Worth a Thousand Words
This was me when I hit the Wano opening spread.
Years and years of anticipation brought forth so much emotion that I didn’t even know existed! Naturally this was compounded by being taken by surprise in the change of setting. There was a time when I never thought I’d be able to read any part of Wano while still in Japan but here I am and there we are.
A Tale of Two Pineapples
Pirates or Emissaries?
I’m interested to see this mark and determine for certain whether it’s a pirate mark or a royal mark for Zou. Also, those are Zou’s unique trees growing from the masts!
A Herd of Sphynx!?
Wow, this town literally has herds of mythical Sphynx!? I guess they’re there to protect the town in case of an assault. Is that how this Sphynx got injured? Did it determine Cat Viper as an enemy and attack him?
They Don’t Need No Education
I wonder if these kids with Whitebeard ended up being part of his crew.
Hearing about the lawless lands and seeing Whitebeard like this makes me wonder if some other major players in the world of One Piece grew up similar to him. We’ve seen quite a few pirates and Marines looking rough and tumble as kids. I wonder if someone like Akainu was raised in a place that was subjected to frequent pirate attacks; that’d explain his hatred of pirates and extreme sense of justice.
Cat Viper had a good time singing about lasagna in Zou as well, is he a cheese maniac?
Oh how sweet it is to see this sound effect! Nothing beats the strings of a high-tempo shamisen to fully immerse one in a feeling of quintessential ‘wa’ or ‘aesthetic Japanese feeling’.
Sharp readers may have noticed that Oda famously used this sound effect in place of ‘DO-N!’ for appearances of Kabaji. Does this suggest he harkens from Wano or was it just a stylistic choice?
Also, don’t forget this fox-masked player. They’ll be sure to play a role in all of this.
This section of Wano appears to be largely based on the Kanto and Kinki regions of Honshuu, specifically Edo (modern Tokyo) with elements of Kyoto sprinkled in. Some familiar sights around the area include this world’s version of Mount Fuji.
What we may assume is the seat of Shogun Orochi’s power bearing shachihoko famous from Nagoya Castle.
The castle gate which closely resembles karamon from Nijo Castle in Kyoto (a location from the 2017 Kyoto stamp rally event)
There’s a lot to see on these city streets! Let’s take a look at some stores and homes.
Here we see a restaurant specializing in eel.
Here’s a noodle restaurant, Tani Udon.
Here’s a home or business that belongs to the Oikawa family as well as a 二八 sign which means ‘2,8’ and usually signifies a soba restaurant.
Another home or business belonging to the Sakamoto family.
Spring-Time in Wano
Judging by the cherry blossoms, Wano appears to be a spring island. Or…at least this part of it. If Wano is anything like Japan it should have at least 4 main islands and I’m willing to bet it breaks down with Honshuu (the equivalent of which we’re seeing here) as spring, Hokkaido as winter, Shikoku as summer and Kyushu as fall.
Be still my heart. Calling back to what most would call a total joke from SBS Volume 7, Minatomo is a fully realized character in the world of One Piece. Does this canonize his experience traveling the world? Check out some of his appearances in the animation:
Franky’s happi bears his name which we’re seeing in kanji for the first time, 港友. Another mystery this settles, well at least for me, is Minatomo’s weird snot. I always assumed that was weird-shaped snot hanging out of his nose in Oda’s depiction from Volume 7 but it turns out THEY’RE NAILS! Whatta crazy old guy!
What’s this read? I can only make out, “I AM saru” which could mean “I’m a monkey,” but somehow I think we’re missing an important part of the message. Maybe some relation to the haircut which looks like maybe another beetle rendition?
Weekly Shonen Jump # Ch.909
One Piece Vol.2 Ch.15
One Piece Vol.7 SBS
One Piece Vol.11 Ch.98
One Piece Vol.63 SBS
One Piece Vol.65 SBS
One Piece Vol.81 Ch.814
TV Anime #51
TV Anime #61
TV Anime #81
Culture Crash Course
First of all, here’s our famous ‘Ship’s View’ of the first glimpse of Wano that we’ve discussed in the past. (SUPER OP Course #63)
Right, this time let’s talk about some of the proverbs, myths and creatures from Japanese history and folklore sprinkled throughout the chapter. Full-disclosure, there are probably a great deal of these that will fall under my radar because my understanding of Japanese folktales is on par with the basics learned in elementary school but nevertheless, here are the ones I noticed off the bat!
“The carp has leaped through the dragon gate.”
The Strawhats traveling upstream via carp is based on a three-character proverb: 登龍門 or ‘toryumon’ which literally translates to ‘Climbing Dragon Gate River’. This commonly used proverb may be likened to ‘the first step is always the hardest’. However, the origin of this proverb (thanks to a popular video game series) is arguably more widely known in the Western world than it is in Japan. Y’know, that one where you grab monsters and put ‘em in your pocket.
Another name to describe ‘toryumon’ is 鯉の滝登り or ‘koi no taki nobori’ which means ‘the carp climbing the waterfall’. Woah? Now we’re talking about fish? What’s going on here? Despite being a proverb in Japanese, its origins go back to a Chinese legend. The lore tells of a carp swam upstream against the sharp vertical currents of the ‘Dragon Gate River’ and became a dragon. This was adopted in China to describe politicians who found favor with a famous court official Li Ying. Being ‘noticed’ by Li Ying was difficult, but if you found recognition from him, you were almost assured a swift and powerful political climb. The anecdote found its way to Japan via Chinese texts and the rest is history…and part myth.
Interestingly enough, this myth also influenced the practice of flying carp windsocks on May 5th, Children’s Day in Japan. This also happens to be Luffy’s birthday!
‘The Crab and the Monkey’
More Grimm than ‘mouse house’ fantasy, ‘The Crab and the Monkey’ is a Japanese folklore tale of innocent trust, ruthless betrayal and cold-hearted revenge. In One Piece it’s a crab clipping Luffy on the schnoz.
That’s not hyperbole by the way, it’s all the above and more. Check it out on Wikipedia!
Strait Up Naruto
The Strawhats reach Wano and are immediately pulled into tumultuous whirlpools. I wonder if these represent to the famous Naruto whirlpools off the coast of Tokushima, Japan!
Watch for Yo-kai!
Fans wondered if we’d see youkai in Wano and here’s one out of the gates! Or perhaps at least what Wano people based their concept of this youkai on! The youkai Hihi (not to be confused with a baboon that shares the same name) is a youkai born from extremely old monkeys. This particular youkai laughs when it sees a human and its lips curve back to an extreme length; so far in fact that they’ll conceal the youkai’s eyes! It’s during this time that a Hihi may be restrained and defeated. The youkai gets its name from the Japanese sound of laughing, ‘hihi’ (sounds like heehee).
Here’s some more information on Hihi from youkai expert, Matthew Meyer:
As for our komainu friend here, they’re definitely a part of Japanese religious culture as they guard entrances to shrines with their iconic ‘ah’ (open) and ‘un’ (closed) mouths. As komainu come in pairs there’s bound to be another one around somewhere.
More information on Komainu:
Weekly Shonen Jump #32 Ch.910
A Growing Family vol.2
Two more members of the Charlotte Family!? Although we can’t say for certain with confirmation that they’re family members and not just Big Mom Pirate crew members, these definitely seem like two more candidates, especially considering their proximity to other family members!
Noisette- Potentially based on the French word for ‘hazelnut’.
Mobil- This fellow has definitely popped up a few times in the story and, if he’s a member of the Charlotte family, that makes him half-Long-Arm.
TV Anime #833
A Growing Family vol.3
Three more potential additions to the family this week. One of them was in the credits but the other two were a bit tricky! You had to be watching the broadcast with subtitles on to get their names! As always, we can’t say for certain that they’re Big Mom’s kin without Oda-sensei’s permission but their names definitely indicate a connection to her children’s food-based themes!
This member of the Big Mom Pirates has a name that seems to be part of a famous orange liqueur.
Mr. Skullhead (not really, it’s just a hat/mask) here has a name very similar to a brand of coconut-based products.
Finally a name for this apparently winged member of the Big Mom Pirates. A dacquoise is a French almond and hazelnut merengue cake.
TV Anime #834