The Restoration Period
One of the first big hints as to the end-goal of this arc seems to be the current state of Wano. Although there are clearly sections of Wano that remain pristine and beautiful -like the capital- large swathes of the land have been devastated by deforestation and polluted by Kaido’s factories to the extent that natural water is poisonous.
There is an environmental awareness ‘spice’ to this arc which Oda-sensei has generally avoided throughout the entirety of One Piece. Though the series began in 1997 when environmental awareness was already long a buzzword around the globe, it always seemed odd Oda-sensei avoided dealing with the relationship between humanity, development and nature. Well, here’s the reason! He’s been waiting all this time so that he can use those themes in Wano!
Careful readers will note that -as expected- Oda-sensei isn’t satisfied with simply utilizing buzzword themes without adding his unique twist to the mix. While Western societies tend to focus on flora and fauna with respect to environmental awareness, Oda-sensei is clearly adding a decidedly Eastern flair by adding ‘food’ to the thematic backdrop. In any standard Intro to East Asian Societies course, you won’t get both feet in the room before you’re talking about rice. It might seem mundane but rice and its production is the basis of societal and familial culture in many east Asian societies. Lo and behold, we’re not even three full chapters into Wano before rice is introduced as a thematic element:
Kaidou and his goons -including Orochi- have robbed Wano of bountiful rice.
The impact of this theme on the Japanese readership is profound. In some Western societies it can be likened to being robbed of wheat or similar grains. Breads and many baked products as we know them would vanish.
Kaidou’s factories -which could be the source of the mysterious ‘Drunken Iron Ore’- could indeed be what are eating the country’s supply of rice. The name of the ore includes the kanji for ‘sake’ which is world famous as a rice wine. Are Kaidou’s factories using rice-derived elements to produce a powerful steel?
Theorizing aside, as we can clearly see in this shot of the village, smokestacks from Kaidou’s factories dot the landscape and mar the beauty of the natural landscape. Luffy’s story will be one that details the reclaiming of this land and restoring its beauty & culture.
Much like Alabasta was restoring a country’s life-blood and unity via rain, this arc will chronicle how the stolen ‘pride’ of culture will be returned which is sure to have long-lasting results on the hearts and minds of the people of Wano.
Weekly Shonen Jump #33 Ch.911
Weekly Shonen Jump #36+37 Ch.913
That’ll Leave a Mark
Is this Bellamy’s hometown, Notice in North Blue!? This town appears to do dyeing for countries around the world! Currently the most interesting mark to me is riiiight here!
Is that Shanks’ jolly roger? Sure looks like it! So is Notice where Shanks had his jolly roger created!? Makes sense that Bellamy might have an aspiration for being a pirate if big names like Shanks frequented the town on business.
Momonosuke + Luffytarou = !?
Add the first part of Momonosuke’s name and the last part of Luffy’s name and you’ll get ‘Momotarou’! In reality, ‘Momotarou’ is a quintessential piece of Japanese folklore. In the tale, the titular character travels with his companions (a monkey, a dog and a pheasant) to defeat the evil Oni. Momotarou makes friends with his companions by offering them ‘kibidango’ to travel with him.
Weekly Shonen Jump #33 Ch.911
Weekly Shonen Jump #38 Ch.914
One Piece Vol.77 Ch.769
The anime seems to reveal this fellow orphan of Linlin’s as a panda mink but…she’s not entirely all mink, is she? She seems to have hairless human skin as well as a panda coat of hair. Is she a half-mink half-human hybrid? If so, this lends credence to the idea that characters like Shojo and Mashira could be half or even quarter mink!
But let’s cut to the chase here. If a human/mink hybrid is indeed possible -and we know that a giant/fishman hybrid is- does this mean that a mink/FISHPERSON hybrid is also possible!? Can you imagine that!? Born with more strength than any human, the ability to swim unlimited, fly through a forest AND (dare I say it) be able to go Sulong!? Juggernaut!
TV Anime #837
The Birth of Whole Cake Island
There hasn’t been a confirmation from Oda-sensei yet, but it seems like this island where Mother Carmel started her new orphanage is actually what would eventually become the seat of Big Mom’s power, Whole Cake Island.
Linlin told Carmel she’d turn her island into a ‘land of dreams’ and it looks like she’s doing exactly that! Not only is the scenery similar, we can also see Mom starting the foundation of her Hommies empire.
TV Anime #838