Challenging the vast maelstrom in front of him called reality, one man along with his comrades takes up arms to defend and restore the freedom they have desperately fought and endured for. Even if that wall in front of them be an Emperor governing the seas, they have over the course of their journey built up the conviction to scale such walls. And in doing so, such conviction has become a storm so refreshing that those subject to its winds are compelled to take notice of the man called Monkey D. Luffy. With the successful infiltration of Big Mom’s territory and the damage caused as a result, the world has finally become aware of a power/existence unaffected by the established powers ruling over the seas.
The Straw Hat Pirates, lead by Straw Hat Luffy, have infiltrated a Yonko’s territory, saved their abducted comrade, stolen a copy of the Road Poneglyph, interrupted Big Mom’s tea party, demolished the “Queen’s” castle, defeated two of their top-ranking commanders, inspired former enemies and rivals to work alongside them against a Yonko and successfully escaped despite having every tool at the enemies disposal ‘thrown at them’. To the world they are rookies and they have accomplished an act unheard of. A Yonko, one of the most powerful presences on the seas, could not stop a bunch of rookies within her own territory. Thanks to these feats and the potential Morgans sees in Luffy, it has been announced to the world that a fifth power has arisen.
On the brink of Doflamingo’s defeat, I expected the Straw Hat Pirates and their allies to become a fifth power within the New World but I did not expect Luffy to be labeled the Fifth Emperor so soon, especially given the gap between Luffy and a Yonko’s powers. My exact quote almost three years ago was:
Rather than the Straw Hat Pirates becoming one of the Yonko, I can see them becoming a fifth power and challenging all of the Yonko – a move no other pirate beside Monkey D. Luffy would consider
Luffy has rapidly gained a Fleet of well-known and feared Pirates and even associated himself with parties that on their own are dangerous and notable. The Straw Hats Pirates have embarrassed the World Government (Luffy and Usopp injuring the Tenryuubito), declared war on them (Enies Lobby), made the Marines look incompetent (the events on Dressrosa), cast doubt on the viability of the Shichibukai (Crocodile and Doflamingo), challenged the Yonko, and established the Straw Hat Pirate alliance filled with pronounced and menacing pirates not long after entering the New World. The Straw Hat Pirates have hit the ground running since entering the New World and the Marines now have no choice but to take note of Luffy and give him a massive bounty deserving of the feats the Straw Hat Pirates have accomplished within the New World. Subsequently, other forces within the New World will likewise be forced to take notice of the Straw Hat Pirates.
From the moment Luffy mentioned his bounty decreased to 150 million belly with an incomplete bounty poster shown, it was fairly evident that he had misread the number and failed to see that his bounty increased to a gargantuan level. 1.5 billion belly is a ridiculous amount and I don’t blame Luffy for not considering the possibility and entertaining it. With such a massive bounty on his head now, an equally large target has been painted on the Straw Hat Pirates. They have made themselves heard for all the forces in the New World to hear and expressed how serious they are. I wonder if the next threat the Straw Hat Pirates face is a bounty hunter who targets heads worth 1.5 billion belly or over.
Sanji’s bounty, really? It was increased to be just above Zoro’s? What an absurdly farcical and indulgent development by Oda-sensei. Personally, I can’t help but find it forced in order to set-up further conflict between Sanji and Zoro. And to make matters worse, Sanji’s past two bounty increases have had nothing to do with what he has accomplished only how he is associated i.e. to the Germa. In this very chapter Sanji expressly vents his dislike and annoyance for being connected to the Germa but he is clearly perfectly content with it helping increase his bounty now that it exceeds Zoro’s. Instead of being so dishonest with himself, Sanji should admit that he cares about his family. It would make what happened in this chapter less frustrating.
Zoro has earned every single one of his bounty increases – he defeated Mr. 1 aka Daz Bones and one hundred bounty hunters in Whiskey Peak to net him his 60 million belly bounty, he was involved in the Enies Lobby downfall when he defeated Kaku which increased his bounty to 120 belly. Zoro’s third bounty increase came when he easily dispatched one of Doflamingo’s commanding officers, Pica, leading to his 320 million belly bounty. Each of Zoro’s bounty increases can relate back to a substantial moment within the arc and arises directly from what he accomplished in the respective arc by defeating a powerful well-known individual. Sanji on the other hand only deserved his first bounty increase when he defeated Jabra in Enies Lobby which opened his account with bounty of 77 million belly. Sanji’s second bounty increase came after Dressrosa where Sanji was influential in getting Viola to help the Straw Hat Pirates but Sanji’s bounty increase was not tied to that, instead it was directly a result of the Germa kingdom pulling strings from behind the scenes to increase Sanji’s bounty to 177 million belly and change its condition to “only alive”. Now we have Sanji’s third bounty increase to 330 million belly which most likely is a result of his connection to the Vinsmoke family being revealed. Nothing that Sanji did within this arc equated to a 153 million belly bounty increase. If being a part of the incident meant an increase, Nami, Brook, Chopper, Bege and Caesar would have all had bounty increases as well. The revised bounty is definitely a result of being a Vinsmoke. With news of Jinbe joining the Straw Hat Pirates, I would also expect him to get a bounty increase but we have no indication that he has had one, yet…
Unlike Zoro who earned his 320 million belly bounty, Sanji has been handed his 330 million belly bounty by merely being connected to a dangerous faction. Even when it was revealed Luffy was Dragon’s son, he still managed to kick up a storm in Marineford earning his 400 million belly bounty at that time. What is even more hilarious is Sanji has been gifted a power-up in a can – his Germa Raid suit. If Sanji needs, he can easily close the gap in power between Zoro and himself by utilising his Germa Raid suit. The very fact that it has been foreshadowed means that at some point it will become relevant to the story. Nami’s power-up, Zeus, at least was built-up through the arc and leaves the reader excited about how its application can be utilized in conjunction with her Clima-Tact. I’m curious to also see whether Big Mom has any control over Zeus with part of her soul giving Zeus life or whether Zeus has become an existence unbound by the governance of Linlin.
Chopper’s power-up is most likely linked to the Mink’s Moon Lion form and developing a form that can mimic such a transformation. Oda-sensei has already expressed Chopper’s interest in the form and now it is only a matter of time. Brook’s power-up isn’t as easily identified but given how he faced off against Big Mom and her soldier’s, it most likely deals with his soul affecting other souls.
It is nice to see Koby again and the efforts of his hard-work towards his dream of becoming a Marine admiral. As long as Koby belongs to the Marines, there is hope that despite their questionable acts, they can become the protective force the world needs. He is currently the rank of Captain and is not too far away from Vice-Admiral. I love the exposition given to his Kenbunshoku Haki and untapped potential it has. Very much looking forward to the next chapter and seeing the focus shift to Zoro’s team.