This is something that has lived in my head perhaps since Zou, chapter 1016 solidified it, chapter 1040 strengthened it, chapter 1051 sealed it, and chapter 1055 slammed the final nail in that coffin for me. I’ve made this theory a few times mostly because every week since 1051 it’s been “Oh, another one”, “oh, another one” etc, that seems to make it feel more solid. To avoid spam, and mostly because there would be no further point, I won’t post about it again. Thus, this would be the most detailed version. Thanks for being patient with me.
First, a bit of background vis a vis the literary perspective which has always informed me. When it comes to mysteries and mystery novels, one thing you need to be cognizant of is that by the 80% mark of the story, whether you are told or not, you have the solution to the mystery. Even if it is a murder mystery and you’ve met Jesus, Mother Therasa, Ghandi, and the victims are babies and puppies, clear your eyes and do not be deceived, it is one of them. When the author pulls back the curtain, you’re then able to go “Ohhhhh, now that makes sense.” The puzzle pieces are always there, just the context to connect them is hidden — though of course there are some that could happen out of left field like Nika — but that wasn’t a mystery so much as something that popped in out of nowhere. One Piece this far has been no exception, see Kanjuro and Denjiro reveals. Similarly, in every previous arc with a mystery element to it, whether it be zombies, or talking furniture, the answer has always been a mechanic previously revealed in the world, i.e Devil Fruits. In other words, we have been told the name of the Ancient Kingdom already. We just haven’t connected the dots.
Well, the first clue is: We aren’t told the name of the Ancient Kingdom.
Why is this a clue? Well, just like the Sherlockian dog that didn’t bark in the nighttime, it would be a clue in the sense that its absence is important. If its name was “Freedom”, “Japan”, “Spain”, “United States of the Emirate African Republic”, no answer here would particularly mean anything to the reader. Likewise, if it was Dawn or Dis or any name that could be summarised as “D” giving the, well, the prominence of the ‘D’ name in the story and various organizations, including the Marines. In other words, it becomes likely that this name is something that we as the reader should recognize if we are told to be significant in the story itself.
Ok, but how does this tie to Wano? Enies Lobby was a whole teenager ago. The answer is of course…Thriller Bark. What comes after Enies Lobby? Thriller Bark. What’s in Thriller Bark? Ryuma. Who is Ryuma? A samurai who an unspecified number of centuries ago defended Wano. If we track the meta-story of the series starting in the Grand Line, a pattern emerges, just off the top of my head.
In Alabasta, we meet Pluton and the Poneglyphs, Laugh Tale, and the Will of D.
In Sky Island, we are introduced to the idea that Roger read and followed those Poneglyphs.
In Enies Lobby we learn about the origin of those Poneglyphs.
In Sabaody Archipelago, we learn about what’s on the Final Island.
In the Marineford Arc, we get “The One Piece is real”.
In Fishman Island, we learn about “Joy Boy” and Poseidon.
In Punk Hazard, we learn about devil fruits and lineage factors.
In Dressrosa, we learn about the 20 families and the Celestial Dragons.
In Zou, we learn about the Road Poneglyphs.
In Whole Cake Island, we learn about the Real/Rio Poneglyph and how many they are.
In Wano, we learn…a lot.
In other words, Thriller Bark sticks out as the ONLY arc that does not immediately contribute something to the meta-story. However, adopting Wano as the Ancient Kingdom nigh immediately resolves this. We are introduced to the idea of an Immense Kingdom, and then the next arc, we are introduced to the Land of Wano.
Already, we are aware that Wano is a country that was known as something different in the long distant past. Assuming that Land of Gold is literal and not metaphorical of course I’m keeping this assumption primarily because Wano is referred to as ‘The Land of Wano’ a lot, so it may be a proper name or it could be an epithet/nickname. Now, we are also aware that for the World Government, erasing a country and a kingdom from history could be something as simple as…changing its name. So in Wano, we have two pieces: “A country that long ago was known as something else” AND “a World Government that’s able erase things from history by changing their names.”
[But wait, remember the story Ryuma slaying a dragon over the Flower Capital. What if the hint there is cleverly buried between the literal and apocryphal? Let’s assume for a moment that this is 100% right, and the Ancient Kingdom was the Land of Gold that closed its borders to outsiders. A legend of the Land of Gold is that its most powerful defender slew a dragon in the skies. So what could the enemies of this country name themselves? Perhaps something that references this event…maybe even…Sky Flying God. Not quite right. Heavenly Lizards? Not quite evocative. How would dubbing yourselves as “Celestial Dragon” sound as a name intended to mock this Ancient Kingdom and its failures? ]
Moving on from this, let’s loop back to Professor Clover. Clover and Cat tell us that Wano is the Ancient Kingdom explicitly. Wait, what?
Clover tells us that the Ancient Kingdom passed down the Poneglyphs. But we are told that the Kozuki Family is the one who created them. It seems a simple case Modus Ponens here. If the Ancient Kingdom created the Poneglyphs in the Void Century, and the Poneglyphs originate exclusively from the Land of Wano….it would seem convoluted for these two to be separated. Reading straight forward, the “Kozuki” ARE the “people of the past.”
But wait, it gets interesting. Let’s look at the description of what they found at Laugh Tale by Oden.
Read it, and read it again. Let’s go back to the dog that didn’t bark in the nighttime. Why did Oden not mention the Ancient Kingdom that was destroyed? You’d think it’s so significant that he’d mention it right? Then read it again. If Wano is the Ancient Kingdom, then he did learn about it, and he did mention it. “Wano was open to the world”, now it is not.
There’s also the problem of borders. It makes sense for the people of Wano to not want their borders open (even though this appears to be Kaido propaganda as taught by Sarahebi), but there is a logic to it. Why would the World Government not want the country of Wano open?
An open country lets in ideas that are harmful to the nation,” – to paraphrase the now-defeated Sarahebi. Now again, looping in Clover: “The idea of the Ancient Kingdom is harmful to the World Government.” If the ideas of this Ancient Kingdom are dangerous in general, then there
The best way to tell a huge lie and hide a secret? In plain sight, with sprinkles of truth. The Big Lie – The Ancient Kingdom was not destroyed, but it WAS defeated, and it WAS forced into isolation. A deal was struck to preserve the people of Wano as long as they agreed never to leave the country and spread their ideals, as well as changed their name. It became a crime on both sides of the arrangement. One crime was to delve into the history of the said Kingdom, another crime was to leave said Kingdom. Cut off from the world, Wano lost its resources and influence and became insular, leaving it ripe to be overtaken by Kaido.
Then, why the Poneglyphs? Perhaps they were created before this defeat when it became clear that it was impending. Thus: “Hold the truth in your heart, and keep your mouth silent.”
Recent chapters add several more wrinkles to this tale.
We have learned that there is the Ancient Weapon Pluton hidden in the land of Wano. It was last used 800 years ago. If Wano was the Ancient Kingdom, then it would make sense for the country.
We have also learned that there is a massive, large, ancient Kingdom hidden under Wano. Perhaps a user of the Stone Stone Fruit in the past created these barriers to encase Wano from either side as well as create the foundation for the new Wano (whether Ancient Wano-ese/World Government). As a consequence, the Ancient Kingdom would also lose its greatest weapon. Another humiliation on a pile of humiliations.
“This is what it means to lose a war.” A message that Oda has hammered into our heads not once, not thrice, but three times in the past few chapters. First Kaido, then Vodka Kingdom, and then Aramaki.
So, how would this tie into what’s going on now? Well, the World Government has said it themselves. “The Balance Cannot Be Maintained Forever.”
So, is Wano the Ancient Kingdom? I’m about 80% certain it is at this point. Like every theory, there is a +50% chance it’s wrong, and some of the finer points of this theory are certainly wrong.
To close this up. She’ll never know how close she was. Literally.
*Theory by GSMichaelson