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This saga is going to be split into multiple parts because it seems to be a very ongoing one at the moment. Recent as one that is still going on in the manga in recent times. As of this moment the Wano arc is still going and possibly reaching its end. Man, I can’t believe that I am caught up with it. Gasp. So yeah, that is the general idea because this saga must be the last one, right? There is no other way for this to be resolved then against the highest of the highest level of pirates, the four emperors of the sea. These were already slown down as is, but everything changed once I caught up.
The Zou arc is the uniting of troops against the Emperor of the Sea Kaido, a massive guy with unlimited power who controls the isolated continent of Wano. Zou, being a giant elephant with its own landscape and foliage where the minks live, is the location of that uniting of forces. Plus, there is talk of mysterious Pongliffs and things like that from Robin’s end. The Straw hats, Law’s group, the minks who had relations with Kaido from the Viper Cat and the Dog Storm, the secret ninja clan of Wano called the Kazuki clan, and so many other things, plan to meet up at Wano. The Big Mom pirates attempt to attack, but get squashed by the elephant. The one thing that ruins this meet up at Wano is the fact that Sanji is currently being held by his family and the Big Mom pirates to marry one of Big Mom’s daughters to unite the families. You know what that means. That’s where some of the Straw Hats are coming for a visit.
Whole Cake Island, a land of living desserts, was such a different experience. Not just because it was focusing on Sanji, but because its broke some new ground in One Piece story telling for me. The focused part on Sanji and his family endured me quite a bit to him. Especially since he, surprise surprise, is the most human male child (because his sister is cool) despite his perverted nature and seeing what kind of life he came from adds a lot to him. Same with him actually falling for a three eyed Yandere, which is usually out of his scope as well. It was fun. Whole Cake Island itself was a huge road block in Luffy’s way as well. Up to this point, Luffy has barely powered through a lot of villains. Here? He had trouble against Big Mom’s henchmen before even trying to fight against Big Mom who could just squash him. Instead, what Luffy did was work around his limitations with the limited crew on hand and Jimbei to ruin the wedding and save everyone. Not without a cost though, but Luffy learned he can be tough against the strongest opponent which led to his huge bounty increase.
Onto the more detailed segments and arcs of this particular saga.
This act follows the dazzling Straw Hats escape from Dressrosa against the navy led by Fujitora. I am always amazed by how much detail work Oda puts into the islands he creates. This time, I have to say things like “islands”, because Zou is a gigantic elephant that has been around for who knows how long. There is a large number of islands and land on scale here with the minks living on it and everything. I love the fact that the giant cat (Viper cat) and the giant dog (Dog storm) live in different areas and are awake at very specific times during the day cycle so they never meet to beat the crap out of each other. It’s a very interesting way to do the day cycle. Also, the elephant showering itself once a day with Sea Water is a nice touch. All of this is the home of the minks or people with animal forms in them.
The remainder of the Straw Hats reunite days after an attack on Zou from the Jack pirates where the Straw Hats that were present helped to fight them off. There was a major reason why the inhabitants of Zou were injured when the other Straw Hats showed up and why they were openly hostile and on guard. The Jack pirates spread a disease on Zou island, so with Chopper’s medical expertise and the rest of the fighter’s capabilities, everything was set right. The result was Jack and his pirates leaving for now. This is why Nami had traded clothes with one of the Minks before despite that, which worried Luffy and his crew because they thought he was kidnapping. They thought it might be cannibalism, but it was an ancient right of understanding. I really like how all of these attributes combine together to make a good experience. The person missing from the reunion between Law and his pirates and Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hats? Sanji who left with a note for Luffy saying “I will be back”.
Luffy was a major unifying force in this arc. Mostly because of how he is himself and wants to see people working together or at least get along. That wave of freedom is powerful for him after all. Cat Viper and Storm Dog were united together under a common good and goal. The Minks, Law and his pirates, The Straw Hats, and the now revealed Kazuki-clan (Kin’emon and Momonosuke [leader]) will fight for the independence of Wano from the hands of Emperor of the Sea, Kaido. A man who was shown to be infinitesimally strong and undefeatable by all measures and this is the guy who needs to be defeated Especially with his bounty being in the multiples of billions and Luffy’s bounty is around 500 million right now. So yeah, the notch of the difficulty in Luffy’s venture to become the king of the pirates is shown now, but not felt by himself yet. In the future, that will change. Why? Well, because of newer adventures.
Before the pact of Zou was made, Sanji was still missing and is in the hands of the Big Mom pirates. Pirates that are very powerful and want a union with the Vinsmoke family. Of course, Sanji said he will be back, but we know that it’s not going to be easy. That is why Luffy is taking a small group of his Straw Hats and others to pick up Sanji on Whole Cake Island before showing up at Wano once again. Not before Jack and his pirates attack again, but that is only a footnote since the giant elephant kicked them on Momonosuke’s command after he learned how to assert his own authority thanks to Luffy. Luffy is not the most subtle person, but he means well when he wants people to be their best. Gah. With that, the pirates separate for their own goals for the time being. A wild time to be sure, but I find it fascinating.
And as usual, I appreciate how the world continues to move in the background. The Revolutionary Army celebrates victories, but also comes under attack by the Black Beard pirates. Not to mention that Vivi is leaving Alabasta on a ship to go somewhere and other crazy moments across the world. It really is a living and breathing world and it’s wonderful. That is one of a few things that I appreciate about One Piece to great degrees.
Whole Cake Island
I love the introduction into this arc because it shows how much the Straw Hat crew needs Sanji in order to even function day to day. After the break up at Zou, Luffy, Nami, Chopper, Brook, and a few Minks (Carrot and a few others) head towards Whole Cake Island on the Thousand Sunny, no one knows how to cook even at a basic level. There are so many cooking disasters and it’s interesting to see these strong warriors and their mom don’t know basic functions of how to live day to day life. It’s very funny and yet grounded and emotional in only a way that very few things like One Piece can do.
The introduction to the Whole Cake Island was interesting as well. This is a world based around german fairy tales and its aesthetics are pleasing and calm like that too. I really like the fact that there is a living and breathing forest, the architecture is very nice and unique compared to the rest of One Piece’s worlds like usual. I like all the baked goods too. This is a delicious looking art in a lot of ways because the head honcho, Big Mom, loves baked goods and sweets. Turning that all around and making it more horrifying, as one would expect, with absorbing citizens life energy to make this world changes perspectives.
I also like the complicated situation that Sanji finds himself in. I can’t help but feel that this is the first time I’ve ever felt something towards him then “he’s doing that perverted thing again” follow by my eyes rolling. In a lot of ways, it seems like he is in the ideal situation as well. He is getting married to a pretty girl that is seemingly is interested in him for one. Then there are the reveals of how he is hated by the rest of the Vinsmoke family for being too weak, he’s only getting married to settle a deal between the Vinsmoke and Big Mom family, and his fiance Pudding is a yandere that seeks the death of everyone that isn’t apart of Big Mom’s family. Fun times.
Luffy and others meeting the different members of big mom’s family is how this fun but mess of an arc really starts. Pudding lies and convinces this crew that she will allow Sanji to leave and to meet at the forest to escape. Of course, this isn’t shown beforehand and there was no reason to not trust the charming lady beforehand. Then of course, everything goes wrong. The forest hates these people, Luffy goes into fights he wasn’t ready for and wins with Nami’s help, Brook has some strange encounters with Big Mom while gathering information from a Pongliff, and Chopper and others discover the mirror dimension that becomes very helpful after a while. I really like how that dimension, once it’s not a threat, helps give the arc a much more heist like feel that permeates through the rest of the saga for the most part. Really did that.
With all that in mind, the aspect behind the relationship between Sanji and Luffy was challenged throughout this too. Sanji’s feelings feel complicated because he’s forced into making so many decisions between possibly keeping Luffy and the Straw Hats alive by marrying even if that involved dealing with his horrible family, besides his sister who is very cool, or doing what he wants. It’s very late in the game, but it feels natural regardless. This is the first actual time that Luffy’s representation of freedom is avoided for him until he accepts him for himself once again. Luffy waited for Sanji’s food for a long time, despite all the things he suffered, and Sanji eventually did reciprocate. I also am glad that Luffy’s sense of self was also challenged. Locked in a prison cell, we see how far he would go to keep living his life his own way. If Jinbei didn’t stop by, nothing would come to be.
Then the wedding heist scenario was really good. I didn’t mention how Bege Capone and his family have been the guards for Big Mom for a long time and actively looks like a cartoony Al Capone on purpose. So with Bege planning with the Straw Hats to betray Big Mom and set up one moment or chance to actually kill her. Surprise surprise, a villain here. Just waiting for this to all happen and then completely fall apart is very good tension. Especially knowing that Luffy doesn’t know how to make plans or stick to plans instantly leads to that conclusion happening. The survival of the Vinsmoke family and Pudding not actively wanting to kill Sanji outright because he is actively in love with her on some level is good stuff though. Same as Bege turning into a castle.
Still, after that was kind of “this is still going”. Big Mom went on a rampage until she got an actual wedding cake because Luffy ruined the last one and it’s just “can’t we end this already”. I kind of found that entire chase scene with the Thousand Sunny and the Big Mom pirates boring. I did think that Jimbei showing his skills as a steer’s person was great at first and Carrot was awesome too, but this going through a mess that went chapter after chapter. This could have been cut down so much because I don’t think it progressed anything at all besides letting us know that the Straw Hats couldn’t just escape and go to Wano. Something big had to happen and it was just what it was.
However, the one bright side of this race going on to give the Straw Hats something to do was giving time to the fight between Luffy and Katakuri. It was a long fight, but it was long for a reason. It helps us to understand Katakuri more and how determined Luffy was to win against someone with over a billion bounty on him. It was the best things possible and possibly more favorite thing that happened in general. Luffy got stronger by facing someone just as strong with the same kind of abilities. He laid down every single trick that he could come up with and barely managed to make himself the winner. Luffy also escaped to the island to start his journey towards Wano as well. Very good conclusion. Especially with bounty increases with Luffy’s bounty going into the billions as well. Even if they didn’t defeat Big Mom, he caused enough chaos to shake the world once again and I find that interesting.
I don’t think that Wano and Zou are the best arcs at all, but I think that these two arcs are the most important arcs in One Piece going forward. Zou united a group of people from Wano, minks, stray pirates, and the Straw Hats together to take down the oppressive force of Warlord of the Sea, Kaido. Whole Cake Island also showed how tough the situation is now because Big Mom’s lackeys are equal and/or stronger then Luffy right now. Even stronger forces are their adversaries in the future and that is just all sorts of chaos to think about.
Until the next post, guys. I honestly have no idea when that one will come out because Wano is still going and I don’t want to just write a short thing on Reverie and call it a day.