One Piece: How many acts are left in the “Wano Country” arc?

Ever since One Piece’s ‘Wano Country’ arc opened with a curtain-raiser, the parallels to a Kabuki play were obvious. These parallels grew even stronger as the arc progressed, with multiple cultural allusions to Kabuki scattered throughout the story, until the conclusion of chapter 924 where the curtain closes and readers are greeted by the caption “Act One – End”.

This led to the emergence of a common consensus among One Piece fans that the “Wano Country” arc would have five acts in total, the same structure as a Kabuki piece. As the arc progressed, that notion seemed more and more plausible, with act two ending in a way that made readers feel like they weren’t heading into the final act, but rather towards the arc’s tumultuous middle chapters before the final showdown with the arc’s big bad, Kaido. As of now, however, the curtain has yet to fall on Act Three, and it looks like the arc is racing towards its climax with no break in sight.

As of now, all of Kaido’s subordinates have been defeated by the heroes, making him the last Great Beast Pirate standing in the conflict. The most recent chapter, Chapter 1036, ends with Luffy and Kaido in the midst of a showdown, with the Straw Hat Captain evenly matched with the Beast King. In any other arc, such a scene would spell the end of the conflict soon, leading many to believe that “Wano” will end in three acts after all.

So what suggests there could be more? For fans, it’s the idea that the raid went a little too well for the Alliance. “Wano” owes as much to detective fiction as it does to Kabuki theater, with the Alliance’s plan to attack Onigashima mirroring that of many great fictional adventures. One of the fundamental tenets of heist fiction is the trope that when the protagonists expose all the details of a heist during the planning phase, something will go wrong during the execution.

This is what makes the way things have unfolded for the Alliance incredibly suspicious. Aside from the fact that Kanjuro revealed himself to be a traitor early on in the raid, their plans didn’t go off the rails significantly. All the complications have been entirely beneficial to the Alliance, whether it’s Denjiro, Yamato and X-Drake switching sides, the unexpected arrival of Jimbei, Marco and Izo, Queen’s plot with the Ice Oni virus that turned his subordinates against him or the early knockout of the Big Mom Pirates. Anything that could go right for the heroes did.

Hyogoro the Flower, who explicitly states in chapter 989, once the raid begins, that he doesn’t see how the Alliance could lose. It’s a grim phrase to put into the mouth of any of the arc’s heroes, an unwavering statement of faith that seems destined to be challenged later in the arc. If not by the defeat of the Alliance, at least by a major obstacle thwarting their victory. However, nothing like this has yet happened; even nearly dying at the hands of the Queen’s Ice Oni virus didn’t shake Hyogoro’s faith in the Alliance’s success.

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In kabuki plays, the end of the third act is most often when a great tragedy unfolds, leaving the fourth and fifth acts to pick up the pieces. With the most popular theory being that “Wano” would have five acts, the notion of a third act tragedy has long been a source of speculation among One Piece fans.

The most common theory for a potential third-act tragedy is the idea that the Onigashima Raid would fail, popularized by One Piece YouTuber Mr. Morj. Mr. Morj cited previous One Piece arcs and how the Straw Hats first try to defeat the bad guys, only to pick themselves up and try again later in the arc. Assuming the raid succeeds, “Wano” would be a major exception to this long-standing rule of the series. This fact, combined with how the raid played out, is why many fans believe the Alliance can still lose.

Throughout “Wano,” Oda also made constant allusions to jo-ha-kyū, a common motif in Japanese art where actions begin slowly (jo), pick up speed (ha), and then end. quickly (kyū). Jo-ha-kyū can also be used as a narrative structure for three-act stories, but it is mostly found as a structure for Kabuki plays. The first act encompasses “jo”, the second, third and fourth encompass “ha”, and the fifth encompasses “kyū”.

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If the arc only ends in three acts, however, act three seems particularly ill-suited to the “kyū” part of the story. At 78 chapters, Act Three is by far the longest in the arc so far – longer than Acts One and Two combined. “Kyū” is defined by the brevity carried by the momentum of “ha”, but the slow pace of act three compared to act two goes against this edict, implying that the part ” kyū” of history is yet to come.

It’s possible that Oda originally intended the arc to follow the structure of a Kabuki play, including the third-act tragedy, before scrapping the idea for a number of reasons. That seems unlikely, however, because even though his initial plans were scrapped, the act offers plenty of tragic moments to insert a post-act break. Whether it’s Oden’s tragic flashback ending, the Scabbards’ loss to Kaido, Ashura Doji’s apparent death, Luffy’s second loss to Kaido, or the nearly stabbing fatalities of Kiku and Kin’emon, there are a multitude of dismal scenes where a curtain could have fallen.

So if a tragedy is to come, what could it be, and what story could there be to tell after? It’s possible that the raid against Kaido might fail after all, but it’s also possible that another antagonist will rise from the shadows to take center stage in Acts Four and Five. The Big Mom Pirates and the Cipher Pol Zero both pose as credible a threat as the Beast Pirates, and either faction would likely be keen to take advantage of the power vacuum should the Alliance defeat Kaido. .

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Wano’ has a lot of plot threads to sort out that would benefit from two more acts, but there’s also a lot that goes against that idea. First, Oda told Jump Festa that he hopes to wrap up the arc this year. It’s possible the mangaka could fit two acts into the span of a year, but that’s incredibly doubtful, especially with the length of act three.

There’s also his larger goal of wrapping up the series in 2025. Given how far One Piece still has to go after the ‘Wano Country’ arc, Oda is likely keen to wrap up the story as soon as possible. as quickly as possible, which two other acts would only hinder.

With 128 chapters, the “Wano Country” arc is by far the longest in the series’ history. The fact that, despite this length, there is still plenty of room to tell other stories is a testament to its density. Whether the arc is in its final chapters or if there are still two acts left to cover remains to be seen, but either way, 2022 promises to be a momentous year for both ‘Wano’ and One. Piece as a whole.