I was seriously NOT prepared for Chapter 1014 which was, if everything is as it seems, honestly one of the most brutal and shocking chapters in the entire series. Anyway I’m going to talk about the last two scenes which are the most surprising part of the chapter.
We see Kanjuro has followed Kinemon and Kiku to Momonosuke’s location. It seems this may have been Kinemon’s plan. A few chapters prior, when Kiku asked Kinemon to let her deal with Kanjuro herself, Kinemon told Kiku to accompany him to Momonosuke’s location, perhaps assuming Kanjuro would follow them.
The scene which fllows was honestly shocking. Oda has very rarely killed major characters on panel, but I honestly do believe this is going to close the curtains for Kiku and Kanjuro. Kiku’s death struck me as particularly tragic. As she lays dying, she asks Kinemon if they will be able to see Wano’s New Dawn from the afterlife and given the way this chapter concludes leads me to believe perhaps all Nine together will be watching the Dawn, perhaps standing beside Oden and Toki.
Oda has heavily likened this raid on Onigashima to Hell and has referred to the Nine Scabbards as Ghosts of Wano’s past. They were sentenced to death 20 years ago by Kaido and Orochi and only survived to the present because Oden bought their lives by sacrificing his own all for the purpose of opening Wano’s borders.
What this suggests is that the sole reason for the Scabbard’s survival is to ensure Oden’s will is fulfilled and so perhaps once that mission is fulfilled, Kaido and Orochi are defeated, and Wano is liberated, they will be free to finally rest, reunited with Oden in the afterlife.
We have been waiting 10 chapters for payoff to the cliffhanger from the end of 1004, where a character resembling Toki was seen tending to the Scabbard’s injuries. Initially, I suspected this was Toki in the flesh, having jumped forward in time using her Devil Fruit.
However, the anime recently reached the moment of Toki’s death and it appears to be far less ambiguous. While the anime is less definitively canon than the manga, I do think it’s safe to assume Oda would need to approve something like this and thus, I now am more inclined to believe Toki is dead.
This would then suggest Hiyori was the one tending to the scabbard’s injruies, but this still doesn’t explain why Kawamatsu would not recognize Hiyori. So what if it really was Toki, but not in the flesh? Perhaps much like the Klabautermann on Skypiea repairing Merry, Toki’s spirit was aiding the Scabbards such that they can see through their mission to its end. If Onigashima is Hell, then the ghosts of Wano’s past, as the citizens of Wano believe, have indeed returned to help Wano reach its New Dawn.
I thought Kanjuro’s final moment was fittingly tragic. It makes sense Kinemon was the one to strike him down, but I thought Oda did a great job of capturing the sorrow both of them felt in this moment. Kanjuro was too far gone for a complete redemption arc, but the truth is, he was taken avantage of by the Kurozmi clan from a young age and molded into the traitor he later became, made to play the role of faithful retainer to Oden, who was a truoly great and kind man.
There was a tinge of sorrow in Kanjuro’s final words as he acknowledges Kinemon as his best friend, though of course framed as a part of his lifelong performance. This scene gives the impression that if only Oden had reached Kanjuro before Orochi, this friendship would have been genuine rather than performance. If, as I suspect, the ghosts of Wano’s past have returned, hinted by Toki’s appearance in chapter 1004, perhaps we really will see a genuine apparition of Oden before all is said and done. Kanjuro’s continue duse of Oden’s likeness could be buildup to a future scene where Oden appears and because we have already seen Fauxden twice, fully expect another trick only for Oda to surprise us with the genuine article.
If Kiku’s wish is fulfilled and the Scabbards are indeed able to witness Wano’s New Dawn together from the afterlife, ushred in by the spirits of Toki and Oden, perhaps they will be accompanied by Kanjuro, a lifelong performer who, perhaps on some deep unrecognized level, desired for the bonds of fellowship they shared to be genuine. If the New Dawn marks the beginning of a new era for Wano, free from the ghosts of its past, perhaps in turn the next life will be a new chapter for the Scabbards and Kanjuro where the grudges of the past are laid to rest and they together can witness Wano’s bright future.
The apparent deaths of Kiku and Kanjuro were of course far from the most shocking moment in this week’s chapter. Before Kinemon can collect himself after striking down Kanjuro, Kaido himself comes crashing through the ceiling, intent on killing Momonosuke.