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Literary Themes in One Piece


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#1 Fallen Angel

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 06:43 PM

I didn't see an already existing thread for this topic so I made one.

This thread is to discuss the themes and motifs of One Piece whether it's for the overarching story or for individual arcs or characters. It's sort of a broad topic but that should only leave more avenues for more discussion.
 



#2 Kid Frost

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 08:57 PM

Well I'll start with the current arc and say that the main theme of Wano is the past / history.
The most obvious manifestation of this theme is the fact that five members of the alliance are time travelers from 20 years in the past but the antagonists also share this theme in a different way. While there are plenty of zoan users on the enemy side due to the proliferation of Smiles, it has to be noted that most of the major antagonists specifically have either ancient zoan devil fruits (King, Queen, Jack, Drake, and Page One) or mythical zoans with ties to Japanese mythology (Kaido and Orochi).

The zoans from the Mesozoic era in particular give the setting an ancient feel that is distinct but somehow compliments the already historical setting that's based on the Edo period of Japan. One Piece has always had an anachronistic feel to it but Wano is a standout example of that even within the universe itself, Samurai in Jurassic Park sounds like it could a series on it's own.

For me though the most interesting thing to come of this theme are the characters Momo and Hiyori who have deep connections to the past through both of their parents; their ancestors on their father's side are the very people that created the poneglyphs which ties the history of the world together and their mother is a time traveler from possibly the void century if not further back in time.

In addition they're the only people capable of communicating with Zunesha which is currently the oldest living creature in the series; I  know a lot of people think this ability stems from their father but remember that Oden like Roger and Luffy could only hear Zunesha through the VOAT but could not communicate with. It's just speculation my part but I think that the ability to command Zunesha actually comes from Lady Toki and that she may have even been the one to command him to walk the ocean for all eternity. Regardless the amount of ties the Kozuki kids have to the history of the world is astonishing.

Then we have the stuff with Ryuma and Zoro; not only does the latter look exactly like the former when he was alive but he's also the current owner of his legendary sword which has gotten him into trouble multiple times with citizens of Wano. I feel like there's still a story to tell there and given how little we know about Zoro's past prior to him losing to Kuina this arc also feels like the perfect opportunity to explore his backstory in more depth since we don't fully understand what made him want to be the Worlds Greatest Swordsman in the first place.

Now it might just be recency bias but I think Whole Cake Island was the best this regard, there are better arcs obviously but in terms of handling any one theme for an entire arc it's definitely my favorite. Anyway I'll stop here though otherwise I'll never stop rambling.


Edited by Kid Frost, 07 July 2019 - 10:44 AM.

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#3 Fallen Angel

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 09:36 AM

Well I'll start with the current arc and say that the main theme of Wano is the past / history.
The most obvious manifestation of this theme is the fact that five members of the alliance are time travelers from 20 years in the past but the antagonists also share this theme in a different way. While there are plenty of zoan users on the enemy side due to the proliferation of Smiles, it has to be noted that most of the major antagonists specifically have either ancient zoan devil fruits (King, Queen, Jack, Drake, and Page One) or mythical zoans with ties to Japanese mythology (Kaido and Orochi).

The zoans from the Mesozoic era in particular give the setting an ancient feel that is distinct but somehow compliments the already historical setting that's based on the Edo period of Japan. One Piece has always had an anachronistic feel to it but Wano is a standout example of that even within the universe itself, Samurai in Jurassic Park sounds like it could a series on it's own.

For me though the most interesting thing to come of this theme are the characters Momo and Hiyori who have deep connections to the past through both of their parents; their ancestors on their father's side are the very people that created the poneglyphs which ties the history of the world together and their mother is a time traveler from possibly the void century if not further back in time.

In addition they're the only people capable of communicating with Zunesha which is currently the oldest living creature in the series; I  know a lot of people think this ability stems from their father but remember that Oden like Roger and Luffy could only hear Zunesha through the VOAT but could not communicate with. It's just speculation my part but I think that the ability to command Zunesha actually comes from Lady Toki and that she may have even been the one to command him to walk the ocean for all eternity. Regardless the amount of ties the Kozuki kids have to the history of the world is astonishing.

Then we have the stuff with Ryuma and Zoro; not only does the latter look exactly like the former when he was alive but he's also the current owner of his legendary sword which has gotten him into trouble multiple times with citizens of Wano. I feel like there's still a story to tell there and given how little we know about Zoro's past prior to him losing to Kuina this arc also feels like the perfect opportunity to explore his backstory in more depth since we don't fully understand what made him want to be the Worlds Greatest Swordsman in the first place.

Now it might just be recency bias but I think Whole Cake Island was the best this regard, there are better arc sobviously but in terms of handling any one theme for an entire arc it's definitely my favorite. Anyway I'll stop here though otherwise I'll never stop rambling.


I think anachronism is essential to the world-building of One Piece itself, it's part of the reason each island can feel like separate worlds entirely (eg. Little Garden vs Karakuri Island) but I agree he rarely ever commits to it as deeply for one setting as he's doing with Wano...which makes sense as he is Japanese after all.

It is funny that Momonosuke and Hiyori are possibly one generation removed from ancient times, though I'm still shaky on the full significance of Lady Toki's existence we know far too little about her and what led her to continuously travel forward in time. Also her fruit is possible out there in the world, granted I really hope we don't see time travel beyond this arc.  

Personally I feel Fishman Island did it's themes the best but I could see why you'd say Whole Cake, it's definitely an underrated arc overall. I don't know if you follow Morj but he made a great video about that arc.


 






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