The Final Saga of ‘One Piece’ Has a Start Date. But Don’t Panic! Yet!
NO SPOILERS THROUGH THE TEARS, I PROMISE YOU
It says a lot about how beloved a series is when, after 25 years, the creator announces the final saga and everyone freaks the F out. Indeed, that is the state of One Piece internet today. Even for anime watchers like myself (I’m in Dressrosa in the manga! I’m working on it!), Wano is clearly a crescendo point that all of One Piece has been building towards. The scent of the sea breeze has been changing. The end has clearly been coming into view. Eiichiro Oda himself even announced a couple days ago that the final saga is coming. But that all hit very differently today, when it was officially announced that the final saga of One Piece would begin on July 25, 2022, with chapter 1054.
On the evening of June 8th, Japan-time (it was like 7AM in the eastern U.S.), there was a livestreamed program on the official One Piece YouTube channel, which contained a ton of news. Megumi Tanaka (the voice of Luffy and an international treasure) and Kappei Yamaguchi (the voice of Usopp) were among the presenters, and most of the news revolved around the upcoming film One Piece Red. The program doesn’t have English subtitles (yet??), but a decent roundup has been provided by fan-site Library of Ohara. All of that was very exciting, to be sure.
But they saved some huge news for the end: the date of the beginning of the final saga, and a booklet of sketches from Oda called “The Road to Laugh Tale.” If you don’t know, Laugh Tale is the island where the One Piece is. So. Just that name makes me want to cry a little bit. A new promotional poster was also released (pictured above), which reads, “Saishuu shou e —.” This translates to, “Towards the final chapter.” And now I am actually crying. Even the new Oda-drawn poster for One Piece Red—which probably isn’t strict canon??—says, “Red hair leads to the finale.”
Oda has a sort of “boy who cried wolf” history with saying that One Piece is going to end. One Piece is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and throughout those 25 years, Oda has changed the ending goal post enough times that Crunchyroll just published a whole piece about it. But the tenor of these “warnings” has changed in the last year. Wano feels like a propulsion to a conclusion. Plus, in a Japanese newspaper advertisement last year, which celebrated One Piece‘s 1000th chapter, Oda warned more soberly than usual that the end was in sight.
A day or two ago (time isn’t real), Oda announced that he would take off for one month after wrapping up the Wano arc. In his letter, he said he would use the time off, in part, to prepare for the final saga. This caused a lot of buzz throughout the fan community, but there’s something about having a date. It’s a concrete beginning of the end. And, as I said at the top of this piece, everyone began freaking out. The reaction and sheer volume of One Piece news was so overwhelming that prominent One Piece YouTuber Rogersbase held an “emergency livestream.” (I’ll link to it here, but be warned there are some spoilers, at least in the little bits I caught, for the end of Wano. But I didn’t see anything One Piece Twitter hadn’t already spoiled for me.)
The key point Rogersbase makes, though, is that, in our collective panic and bouts of crying, be wary of confusing “saga” and “arc.” Throughout the history of One Piece, sagas have contained multiple arcs. While a few of them have been relatively short—the Sky Island saga just comprises Jaya and Skypeia, Thriller Bark’s essentially a one-shot—many of them are incredibly long. The Yonko Arc, which we’re now exiting, was about 250 chapters. Dressrosa, which only had two arcs, was still 150 chapters (many complain of the arc dragging, especially in the anime). In any case, we’re absolutely some amount of years away from the actual end of One Piece.
I have to credit Rogersbase with another very good point on this front. Oda said One Piece was five years away from ending in 2020. But it might make more sense to think of One Piece ending in five years from now. This would, in a beautiful act of fate, coincide with the series’ 30th anniversary. It’s difficult to tie up the creative process so neatly with real-world time, but hell, Oda just did it with the end of Wano and One Piece‘s 25th anniversary, no?
So, yes, One Piece is officially at the beginning of its ending. It’s incredible that One Piece has been running for 25 years and has still not felt drawn out. Furthermore, all good things might eventually end, though … is what I should say if I were being a responsible and reasonable adult. But hell, I’m not even caught up in the manga (YET!!), and I’m freaking out in a glass case of emotion like everyone else. Many adult human beings literally have never existed in a world without One Piece, and I’m confident in Oda’s abilities to bring his beloved series to a satisfying conclusion. That doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally ready for it. But, at least it’s a few years off.
(featured image: Shounen Jump)
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