How many acts are left in the “Wano Country” arc?

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WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece’s “Wano Country” arc through Chapter 1036, “Bushido Is the Way of Death”, by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul and Vanessa Satone, available in English from Viz Media.

Since A pieceThe ‘Wano Country’ arc opened with a rising curtain, the arc’s parallels with that of a Kabuki play were evident. These parallels grew even deeper as the arc progressed, with multiple cultural allusions to Kabuki scattered throughout the story, culminating in the conclusion of chapter 924 where the curtain closed and readers were greeted with the caption ”Act One – End”.


This has led to the emergence of a common consensus among the A piece fanbase that the ‘Wano Country’ arc would have five acts in total, the same structure as a Kabuki play. As the arc progressed, that notion seemed more and more plausible, with act two ending in a way that made readers feel like they weren’t heading into the final act, but rather towards the arc’s tumultuous middle chapters before the final showdown with the arc’s big bad, Kaido. . As of now, however, the curtain has yet to fall on Act Three, and it looks like the arc is racing towards its climax with no act break in sight.


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Currently, all of Kaido’s subordinates have been defeated by the heroes, leaving him as the last great Beast Pirate standing in the conflict. The most recent chapter, Chapter 1036, ended with Luffy and Kaido in the throes of their seemingly climactic showdown, with the Straw Hat Captain trading even blows with the Beast King. In any other arc, such a scene would signify the end of the conflict soon, leading many to believe that ”Wano” will end in three acts after all.

So what suggests there might be more left? Among the fans is the idea that the raid goes a little too much good for the Alliance. “Wano” owes as much to heist fiction as it does to Kabuki theater, with the Alliance’s plan to attack Onigashima mirroring that of many great fictional capers. A fundamental principle of heist fiction is the trope that when the protagonists expose all the details of a heist during the planning stages, something goes wrong during the execution.


It is this fact that makes it incredibly suspicious how well things have turned out for the Alliance. Other than Kanjuro revealing himself to be a traitor early on in the raid, their plans didn’t go significantly wrong. All of the complications have been entirely beneficial to the Alliance, whether it’s Denjiro, Yamato, and X-Drake switching sides, the unexpected arrivals of Jimbei, Marco, and Izo, Queen’s stunt with the Ice Oni virus causing the turnaround of his subordinates against him or the Big Mom Pirates are removed from the photo earlier. Anything that could go right for the heroes did.


This is a blind fact by Hyogoro the Flower, who explicitly stated in Chapter 989 once the raid was underway that he sees no way to lose the Alliance. It’s an ominous line to put in the mouth of one of the arc’s heroes, an unwavering statement of faith that seems set up to be challenged later in the arc. If not by the loss of the Alliance, at least by a major obstacle compensating for their victory. However, nothing like this has yet happened; not even nearly dying at the hands of the Queen’s Ice Oni virus shakes Hyogoro’s faith in the larger success of the Alliance.

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Luffy and Kaido clash.

In Kabuki plays, the end of the third act is most often where a great tragedy unfolds, leaving acts four and five to pick up the pieces. As the most popular theory has been that ”Wano” would be five acts, the notion of a third act tragedy has long been a source of speculation among A piece fan base.

The most common theory of a possible third-act tragedy is the idea that the raid on Onigashima would fail, popularized by A piece YouTuber M. Morj. Morj mentioned above A piece arcs and how the Straw Hats’ initial attempts to defeat the villains always end in failure, only to get back up and try again later in the arc. Assuming the raid is successful, ”Wano” would be a major exception to this long-standing series rule. This fact, combined with the suspicious way the raid played out, is why many fans think the Alliance could still lose.

Throughout ‘Wano’, Oda also made constant allusions to jo-ha-kyū, a common motif in Japanese art in which actions begin slowly (jo), quicken (ha), and then end quickly (kyū). Jo-ha-kyū can also be used for story structure for three-act stories, but is most commonly found as structure for Kabuki plays. The first act encompasses “jo”, the second, third and fourth encompass “ha”, and the fifth encompasses “kyū”.

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The Akazaya Nine during the Raid on Onigashima.

If the arc only ends up being three acts, however, act three seems particularly unsuitable for the “kyū” part of the story. At 78 chapters, Act Three is by far the longest in the arc so far – longer than Acts One and Two combined. “Kyū” is defined by the brevity carried by the momentum of “ha”, but the slowness of act three compared to act two goes against this edict, implying that the “kyū” part “History is yet to come.

It’s possible that Oda originally intended the arc to follow the structure of a Kabuki play, third-act tragedy included, only to scrap the idea for a number of reasons. That seems unlikely, however, even though his original plans were scrapped, the act offers plenty of tragic moments to pause after the act. Whether it’s Oden’s tragic flashback ending, the scabbards’ defeat at Kaido’s hands, Ashura Doji’s apparent death, Luffy’s second loss to Kaido, or the near-fatal stabbings from Kiku and Kinemon, there are a host of hard knocks. scenes where a curtain could have fallen.


So if tragedy is yet to come, then what could it be, and what story could there be to tell after? It’s possible that the raid against Kaido fails after all, but it’s also possible that another antagonist will emerge from the shadows to take center stage in Acts Four and Five. The Big Mom Pirates and Cipher Pol Zero pose credible threats equal to the Beast Pirates, and either faction would likely be keen to take advantage of the power vacuum should the Alliance defeat Kaido.

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Gear Fourth Luffy lands a hit against Kaido.

”Wano” still has a lot of loose plot threads to tie that would benefit from two more acts, but there’s also a lot that goes against the idea. First, Oda told Jump Festa that he hopes to wrap up the arc this year. It’s possible the mangaka could fit two acts in the span of a year, but that’s incredibly doubtful, especially with how long act three has already run.

There’s also his larger goal of wrapping up the series by 2025. Given the pitch A piece left to cover after the ‘Wano Country’ arc, Oda is probably eager to wrap up the storyline as soon as possible, which two more acts would only get in the way.

With 128+ chapters, the ”Wano Country” arc is by far the longest in the series’ history. It’s a testament to its density that despite this length, there’s still plenty of room to tell even more stories. Whether the arc is in its final chapters or there are two more space acts to cover remains to be seen, but either way, 2022 promises to be a momentous year for both ”Wano” and for A piece in general.

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