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The One Thing ‘One Piece Odyssey’ Is Missing

Characters from the video game 'One Piece Odyssey'

Hot on the heels of one hell of a 25th anniversary celebration, One Piece Odyssey is the most ambitious One Piece video game to date. Announced in 2022, Odyssey and its robust JRPG gameplay have been generating a lot of excitement among fans. Like last year’s film counterpart, One Piece Film: Red, Odyssey‘s scale and production feel like they’ve hit a new high in the series’ history. Unlike Red, however, there’s one key aspect in which Odyssey doesn’t feel quite up to date. And it’s a bit of a heartbreaking omission, too. The game’s version of the Straw Hat Pirates is missing the newest addition to the crew: Jinbe, the “First Son of the Sea.”

Before Jinbe officially joined the anime in 2019, the membership of the Straw Hats had remained the same ever since Brook joined at the end of the Thriller Bark arc, way back in 2008. Still, Jinbe’s arrival as a member of the Straw Hat Pirates was over a decade in the making. Luffy asked him to join during the Fishman Island arc, which is technically before the Straw Hats even set foot in the New World. When Jinbe said he’d like to join eventually, we spent years wondering when that time would come. Five real-world years later (in the timeline of both the manga and the anime), we saw Jinbe again, this time working as an officer under Big Mom to ensure Fishman Island stayed under her protection. But Jinbe was ready to dip out and join the Straw Hats. And he did, except that he requested to stay behind to ensure both Luffy’s escape from Big Mom’s territory and that the entirety of his now-former pirate crew didn’t die.

Finally, at the outset of the Raid on Onigashima, he showed up and officially joined the Straw Hat Crew. It was a big moment for all of us—especially those of us who named their cat Jinbe, after his valiant efforts during the Summit War. I may or may not have audibly cheered and teared up a little.

One Piece Odyssey was officially announced after this scene had happened in both the anime and the manga, yet Jinbe was notably absent from the playable crew in the game. (He does show up, much too briefly, during the game’s flashback to Marineford.) Not in the main party, and after we’ve come so far! Why, ILCA? Why?

There hasn’t been an official statement from any of the developers, but I can make an incredibly educated guess as to why Jinbe is absent. In his statement for Jump Festa 2023 back in December 2022 (I know, I know), One Piece mangaka Eiichiro Oda said that Odyssey has been in development for six years. That means development likely started in 2016—which would’ve been around the start of Whole Cake Island in the manga. In other words, development began before Jinbe even semi-officially joined the crew.

Plus, while One Piece Film: Red ended up teasing something which has not yet happened in the anime, “auxiliary” One Piece media tends to follow the anime, which is one to two years behind the manga. (Notably, Jinbe is in Red.)

Now, Oda’s capacity to foreshadow events that he’s been planning out for decades is famous and never to be underestimated. But my guess is that, simply put, Oda and the developers at ILCA all expected this game to come out way sooner. The release dates for countless games were delayed because of the pandemic, and I’m sure that’s the case with Odyssey. However, that doesn’t entirely explain away Jinbe’s absence, as he officially joined the crew in the anime in 2019. I’d wager that, much like One Piece itself, Odyssey kept getting bigger and bigger during development. And by the time it became apparent that the game would come out after Jinbe’s debut, it was too late to add him into the game. The pandemic probably made that late release date even later.

As delightful as Odyssey is, I can’t deny that I miss Jinbe, my pirate dad. Still, the game offers enough that it keeps you busy despite your longing. It sets a high bar for the next One Piece game. Hopefully, that game will have Jinbe. And maybe even Yamato, if Oda has him show up belatedly, just like Jinbe … no, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

(featured image: Bandai Namco)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.