Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One Piece's Sinking World, Explained

Recent One Piece manga chapters have upped the stakes in a big way at Egghead Island, where the manga and anime both are. Not only is Monkey D. Luffy fighting the Five Elders, the World Government's living weapons, but Luffy must also contend with some seriously troubling news about the world itself. Dr. Vegapunk's much-anticipated message is currently airing live to the entire world, and one of the first things Vegapunk told everyone was that the entire world is sinking into the sea.

For now, details about this apocalypse are scarce until future One Piece chapters come out, but fans already have plenty to think about and theorize about concerning this revelation. Already, there is some evidence of this catastrophe taking place, with water levels rising at places like Water 7, and if this keeps up, then nothing will remains of the world in any of the four great seas. Now, One Piece fans want to know more about what could happen, how/why this is happening, and what it means for the Final Saga.

What is Happening to One Piece's Watery World?

Rises in Sea Level Are Slowly Sinking One Piece's World

One Piece's Sinking World, Explained

Dr. Vegapunk's message is only partially complete, and he vaguely touched on topics like the mystery of the Void Century, admitting that not even he had all the details. First, however, Dr. Vegapunk told everyone about the impending environmental disaster, stating that before long, the entire world will get "swallowed" by the ocean itself, never to be seen again. It's not yet clear if this ecological disaster is connected to the Void Century, the Ancient Kingdom, and Joy Boy, but there are a few known details about this, and there is plenty of room for fan theories as well to connect all these dots.

For one thing, the islands of One Piece have no means to defend themselves from the impending sinking world threat — or at least, no defense that fans can see. In fact, many islands are highly sensitive to changes in sea levels; a one-meter rise is enough to threaten many coastal settlements, and the great island of Water 7 is already struggling with rising water levels. Even villains like Magellan and Donquixote Doflamingo are taking this seriously as they hear the news, with Doflamingo saying that if the sea's levels rise by five meters, many islands will face their doom, and countless coastal cities and areas will be totally submerged. This may be highly resonant for One Piece fans, who may be aware of and concerned about rising sea levels in the real world threatening major coastal cities on every continent.

Also, Dr. Vegapunk stated that this environmental disaster is probably not natural, meaning someone is causing it, and it's anyone's guess who that party may be. There aren't many obvious suspects just yet, since very few One Piece characters or groups stand to benefit from submerging the entire world like that. Fans might point to villainous fish-men like Hody Jones, who would do something like that if he could, in order to tear down the human world that abuses his kind. However, Hody Jones seems too minor a villain to be the mastermind behind all this, and he is currently frail and weak in prison. Potentially, there may be another successor to Arlong's anti-human ideals responsible for the sinking, but that would feel rather underwhelming in the context of the Final Saga and the impending final war with the World Government.

One Piece Has a Tradition of Natural Disasters to Threaten the Heroes

The impending sinking of the world is an entirely new threat that no One Piece character or fan expected to hear about, but an environmental disaster like this actually isn't so unusual for a shonen anime like One Piece. While Luffy and his Straw Hat crew have faced powerful villains like Big Mom and various Admirals before — and most recently the terrifying Admiral Kizaru —, nature itself can be a formidable threat as well. Exploring the big, wide world is the entire point of One Piece's breathtaking journey, and, of course, Luffy and his friends will sometimes face the world's dangerous side. For every beautiful place like Dressrosa or Wano's Flower Capital, there is also a dangerous environment like the deep sea's abyss, Reverse Mountain, and much more. It's well known that "man vs nature" is a major storytelling archetype, and One Piece uses it more often and better than most shonen series.

Granted, none of the other "man vs nature" clashes in previous One Piece arcs were nearly as drastic or global as the impending threat of the world sinking into the sea. However, those natural obstacles did set the tone for One Piece's dangerous world, so the sinking world catastrophe doesn't feel so strange or out of place. Best of all, Luffy and his crewmates have navigated and survived many natural obstacles before with their sheer grit and ingenuity, so if they can find the party responsible for the sinking world and use their resourceful minds, they can surely avert this disaster. Plot-wise, that's likely to happen, since the final war probably can't unfold and resolve if the entire world is drowning. It's probable that this is just one more obstacle for Luffy and his armada of friends to take care of before they can wrap up the final war against the World Government, find the fabled One Piece treasure, and end this shonen saga at last.

There are many examples of nature itself being a major antagonist or obstacle for One Piece's heroes, and with some resourceful thinking, courage, and the aid of plenty of allies, Luffy's crew has prevailed time and again. Nature cannot be tamed or overcome, but it can be survived. If someone is causing the sinking world by some means, then Luffy's armada will probably find a way to stave off the disaster long enough to capture or subdue whoever is causing it. The power of friendship will likely be the solution, since Luffy needed friends like Kokoro and her spare sea train to navigate a dreadful sea storm and reach Enies Lobby to rescue Nico Robin. The Straw Hats have shown plenty of daring in the face of serious odds, such as navigating the Grand Line's bizarre weather, using the Knock Up stream to reach Sky Island, and braving the crushing pressure and darkness of the deep sea en route to Fish-Man Island.

How Will One Piece's Major Parties Respond to the Sinking World Problem?

One Piece's Sinking World, Explained

So far, the in-universe reactions to the news have been fairly generic and limited, so it's not yet clear how the major parties in One Piece's world will react. Of course, ordinary citizens who heard Vegapunk's news panicked, and Magellan and Doflamingo provided their own input and commentary as well. The real question is how the major factions, such as the former Warlords of the Sea, the Emperors, the World Government, and Dragon's Revolutionary Army will react. It's likely they will show deep concern about this mutual threat and seek ways to stop it or avoid the worst of the damage, though that's easy to predict. Given One Piece's countless plot twists in the past, it's possible that a few parties will react in unexpected ways.

For example, Fleet Admiral Akainu/Sakazuki merely watched Dr. Vegapunk's message in mysterious silence, thinking about what he had just heard with a typically stoic look on his face. It's possible that the World Government was already aware of the sinking world problem or correctly predicted it, and the World Government might not even mind that much. The final war is about to unfold, and there's simply no way the World Government's leaders will allow their side to lose and then hand over the world to the likes of Monkey D. Dragon. It's even conceivable that the World Government leaders are responsible for the sinking world and the earthquake that will cause it, having the attitude that if they cannot have the world, then no one can. Given how far the World Government already goes to defend its power, such as using a dreadful Buster Call to destroy Ohara's research into the Void Century, it doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Alternatively, the major parties might set aside their differences for now to face this environmental disaster together and avoid mutually assured destruction. Bitter enemies have come together as allies in other shonen anime to take care of mutual threats, after all, from Sasuke Uchiha in Naruto helping his former teammates fight off Kaguya Otsutsuki or even Sosuke Aizen in Bleach lending his unconditional aid to the Soul Reapers to face the world-ending threat of King Yhwach's true goal. If something similar happens in One Piece's endgame, then even the bitterest of enemies may team up to avoid a watery apocalypse, assuming that none of these parties are directly responsible for it.

On a final note, there's the matter of the Noah ship at Fish-Man island — a gigantic and mysterious ark that might have been prepared for the sinking world disaster or anything similar to it. If so, the party responsible for the sinking may be preparing to board the Noah ship with their allies or chosen people and wait out the disaster, then remake the world as they see fit. As the Final Saga continues, One Piece fans may finally see the Noah ship return and become a major plot point at last. It may be a race to see whose side can board that ship first, and such a plot twist may reveal much about what exactly is going on and why.

One Piece's Sinking World, Explained