The keeper of chaos. The broker of darkness. The agent of secrets. The mediator of devastation. The supplier of power. The shadow of the Tenryuubito. Whatever mechanisations were ongoing within the New World, Doflamingo before his fall had his hand turning it. And even now, bound by chains of seastone and locked away on the sixth level of Impel Down, Doflamingo still holds relevance within the events unfolding in the story due to the gaping void left by his departure as Joker. But prior to his defeat, the instruments enabling him to hold such a position were the operatives of his family allowing access to key information necessary for critical decision-making. And among the officers Doflamingo employed, one of his most valuable was the undercover agent Monet.
Identifying a role for Yamato if she were to join the Straw Hat Pirate crew is a very curious task. Not only because barely anything has been revealed about a role required for the Straw Hat Pirates for the remainder of the journey but also because nothing concrete has been associated with Yamato in terms of what role she could perform. We also have to take into account the stage the story of One Piece is at because with the conclusion of One Piece in sight for Oda-sensei, they may not be much room left for adventuring reducing the need for traditional ship roles. Rather, if a character were to join the crew at this point in time, their main role within the crew would be story-driven. A secondary role performing task onboard the ship would arise as a byproduct from that story-driven role they primarily represent.
One of the most relevant aspects to Yamato’s character is her being aware of Luffy for over three years since her encounter with Ace. Yamato has known about Luffy longer than any of the other Straw Hat Pirates. Back when she met Ace, Yamato wanted to join him on his ship but was overwhelmed by fear to make the leap. Ever since that moment, she has been waiting for Luffy, confident that he will arrive in Wano Kuni. Yamato has shown belief in Luffy for three years without even having directly met him. And along with using “Oden” as a source of strength to keep her fears at bay, she has also relied on the eventual meeting with Luffy as a “hope” to continue forward. Yamato believes Luffy will defeat her father and help open the borders of Wano Kuni.
Not only has Yamato been waiting for Luffy but as illustrated in chapter 996 she has been conscientiously following the Straw Hat Pirates journey. Yamato is aware of the Straw Hat Pirate members, their epithets and their bounties. Even their recent actions within Dressrosa, Yamato knows about it.
Rage. Unbridled and Seething. The sight of his comrades state drives Kafka into a mode completely dominant over the Humanoid Kaiju that moments before had it playing with Reno and Iharu’s lives by experimenting on the resilience of their battle suits. Now with Kafka’s response precipitated, the Humanoid Kaiju attempts to collect Kaiju #8 as a corpse yet the ignorance shaping its perspective makes it blind to the true monster standing in front of it. Unleashed and craving retribution, Kafka closes in to the Humanoid Kaiju with the stare of an executioner.
The shadow of destruction. The reflection of uncontrollable. The terror of possibility. The dragon of chaos. And the strongest creature there is. It took a while to get their but we finally begin to see what makes Kaido so OVERWHELMING. A distinct force that staggers any who seek to stand before him. Implausibility reckoned within mortal form. Now, with the plan in motion, Onigashima trembles.
I find it curious that Queen only ended up developing such a plague now when a Devil Fruit user who utilises power similar to the Ice Oni Plague’s effects recently fell. Vegapunk in the past was able to isolate the powers of a Logia Devil Fruit and weaponise it. Queen could have potentially did the same with the Ice Oni Plague using a frost-specific Logia Devil Fruit user as a base i.e. the Yuki Yuki no Mi user, Monet.
All major powers within the New World are rushing to acquire resources and talents that utilises the power of science. Be it the Marines who have established the Special Science Group led by Vegapunk to fill the void left by the dissolution of the Shichibukai. Or Big Mom who planned a massive wedding to lure the Germa Kingdom in so that she could betray them and steal their cloning technology and scientific resources. Following along with that, it would make sense if Kaido had his own branch within the Beast Pirates that focused on weapons created by science and this is where Queen likely comes in. If Queen were part of the rogue research group Vegapunk and Judge (along with Caesar as the apprentice/assistant) belonged to in the past, it would help support Kaido’s confidence in his organisation and explain the lack of effort he has made to acquire additional scientific knowledge or resources.
Determined is her mind. Unyielding is her body. Resolute is her spirit. And inspiring is her courage. The actions of Yamato, against the force of the Beast Pirates, convey a strength sourced from the suffering of her struggles and her intense admiration for the hero of Wano Kuni. Despite the overwhelming situation she now finds herself in, the weight of what is at stake drives her forward toward a present that requires Momonosuke to survive. To a dawn that will see the liberation of Wano Kuni and its reconnection to the rest of the world.
Aside from the events transpiring within the Live Floor with the Ice Oni plague and against Ulti and Page One, the rest of chapter focused primarily on the allies the Straw Hat Pirates have accumulated over their journey. Each of the allies highlighted within the past few chapters have been positioned at integral areas to assist the Straw Hat Pirates within this war. The allies that have yet to make reappearances such as Law and Kid will appear in moments when the Straw Hat Pirates look to be overwhelmed i.e. when Luffy faces off against Kaido. At present though, Marco is looking to prevent Big Mom from stopping the Straw Hat Pirates. Carrot and Wanda have engaged Perospero with the intent to defeat him. Drake is targeting Apoo who holds the “antibody” for the Ice Oni plague. And Tama has arrived to save Nami and Usopp from the attacks of Ulti and Page One. Each of the allies didn’t have to fight alongside the Straw Hat Pirates but they have all chosen to. Such is the attraction of the Straw Hat Pirates and in particular, their captain, Monkey D. Luffy.
For a second there, I was worried Leno would die. Even though his death could have served a purpose to drive the story, I have grown really fond of his character so I am glad the direction the manga is heading involves Leno being alive and developing alongside Kafka, Kikoru and the other Defense Force members. Further, I wasn’t expecting Iharu to get such focus in this moment. I suspected Leno would send him away to get help but to have Iharu wrestle with his own past and doubt in himself, that was a welcome addition to the developments in this arc. It helped create a defining moment for Iharu. Even though the Humanoid Kaiju was too overwhelming for both Leno and Iharu, they managed to delay it long enough for help in the form of Kaiju No.8 to arrive. With Kafka and the Humanoid Kaiju having now encountered each other, I am fascinated to learn what the Humanoid Kaiju has to say about Kaiju No.8.
Express your resolve and shout it out loud. For twenty long years, this moment has permeated in the depths of Yamato’s mind. Regret at her inability, frustration at her weakness and self-reproach for not being able to save Momonosuke whom she thought had died on that day twenty years ago. Now with his presence before her, Yamato gathers all those feelings alongside her conviction inspired by the spirit of Oden and declares her position to both Momonosuke and the Beast Pirates. She was not strong enough twenty years but in this moment, she will bear the weight of the Beast Pirates against her and challenge death itself if the need arises in order to protect Momonosuke and the dream the Kozuki family embody.
Surrounded and alone amidst the cross hairs of the Beast Pirates, Momonosuke questions how he should act with an injured ally incapacitated before him. Should he abandon his comrade and attempt an escape or would a more noble act involve struggling alongside his comrade regardless of the outcome? Conflicted with such a choice, Momonosuke looks passed his own desires and begins to wonder how a shogun would act. In that moment with the executioners axe swinging down, a challenger arrives to defy the very age the Beast Pirates have constructed. The daughter of Kaido, Yamato, cast her faith in with the Kozuki family and stands firm against the Beast Pirates with the intention of destroying Kaido’s hold over Wano Kuni and defending its future shogun from the assaults of his attackers.