A man with the tendency to seek the embrace of death. A man whose hobby includes jumping off a Sky Island 10,000m in the sky in hopes of finding himself in an eternal sleep when he reaches the ground. A man so strong not even executions can extinguish this life of his. A man so terrifying and feared, he has attained the title of the “Strongest Living Creature”. The mere mention of his name broke Doflamingo out in a cold sweat. The Yonko, Hundred Beast Kaidou has finally been revealed!
With the Dressrosa Arc wrapping up, we get to see what Isshou really meant when he challenged Sakazuki’s authority with his final statement, that is, arrest Law and Luffy. But Isshou being Isshou with a romance for gambling, he couldn’t resist the urge to base his decision on whether to chase after Law and Luffy (for that day) with the roll of a dice. Unfortunately for Sakazuki, Law and Luffy have the Devil’s luck. Also it is now confirmed that Riku will be returning to the Dressrosa throne and Rebecca will become the princess she was born as. R.I.P. Scarlet.
Finally, after 64 chapters without any coverage (save cover pages), the Curly Hat Pirates have finally reappeared! And in typical Oda style, we are cast right into the thick of things not knowing what the hell is going on but slowly piecing together the circumstances surrounding the chaos as we go. We may just get the background leading up to these events covered in the next chapter though.
Based on the chapter though, we can surmise that the Curly Hat Pirates have managed to escape capture from Big Mom’s ship and have made their way to a currently unknown Island – the silhouette suggest the Island extends quite high in the sky. Nami, Momonosuke and Brook seem to have been distracted by a strange little girl inducing them to leave the ship, unless they were already displaced from the ship and were distracted while attempting to make their way back to it. Sanji, Chopper and Caesar (forced to cooperate by Sanji) set out in search for Nami, Momonosuke and Brook who we find out are being chased by a pair of villainous-looking characters riding a large reptile. The man, Sheepshead, demands to know where they hid “that woman” and how they got on the Island. Before he can reveal something important about the Island, that could help to bring some clarity to the situation, he is interrupted by the eruption of the Island’s volcano which ejects a mass of water.
Sheepshead is most likely one of the SMILE Devil Fruit users from Kaidou’s crew based on the abilities he had shown while attempting to kill Nami, Momonosuke and Brook. Sanji appears just in time to one-hit KO Sheepshead forcing the unnamed lady and the other men following close behind to withdraw noting that they must report the Samurai they were after is ‘not here’. I assume the Samurai Kaidou’s men on the Island are referring to is the third Samurai that was part of Kine’mon’s group protecting Momonosuke before they met with disaster at sea and got separated (chapter 700). If the Island the Curly Hat Pirates are on is not Zou, it is most likely one of the nearby Islands which Third Samurai drifted to. As for the mysterious mouse/fox-girl that is observing the Curly Hat Pirates, she is probably the strange little girl whom Nami, Momonosuke and Brook were distracted by.
Oda has purposefully thrown his reader’s into the chaos, confusing them completely about what is taking place with the Curly Hat Pirates. But this serves to build interest surrounding the circumstances and to have the readers genuinely question what the hell is going on on that Island which will likely serve as the setting for the next arc. We have in our confusion come to be intrigued by the mysteriousness of the Island and its characters.
Shifting focus completely once again, we are taken to the crew base of Kid, Hawkins and Apoo where something has fallen from the sky causing a massive hole in the Island. Naturally, as a reader, our confusion is further thrown into a spiral with new questions, such as “what?”, “who?”, “why?!” We find out that the source of the hole was caused by a man jumping from a Sky Island 10,000m above the ground in hopes of killing himself. That man, tormented by his life, sought to embrace the arms of death with a suicide. The more we learned about this man, the more we began to realise that this man whom we were initially led to believe was tormented by his failures, was a man tormented by his overwhelming strength and resilience. A man who not even death could overwhelm. This man who no one could kill, not even himself, was finally revealed to be none other than the pirate known as the “Strongest Living Creature”. Hundred Beast Kaidou. And he is now ready to set the world aflame with his attempts to inject excitement back into it.
Mind blown is an understatement. Oda truly twisted any expectations any could have come up with and displayed once again just how creative he can be when we least expect it. The reader’s were still reeling from Doflamingo’s defeat, Isshou’s brazen display of “justice” towards Sakazuki and the consequential effects both developments had on the larger world of One Piece and Oda decides to up the stakes once again by introducing Hundred Beast Kaidou? And in THAT fashion? My mind, eyes, soul, and body melted in awe. You did it again Oda. You destroyed the box containing my excitement. I can’t wait for more!
Due to the fact that I am keeping a close eye on the pre-timeskip/post-timeskip parallels within One Piece, I was expecting something to fall from the sky/be displaced in the post-Dressrosa phase, but I never would have expected “that” something to be the Yonko, Hundred Beast Kaidou. If these parallel’s continue, we can expect the next major arc to be an adventure focused arc that deals with a major “treasure” destination similar to the “Skypiea” Arc. With the Emerald City yet to be revealed, I still believe we will get an arc focusing around it and just maybe, it will be the next arc about to be entered into. Last chapters cover page conveys to me that Oda too is thinking about the Wizard of Oz.
One aspect about the mysterious Island which caught my attention was the terrain of it, in particular the brick-looking nature of it. Could it possibly be Oda’s interpretation of the “yellow brick road”. Sheepshead seemed surprised the Curly Hat Pirates managed to make it on the Island and even seemed to hint at the Island being “special”. With Oda keeping us so intensely in the dark regarding the Island, I have to wonder exactly why. Oda even drew our attention to the ground by having Nami note the difficultly in running on it. Other notable characteristics of the Island is the fact that there is a volcano which erupts water and the seemingly perpetual mist blanketing the Island.
I also wonder whether there is some connection with Kaidou and the horned skull symbol (chapter 655) we seen on the Punk Hazard entrance. The distinctive look of those horns which Oars, Oars Jr. and Kaidou share make me wonder about Kaidou’s race/species as well as the World Governments interest in them – there was a massive skull bigger than a giant’s within the facility. Anyway, since those distinctive horns are making a comeback within a new symbol (Kaidou’s mark), it makes me wonder what purpose the symbol at Punk Hazard served – a separate clan/organisation? =/.
Whatever the case, I am really looking forward to the next chapter and seeing just what Oda has in store for us regarding the new Island the Curly Hat Pirates are on.