Sabo in 'One Piece'

‘One Piece’ Chapter 1085 Rejects a Chosen One Narrative, and I’m Here for It

“Chosen One”-type narratives are the mixed bag of mixed bags. You know, the trope in which it turns out that someone was destined from birth to do such-and-such, or chosen by some force as the only person who can accomplish some epic task. Usually, the stakes are nothing less than to save the world. The prophecies around Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels make him a solid example. Or that Paul guy from Dune. The various incarnations of Link and Zelda in The Legend of Zelda also fit this trope. Hell, Link is outright called “The Chosen Hero” in some games.

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Despite the fact that The Legend of Zelda is my other favorite thing, I’m generally skeptical of the Chosen One narrative. I know the fantasy of it is the appeal. But to me, there’s something alienating about the trope in the majority of cases. After all, very few people—if anyone at all—are destined for greatness from birth. I certainly cannot relate. Which is why I was having mixed feelings about how the overtones of the Chosen One trope have seemingly gotten stronger in One Piece. At least, until chapter 1085.

We’re diving right in with the spoilers today, folks. Major spoilers for the end of One Piece‘s Wano Kuni arc and chapter 1085 below!

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Luffy as “Chosen One”?

There’s two different threads through which One Piece has flirted with the “Chosen One” trope: the legend of Nika and the Will of D. Nika is a very recent addition to the One Piece canon, the revelation which led to the unveiling of Gear 5 at the climax of Luffy’s fight with Kaido. But the Will of D. has been a known mystery in One Piece for over two decades, ever since Dr. Kureha explicitly mentioned it during Drum Island.

The Will of D. refers to anyone who has a “D.” in their name, carried down from their families. There are a lot of D.s in One Piece: Monkey D. Luffy, Gol D. Roger, Trafalgar D. Water Law, Marshall D. Teach, Portgas D. Ace, etc. Before chapter 108, our only substantial clue as to its meaning came from Donquixote Rosinante: those bearing the “D.” in their name are considered the Natural Enemy of the Gods, i.e., the Celestial Dragons. They seem to be present at every major “earth-shaking event” since the Void Century.

While the Will of D. seemingly applied to a larger swath of “Chosen People,” the legend of Nika only applies to Luffy—who is, of course, also a D. The awakening of Luffy’s Devil Fruit was paired with the revelation that the Gomu-Gomu Fruit is actually a legendary model of the Zoan-type Human-Human Fruit. As such, our boy can now transform into a figure known only to myth—the so-called “Sun God,” Nika. Even Vegapunk, the world’s best scientist, marvels over the return of the “White Warrior.” According to legend, Nika is the one liberated or will liberate the world. It’s not made explicit (yet), but with all this information and how Nika’s goofiness fits Luffy like a glove, the “Chosen One” vibe is becoming palpable.

That being said, One Piece is in discussion with itself over what the “Chosen One” even means. Many important people—including Vegapunk and the Five Elders—place tremendous importance on Luffy’s Devil Fruit awakening and clearly see Luffy as “fulfilling” a legend. But Luffy himself doesn’t give a shit. And, with the possible exception of Jinbe, neither does his crew. Which invites you, the viewer, to also not give a shit. Luffy’s going to do what he was going to do anyway. It’s another example of Luffy’s irreverence towards reverence that has made him such an incredible protagonist all along.

The populist D.

Chapter 1085 is wild. Maybe one of the wildest chapters of One Piece. It’s so wild, I honestly didn’t know what angle to approach it from for this article. What the hell is Imu’s Devil Fruit? Is it the Chess-Chess Fruit or something?! And the Five Elders turn into shadow monsters?! What the actual hell!! I feel like Wapol, honestly.

But from a lore perspective, there is a clear winner. We learn the meaning of the D. Sure, someone growls over it so that the reader can’t make out Cobra’s revelation. Which is rude. But Sabo, ostensibly, now knows and has been tasked with telling Luffy. The truth, truly, is out there.

We did learn more about the D, regardless of the loud and rude growl. Imu tells Cobra, the current king of Alabasta, “The D is the name of those who once opposed us. Those who bubble up from every corner of the world bearing the D are nothing but empty husks, ignorant of the meaning of their name.” It turns out, the first known bearer of the D was none other than one of the 20 sovereigns who founded the World Government: the queen of Alabasta, Nefertari D. Lili. Indeed, it seems like Lili sensed danger right at the World Government’s very founding. She scattered the Poneglyphs around the globe, ensuring their eventual demise.

Remember, until this point, the Will of D. has seemed only to apply to a select group of “Chosen People,” those who had the D. initial passed down through their families. But armed with information gathered from Imu, and a letter from Lili, Cobra beseeches Sabo to give Luffy and his daughter, Vivi, a message: “Tell them that we also bear the D.!!”

Cobra continues on to quote Lili’s letter, telling Sabo the role of the Poneglyphs. That’s where the growl interrupts us. But the message we can hear is clear. Sabo gets what Cobra’s saying. He has a flashback to his childhood with Monkey D. Luffy and Portgas D. Ace, where he asks his brothers why they both have Ds in their names and contemplates changing his name to “Sa-D-Bo.”

The Will of D. doesn’t just apply to people who already have a “D.” in their name. It applies to anyone who wants to stand up against this tyrannical system. Just like Luffy doesn’t care whether his Devil Fruit attracts him to “destiny” or not, the overall narrative of One Piece rejects the possibility that a pre-ordained, select few can change the world. That kind of exclusionist thinking belongs to people like the Celestial Dragons—the very group the Will of D. opposes. Anyone can bear the D. It’s up to you.

And that, my friends, is my kind of Chosen One narrative.

(featured image: Toei Animation)

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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.