full-bodied Birdfolk that I so desperately wanted to see have been wrenched from my fingers.
However, now that we know King is from a rare race, there is still hope that the Birdfolk do exist, just not in the shape that I wanted them to. Instead, they are more akin to Merfolk than they are to Fishmen, being mostly human with the locomotive traits of a particular type of animal rather than bipedal, human-shaped animals. Of course, the latter is still technically possible, but with our one example turning out to be a sham, it’s looking a lot less likely.
If King and Hitetsu are in fact Birdfolk, then it stands to reason that they carry the traits of specific birds, and while I can’t really tell what sort of bird Hitetsu’s wings resemble, this may serve as an explanation to why King is apparently constantly on fire: he may be a Phoenix Birdfolk. If Fishmen and Merfolk can have different abilities based on their genetic inspiration (sharks with infinitely growing teeth, octopus with multiple arms and the ability to shoot ink or poison, etc.), then naturally Birdfolk would also have phenotypical differences as well. Most of them would likely be smaller things like feather type (water-resistant like a duck, silent like an owl, etc.) or feather distribution (pointed like an albatross for endurance or slotted like a crow for maneuverability), but if there is a Phoenix Birdfolk, I imagine that being on fire would be high up on its possible unique abilities.
I also think it’s interesting that of the two likely Birdfolk we have right now, both of them wear masks. I don’t imagine that these masks could possibly be covering beaks, given their shapes, but there may be something about their facial structure that is specific to the Birdfolk. It’s also possible that their faces just look masked, given that Hitetsu’s mask blends so seamlessly into his face, but that’s probably just an artistic quirk.
As a bit of an aside, I don’t know if Birdfolk is necessarily the appropriate name for this group anymore, seeing as they aren’t strictly speaking birds as I originally planned. Perhaps they would be called Angels? Whatever the case, I think it’s pretty obvious that within Wano, the term for their race would be Tengu, so for now, while I’m still going to call them Birdfolk, Tengu is probably a good alternative.
To summarize, I believe that King is of a hitherto unknown Birdfolk race, and that Totto Land is missing Giants, the Sky People, and the Birdfolk. Could King turn out to be a Sky Person and the third missing race is either Kawamatsu’s race or something else new entirely? Maybe, but as things stand right now, I think it’s most likely that King is a Birdfolk.
*Theory by Tokiro Oumaga