So, Wano Act Two has just finished, and we were left with this cliffhanger:
The key component of this ending is that the outcome of the war on Wano will “alter the very fate of the world”. From a lot of Oda’s comments in interviews etc, we’ve known that he’s been planning for Wano to be a hugely important arc for the future of One Piece, and we’ve known that the outcome of this war will be hugely significant to the One Piece universe for quite some time. However, we may well have made some wrong assumptions about what that world-altering change may be. Going in to the arc, we assumed that the alliance would be taking down Kaido and altering the balance of power in that way. However, fairly early on in the arc, we were introduced to one hugely unexpected variable – Big Mom.
At first this was met with a lot of confusion from readers, and as we watched her bumble through the early parts of Act Two with amnesia, readers were quick to lose their patience and question why she was here in the first place. However, her memories returned and she went straight for Kaido’s head, but rather than fight to the death, they ended up seeing eye-to-eye on something and teaming up as of Chapter 954 – a huge and unexpected plot twist.
Now, the question on everyone’s lips after Chapter 955 is this: How can Luffy’s alliance of 4,200 overcome Kaido and Orochi’s army of 30,000, plus however many Big Mom brought with her?
Now, there’s a series of answers. One is that Jinbe arrives with the Sun Pirates and Germa, and that helps even out the numbers. Another is that the Straw Hat Alliance show up. A third answer is that all the aforementioned parties show up. All of these ideas are geared towards the idea that we see the Straw Hat Alliance take down Kaido and Big Mom. That’s the goal, right? That’s the “world altering event” that happens, surely? Two Yonko going down would cause chaos! That must be Oda’s intention!
As amazing as it would be to see Luffy and co take them down, that outcome is incredibly unlikely and potentially damaging to the delicate power system that we have in One Piece. The way things are shaping up, the most likely outcome for the Raid on Onigashima is overwhelming defeat. However, that might just be Oda’s intention. This theory is going to delve into the possible ramifications of the Raid on Onigashima failing, and why it might not be a big deal at all.
As we know Wano arc is based on the kabuki. The third act of the kabuki is the climax, and not a positive one, it’s a tragedy.
Then in Act 4, the efforts of the writer are focused on easing the tragedy that happened in Act 3. And then Act 5 concludes the story. That’s how the kabuki works. After first going through a long stretch of denial about the idea of the Fire Festival plan failing, I eventually accepted that train of thought and began to explore where it might lead. The Wano arc is one that’s laid out very differently to One Piece – unlike any arc that’s come before it, this is being shown to us very deliberately as being a show. No other arc in One Piece has this kind of narrative lens applied to it. This got me thinking – What if the Raid of Onigashima is just a distraction from the true goal of the arc?
Right before Wano began, we had the Reverie. All the world’s big players meeting up, and a series of subplots left on cliffhangers – Shanks, the Revolutionaries and Im, the being who sits above even the Gorosei. Now the reason I highlight Im is because his introduction as the “supreme entity” in the One Piece world is one that brings huge end game implications. Prior to his introduction, the question “Who is the final villain?” was one that caused a lot of debate. Some said Akainu. Others said Blackbeard. However, he is a standout candidate as the end-game boss. Cue mental images of Luffy, having finally reached Raftel, finally obtaining the One Piece, staring down this mysterious king, ready to kick his ass or whatever it is that Luffy does.
Hold on. Did I just say something important? Something about One Piece, the treasure that all the biggest pirates are chasing?
Now, some of you might be starting to see where I’m going with this. Others of you might be saying, “But, but finding One Piece is miles away! Luffy has to beat all the Yonko before they go to Raftel, right? That’s at least 2 more arcs after this one!”
For those of you questioning why the One Piece is being brought up at all, let me remind you of something. The Straw Hats are halfway to Raftel. What do I mean by that? Well, as we found out in Zou, to reach Raftel, one must find all four Road Poneglyphs, and combine the co-ordinates found on each Poneglyph to pinpoint one location – Raftel. The Straw Hats have the details from two of the four Poneglyphs – the one found on Zou, and the one found on Whole Cake Island. That makes two. The third Road Poneglyph is in Wano, and the whereabouts of the fourth is currently unknown.
Hold on. I’ve just said something important again, haven’t I? Something about there being a Road Poneglyph in Wano? A Road Poneglyph that the Straw Hats haven’t found yet?
Hopefully now some more of you are seeing where I’m going with this, but for those of you who still aren’t quite with me, I’ll ask you the following question:
What outcome would be considered a “succesful” outcome from the Wano arc?
The obvious answer to this, and the one we’ve all been debating feverently is that the Raid on Onigashima is a success and Kaido and co are taken down. However, I would like to propose an alternative course of events.
At the end of Wano Act 3, we’re met with the taste of overwhelming defeat under the might of Kaido and his forces. However, Luffy and co. have been lucky enough to survive Kaido and Big Mom’s onslaught, but have been forced to retreat. In Act 4, we see the Straw Hats licking their wounds, deeply pained by their lack of success against the Yonko, and the impact their failure has had on the people of Wano. However, one of the Straw Hats reveals that during the chaos, they managed to locate Kaido’s Road Poneglyph in Onigashima. And not only that, they’ve managed to obtain a rubbing of it! Now they have three of the four co-ordinates to Raftel and to One Piece. They’re one step closer to helping Luffy achieve his dream of becoming Pirate King! Now all they need to do is locate the fourth Poneglyph, whose location is still a complete unknown. However, they’ll have find it before the Big Mom/Kaido alliance, who are now the front runners to take over the world, as per their ambition. In all likelihood, their plans of world domination involve finding Raftel and becoming Pirate King and Queen. In fact, it’s almost certain that they do – after all, they’ve each obtained one of the Road Poneglyphs for themselves. Right now, they don’t stand a chance against them, but with the One Piece… who knows? Maybe they’ll be able to avenge the people of Wano.
The Wano arc is one that is crucial to the dreams of three of the Straw Hat Pirates. For Luffy and Robin, finding the Road Poneglyph brings them closer to Raftel and finding One Piece and the Rio Poneglyph respectively.
For Zoro, the acquisition of Enma, an incredibly powerful katana, brings him one step closer to becoming the World’s Greatest Swordsman.
You could also argue that surviving brings Nami, Usopp and Franky one step closer to their dreams, but theirs are relatively vague in nature. However, the fulfillment of their dreams is bears no relation to the outcome of the Raid.
To conclude: the current events in the manga are a fun distraction from the chaotic state of the One Piece world, one that will become increasingly chaotic as the outcomes of the Wano arc and the Reverie are revealed. For this arc to be considered a “success” for Luffy and his crew, they only need to survive and obtain the information held on the Road Poneglyph in Wano, setting us up for a crazy race to the finish line. The end goal we’ve been chasing since Chapter 1 could well be closer than we thought.
*Theory by Marco Polo