The following recap contains spoilers for Chapter 1040 of the One Piece manga. You can check out the latest chapters in English via Viz Media.
In sumo, a ring out is a victory. Onigashima is one big sumo ring, hence the headlined “performance stage” with fourth-wall breaking announcements for winners of each main bout. And I think we all know who deserves the bulk of praise this chapter for pulling out a narrow victory in one of the most “monumental” battles in One Piece history.
That’s right. Congratulations, Raizo. You defeated Fukurokuju.
In all seriousness, Chapter 1040—titled “Wasted Words on Young Ears”—of the One Piece manga managed to strike an impressive balance between resolving the defeat of an emperor, while still leaving plenty of narrative room for both Big Mom as a recurring villain and the emperors themselves as absolute, undeniable monsters. Because even though I correctly assumed that Big Mom’s “defeat” announcement would occur in this chapter, it wouldn’t be until ever several more major moves from Law and Kid.
Despite all the damage thus far and being on the brink of death, Big Mom still claimed Kid’s trump card attack to be little more than a tickle. Though she’s clearly desperate in her attempt to use “Soul Pocus” as a final move to steal their lifespan and end the battle while still pinned down. It’s altogether fitting, however, for this move to fail because (as the manga established during the Whole Cake Island arc) it requires the victims to be afraid of Big Mom.
After all that Law and Kid have witnessed and experienced at the hands of Big Mom, they come out on top not for necessarily being stronger, but for having the stronger will to win. And part of that means they feel no fear over this “old hag,” a relic of the old world that Roger already conquered before their time. That’s not to say Law in particular despises the past or lacks respect for it. In this same chapter, he uses a version of “Room” inspired by his mentor, Corazon, to encase Big Mom in a vacuum of sound, so she can’t summon her Homies to help her, including Hera.
How could Law do this in the first place? Well, er, his Devil Fruit is just that handy, I guess. What can’t it do, really? Ultimately, the Ope Ope no Mi is remarkable for how it can distort reality according to Law’s will. As his will grows stronger, so too does the resourcefulness of his Devil Fruit, a trait we’ve seen countless times demonstrated through Luffy’s monstrous growth.
BIG MOM’S RABBIT HOLE
Toward the end of Chapter 1040, Big Mom falls down the hole in Onigashima thanks to Kid’s second “Damned Punk” attack. Last week, I was confused about Law’s decision to plunge his sword all the way down to Wano’s surface, and we apparently get an answer. His plan was clearly to send Big Mom down the hole of the island and into the depths of Wano, where she’d be effectively put out of action.
On the way, however, Big Mom runs into Yamato, the Kazenbo, and the armory bombs. She accidentally sets one off, which blows a hole in the bottom of the island and seemingly disintegrates Kazenbo (finally). When she reaches the ground of Wano, another explosion sets off, perhaps because of the armory bombs going down with her and detonating, or because of her simply crashing. Either way, these explosions seem to be shrouded by Law’s “silence bubble,” so we can probably assume the residents of the Flower Capital didn’t hear them.
What’s even more interesting in this chapter is Big Mom’s fading monologue as she gradually accepts her defeat. Though in classic Big Mom fashion, she can’t bring herself to blame herself for her failure. Surprisingly, she blames the last person I would’ve expected. Roger. In a somewhat haunting, desperate cry for his ghost to be “listening,” Big Mom chastises Roger for dying and telling the world to come after the One Piece, ushering in this Great Pirate Era that she and the other emperors had to clean up for him.
ONE PIECE, ONE DOWN
We don’t often see Big Mom really reckoning with the other emperors and their balance of power, beyond her sibling-esque bickering with Kaidou. It’s a nice reminder of how Big Mom has herself been such an emotionally immature villain within this world. Amassing a gargantuan fleet made up of her family and many races, all of them united to serve her unconditionally. Being such an impossible tank of a warrior, beyond all logic and reason, yet getting knocked out of the ring by two newcomers who don’t fear or respect her.
And after all that, Big Mom wonders if the One Piece is real. Because Roger’s dying words were about how the One Piece was all the world had to offer. For Big Mom, she probably thinks this is power, or some bridge to a utopia where all will serve her fully. Her defeat her is symbolic in how her pursuit for this kind of treasure was destined, or doomed, to fail.
Big Mom will absolutely return. I expect she’ll get washed out of Wano after Zunesha and Momo open the borders and get picked up by her crew. Even if she heals up quickly, she’ll probably be too exhausted and demoralized to come back for the Straw Hats immediately, especially if the World Government comes her way. It would also be funny if she lost her memory again, forcing her crew to get her out of there so they can regroup.
But where will Big Mom fit into the story from this point forward? Certainly more than just a cover story, and since a war is coming, perhaps we’ll see her and her fleet joining the chaos as well.
At the very end of the chapter, Momo reunites with Yamato and shares a major bombshell. First, the obvious. As I and many others suspected, the voice calling out to Momo in the last chapter was, in fact, Zunesha. And now that Momo has read his father’s journal (as Yamato did), he has a much better understanding of the Ancient Weapons, Joy Boy, and the existence of Laugh Tale.
So it’s interesting that Zunesha chooses to tell him that he/she was a companion of Joy Boy 800 years ago during the void century. And that Zunesha committed a terrible crime (that part we already knew).
This is interesting because a lot of people incorrectly assumed Zunesha was over 1000 years old because of a translation years ago during the Zou arc. But in actuality, that text was merely implying that Zunesha had been wandering for “nearly” 1000 years, which meant he/she could’ve easily been assumed to be instrumental in the events that led to the formation of the World Government and Joy Boy’s failure to…well, we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?
This is also important because Big Mom reiterates that a secret of the One Piece, a major clue, must lie in Wano. And after the raid, the Straw Hats could easily receive this information through Momo. That said, Momo’s urgency about what Zunesha has told him appears to be related to their current predicament, so my leading assumption is that Zunesha and Momo are about to open Wano’s borders, mess with the currents, etc.
GRAND FLEETING THOUGHTS
- This week’s cover story continued to the saga of Germa, but with a flashback! Looks like Big Mom personally took down Niji and Yonji, which they reflect on for…some reason? It’s not a major cover story, but supposedly just a little flavoring of context for their defeat that is neat to know. It’s also foreshadowing Big Mom as the “creature beyond the power of science,” in the sense that she can body all this damage from Kid and Law and still be kicking.
- Zoro! Brook! I know a lot of people guessed that Brook was the grim reaper standing over Zoro, and he was simply hallucinating. But this chapter confirms that no, Brook and Robin are nowhere near Zoro. And the grim reaper apparently managed to…kill Zoro? He’s lying down in blood, at least close to death, and the explosion from the armor crumbles the ground, so he’s about to fall off Onigashima unless Franky can do something ssssuuuuuuper fast!
- Raizo is on fire in more ways than one. How many scabbards are on the brink of death at this point? I guess the better question is which ones aren’t…