I can’t believe that it has been over a year since I’ve posted about One Piece on this blog. It was the beginning of the Four Emperor’s Saga. A long time ago when the pandemic started, I spent a lot of time just reading through One Piece. Since I was doing that, I decided that I was going to write my thoughts on each arc as I went along. Well, that was a tedious affair. It gave me some very good run stuff to write about, but there are so many arcs in One Piece, with it now over 1,500 chapters, that it also burnt me out from reading manga for a bit.
How Wano Ended
But, I am back to this tour for this post now, though I am going to ignore the format I used to make it easier for myself. Wano has finally ended. After Luffy and Law made the pact together to work together to defeat Kaido a long, long time ago (ten years), Luffy has now defeated Kaido. Law and Eustace also defeated Big Momma as far as we know. The land of the Wano can return to having a civilization that isn’t being starved to death and only the toughest life. The Straw Hats are not heroes, but they really do change every area they show up at, after a lot of struggle, for the better.
Is anyone surprised about me saying that? One Piece fans know about these things already because this has happened in different ways on different islands all across One Piece. The difference, or the devil, is in the details itself. Wano is such an interesting beast. The setting is like a past version of Japan where it is isolated from the rest of the world in its feudal era with the label taken off and replaced with Wano. It is a big country with lots of nuance and complicated factions ruled by Kaido, a dragon, who usurped the throne from Oden ten years ago. We see all the changes that Kaido made in the worst way and why it is the time for a revolution to happen.
A Short Synopsis of Wano
This arc is split into three parts. I love all the good details and exceptional things placed into all of those facts too. Part 1 is the introduction chapter that now only allows our Straw Hats to take in the world for themselves, but the important characters that we see are going to play a larger role in the story. A lot of cool placements of just having our Straw Hats change their name slightly to fit in with Wano culture and naming convention, good outfits and so many other things. I can’t help but really dig all of that too. I love knowing the worlds that Oda creates and seeing how they function. It can be tedious for some, but not for me.
Part 2 is where things really start getting into motion. Kaido knows that the Straw Hats and their friends are in Wano, the revolution is planned, and all the preparation is happening. All in a way that still lives with how Wano is currently set and how comfortable Kaido and his men are set with the way Wano is right now that they can’t see it being challenged. Yet, it is happening now. Zoro is getting his amazing sword that can fight gods or Luffy trains a little bit to handle the power that he knows he can use against the Emperors of the Sea. Also, Big Momma shows up in this portion. Now there are two Emperor’s of the Sea to deal with. She doesn’t remember who she is at first, but there are still two of them and they are teaming up. Stakes couldn’t be higher.
Finally, the third part of Wano is the suicide run led by Kin’emon and then the Straw Hats and a lot of others joined in the pirate alliance set in Zou. Our group couldn’t be more outnumbered, but they press on anyway. This fighting arc is generally amazing to me because it is everyone being pushed to the limit because everything is so dire. Robin lets her demon powers go, Zoro is exhausted by using the sword, Sanji has to use his GErma powers, Nami faces off against Big Momma in a fight with the storm, and ten Law and Eustace the Kid are pushed as hard as they can be to defeat Big Momma. Then there is Luffy’s multiple fights with Kaido that eventually lead to Gear 5. I am missing a lot of characters, but soon. Just be patient.
This third part was interesting and a bit of a mess at times. Some chapters that aren’t a part of the large fight are important like the backstory with Oden which is important to the entire arc and the reason why this is happening in the first place. Or there are literal chapters of Wano where you don’t know anyone, but these are people that are a part of a crowd responding to the different twists and turns of Wano. This builds a lot of the grander stakes of Wano when the castle starts following Kaido’s flames not holding it up anymore and someone else has to do it. One Piece is the manga that pushes the limits of 17 pages a week because so many things happen all the time that the focus of the arc can go all over the place, but the highlights stand out.
Some Character Highlights
There are so many little highlights to Wano to go over, so I am going to just go over the ones that mattered to me the most. The first one is the growth of the little girl Luffy met when he “landed” in Wano, O-Tama. This is a cute little girl that knew Ace, Luffy’s brother, because he was there over four years ago with White Beard. This little girl has the ability to create fruit from her cheeks and take control over animals. It doesn’t feel like a very important thing, but this little girl who has no physical strength, but bravery as strong as iron as she changed the direction that the fight for the freedom of Wano was going. She literally saved the day for all the people who were not insanely strong with Haki or Devil Fruit Powers. A normal girl can change the fight of the world.
Another character I have to bring up is Kozuki Momonosuke, son of Kozuki Oden that was overthrown wrongly. So yeah, obviously there will be spoilers like they time traveled to the future. He and his protector Kin’emon met the Straw Hat crew many years ago in an arc called Punk Hazard. He has changed so much and has been around so long that it’s sad to see him go now because he’s been around for so long, but he has grown up. During the one encounter with Kaido while Luffy was fighting him, Momonosuke landed a hit on Kaido and Luffy mentioned that the guy has nothing to fear anymore. The power has shifted and Momonosuke’s fires started to lift the Old Castle. He has now grown up and has taken his place as the leader of Wano. Kids certainly grow up and while he still has somewhere to grow to become a good leader, he is ready to take the first step.
Then there is Kin’emon who has also been with the Straw Hats since Punk Hazard. He was the samurai that was found in pieces so putting him together was a lot of fun. The guy is a pervert, like a lot of people in One Piece, but I like him regardless. He was one of the founders of the alliance that eventually took down Kaido and he was the mastermind of the rebellion. No one else in the group knew about Wano culturally, so it was up to this guy to form a plan and he delivered. The poor guy is not super strong, but it’s his dedication and intelligence that shows how good he is. Even when he was beaten down, he still got up. There is a lot of strength of normal people in Wano that used pirates to solve everything.
Yamato is a person that needs to be brought up here because he (yes he) is really cool. I am going under the assumption that Yamato is a trans man because they followed the path of Oden as their personality. Even Kaido himself called Yamato his son so it’s correct. Yamato is just so cool and really powerful too. He and Luffy just have the same brain cell because they have the same gar and energy. Ace was also a major motivating factor behind them and Luffy pushed that even further. I hope he joins the Straw Hats because I think they will add a lot of cool things to this mix too.
For this part, I am going to have to talk about Kozuki Oden a bit too. The guy is such a giant himbo with an infectious amount of energy in his backstory because has been dead for years. But by seeing him and his experiences of joining the White Beard Pirates and then the Roger Pirates to see the world and what he could bring to Wano itself. Even him being humiliated by walking around in his underwear didn’t stop him from being adorable A kind and dedicated man that took the death penalty for the rest of his crew to keep the dream a live. I can see why the people of Wano wanted a rebellion as Oden as the center even if the guy knew nothing about politics. Wano could have been for the better for years if he knew what he was doing.
I think Oda pushing Wano to its limits and that comes with some hurt or flaws because of it. I’m kind of astonished that Wano worked out as well as it did with world building and character growth because it feels like an impossible feat. But there are always chapters that feel like nothing in the moment while you are waiting to see people we know who are stuck in combat for a long time while we are waiting for something to happen. Since this is over 150 chapters in length, that can get pretty tedious. That also means that some people or characters that were in the beginning of Wano felt important didn’t end up as being so. Such is the nature of the game.
Then there are moments that felt like fanservice into the world of One Piece, not sexy things, which felt like a bit too much. CP0 and other characters from Whitebeard’s crew took up a lot of space that I am sure had a purpose in the lore of One Piece itself because of the World Government, but it took some time away from other characters. Kawamatsu, the turtle samurai, could have had a bit more screen time because I don’t remember him doing much in the end besides carrying Yamato to safety. Or maybe we could have had more scenes from Kiku, our trans woman samurai, who did have some cool fights but got her arm chopped off and needed to be saved. So yeah, some flaws there.
One Piece Wano Final Thoughts
In the final conclusion of all of this, I loved Wano in general. It was the ultimate modern take on One Piece that feels so much more mature then previous arcs in terms of how it came about and learning about some of the mistakes it’s made from other longer previous arcs. It also was the conclusion to a lot of the drama between Big Momma and the Straw Hats from Whole Cake Island too considering that Luffy and other Straw Hats were never able to even get to the same level of an Emperor of the Sea until now. As a whole it’s great with a lot of progression in character representation that Oda has needed for a long time too. There are little flaws and moments that are lacking, but they don’t do more than put a little ding into all of it itself.
I know that this is the first arc that I ever finished on time with everyone else because I read most of One Piece in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Even then, I was most of the way through Wano from that point, but I am sad to see this arc go now. But I am so looking forward to what comes next because no one knows what that is. Well we are facing Black Beard after what he did to the revolutionaries that hasn’t been mentioned for a while? What about Shanks himself? There is so much to look forward to still even if the number of enemies in One Piece has now shrunk again. Especially since Luffy (and Buggy lol) made it to the level of Emperor of the Sea and there is a super weapon in Wano that has been hinted at since Alabasta literally years ago. I can definitely see an ending point coming up in the future soon.