He won. Luffy won. He challenged the world’s strongest creature and together with the Ninja-Pirate-Mink-Samurai alliance, the forces of Kaido were defeated. The twenty year long night that began when Oden died has finally been illuminated by the glimmer of hope awaiting in the future. Momonosuke in turn has also saved the Samurai and arrived in the Flower Capital with the Akazaya Samurai (those that can stand) and Hiyori to declare an end to the night and usher in a new dawn for the people of Wano Kuni. The time that stopped on the day Oden died has begun to move again with the arrival of his children, Momonosuke and Hiyori, and the Samurai who believed in them.
At the conclusion of the Luffy VS Kaido battle, I had expected Luffy to steal Yamato away from Kaido but even though that didn’t happen in front of Kaido, the symbolic presentation of Yamato moving away from Kaido toward Luffy in this chapter conveys how in the end, Kaido even had his child stolen away by the Pirate, Monkey D. Luffy. The defeat Kaido suffered was achieved when Luffy broke through Kaido’s defenses and established in Kaido’s mind that Luffy IS Joy Boy. The same figure Yamato believed Luffy to be. Kaido knew Yamato believed this and by acknowledging Luffy as Joy Boy, he in turn also conceded that Luffy is the man whom Yamato will follow. There wasn’t a need for Kaido to see Yamato join Luffy because the choice had already been made and all that remained was for Kaido to accept the reality which eventuated in the moment he associated Luffy with Joy Boy. The same result I believed would be achieved at the end of the battle was achieved in a more indirect and symbolic manner. A presentation which I have come to prefer over the direct scenario I had anticipated.
The relevance of Yamato being the one to catch Luffy as he fell illustrates an expression of the gratitude Yamato feels toward Luffy. And within that gratitude, it conveys how important Luffy is to Yamato. He placed his trust in Luffy with respect to the fight against Kaido and remained by his side until Luffy needed him. In the same breath as Momonosuke saving Wano and carrying it, Yamato saved Luffy and carried him. That scene depicts Momonosuke’s future with Wano and Yamato’s future alongside Luffy. The reason why Yamato’s bond with Momonosuke represented such a focal point within this arc is because going forward, the Straw Hat Pirates and Wano are going to work together in order to achieve the end Joy Boy was unsuccessful in reaching centuries ago.
A group of pirates aren’t going to change the world but when the momentum of their efforts are consolidated alongside the influence and authority of a nation, the possibility of global reform is very much in play. Wano will become a beacon for other nations opposing the World Government to rally behind. Unlike Pirates and the Revolutionary Army, a nation with governance and economic esteem, can effect change within the international political spectrum, especially when that nation is backed by an alliance of other nations. Inevitably, several nations will come to support Wano. These will include Zou, Elbaf, Germa Kingdom, and Sphinx. Eventually as the Tenryuubito reveal their intentions, nations such as Alabasta, Fish-Man Island and Dressrosa may turn their support toward Wano. And depending on how the story develops, Totto Land could come to support Wano – when Big Mom is defeated and leadership of Totto Land passes on to Katakuri or Pudding or another sensible Charlotte child.
The impact of Yasuie’s death continues to resonate throughout the arc across the presentation of Toko’s farewell toward her father. With the repeated focus given to Toko through the Onigashima raid, the readers were inspired to keep Yasuie within their mind. Each scene severed to remind the reader of the daughter Yasuie left behind and the battles taking place were all characterised by Yasuie’s sacrifice. This chapter concludes that build up within a moment of catharsis as Toko finally farewells her father and lays his spirit to rest. It is fitting for the character whom made it possible for Wano to be saved to be the one who book-ended the raid that resolved with the victory of the Samurai Rebellion. The smiles and laughter Yasuie expressed to keep the flame of hope alive within the hearts of the Wano people wasn’t in vein. His selfless efforts and acts of kindness wasn’t in vein. The life he gave to pave a future for his daughter wasn’t in vein. Wano’s liberation is only possible because of Yasuie. He played an invaluable role in this war and as Toko conveyed on the lantern she released into the sky which encapsulates the feelings held for him – “thank you”. Yasuie’s death has become a deeply emotional moment within the pages of One Piece. This chapter was one that honored Yasuie as both a father and as a Samurai of Wano.
Momonosuke’s decision to keep Wano closed was unexpected to me. While the opening of Wano’s borders is inevitable, I was certain those borders would be opened at the conclusion of this arc. Within the context of Momonosuke’s decision, I do see sense in keeping the borders closed. Actually, it makes complete sense. Before putting Wano in a vulnerable position where they have to interact with the rest of the world on both a physical and political scale, it would be more appropriate for the nation to first rebuild after the damage caused by Kaido and Orochi during the past 20 years. Once the nation has picked itself back up, Momonosuke can reconsider opening the borders. Time will also allow Momonosuke and Hiyori to bring the Kozuki clan back into force and gain experience in running a nation.
With Momonosuke now cancelling his Dragon form, it will likely be revealed that the adult form he takes is one resembling Oden (or Oda-sensei could play it for the gags and have Momonosuke look completely different). If Momonosuke in adult form does resemble Oden, I suspect he will have a different hair style as Oden’s hair style was too iconic for it to be replicated in a second character even if Momonosuke is Oden’s son. The place the people of Wano will witness the inception of their new Shogun will be the site of Oden’s execution from 20 years ago. The symbolic meaning behind the night giving way to the dawn in the same place as it began is too fitting to not arise. Additionally, the figures arriving from the dust which Momonosuke’s transformation caused could be related to the Nine Shadows referenced in Toki’s prophecy – although in this scene there are only 8 shadows (including Momonosuke). I anticipated the Nine Shadows to be the New Generation of Pirates who were integral in defeating the Beast Pirates and Big Mom. Toki’s prophecy may have represented more of Wano’s liberation than Kaido’s defeat and for that to happen, the revival of the Kozuki Clan and the Akazaya Samurai are necessary. Seven shadows were spotted on Momonosuke’s back and based on the shadows and who is injured, we can surmise who those shadows likely are. Hiyori leads the group followed by Denjiro. Those are two are confirmed. As for the other six shadows, they are composed of: Kawamatsu, Nekomamushi, Inuarashi, Momonosuke, Raizo and Shinobu. The ninth shadow could be Hitetsu who comes to finally reveal the face behind the mask (I do not believe Hitetsu is Sukiyaki).
The underwater volcanic eruption that took place, I wonder if additional Sea Stone were knocked up when the pressure of the magma pool was released. The site of that volcano may come into play later in the story. And with the display of earthquakes taking place, I find myself wondering if Teach will arrive at some point and use his Gura Gura no Mi powers to exasperate the already cracked land and break it apart. Teach could weaken Wano Kuni’s natural defenses when he turns his attention to Wano in his quest for finding the One Piece. Very much looking forward to the next chapter and seeing how the Wano Arc concludes.
Enjoyment level: 8.5/10