What is the One Piece? The Ultimate One Piece Theory
“One Piece” has to be one of the most bizarre titles of any manga ever created, because for as concise and simplistic as it is, no one really knows… what it actually means. And so, countless have tried across the ages to deduce what the One Piece could be. I myself spent five years of thoroughly studying the series to come to my own answer. And ultimately, I believe that I know what the One Piece is… but at the same time, I think that YOU know what the One Piece is! I believe that every single reader actually already knows what the treasure is… they just haven’t become aware of it. Eiichiro Oda has hid this enormous mystery right under our noses, so my premise is that I’m going to show you what I believe the One Piece treasure is, how Oda hid it in plain sight, and how it ties with some of the most fundamentally important narrative elements in the series! Let’s begin!
A SUMMARY OF THE VOID CENTURY
- JOY BOY: Our mystery revolves around the One Piece, a treasure left behind by Joy Boy. To understand what the purpose of the treasure is, we first need to understand the motivations of Joy Boy, and more specifically the type of person he was. My belief is that Joy Boy, much like Roger and Luffy, was also a pirate, who set out to sea and across his travels met many people of many different races. Joy Boy eventually founded a Great Kingdom of pirates, but the immensity of this kingdom came not from physical surface, but from all the allies that formed it all around the world, hence why it came to be referred to as a kingdom of “immense proportions”
- THE DAWN: These allies included members of many different races, such as Fishfolk, Merfolk, Skyfolk, Minks, and potentially the likes of Giants and Kuja too, as they all have brands of the “sun” in their flags and symbols.
- This was Joy Boy’s symbol, as some came to call him “the sun god”, for Joy Boy’s ultimate goal was to connect the world together and allow all species to “live under the same sun”. That meant doing away with the discrimination of the persecuted races as well as free all the slaves and oppressed commonfolk from the cruel kings of the human kingdoms. Joy Boy would refer to this ultimate plan of his as the “Dawn of the World”, a day where all could live under the same sun, and be free to adventure, or in other words, the dawn of adventure, the “Romance Dawn”
- ANCIENT WEAPONS: Joy Boy wanted to quite literally bring the entire world together, by destroying the Grand Line and the Red Line, something that would be achieved by those referred to as the “Ancient Weapons”, who have been said that they would literally bring “the destruction of the world”, or in other words, the destruction of the Red Line and Grand Line. Poseidon alone would be needed to undo the calm belts created by the Sea Kings to destroy the Grand Line currents and then use the ark Noah to emigrate the Fishmen to the surface, so that when the Red Line is destroyed, destroying Fishman Island beneath it, all the people have been safely emigrated to the surface. With this, the four seas would fuse into one, giving birth to the All Blue, a sea lost to legend when the world became divided, the “sea of adventure”
- 800 YEAR GAP: However, Joy Boy was not able to bring the Dawn, as the mermaid princess likely passed away during the war against the 20 allied kingdoms. And as we are told, the mermaid princess is only reborn every “several hundred years”, the same term used to refer to the distance from the Void Century and the present, or in other words, 800 years. So Joy Boy had to wait 800 years until Poseidon (and potentially other weapons) could be reborn and a new Joy Boy would help bring the Dawn by guiding the Ancient Weapons. That’s why Roger was “too early”
- INHERITED WILL: To achieve this, Joy Boy wanted to make sure his will to bring the Dawn would be inherited. As Hiriluk put it, inherited will means that one only dies when they are forgotten. So if they are remembered, their will, their dreams they failed to accomplish, are inherited by others after them, meaning that, as both Roger and Blackbeard put it, “people’s dreams never end”. So while the Government attempted to make sure Joy Boy would be forgotten, by purging all information on the Void Century, Joy Boy’s will survived, inherited across the ages, until it would be inherited by Roger and from Roger to Luffy, passed down much like the symbol of the straw hat
- THE DREAM: This dream being the dream to throw the biggest party in the world! I believe that Luffy’s goal at the end of his dream that he told to Ace and Sabo (much like Roger told Oden and Whitebeard) was to throw the biggest party in the world, to exchange sake with everyone, which is why later he first exchanged sake with Ace and Sabo. This party would connect people all over the world to throw away sorrow and instead deliver laughter, to connect all there as one piece. That’s why I believe Joy Boy left behind the One Piece
THE THREE CLUES TO THE ONE PIECE
- EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD: So now we need to explore the few clues that Oda has left us about the One Piece: first, there’s the words that Roger mentioned during his execution: “I left everything in this world at that place”. This terminology is kind of important, because in the iconic moment when the Roger pirates laughed after witnessing the One Piece, Oden mentioned “On that day we reached the final island… we learned everything in this world”. It’s possible that Oden was referring that this “everything in the world” refers to knowledge, the knowledge of everything one would want to know about the world. However, it’s important to note that Roger never said that “everything in the world” is the actual treasure, just that he also left it behind on that island. So put quite simply, the final island holds information about the true history as we know for a fact, but additionally also holds a treasure, the One Piece
- ETYMOLOGY OF ONE PIECE: So in Japanese, believe it or not, the word “One Piece” has two different readings. In Japanese, some words can be written with a double reading, a phonetic and a written one. For One Piece, the phonetic reading is the English words “One Piece”, but the written reading is “hitotsunagi no daihihou” (ひとつなぎの大秘宝). “Daihihou” means “great hidden treasure”, while “hitotsunagi” traditionally means “something in one piece”. However, the odd thing here is that “hitotsunagi” is not written in kanji, but with its phonetic reading, meaning that it could have even more potential different readings. “Hitotsunagi” can alternatively mean “that which connects people together” (人つなぎ), or even “one sea at peace” (一つ凪). So I think to an extent it indicates that as an ideology, “One Piece” can be used to describe several different things. Of course there is still the one and only physical treasure at Laugh Tale, but “One Piece” could also refer to the world being united as one after the destruction of the Red Line/Grand Line, literally becoming “one sea at peace” after the storm of the D. (which I believe will be a literal storm) calms down, but I think it also refers to something else: the “laugh tale” that Roger found at the final island
- LAUGH TALE: Roger mentioned “Joy Boy… what an unbelievable treasure you left behind… what an unbelievable laugh tale”. Roger seemingly found a tale that made him laugh (important distinction: it is never said the tale was “funny”, just that it caused laughter, which could also have been from joy or other emotions), and it is likely that this is what Oden meant by everything in the world, the knowledge of the void century, meaning this tale details all the information we need not only to find out the True History, but also to find out the identity of the One Piece treasure. If only we had access to it, we could find out exactly what it is, but unfortunately… we don’t have access to that Laugh Tale
Or do we? Because I actually believe the Laugh Tale has been hidden under our eyes this entire time. When I first watched Stampede in summer of 2019, and the words “Laugh Tale” were revealed for the first time, it clicked in my head that we had heard these words somewhere before… and that is precisely what details to us the identity of this “laugh tale”…
JOY BOY’S LAUGH TALE
This Laugh Tale… has to be Binks’s Sake.
At the end of the song, these same words are repeated, “a never-ending, ever-wandering, Laugh Tale” (果てなしあてなし笑い話). This tale exists in the form of a song, passed down since “ancient times” of the Void Century as Brook put it. The song was played across the entirety of Chapter 967, it’s a song that Robin referred to as “nostalgic” (her only nostalgic moment being the time she spent at the library of Ohara), and more than anything, it’s a song that when Laboon heard it… resulted in him laughing. As well as everybody else. Everytime the song is played, everyone bursts into laughter, as this song is a song used at parties to help deliver laughter and connect everyone together.
It’s a song that speaks of the history of the Great Kingdom, of their ideals and how they came to be eradicated, and yet how even through that, they still clung to hope that their will would be inherited and that their dreams would one day come to pass. So much like the Rumbar Pirates, the people of the Great Kingdom likely bid goodbye with a smile and a laugh on their faces, something that Roger and his crew ended up also doing when they heard this laugh tale, just like all those who laugh when they hear it at a party.
And it’s by observing the lyrics of the song that we realize how it details everything about the void century: it speaks of saying “goodbye to a hometown”, likely the Great Kingdom. It talks about a song being passed down by “birds in circles”, which could actually refer to the Kouzuki clan, creators of the poneglyphs, as their crest bears a “bird in a circle”. It talks about “splitting the seas”, quite literally destroying the Grand Line/Red Line. It speaks of a storm coming from a faraway sky, the storm the D. will bring, and of tomorrow’s morning sun, the Dawn to come. It mentions the “evening dream”, in other words the dream before the long night of the World Government would come, but states that tomorrow, once the Dawn comes, the “night moon” will still be there, the “night moon” being a term that Toki used in her prophecy to refer to Oden, but that has also been used in other occasions to refer to those who have passed away (like Ae)c. In other words, those who have passed away will still be there as long as we remember them. “We all end up as bones”, but as long as we’re remembered we’ll live on. And finally, it mentions “a song of a sea”, the All Blue, as well as, of course, a “never-ending, ever-wandering, Laugh Tale”
But then, does this song also speak of the One Piece treasure? Of course it does! It mentions it time and time again, to the point it couldn’t be more obvious. The One Piece, in reality, has always been there, under our very eyes, ever since Chapter 1, as it’s the one thing that has always helped connect Luffy together with everyone, and what forged his very first connection.
THE ONE PIECE TREASURE
The One Piece treasure… is sake itself. Sake is what has always connected Luffy together with everyone else. Just like Ace first exchanged sake with Luffy and Sabo, helping lay that first step to Luffy’s dream to exchange sake with everyone in the world, one day Luffy will use the One Piece to help connect everyone in the world together. Just like Ace said, sake is something that connects people together.
Like a lot of elements in this series, sake is something that is integral to Japanese culture. Strict social boundaries are loosened up when drinking, as it is something that helps connect even those who are from different positions. But I don’t need to explain that, as the manga does a great job at explaining the significance of sake in its world. Exchanging sake is something that helps connect and unite people, allowing those who drink it to become like family, even when they are not related by blood, much like a pirate crew.
And so, if Luffy were to exchange the sake that Joy Boy left behind at Laugh Tale, he could quite literally use it as a symbol to unify the entire world, by exchanging sake with people from all over in the world’s biggest party. With that he would be delivering joy and laughter to everybody, making him the new Joy Boy.
However, it’s with this knowledge we have right now that we can realize how these concepts had long since been established in the manga since the very start… since Chapter 1. In Chapter 1, the Red-Haired Pirates were drinking, dancing, and singing Binks’s Sake. However, their fun was interrupted by the bandit Higuma, who demanded to be given all the sake in the store. And how did Shanks react to that? He offered Higuma… a bottle of sake.
Right there, since the very start, Shanks was offering the equivalent to the One Piece in exchange to Higuma as a symbol of friendship. Higuma however smashed the bottle, claiming that he wouldn’t be happy with just “one piece of sake”. And right after that… Shanks laughed. He laughed because he knew how foolish it was to get angry over something like that. Sake is meant to be shared, sake is meant to connect people together, so it’s just silly to be petty like this. Luffy got angry, asking “why are you laughing”, as he did not yet understand why Shanks would react this way with sake. But we know exactly why now. That’s the symbolic value that sake has held since Chapter 1.
And even beyond, at that point, you realize how the entire series is plagued with moments that showcase the importance of sake:
- Of course, when Luffy, Ace, and Sabo declare their own dreams, and Luffy states he wishes to throw the biggest party in the world, Ace offers to exchange sake between the three of them
- When the Straw Hats finally enter the Grand Line and vow their dreams again, they all do it by laying their feet over a barrel of sake
- When Hiriluk explains what Inherited Will is, he says goodbye to his life by drinking from a cup of sake, while Kureha at the same instant also drinks from a bottle of sake, to show that she is inheriting his dream
- Bellamy constantly mocked the Straw Hats for believing in things like the One Piece, saying that “fools don’t realize the real treasure around them”… in a bar surrounded by an endless supply of sake
- And right after leaving that bar, as Blackbeard declares that dreams are real, and that the One Piece does exist, he slams down to the ground… a bottle of sake, symbolizing the existence of the One Piece
- When Luffy gets separated from his crewmates at Sabaody, all he could think back on is a moment of his crew partying together as Binks’s Sake plays in the background
- When Whitebeard declared that the One Piece does exist, at that moment, he briefly thinks back at a time where he exchanged sake with Roger
- At the end of Dressrosa the Straw Hat Grand Fleet is formed specifically through the act of exchanging sake, which later devolves into a more natural party where everybody exchanges sake together
- Have you never thought it odd how Luffy always insisted to have a cook and a musician? Perhaps a cook able to cook and serve sake at his party and a musician to be there to play Binks’s Sake?
- During his final words, Oden stated “If I am to be an accompaniment to one piece of sake, then that suits me fine”, literally describing himself as the oden (food) that accompanies the sake that is One Piece
- And finally, there’s the scene of Ace and Yamato exchanging sake together as they talk about Luffy’s true dream, which ties into the full title of Chapter 1000. Previously, we assumed this title was Yamato talking, but what if the one stating is actually… Joy Boy. Talking exactly about that: “One Piece – The Sake I Brewed While Waiting For You, Straw Hat Luffy”
Looking back, we start to realize how the importance of sake had been there under our eyes all these times.
Ultimately, “One Piece” is a concept that extends to far more than just the treasure on the final island. Sure, there’s the “one piece” of sake waiting there that Joy Boy left behind, so that someone could one day deliver it to the whole world and unify it together. There’s also the “one piece” of music Binks’s Sake, which allowed this information to be passed down the ages and help connect people together at parties. And then there’s the All Blue, one piece of a sea that connects the world together physically. But it much more simply refers to a concept; an idea. In a sense, the words “one piece” refer to not only the people of this world, but also those of ours: us, the readers. Through the world, through this laugh tale, and through sake, we can all be connected together and party hand in hand. What point is there to war if we could all just indulge in laughter? This may be a childish ideal, but it fits exactly with what this series is all about.
In that regard, our own One Piece… is One Piece itself, the manga. Thanks to it, we’ve all come together and been connected as one. Oda has done the impossible and created a series that could connect people from all over the world, no matter their races, beliefs, or personalities, to bring us all together as nakama.
But it’s particularly in the manga itself that we realize how the identity of the One Piece was so blatantly hidden right under our noses. On the cover of volume 1, we see a large expanse of sea. In it sits an island, one that is identical to all the depictions we’ve seen of the All Blue, with an identical shape and palm tree, meaning that this island on this cover signifies the creation of the All Blue at the end of the series. On the foreground we have the Straw Hats partying, dancing, and singing. But what matters to us is Zoro, who is sitting on a chest of treasure, which symbolizes the treasure, the One Piece. And what does he do? He laughs. As he holds up in the air, at the center of the cover, a bottle of sake.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing because there isn’t enough space here to explain everything, but I believe the “Laugh Tale” that Roger heard on that final island is Binks’s Sake, which describes all the events of the Void Century when breaking down its lyrics. These lyrics also tell us the identity of the physical treasure itself, being the sake that needs to be delivered to the whole world to unify it in the world’s biggest party, the sake Joy Boy has been brewing while waiting for Strawhat Luffy