What’s the Deal With the Celestial Dragons in ‘One Piece’?
I swear to Neptune, if One Piece introduces one more character, I’m going to scream.
You wanna know about Sabo? I’ll tell you about Sabo. You wanna know about Luffy’s mom? I’ll tell you about Luffy’s mom. You wanna know about Usopp, Ace, Mihawk, Buggy, Robin, Vivi, Zoro, Whitebeard, Blackbeard, and every other pirate with every other color beard under the sun? I’ll tell you about them, too.
But if One Piece doesn’t finish up with the characters it already has; if One Piece pulls another “hey, look over here at this dude! He looks like a shark with feet but he’s actually got the most tragic backstory ever,” then I’m gonna Buster Call my TV with my own two fists. There are so many One Piece characters that I have to keep straight in the exhausted recesses of my inflamed brain that I’m starting to lose track of the real people in my life. “Sorry, Frankie! I know we’ve been friends since grade school, but I just feel like I have too many people in my life and I need to make space for the people who matter to me most. Like Brook, a fictional undead skeleton musician. I hope you understand.”
Frankie didn’t understand, and now I have one less friend.
So you wanna know about the Celestial Dragons in One Piece? Okay, I’ll tell you about the Celestial Dragons. But if you ask me about anyone else, I’m gonna give you one piece of my mind.
So who are the Celestial Dragons in One Piece?
To understand the Celestial Dragons, we’re gonna need a little history lesson.
Long ago, the Four Nations lived together in harmony—shit, sorry, wrong fandom. Long ago, about 800 years or so, the world of One Piece was broken up into separate kingdoms. The greatest and most powerful of all these kingdoms was called the Great Kingdom, and like many great kingdoms of antiquity, the Great Kingdom was obsessed with spreading its greatness to the world—whether the world liked it or not. The Great Kingdom sought to conquer all of the other kingdoms of the world, and the rulers of those kingdoms didn’t like the sound of that. So 20 of the world’s smaller kingdoms banded together to form an alliance to combat the Great Kingdom. They were successful, and the Great Kingdom was toppled. The 20 Kingdoms beat the Great Kingdom so bad that even the kingdom’s original name was lost to history. The people of One Piece‘s modern era know next to nothing about the Great Kingdom, as even the academic study of the ancient civilization is forbidden by the totalitarian World Government.
And there’s a reason for that.
After the Great Kingdom fell, the 20 Kingdoms held a meeting in a land that they called Mariejois and declared that land would serve as the foundation on which a new government would be built. 19 of the 20 rulers of the kingdoms decided that they would usher in a new world order, and so they renamed themselves the Founders of the World, also known as the Celestial Dragons. There was one ruler, Queen Lily of Alabasta, who did not wish to become a Celestial Dragon because she thought that such a title would turn the bearer into a tyrannical dickhead. She was right. The Celestial Dragons banished Queen Lily from Mariejois, and she lived out the rest of her days exiled to whereabouts unknown.
The descendants of the original 19 Celestial Dragons became the modern World Government, their families having ruled the world in an unbroken 800-year-old dynasty. They were also able to form alliances with other kingdoms across the four blue seas, and the rulers of the globe are now known as the World Nobles. The World Nobles have absolute control over the world of One Piece, and have the entire force of the Marines at their disposal. Their totalitarian sensibilities lead them to view the people they govern as “lesser beings,” and even kings and queens are no more than commoners in their eyes. Their chauvinism has driven them to carry out countless atrocities and human rights abuses, yet they are protected from harm as they are able to summon powerful Marine Admirals to defend them. According to Pappag, each generation of World Nobles has gotten more tyrannical than the generation before it, with the current generation being the worst of the worst.
The World Nobles maintain their seat of power in the Holy Land of Mariejois and are led by a council known as the Five Elders. These five men are seen as rulers among rulers, and possess absolute authority even over the other Nobles of the world. Their identities are shrouded in secrecy, and so far only one of the Five Elders has had his name revealed. It is unknown how they became rulers over the World Nobles, yet even more mysterious is the ruler that they bear allegiance to …
I’m speaking of course … of Im.
Im is the de facto ruler of the entire world and the holder of the Empty Throne, a historical seat of power in Mariejois castle. Im’s existence is not known to the rest of the world, or even to the other World Nobles besides the Five Elders themselves. The Elders act on behalf of Im, and follow Im’s orders without question. Currently we know very little about Im, except that they are perhaps the most ruthless and apathetic of all the leaders of the world. Im once ordered the destruction of the island of Ohara, resulting in the genocide of thousands of people. Their crime? Researching artifacts from the Great Kingdom of old. While we don’t know for sure, it is likely that Im is a descendant of the original Celestial Dragons, yet their power far exceeds that of even their ancestors.
One might say Im’s cruelty and authority places them on a level above Celestial Dragon entirely. They’re a … Celestial Asshat? Celestial Dickhead? We’ll work on it.
(featured image: Toei Animation)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]