Great Imu chilling in their garden in One Piece

Who Is Great Imu in ‘One Piece’?

Of all the many mysteries of One Piece, there are three questions which remain the most tantalizing. What is the One Piece? What happened in the Void Century? And when will Sanji and Zoro finally come to terms with their sexual tension—I mean, what the hell is Imu’s whole deal?

Recommended Videos

While the One Piece and the Void Century are mysteries posed since the earliest arcs of the series, Imu (or Im, depending on your translation) was only introduced in the (first) Reverie arc. That arc only appeared in 2018 in the manga and 2019 in the anime, which is relatively small slice of One Piece‘s 26-year history. However, Imu’s very existence is a huge revelation, which turns the rules of the world in One Piece on their head. They’re so powerful that Uta (in a fun Easter egg) copies their fashion in One Piece Film: Red in the sequence for “I’m Invincible.”

So what do we know about Imu? Let’s find out! I’m going to separate this article into two parts, so those who want to avoid spoilers for storylines not yet covered by the anime can easily do so.

Related: The 10 Best One Piece Characters on Attack of the Fanboy

World Government 101

A review of a basic history of the World Government is in order. Since the World Government was introduced to us in the earliest arcs of One Piece, we’ve been fed the same narrative as the populace of One Piece‘s world. The World Government was founded by 20 kings after they emerged victorious in the war which engulfed the Void Century.

The 20 kings made a pledge to be equals before what’s now called The Empty Throne. In modern day, that pledge means that the monarchs would each have an equal amount of power. This leads us to the Reverie: the event where all the monarchs come to debate and revise World Government policy.

Sounds nice and idealistic, right? Well, if you’re a citizen of the real world, you won’t be surprised to learn that idealism isn’t reflective of One Piece‘s reality. Of those 20 kings, 19 became Celestial Dragons (along with their families). Celestial Dragons are treated as infallible gods in the current day. The monarch of Alabasta, the descendants of our beloved nakama Nefeltari Vivi, declined this invitation.

And besides, there’s a body in the World Government with higher authority than the monarchs (who are the lowest level) and the Celestial Dragons (who rank above them). That would be the Five Elders, some old men who make up the highest authority in the World Government. Very relatable to the real world. Anyway, exactly who these geezers are remains to be revealed. We do find out (relatively minor spoiler) that one of them takes his last name from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, so that’s fun.

It’s also worth noting that World Government really hates it when people look into the Void Century or try to figure out what happened in the time before it. It’s a crime punishable by death—and then some. The Nav razed Robin’s home island Ohara to the ground and killed all of its inhabitants simply because the scholars there had the gall to research the Void Century.

So where does Imu fit into the World Government?

During the Revelry, we find out that there’s an authority even higher than the Five Elders. However, their very existence is completely secret to everyone except (it seems) the Five Elders themselves. And that authority is Imu.

The Five Elders bow to Imu when in their presence (Imu’s gender identity is currently unknown.) Imu seems to spend most of their time in a secluded, beautiful garden. But to really hammer home their position, Imu sits upon the Empty Throne. Imu is essentially the ruler of the entire world, but they do so from the shadows.

Imu is also seen with a gigantic straw hat, which is kept deep within Mary Geoise. I really want to tell you more about this, but it’s all we know.

*Manga spoilers from here on out!!

In fact, just to know about Imu is a death sentence—and, you guessed it, then some. Sabo sees Imu sitting on the Empty Throne and attempts to tell the rest of the revolutionary forces about it over the phone. The government intercepts the call, and when Sabo is about to spill the beans, Imu themself erases the entire island Sabo was on, Lulusia. Or at least, appeared to be on. We don’t understand the ins-and-outs of how tons of people survived that one yet.

What’s important is that a beam of light appears out of nowhere and eviscerates the island instantaneously. After that, the new narrative is that Lulusia never existed. This narrative is even enforced on the Navy forces which intercepted Sabo’s call.

Who is Imu?

Imu sitting on the Empty Throne in One Piece
(Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha)

*Spoilers for One Piece 1084-1086 below!

We haven’t seen what Imu looks like beyond a mere silhouette. But we have an interesting hypothesis on their identity via Emporio Ivankov. One of the First 20 who founded the world government was St. Imu of the Nerona Dynasty. If it’s the same Imu, that would make them 800 years old. But as Ivankov points out, “It’s said that the means to create everlasting life exist in this world. Well, someone had to have proved it, hmm?!”

This in-world knowledge dates back to the Dressrosa arc, where we learn that Law’s Devil Fruit, the Op-Op Fruit, is said to be able to give someone eternal life. However, that procedure sacrifices the life of the Devil Fruit user. I believe what One Piece is getting at is that a previous Op-Op Fruit user did the procedure to allow Imu to live forever. There’s a difference between immortal and invulnerable, though. Imu pretty much stays in an isolated, secret garden all the time, which may be as much for their secrecy as for their protection.

This would also explain why the seeming betrayal of Nefertari D. Lily, the queen of Alabasta and one of the First 20, against the First 20 seems particularly potent to Imu. Lily scattered the Ponegliffs, since she apparently realized something was wrong with the then-new World Government. It seems Imu likely killed Lily themself. They killed Cobra when he revealed that Lily had a “D” in her name.

Imu also appears to have a very powerful Devil Fruit which can transform themself and people around them into terrifyingly strong shadow-y monsters. Basically, Imu is shaping up to be one of the main Big Bads in One Piece‘s final saga. The more we learn, the more menacing they seem.

(featured image: Toei Animation)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
related content
Read Article If You Can’t Wait for the ‘My Deer Friend Nokotan’ Anime, Here’s Where You Can Read the Manga
My Deer Friend Nokotan preview trailer
My Deer Friend Nokotan preview trailer
My Deer Friend Nokotan preview trailer
Read Article Will There Be a ‘Buddy Daddies’ Season 2?
Buddy Daddies - Kazuki, Miri, Rei
Buddy Daddies - Kazuki, Miri, Rei
Buddy Daddies - Kazuki, Miri, Rei
Read Article Did ‘Black Clover’ End at Episode 170?
Asta confronting Liebe in Black Clover 170
Asta confronting Liebe in Black Clover 170
Asta confronting Liebe in Black Clover 170
Read Article The Bizarre Hit Anime About the Human Body Is Getting a Live-Action Movie!
The red blood cells of Cells at Work Live Action
The red blood cells of Cells at Work Live Action
The red blood cells of Cells at Work Live Action
Read Article Will There Be a ‘Dungeon Meshi’ Season 2?
Delicious in Dungeon still
Delicious in Dungeon still
Delicious in Dungeon still
Related Content
Read Article If You Can’t Wait for the ‘My Deer Friend Nokotan’ Anime, Here’s Where You Can Read the Manga
My Deer Friend Nokotan preview trailer
Read Article Will There Be a ‘Buddy Daddies’ Season 2?
Buddy Daddies - Kazuki, Miri, Rei
Read Article Did ‘Black Clover’ End at Episode 170?
Asta confronting Liebe in Black Clover 170
Read Article The Bizarre Hit Anime About the Human Body Is Getting a Live-Action Movie!
The red blood cells of Cells at Work Live Action
Read Article Will There Be a ‘Dungeon Meshi’ Season 2?
Delicious in Dungeon still
Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.