Eiichiro Oda's record-breaking manga, One Piece, was first serialized on the Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. The author recently stated that the series is nearing its end within the next few years. Recently, the readers witnessed the last curtain on the Wano Arc, which marks a milestone for the endgame of the One Piece series.
After achieving an amazing victory against the Beasts Pirates, their strongest opponents to date, Luffy, Zoro, and the other Strawhats are ready to enter the decisive phase of their adventure. The fight against Kaido brought Luffy closer than ever to his goal to reach Laugh Tale, the fated island which is the key to finding the One Piece.
To better prepare for the final stage of the series, Oda took a month-long hiatus. However, the Wano Arc seems to receive not only praise but also many negative reviews from the fans. While some moments are generally appreciated by most One Piece fans, there's widespread criticism of some unsatisfactory aspects. Follow along the thread to see the sum of Wano Arc's pros and cons.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1058 and reflects the writer's personal views.
Things that One Piece's Wano Arc did great
1) Rooftop battle between Supernovas and Emperors
Sometimes referred to as "Roof Piece" by fans, the fight between five of the Worst Generation Supernovas and two of the Four Emperors is commonly considered one of the best things to ever happen in the Wano Arc. These seven powerful pirates were confronted in a fierce and fast-paced battle, which became more exciting with each new chapter.
The Supernovas's line-up consisted of Luffy, Zoro, Law, Kid, and Killer - the five strongest rookie pirates who never thought of surrendering to Yonkos. Instead, they fought their authority until they gained victory. On the other hand, there were Kaido and Big Mom, two Emperors who formed an alliance to challenge the World Government and claim the One Piece.
After a series of back-and-forth blows, the two Emperors launched a powerful combined attack. Zoro managed to block it, protecting the others but suffering fatal damages in the process. When Kaido was going to attack Luffy, Zoro fought him head-on to protect his captain's life. In the ensuing clash, he was able to severely wound Kaido, leaving him with a deep scar but wearing out his last energy without taking him down.
Luffy would later defeat Kaido in a heated battle after unlocking Advanced Conqueror Haki and awakening his Devil Fruit, the Human-Human Model: Nika, allowing him incredible abilities. Meanwhile, Big Mom lost against Law and Kid, but the two needed a numerical advantage to fight her evenly. She survived all their attacks but was defeated when some bombs dropped on her while she was falling.
2) Characters upgrades and power-ups
Most One Piece fans appreciated the power-ups that Oda gifted some characters during the Wano Arc. In the first part of the arc, Luffy and Zoro remarkably upgraded their Armament Haki. The captain received Hyogoro's teachings while Zoro trained himself with Enma, one of the two swords previously belonging to the infamous samurai Oden Kozuki.
During his battle with Queen, the third most powerful member of the Beasts Pirates after Kaido and King, Sanji awakened his Vinsmoke genes. This helped him obtain a tough exoskeleton and a substantial increase in speed and strength. His Diable Jambe evolved into an upgraded stage, the Ifrit Jambe, which allowed him to defeat Queen.
Later in the game, both Luffy and Zoro unlocked the very rare skill of coating their bodies and weapons with Conqueror Haki. According to Kaido, this power is an amazing and game-changing ability that only a few selected strong characters can use.
During their battle against Big Mom, both Kid and Law awakened to the next stage of their Devil Fruits abilities, the Magnet-Magnet and the Ope-Ope. Luffy was able to achieve this peculiar power by unconsciously bringing his Mythological Zoan to unleash a new level of strength, which was crucial for Kaido's defeat. Luffy called that stage the Gear Five.
3) Showing Kaido's incredible strength
Kaido was the star performer of the Wano Arc, maybe even more than the main character himself. An exceptional level of effort from powerful individuals was needed to take him down finally. Moreover, Kaido's strength was one of the reason no one dared to approach Wano, proving him to be one of the strongest One Piece characters.
Kaido possesses an incredibly powerful Haki and is one of the very few people who can use the Advanced Conqueror Haki. His Devil Fruit powers allow him to transform into a fully-fledged dragon, or into a dragon and human hybrid. His physical prowess is supreme, excelling in toughness, endurance, stamina, speed, and strength.
Kaido easily annihilated the nine Red Scabbards. Together with Big Mom, he faced and dominated Luffy, Zoro, Law, Kid, and Killer - the five strongest Supernovas. He suffered the only real damage because of Zoro's Ashura attack, which inflicted a scar on him, and Luffy's Kong Gatling. Later, Kaido handled Yamato, an Advanced Conqueror Haki user and Mythological Zoan wielder.
Kaido overwhelmed and defeated Luffy many times, even when the latter unlocked the advanced stage of Conqueror Haki. He eventually lost after Luffy gained a new stunning asset, the Awakening of the Gom-Gom Fruit, which was revealed to be the very rare Nika-Nika Mythological Zoan. The crazy amount of power that was needed to defeat him is a testament to Kaido's strength.
4) Oden's flashback with Roger and Whitebeard
Flashbacks are one of the most widely praised aspects of the One Piece series. During the Wano Arc, fans enjoyed a thirteen-chapters long flashback that showed the main events of Oden Kozuki's life. Oden was a powerful samurai and influential pirate who lost his life after fighting valiantly against Kaido to free Wano from him and Orochi.
The flashback showed Oden's heroic fight against Kaido. The samurai was besting him, but because of an unfair distraction, he ended up losing. Kaido was so impressed by his power that even today, he considers him to be an individual of the same caliber as Shanks, Xebec, Roger, and Whitebeard. Readers were moved to tears at Oden sacrificing his life to protect his trusted retainers, the Red Scabbards.
For fans' joy, the flashback also featured Oden's adventures with Whitebeard Pirates and Roger Pirates, two of the greatest crews ever. This allowed One Piece readers to witness a clash between Whitebeard and Roger in their prime versions and to enjoy the journey of the Pirate King's crew. Memorable moments, such as the visit to Raftel, mark this flashback as a milestone in the series.
5) Showing a glimpse of Shanks' powers
"Red Hair" Shanks is clearly a fan favorite. Given the amount of hype that surrounds him and the relatively low screen time he has received up to this day, One Piece fans are eager to see him in action. Luckily, during the latest chapters of the Wano Arc, the author surprised everyone with an unexpected appearance of Shanks and the Red Hair Pirates.
Despite lacking the inhuman attributes and Devil Fruits abilities that the other Emperors have, Shanks' incredible swordsmanship skills and Haki powers make him one of the strongest characters in the One Piece series.
Admiral Ryokugyu, one of the strongest fighters at the World Government's disposal, was heavily intimidated when Shanks exerted his Conqueror Haki. Seemingly paralyzed, the panting Ryokugyu backed off, despite his previous intents. Such a dominant feat left fans in amazement.
Things that Wano Arc failed
1) Yamato not joining Strawhats despite that being a recurring theme
During the Wano Arc, author Eiichiro Oda introduced a new character, Yamato. Born as Kaido's daughter, she developed a sincere admiration for Oden. Because of this, Kaido imprisoned her. Yamato deeply respects Oden, to the point that she completely identifies herself with him, often leading to funny gags which end in misunderstandings and laughs.
While some people consider Yamato's behavior annoying, most fans find her an enjoyable character and praise her courage to disapprove of Kaido's actions and stand against him. When Luffy and the others attacked Onigashima to defeat Kaido and overthrow his domination, she allied with them. For this reason, fans felt good at the thought of Yamato joining the Strawhats, a wish she openly declared.
After reaffirming her desire to join Strawhats and set sail to explore the world as Oden did, her entry into the crew seemed a given. But when the Strawhats finally left Wano, Yamato didn't board the Thousand Sunny together with them, claiming that she needed to explore Wano mainland before. Many One Piece fans were surprised by this outcome and considered it meaningless.
2) Zoro having so many unresolved plotlines
Aiming to become the World's Strongest Swordsman, Roronoa Zoro is Luffy's right-hand man and the first mate of the Strawhat Pirates. His devotion to Luffy and the incredible determination he shows in battle easily make him a fan favorite. For this reason, One Piece fans were disappointed at Zoro's path in the Wano Arc for not meeting their expectations.
In the first part of the arc, he wreaked havoc, overwhelming his fellow Supernovas Hawkins, Killer, and Apoo. He met Hiyori, Oden Kozuki's daughter, who gifted Zoro of Enma, one of his father's famed swords. He started training his Haki with it, aiming for the incoming battle with Kaido. During the Onigashima Raid, Zoro proved his might against the Emperors, fighting them by Luffy's side.
Zoro was able to block Big Mom and Kaido's combined attack and inflict the latter a wound that left him with a scar. He later unleashed his kingly attitude, unlocking the all-powerful Advanced Conqueror Haki, which increased his strength to the point where he could outclass King. After this incredible streak, fans expected even more to come for Zoro.
Disappointingly enough, Zoro's spotlight was suddenly dropped. For this reason, despite an overall amazing focus with many great moments, he seemed to leave Wano with a lot of unfinished business. He didn't greet Hiyori, nor did he fight Kaido in a second round. Moreover, his ties with the Shimotsuki clan weren't explained. He didn't even visit Ryuma's grave, despite openly declaring his intent to do so.
3) Very anticlimatic deaths
One Piece isn't a series known for killing off many of its characters. Throughout the series, most of the deaths happened in flashbacks. In the present time, the good ones always manage to get out alive even from the most difficult situations, while the villains get defeated but never killed. This aspect is generally criticized by fans, who find it too accommodating.
The Wano Arc followed along this route, but with an unexpected twist. During the Onigashima Raid, two of Oden's retainers, Ashura Doji and Izo, were killed in battle. What disappointed fans the most was the very anti-climatic way this happened.
Ashura and Izo didn't lose their lives in an epic clash but simply died of their injuries, which depicted a sense of realism. What fans mostly despised was the fact that those deaths were rushed, happening off-panel and merely being mentioned.
The emotional impact was very low, especially when Marco and Kiku, two people very close to Izo, showed cheerful behavior despite what happened. Something very anti-climatic, with Marco being one of Izo's oldest friends and Kiku his beloved younger brother. Fans also criticized that during the same arc, characters have survived much worse injuries than the ones that killed Ashura and Izo.
4) How Kaido and Big Mom were handled
During the Wano Arc, Kaido and Big Mom, two of the Four Emperors who dominate the New World, decided to create an alliance between two of the Beasts Pirates and the Big Mom Pirates. Unfortunately for them, after a tremendous battle, the Straw Hats and their allies defeated the two Yonko and their crews.
After their defeat, Kaido and Big Mom were stripped of their Yonko status, meaning that the authority and influence that Beasts Pirates and Big Mom Pirates previously held in the One Piece world has now vanished. However, the strength they have shown remains unforgettable.
A noticeable number of One Piece fans complained that their expectations for Kaido and Big Mom were deluded. Linlin appeared intriguing, but her battle performances were too clumsy. While Kaido proved himself a flawless fighter, many fans were disappointed by the lack of a satisfying focus on his ideals and motives.
After their defeat, fans widely criticized the way Kaido and Big Mom were suddenly removed from the story. During the battle, they ended up in a subterranean erupting volcano. After that, they were never mentioned anymore. Whether Kaido and Big Mom are alive or dead is currently unknown and no One Piece character questioned that, as if the two Emperors were forgotten.
5) Oda trying to force-feed Kid and Law as credible rivals for Luffy
After a fierce battle, the pirate-samurai alliance finally defeated Kaido, Big Mom and their crews, ending the Beasts Pirates' tyrannical rule over Wano. Most of the credit for this astonishing triumph goes to the pirate side, consisting of three powerful crews - Strawhat Pirates, Kid Pirates, and Heart Pirates.
During the Wano Arc, the author repeatedly tried to portray Luffy, Kid, and Law, the captains of these three crews, as characters of comparable caliber. Most fans find this attempt forced and annoying. While there's no doubt that Kid and Law are two incredibly strong pirates, they just can't compare with Luffy, who outclasses them in both strength and achievements.
A widely criticized choice was to have the three receive the same bounty of three billion berries each. More than strength, bounties equate to the threat the criminal poses to the World Government. Having the three share the same bounty doesn't make much sense. Luffy's previous bounty was far higher than Kid and Law's, and his superior feats during Wano Arc should have earned him a greater increase.
In strength, Luffy has them outclassed. He was able to defeat a stronger opponent, Kaido, in a fair and square one vs one battle, while they needed numerical advantage to beat Big Mom, who is weaker than Kaido. Luffy's status as a Yonko, his achievements, and his crew completely eclipse Law and Kid's, making this attempt to portray the three on similar levels rather inconsistent.
The Wano Arc is the longest to date in the One Piece series. Despite its duration, it appears to have many missed opportunities and abandoned or unfinished storylines. At times, Eiichiro Oda's choices have been questionable, leading to anticlimatic moments and unsatisfying outcomes. However, battles and power-ups in the Wano Arc were widely appreciated by fans.
Fans recognize Kaido's strength was portrayed amazingly throughout the entire arc, but a common complaint is that his background and characterization didn't receive the same focus as his might. For this reason, many One Piece fans consider Kaido to be an incredibly powerful character, but a somewhat dull and lackluster villain.
A recurring opinion among fans is that Wano Arc had immense potential, which unfortunately the author wasn't able to completely exploit. Considering that the series is nearing its end within the next few years, fans really hope that the final arcs of One Piece will be handled in a satisfying way.
Poll : Did you like the Wano Arc?
Yes, it was perfect
No, it failed some aspects