Criterias of One Piece
One Piece has arguably the most important mystery in all of anime and manga. In years of being a One Piece fan, I’ve seen many theories about this topic. I’ve come up with a fun idea of my own. First, let’s discuss the criteria for what could be considered as One Piece.
Criteria 1: Independent of Other Endgame Mysteries
One Piece is just one of many mysteries the series has promised to reveal by the end of the series. We will learn about Void Century, Ancient Weapons, Ancient Kingdom, etc. In my opinion, the nature of One Piece must be separate from all of these, because it’ll be disappointing if the main mystery of the series turns out to be the same as one of the side mysteries that we already know we will get.
So, I don’t think theories like One Piece is Uranus or a Poneglyph explaining history of the Void Century can be accepted. I do think at Raftel there’ll be poneglyph about Void Century but it’ll not be One Piece.
Criteria 2: Themes of Series
It should be a physical item, but one that represents the themes of the series. This is obvious since One Piece is Luffy’s end goal in-story, it should represent what this 20+ years journey is at its core.
Criteria 3: Insignificant to World Government
It should be insignificant in the eyes of the World Government. I have to admit this criterion is a little bit shaky, but I always wonder why the World Government never tried to find and destroy One Piece for the past 800 years. If they can gather all of their resource they should be able to do it. My explanation is, Imu knew the truth of Joyboy’s treasure but for him, it’s not something important. This suits well with the theme of treasure in the series. Luffy’s Strawhat is a treasure to him but for others, it’s just a hat. Same goes with Nami’s treasure which is her tangerines, which to others are just normal fruit.
Criteria 4: Joyboy’s mission
It must be related to Joyboy’s mission. We know that what Roger found at Raftel is really Joyboy’s treasure. Basically, Joyboy left the treasure there so that future generations could find it. Why? We know that Joyboy has things that he failed to do, like the promise made to the mermaid princess. So it’s most likely, the thing they left would be important for the completion of their mission.
What is One Piece?
Okay so now that I’ve laid out my criteria for One Piece, it’s time to talk about what I think it is. I guess the picture above has spoiled the answer, but I think One Piece is Sake Cups.
Let’s evaluate if they match the four criteria.
Criteria 1: Independent of other mysteries.
The most obvious one, Sake Cups will be something unexpected and not related to the other mysteries that we know will be revealed.
Criteria 2: Representing the themes.
This requires more explanation. Why do I think Sake Cups fit perfectly with One Piece themes?
One of the most important and overlooked themes in One Piece is how a family is not a concept limited to the bloodline. We could find this theme in every Strawhats’ backstory, and also throughout their journey with several different people in all these different islands. I’ll make a very simple explanation about this.
Luffy: He exchanged the sake cups with Ace and Sabo while his blood relatives Garp and Dragon are barely in his life.
Nami: An orphan, raised by and proclaimed by Bellamere as her real daughter.
Robin: Her family is the archeologists at Ohara. Her own aunts treated her badly.
Franky: Abandoned by his pirate parents, raised like a son by his mentor Tom.
Sanji: Denounced by Judge but accepted by Zeff.
Usopp: Abandoned by his father, lost his mother as a child. The closest he had to a family growing up is the Usopp Pirates and Kaya.
Chopper: Bullied by his reindeer parents and herd for having a blue nose, accepted by Hiruluk.
For Zoro, Brook, and Jinbe we barely know about their family. But they seem to find the strongest relationship with other people outside of their relatives.
Creating bonds with others is important to Luffy as a character. He used to be so lonely as a kid that he endured being tortured by Bluejam just to befriend Ace. I personally think Luffy’s real dream is to be friends with the whole world or celebrate a party with the whole world.
Sake Cups embodies this theme because exchanging the cups means you have become a family regardless of your bloodline. Sake cups have been a recurring event in Luffy’s journey as we see it during ASL flashback, Grandfleet formation, etc. We saw the usage of Sake Cups in important events for Luffy in achieving his dream.
Criteria 3: Insignificant to WG – Definition of Treasure In One Piece
I want to address the popular theory that One Piece will be used to destroy the Red Line. The reason is I do believe that the Red Line will be destroyed, but it’ll not be caused by One Piece itself. I want to make a clear distinction about this and why it’s so important. It contradicts how Oda and the series define treasure. We can observe this from East Blue Saga, which serves as a setup for the core themes in One Piece before we enter the Grand Line. The depiction of treasures throughout the saga is consistent on multiple occasions.
- Luffy’s hat seems worthless to Buggy but is important to Luffy because of the promise between Luffy and Shanks. Similarly Captain John’s treasure map was insignificant to Luffy but a treasure to Buggy.
- Chouchou defended the pet shop from Mohji and his lion, who just sees it as a normal shop, but for Chouchou it’s full of his owner’s memories.
- Everyone is weirded out by the inhabitants of Rare Animal Island but to Gaimon they’re his purpose to survive.
- Luffy and Gaimon both are indifferent towards money. Gaimon gave up on them and Luffy left Buggy’s treasure for Orange Town.
- Nami brought the tangerine tree with her on the journey, because she treasures it more than anyone else as a memento for her mother.
All of these treasures don’t have any special value in general. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One Piece providing knowledge/power/resources to destroy the Red Line contradicts this definition as it would be important especially for World Government. This also explains why the World Government doesn’t search for One Piece cause to Imu it’s worthless and holds no threat. This definition of course fits a mere Sake Cup perfectly. I think destroying Red Line is entirely Ancient Weapons’ purpose, not One Piece.
Criteria 4: JoyBoy’s Mission – Bink’s Sake and Dawn Of The World
Dawn has been hinted at many times in the story as something the protagonists want to achieve. Dawn signifies the birth of a new era which is created when a movement arises with different ideals than the statusquo, like how the Renaissance era is created when the movement to revive Europe’s culture arose thus replacing the Middle Ages. Did the Ancient Kingdom try to push a new ideal to the world?
Joyboy could have been a leading player in this movement which can be seen from the lyrics of Bink’s Sake (I will explain in detail below). Exchanging sake cups creates a familial bond. In a way, sake is important for unity. I think a group of adventurers trying to deliver sake could be both a metaphor that someone, possibly Joyboy, once traveled around the world to spread the message of unity, and also literally delivering sake for the exchanging sake cups ceremony.
Connection Between One Piece and Bink’s Sake
Now let’s talk about Bink’s Sake. Bink’s Sake is the most famous song sung by Pirate crews in the series. Robin and Luffy knew the song. Luffy heard it from Shanks. But where did Robin hear it from? She may have heard it from the Oharan researchers. This might suggest that the song is important in solving the Void Century.
Let’s analyze its lyrics.
- Line 1-12 just describe the spirit of adventure. They have a specific purpose, “Delivering Bink’s Sake”, I’ll explain this later.
- But Line 13-16 are interesting. “Storm coming” can mean obstacles for them to deliver Bink’s Sake.
- “Even so, the sun will rise” means perseverance and the dawn will come.
Connection Between One Piece, Bink’s Sake and Dawn Of The World
These lyrics of Bink’s Sake support the idea that Joyboy’s mission is to try to unite the world using a familial bond. Sake cups, which were important for their personal mission, fit perfectly with the definition of treasure that we discuss earlier. The “storm coming” part may be referred to the war that the 20 Kingdoms waged against the Ancient Kingdom.
Now, why did Joyboy want to unite the whole world? Like I said, bringing Dawn means changing the ideals with which the world works. The current World Government likely has the same ideals as the 20 Kingdoms. Right now they support discrimination toward other races as can be seen in Sabaody Arc. Considering freedom is another core theme of the series, I think Joyboy is fighting for everyone’s freedom, something that can only be achieved if no more discrimination/slavery exists.
If we go along with the idea that Luffy is parallel to Joyboy, then “becoming family with everyone” is such a simple and ‘naive’ answer which Luffy definitely would come up with.
Connection Between One Piece and Redline Destruction
With how little we know right now about the Void Century, it’s hard to be certain about the timelines of events at that time. However, I’ll make do with what makes the most sense narratively. I’m going to speculate on Joyboy/Ancient Kingdom’s plan. I think Joyboy first traveled around the world and spread the message of freedom like how Bink’s Sake suggests. Meanwhile, the Ancient Kingdom prepared the 3 Ancient Weapons to destroy the Red Line. Despite them being called weapons, I don’t think the Ancient Kingdom created them for the war. It’s hard to believe that when each of the weapons is said to be able to cause mass destruction on a global scale, somehow they still lost the war.
Most likely the only purpose of their destructive powers is to destroy Red Line, creating the All Blue, literally uniting the whole world physically. Then royal families from every kingdom will gather similar to Reverie for the exchanging sake cup ceremony, creating a familial bond for the entire world. But, the 20 Kingdoms waged war before they could prepare the Ancient Weapons causing the plan to fail. Joyboy probably left the Sake Cups at Raftel, so that future generations can finish their plan.
So far I’ve shown why sake cups would be perfect as One Piece.
1. It fits the core themes of series
2. It fits perfectly with how the series defined treasure.
3. It’s important to achieve Joyboy’s will.
- What is One Piece Treasure? – A Theory with detailed Analysis - November 21, 2021