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The Masterful Level of Detail Oda gave to Wano arc!

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It’s undeniable that Oda has been setting up Wano arc for a long time, starting all the way back being mentioned the first time back during the Thriller Bark arc (in 2007, chapter 450), and that this arc is one of the most well thought-out since the time skip.

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What I personally find masterful about this specific arc in the series is the level of detail that has been given to different elements of the setting. It’s quite easy to make up an “alternate version” of Japan just by taking few elements here and there and plotting them out basically changing the names of characters and places, but what Oda is doing here is quite different! He is weaving together taking from all Japan history and Japanese mythology together to make a world that “feels like Japan”, while being different enough to not being immediately recognizable… and what I found really astounding is the number of small references you could find here and there to facts and fictions.

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This post is intended as being both an appreciation post of the arc that’s going on right now and being as well a detailed analysis of the biggest historical and mythological sources present in the stories… and maybe, knowing what’s already there and what’s not it would be easier to plot out theories for the future of the Wano arc and what would happen next.

1. Momotarō (“The Peach Boy”)

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The history of Momotaro “The Peach Boy” has been a heavy source of inspiration for the conflict in between Kaido and Momonosuke.

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Once upon a time, in a small village, lived an old man and his wife. One day, the old woman saw a very big peach coming down the river. She picked it up and took it home. Later, when they cut the peach, a small boy came out of it. They named him Momotaro and, since they had no children, they raised him with love and care.

Momotaro grew up healthy and he become the strongest man in the village. When he heard that some oni living on the Onigashima island (“island of oni“) were terrorizing the nearby villages, he decided to go to drive them away. His old parents were worried, because an oni is a scary creature. Having a humanoid shape, thick red skin, powerful claws, horns and long, sharp teeth, the oni is huge, very strong and carries an iron club called kanabo. But Momotaro begged them to let him go, so the old woman prepared for him some kibidango (Japanese dumplings made from millet flour).

On his way, Momotaro met a dog who asked him where he was going and what he was carrying. So Momotaro told him that he was going to Onigashima, and that he was carrying the most delicious kibidango in all Japan. Then, the dog agreed to go with Momotaro and help him in exchange for the delicious kibidango. Later, the same thing happened with a pheasant and again with a monkey.

They all went to the island and because they ate those kibidango, the best in Japan, Momotaro’s party grew so strong that they easily vanquished the oni and made them promise that they will never attack the villagers again. Plus, Momotaro took all the treasures stolen by the oni and gave them back to the villagers…

The following are the recurring elements in the story:

Mythic ElementOne Piece ElementChapter
MomotaroKozuki Momonosukechapter 685
OnigashimaOnigashimachapter 920
King of the OniKaidochapter 818
KanaboKaido’s Macechapter 923
KibidangoO-Tamachapter 911
Talking DogInuarashichapter 920
Talking MonkeyLuffy
Talking PheasantMarco? Kuzan?

That’s kinda straightforward. I think that both Marco and Kuzan could be “the last possible ally for the alliance”, since they both could fall in the pheasant figure while being absent from the scene for far too much time.

2. Yamata no Orochi (“Eight-Headed Giant Serpent”)

The history of the defeat of Yamata no Orochi has been a heavy source of inspiration for the conflict against Orochi and in his characterization as a character:

Yamata no Orochi is a serpent-dragon in Japanese myth. The Orochi has eight heads and eight tails, and its enormous body reaches across eight valleys and eight hills. (You’re probably noticing a pattern here.)

When Susano**o is in exile from the heavens, he finds a couple and their daughter crying by the river. They explain their sadness to him — that every year, the Orochi comes to devour one of their daughters. This year, they must give up their eigth and final daughter, Kushinada.

To save her, Susanoo proposes marriage to Kushinada. When she accepts, he transforms her into a comb which he can then carry in his hair. Kushinada’s parents must brew sake, he explains, and refine it eight times. They must also build an enclosure with eight gates, each of which includes a vat of sake.

When the Orochi arrives, he is lured in towards the sake, and dips each of his heads into one of the vats. The drunken beast is now weakened and disoriented, allowing Susanoo to quickly slay it.

As Susanoo cuts the monster into pieces, he uncovers a great sword that had grown inside the Orochi. This blade, the Kusanagi, is presented to Amaterasu as a gift to reconcile their dispute.

The following are the recurring elements in the story:

Mythic ElementOne Piece ElementChapter
Yamata no OrochiKurozumi Orochichapter 932
SusanooZoro? Momo?
Kushinada (with cumbs)Kozuki Hiyori (adorned hairs)chapter 928
KusanagiAme no Habakirichapter 954

In the original myth, Yamata no Orochi also asked for young females as sacrifices and Kushinada would have been the last one. Notice that in many sources Yamata no Orochi is described as being often drunk, trait that I think has been influenced the depiction/development of Kaido as a character. Also, it’s worth to notice that the Kusanagi blade is also named Ame no Habakiri, so the parallel here is striking.

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