WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece Volume 97, by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul and Vanessa Satone, available in English now from Viz Media. The newest volume
of the One Piece
manga has changed the game for the Wano arc as the storyline's third stage reaches its climax. The last volume saw the traitorous Kanjuro enact his betrayal of Kozuki's forces, all while Luffy's alliance
between the Straw Hat Pirates, Trafalgar D. Law's Heart Pirates and Eustass Kid's Kid Pirates stormed Orochi's forces to overwhelm and liberate Wano from its tyrannical shogun's wrath -- Kaido.
With the arc entering into its epic endgame, the 97th volume of One Piece already pushes things to an intense, epic level. Here's a spoiler-filled recap of what goes down.
The Battle For Onigashima Opens With a Naval Battle
In Vol. 97, the initial battle on the sea starts with Luffy, Trafalgar and Eustass repelling the enemy fire of Kaido's forces. While they're heavily out-gunned, their individual abilities manage to even the odds. However, when Kyoshiro, the lord of the Yakuza, arrives, Kaido's forces think they have the edge. But when Kyoshiro slices through Kaido's cannons, they realize that things are not as they appear.
And indeed, they aren't. In the last volume, it was revealed that Kyoshiro, the yakuza boss who seemingly killed Kozuki Hiyori, was actually Denjiro, a loyalist to Kozuki Oden who had infiltrated Orochi's forces, waiting years for the right moment to enact his revenge. However, Denjiro didn't just disable Orochi's ships. He also liberated many of Oden's imprisoned loyalists to fight under his banner -- 1,200 men, to be exact.
Denjiro also revealed that Orochi, despite knowing of the plan, acted far too late. The vast majority of the gathered warriors were in place, with Orochi sinking the slower ships in the fleet. This brings the count of soldiers to 5,400 -- a force that breaks through the initial waves of Orochi's forces. The reason why Kin'emon thought the fleet had abandoned them that he went to the wrong meeting point.
While Kanjuro ends up kidnapping Momonosuke, the battle turns in Luffy's favor when Jimbei -- who last appeared during the Whole Cake Island arc -- shows up to join on the raid. As the group collects itself, the Straw Hats end up being the first line of defense at Tori Gates, opening up a gap in Orochi and Kaido's defenses. Once they reach their destination, finding the area filled with drunken guards, they sink the ships behind them. There is no going back from this.
The Raid on Onigashima Kicks Up a Notch
While Orochi drinks and feels complacent, Kin'emon and the rest of Oden's loyal soldiers initiate the raid on Onigashima. Trafalgar sends his ship underwater while Chopper gets in a tank
-- everyone is set and ready to lay waste to Orochi and Kaido's party. However, any attempt for the key figures of the Straw Hat and Kid Pirates to sneak through the crowds is destroyed when Luffy spots Orochi's minions eating rich, delicious food. He's reminded of how the rest of the people in Wano are starving or being offered poisoned food. This rage drives him to start a brawl right there in the middle of the feast. He's joined by an equally enraged Zoro.
Unfortunately, they make the mistake of starting a fight right by Queen's crew, one of Kaido's Tobi Roppo. However, just as Luffy and Zoro are overwhelmed by numbers, as well as Scratchman Apoo, Kid enters and ends up leveling the playing field. He's joined by Killer. While they manage to pull away and break into the castle, Apoo pursues -- only for Marco the Phoenix, former First Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates, to swoop down on him.
All the while, the rest of the army infiltrates the quiet halls of Kaido's lair. Chopper ends up driving his tank past Big Mom's dressing chambers who pursues them, demanding they surrender Luffy. All the while, the rest of the crew silently breaks through the defenses of Kaido's castle, coming closer and closer to the center chamber. Meanwhile, Luffy faces the six members of the Tobi Roppo on his own. He puts up a fight but is soon helped by Yamato
-- Kaido's son. Though assigned female at birth, Yamato admits that he has idolized Oden since watching his father kill him -- a love that grew after discovering Oden's journal.
Orochi is informed by Kanjuro of Kin'emon's survival, which leads Orochi into a wild attack. He decides to crucify Momonosuke, who has been brought before him and Kaido, on the stage. While Orochi reveals the secrets behind Kin'emon's plan to his entire army in a drunken ramble, the various members of the attacking forces infiltrate the crowd, blending in while staring in abject horror. All the while, Kaido takes the moment to announce his new plan: the New Onigashima Project.