At the Shounen Jump Festa in December 2022, One Piece mangaka Eiichiro Oda delivered his annual message about what lays ahead for his beloved series. Major clues have been dropped in this statement before, and considering that the One Piece manga had just entered the first arc of its final saga, fans were riveted to hear what Oda would say. The message did not disappoint.
Major spoilers for the One Piece manga below!
“It’ll be a type of story that will have you going, ‘No way!! That person and that person are gonna be fighting?!’” Oda wrote (as translated by Arthur from the Library of Ohara). “If I were to give it a descriptive title, I’d call it a ‘Great Battle Royale’!! I hope no one dies!!” Goddammit. If the person who dies is Trafalgar Law, I’m going to riot. In several countries. The U.S. Japan. Maybe also Canada, because it’s nearby. A little one-person riot that is mostly just me trying my very best in my Heart Pirates sweater.
What’s truly wild about this statement is that I was not expecting to get the gist of Oda’s meaning so soon. Before February even ended, we’d gotten several teases of battles that have made the One Piece fandom explode. What’s more, there are so many conflicts happening! It feels like every single character we’ve come to care about from 25 years’ worth of world-building is getting yanked into a definitive battle.
So here’s every battle happening in One Piece right now. (So many. Ridiculous. Screaming, everywhere.)
Egghead #1: Straw Hats and Vegapunks vs. CP0 and the Navy
Who’s involved? The Straw Hat Pirates, the seven Vegapunks, Rob Lucci, Stussy, Kaku, Sentomaru, the Seraphim, many Pacifistas, random Government grunts, a shit-ton of Navy ships, Kizaru, Five Elders member Jerrygarcia Saturn, Jewelry Bonney, Caribou, and maybe even Dragon.
What’s happening? We’ve got a conflict within a conflict, folks, and people are changing sides faster than I can write a good headline.
Let’s start with the Big One, shall we? This conflict begins with the Straw Hats coming onto Egghead Island just as the legendary government scientist Doctor Vegapunk and his six satellite clones are realizing the World Government’s coming to kill them. They suspect (correctly) that Vegapunk might be disloyal and rebel. Luffy agrees to take the Vegapunks off the island via the Sunny.
Note that Shaka, one of the Vegapunk clones, calls Monkey D. Dragon, the head of the Revolutionary Army, to inform him of the situation.
Government forces led by CP0’s Rob Lucci, Kaku, and Stussy besiege Egghead. CP0 also brings the Seraphim with them. Sentomaru makes his first appearance in over a decade to fight for Vegapunk and immediately gets owned by Lucci. Also, it turns out that Stussy is a clone created by Vegapunk.
Meanwhile, Kizaru, one of the Navy admirals, is heading to Egghead himself. In fact, every Naval ship in the area has been ordered to Egghead. On Kizaru’s ship is one of the Five Elders, Jerrygarcia Saturn. Seeing one of the Five Elders outside of their little room in Marijoi with none of the others around is deeply strange—almost as strange as finding out he’s named after the Grateful Dead guy.
Egghead #2: Straw Hats, Vegapunks, and CP0 vs. the Traitor and the Seraphim
Who’s involved? The Straw Hat Pirates, the seven Vegapunks, Rob Lucci, Stussy, Kaku, the Seraphim, many Pacifistas, Jewelry Bonney, Caribou, and imprisoned Cipher Pol agents.
What’s happening? During the larger conflict, CP0 and the Seraphim get locked inside the Labophase’s Frontier Dome with the Straw Hats and the Vegapunks. Turns out, there’s bigger fish to fry: One of the seven Vegapunks is a traitor and seems to be trying to kill everyone else. What I’m trying to say is, One Piece is very quickly turning into a game of Among Us.
The traitor has also captured and imprisoned three other Cipher Pol organizations. We know the traitor is a Vegapunk because the Seraphim, who obey orders according to a very strict hierarchy, are listening to them. Which is a problem, because the Seraphim were engineered to be nearly undefeatable. Their threat is so dire that Lucci and Kaku agree to temporarily ally with the Straw Hats and the Vegapunks.
There’s are also two wild cards locked inside the Frontier Dome. One is Jewelry Bonney, who is trying to figure out what Vegapunk did to her father, Bartholomew Kuma. She’s friendly enough to Luffy, but currently views herself in opposition to Vegapunk. The other wild card is Caribou, who was hitching a ride out of Wano on the Sunny. Who the hell knows what Caribou is thinking.
?? Island: Heart Pirates vs. Blackbeard Pirates
Who’s involved? Trafalgar Law and his crew vs. Marshall D. Teach and his crew, plus an imprisoned Charlotte Pudding on Blackbeard’s ship.
What’s happening? After leaving Wano, our BFF Law follows a lead to the last Road Poneglyph. This would be the final step to get Law to the One Piece, so of course every big name pirate wants this poneglyph, too. Law is therefore intercepted by Marshall D. Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard. The two crews are fighting for the right to take the final poneglyph.
Fullalead: Monkey D. Garp vs. whoever’s on Fullalead
Who’s involved? Monkey D. Garp, Helmeppo, Hibari, and Koby.
What’s happening? This one requires a bit of backstory. In chapter 1059, Amazon Lily gets attacked by two forces at the same time: Koby and the Navy trying to take Hancock captive after the dissolution of the Warlords system, and Blackbeard trying to steal Hancock’s Devil Fruit power. (This, to me, is hilarious. Hancock’s ability relies on sex appeal, and no one on Blackbeard’s crew is even remotely a looker. No one.) This incident, in and of itself, was a “Great Battle Royale.” It also happened before Blackbeard’s fight with Law.
Long story short: Raleigh appeared and got everyone to stand down. The major result is that Koby was taken captive by Blackbeard.
Currently, every available Navy ship has been ordered to Egghead. But Garp says, “f*** that.” Instead, he picks up Helmeppo and another SWORD member, Hibari, and amasses his own rogue force. They’re headed to Fullalead, Blackbeard’s base, to save Koby—explicitly without any kind of permission, which could get Garp in major trouble with the Navy and World Government.
We have no clue who’s on Fullalead yet. If this is happening contemporaneously while Blackbeard is fighting with Law, it’s sure as hell not Blackbeard and his crew. It’s worth noting, then, that the last visitor to Fullalead we know about is Gecko Moria. Though former Navy admiral Aokiji, who is now a member of Blackbeard’s crew, would also be a narratively fascinating choice.
Elbaf: Kid Pirates vs. Red Hair Pirates, Giant Warrior Pirates, citizens of Elbaf
Who’s involved? Eustass “Captain” Kid and his crew vs. Shanks and his crew, Shanks’ fleet, Dorry and Brogy, and the Giant Warrior Pirates.
What’s happening? After parting ways with Luffy and Law at Wano, Kid just so happens to end up at Elbaf, the land of the giants. Elbaf is one of the major destinations we’ve known One Piece has been headed toward for ages. It was first mentioned in the Little Garden arc, which began in the manga in 1999 (2001 in the anime). So, to say Elbaf has been “hotly anticipated” would be an understatement.
But in typical One Piece fashion, the audience’s landing on Elbaf isn’t going how we anticipated it would. We all assumed the Straw Hats would land on Elbaf, no? Especially since it’s Usopp’s dream to go? They still might, but it seems like a whole separate, major story will happen there first … because who would happen to be on Elbaf but Shanks.
Also, Dorry and Brogy, co-captains of the Giant Warrior Pirates and apparently long-time friends of Shanks’, are back after spending a century kicking each others’ asses on Little Garden. Welcome home!
Now, we may like both of them very much, but Shanks and Kid have serious beef with each other. In fact, Kid’s entire arc since the time skip has been defined by a desire to get revenge on Shanks. During the time skip, Kid’s crew confronted Shanks’ fleet. Kid lost his arm in the battle without ever getting near Shanks himself. The entire reason Kid tried to form an alliance with Apoo and Hawkins was to beat Shanks (because, you know, Shanks is an emperor). But because Apoo was a traitor working for Kaido, Kid instead became imprisoned on Wano. And here we are.
For his part, Shanks wants Kid’s Road Poneglyph—or, at least, the information Kid has that Shanks doesn’t. He also wants to protect Elbaf from becoming a battleground, because he’s a gentleman.
To be honest, I feel like this particular battle is so ridiculously one-sided, there’s bound to be a twist here. I mean, Kid’s crew versus Shanks, the man who can throw around a Conqueror’s Haki which can freak out even Navy admirals? And Shanks’ crew? And Shanks’ fleet (to which he has a similar relationship as Luffy)? And Dorry and Brogy? And Dorry and Brogy’s crew? C’mon. Sorry Kid, but no way.
The Revolutionary Army vs. the World Government
Who’s involved? The Revolutionary Army, including Sabo, Monkey D. Dragon, Koala, and Emporio Ivankov; the World Nobles; the Five Elders; Imu; also, probably, Nefertari Vivi.
What’s happening? This is a big, broad one. But considering that the Revolutionary Army has been making major moves that will definitely become important later in the story, it’s worth mentioning.
The Revolutionary Army meant to officially declare war on the World Nobles during the Reverie, but things didn’t work quite as planned. The forces at the Reverie recaptured their comrade, Bartholomew Kuma, and retreated back to Momoiro Island to plan their next move.
Sabo, meanwhile, was framed for murdering Nefertari Cobra at the Reverie. In reality, Sabo saw Im, the secret top-dog of the World Government, sitting on the Empty Throne, which got both him and the entire island of Lulusia erased from existence. Ostensibly.
Our friend Nefertari Vivi, meanwhile, is sheltering with Big News Morgans at the headquarters of the World Economy Newspaper. Since we really have no clue who is after her and why, I’m merely listing it as an addendum here. I assume it might have to do with Im, too.
Marijoa: Bartholomew Kuma vs. World Nobles
Who’s involved? Bartholomew Kuma, Vegapunk (as a conspirator), and everyone on Marijoa.
What’s happening? Right after Revolutionary forces saved Kuma from slavery on Marijoa, Kuma jetted off again. Because of experiments done on Kuma by Vegapunk to make the Pacifistas, Kuma is no longer conscious in the classic sense and does not possess a will of his own. Vegapunk has informed Bonney, Kuma’s daughter, that Kuma cannot be turned back to his old self. And yet, Vegapunk assured her there’s a “good reason” for this.
That “good reason” probably has to do with why, the second that CP0 attacked Egghead, Kuma headed to Marijoa. He’s currently scaling the Red Line, seemingly to lay siege to the “holy land” above.
Believe it or not, there’s room for even more conflicts to arise. The manga also seems to be setting up an arc in which Marco will help Buckingham Stussy get her son, Edward Weevil, back from Naval control. So much is happening. It’s overwhelming and exciting, all at once. But that’s the beginning of a final saga for you.
(featured image: Eiichiro Oda / Shounen Jump)
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