Hopefully this post comes out and this opening portion isn’t just for my eyes. I started this post Thursday, May 4th, 2023, at 2:25 pm(Yes; Star Wars Episode 4 is playing in the background as I begin this post that may never come out, knowing my track record), and at this moment- I don’t know if you guys will ever see this post. There’s a lot of post I start making and scrap when they don’t come out the way I want them to. Such as the Villains post. That’s an example of one that I was determined to get out there but had to revise like 6 or 7 times before I got the final product. And that product came out……… the way it did. Not my best. This one, however; I want to be one of my best posts. Because both series we’ll be discussing today- Eiichiro Oda’s Magnum Opus “One Piece” and Hiro Mashima’s 3rd body of work “Edens Zero-” are very near and dear to my heart. I’ve talked about where I started both on many occasions, but in short; I caught “One Piece” by accident one morning when I flipped to Kids WB(the 4kids era), and “Edens Zero” I’ve been reading since it began serialization.
I love both series. Not sure which one I prefer, though; they’re such similar stories that I don’t think much about it. But if I had a gun to my head and were forced to pick, I think I’d choose “One Piece.” Not a swipe at “Edens Zero;” there’s just a lot about “One Piece” that I would think of in that moment. Huh……. might not be that difficult to say, actually. But I still love “Edens Zero.” First series that I’ve ever collected- first one I’ve done without having to play “catch up” like I do with “One Piece.” I have all the volumes out in English currently. Back to the topic at hand; I wanted to talk today about the similarities in these series- mainly the theme of “Moving Forward.” Because both place an emphasis on the “strength” that it takes to do that. And with season 2 of “Edens Zero” adapting it’s first MAJORLY IMPORTANT arc; I felt that now was as good a time as any. Let’s just hope I don’t say something stupid………….
Both of these stories follow a main character on a quest for something only 1 before them had ever managed to reach; Luffy wanting to find the One Piece just like Gold Roger did years before him, and Shiki to find Mother just like 1 explorer did in the distant past. Though for different reasons: Luffy’s goal is to become King Of The Pirates, and then something else after that- some goal that Oda is keeping secret. While Shiki has this odd since of familiarity with Mother, as well as the added goal of doing what his adoptive Grandfather Ziggy had never managed to do. Several reasons were added to Shiki’s quest for Mother, but that one sticks out to me because of how the series presents it. Chapter 13 of the story portrays it as Shiki trying to surpass Ziggy- something he promised to do before Ziggy had died- by achieving the dream that he couldn’t. Luffy thinks that becoming Pirate King 1) Means that he’s “The Freest One In The World” and 2) he thinks that he’ll be able to reach the end of his dream if he does it.
Both series have a Giant War arc that acts as the Halfway point of the story; a point where the way we think about the series and it’s characters and the “Status Quo” of the story changes completely- ultimately culminating in a time skip that sees the characters grow stronger so that they never have to lose anyone again. But that in itself is something else they have in common; both resolve to become stronger over that time skip because they lost someone they cared about; Luffy lost Ace at Marineford, and Shiki lost Witch at the end of the Aoi War. And both time skips see the main character in the beginning years of adulthood; Luffy at 19 years old, and Shiki at 18.
Shiki and Luffy are similar characters as well(though that’s partially due to the genre they find themselves in and the time period their mangaka started their careers); both have a fierce protective nature towards their friends, to the point where it makes them come off scarier than they’re meant to be. In the case of Shiki, it meant brutally beating the one responsible for kidnapping Rebecca before even making sure Rebecca herself was okay. While Luffy has thrown himself into dangerous situations all for the sake of his friends, taking on tougher opponents just to save them. And both pick fights with people who threaten their friends, even when their reputation tells them that they’re dangerous. Which we’ll discuss in a sec.
The First Hurdles
This is one of the main talking points I had in mind: Both Shiki and Luffy pick fights with Business Men types who hold a special position in their worlds for the sake of a friend, and lose on their first tries. With Luffy; he went to fight Crocodile in Alabasta to help Vivi- only to be beaten twice. Crocodile- and then-member of the 7 Warlords of The Sea; a Pirates working for the World Government- threatened to destroy Alabasta once he had gotten the information of the Ancient Weapon Pluton’s location. With it, he would be able to destroy any island in a single shot, and planned to use it for World Domination. And with Shiki; Drakken Joe threatened he ship where he lived with his friends, and even threatened to take away one of them. But he lost everything on his first try- even his life. So going in on the second try, he was determined not to make the same mistake. Let’s look at both individually.
Luffy vs Crocodile: The Past And The Present
This was Luffy’s first True Challenge when his adventure started. Up until Crocodile, he had basically blown through any opponent he had come across. Some like Arlong put up better fights than all the rest, but for the most part he had never faced anyone that could take him down in the same way that Crocodile had. Even considering that he had to run from Smoker in Logue Town, Smoker had a very “hax” ability that made him untouchable. Luffy was never planning to fight the Marines directly anyway; his plan was probably to run from Smoker if he ever saw him again. That or he had already considered it his “win” by managing to escape Louge Town. Already getting a little muddy here, but let’s keep going.
With Crocodile; this one of the first challenges that Luffy had in the Grand Line- the first test of his strength and his character. It is not until later with the cover of chapter 408 that we learn a little more about Crocodile- that even after whatever happened with Whitebeard all those years ago; Crocodile still dreamed of becoming Pirate King, just like Luffy and many others who set out to sea following Roger’s execution. He set out on his adventure, wracking up a high bounty of 81 Million before becoming a Warlord. And at some point- as their interaction in chapter 557 would imply- he would try his hand at fighting an Emperor of The Sea in Whitebeard. And as we see in the present- He Lost. Badly. But this would be his first real challenge in going after the One Piece. But unlike Luffy, who got back up again and again until he finally won; Crocodile gave up, and slinked away to try and find Alternate Ways to get passed that hurdle.
He wanted to get the Ancient Weapon Pluton– a Battle ship capable of destroying an island in a single shot- to force his way past it. And when he failed to find it, he would bide his time until he could initiate his “Utopia” plan with the help of the Cross Guild; a nation with it’s own Military might- capable of stomping over any obstacle in his path towards the One Piece. Luffy didn’t need any of that when going up against the Emperors. It took him a few tries, but he eventually managed to defeat Kaido with his own strength, while Crocodile tried to gain such overwhelming power that he’d never struggle the same way he did back in his younger days.
Luffy’s would fight Crocodile 3 times- the first time going in with no real plan or even knowledge of what Crocodile could do beforehand. And thus was blindsided and- had he not had the indominable spirit he has and the Luck of GOD bringing people to aid him- he would have died in a ditch; another young upstart whose eyes were bigger than his stomach. Just like Crocodile would have been if he had gone up against anyone but Whitebeard. Newgate was a reasonable man; he probably gave Croc a choice to back down. A choice that Croc would choose, thus proving that he was also not the one who would inherit Roger’s will. Because on THESE seas; Death > Defeat. Crocodile chose “Defeat.”
Their second encounter at the Royal Palace showed Luffy’s adaptability and ingenuity; he didn’t despair when he lost to Crocodile the first time- he got some rest, got back up, and learned from that loss. Namely Crocodile’s weakness. And he would use that weakness to pummel Crocodile- a direct opposite outcome to their last encounter where Luffy couldn’t even touch him. So Crocodile decided to take him seriously. And had Luffy not had the foresight he did, then once again- this would have been the end of him. But he went into the fight knowing that there was a possibility that Croc would mummify him all over again. So……. he planned ahead. Also shows that he’s adaptive. Which he would display once again in their Final Confrontation.
Now knowing what we know about Crocodile this late in the story, I look back at his final dialogue exchange with Luffy with new context. To him; Luffy is the constant, undying reminder of the flame he lost so long ago- a version of himself who’s yet to realize what’s waiting up ahead. And he cannot STAND IT; he wants to erase this version of himself here and now to validate the choice he made in that moment. If Luffy couldn’t get past him, then that means he was right to give up against Whitebeard. But Luffy wouldn’t give in; no matter how many times Crocodile would put this boy in the dirt, he would stand back up stronger than before, with an even more intense desire to win. So he tried to tell Luffy- to remind himself– that he’s no different then the Hundreds of THOUSANDS of Pirates who set out for the One Piece- “An Upstart With Delusions Of Grandeur.” And I think when he heard that, Luffy realized what this fight was really about; what Croc was truly trying to accomplish. So if he won here, then that would mean that Crocodile’s choice was wrong. And his spirit to fight this fight would be gone.
It goes back to that SBS from ALL THE WAY BACK in Volume 4 of the story: Oda answered the question of why Luffy never kills his enemies. He says that the men of this era live by what they believe in, and defeating them is worse than actual death(Zoro’s words from his fight with Mihawk in later chapters make that claim clear). So by defeating them- by proving this opposing way of life is “right-” he’s already done something worse to them. And in this Final Fight with Crocodile- a fight between a man who believes that going after the One Piece is is a “pipe dream” vs a boy who still has that initial ambition and the will to press on in the face of overwhelming obstacles- Luffy proved that he can do it. So long as he can still pick himself back up after a loss, he can still keep running towards his dream at full speed, mowing down every obstacle in his path. And That Was Luffy’s Test. And he overcame it. So he got to keep going.
Shiki vs Drakken: The Strength To Move Forward
Shiki’s battle against Drakken functioned in very much the same way as Luffy vs Crocodile: This was a test of Shiki’s “Resolve.” Though that wasn’t his primary thought. It wasn’t for Luffy, either, but Luffy’s got good “instincts” and probably picked up where all of that last bit came from. But I also feel like- somewhere in his mind- Shiki was thinking “I’m gonna be fighting guys just as strong or stronger than him, so I have to become stronger to protect my friends.” And in knowing that, Shiki’s resolve to become strong enough to protect his friends manifested itself; it pushed his Ether to its critical point and……. Overdrive Happened.
With this fight; the Shiki of World 29 picked a fight with a superior enemy- having no prior information or even a real plan going into the Belial Goer. He was unprepared. And because of that lack of preparation, he and his friends were blindsided by the Element 4- Laguna almost got all 4 of them before they knew what happened; Weisz was heavily injured by Fie moments later; Rebecca was captured by Kleene and tortured by Daichi; and Shiki ended up in a fight with a stronger Kris, who- based on what we know– was still stronger than him when he got serious. And then he was captured by Drakken himself. And they were subjected to the realization that this wasn’t going to be the “Happy Adventure” he had set out to have.
Then come to their second try in Universe 2 World 30; the whole time they were on the attack, Shiki was contemplating the whole time about fighting Drakken- wondering if he was strong enough to do it. And come when Drakken found them, he didn’t have time to think- he needed to get Rebecca away from Drakken. So he had to make the answer “Yes- I’m Ready.” But he wasn’t. Because even before Drakken showed off what he could REALLY do, Shiki was clearly on the defensive for most of the fight. And even when he pushed his powers as far as they could in that moment, Drakken STILL had one more trick up his sleeve that put him over Shiki. It wasn’t until the Shining Stars defeated the Element 4 and the destruction of his Life Support Device that Shiki stood a chance- or so Laguna would have you believe. No, but seriously; part of why Shiki won is because of all the other things going on around that fight culminated in Drakken becoming a mindless beast. And I think that Shiki know it.
Because even WHEN Drakken became a monster, Shiki was STILL not fully capable of winning- being beaten down by his strong tentacles. But through his Gravity abilities and Rebecca’s “Cat Leaper” showing him how their last encounter ended; Shiki was able to find the resolve to stand back up- and Fight. And through Overdrive, he was able to put an end to Drakken’s rampage. He had overcome the first hurdle on his quest. But he knew there would be others. But as long as he had his friends with him, he felt that he could keep pressing on, no matter what the Universe threw his way.
Dealing With Loss: Ace And Witch
This is another of those similarities. Both Marineford and the Aoi War function as the “Halfway” marks for the stories- the arcs that would test these 2’s character and strength. Because the characters present in these Wars are the baseline of power that they would need to make it towards their goals. Both arcs are followed by a period of recovery and reflection, and then a time skip in which we see the 2 of them as young adults- stronger than ever before. That being said; I’ve also come to realize over the course of writing this post(it took multiple days; this part I kind of realized as I was going to bed one night) that what they learned from these events are fundamentally different. But both of them are ultimately rooted in a need to be “Stronger.”
Shiki And Witch
Witch’s death in chapter 166 was a learning experience for Shiki. It was meant to teach him the consequences he will face as a leader if he hesitate on his decisions. But it would not be until chapter 213 3 years later in the context of the story that he finally got the picture. One of the things that I have always loved about this series is how detailed Shiki’s role as a leader is. Another comparison between “Edens Zero” and “One Piece:” Both Luffy and Shiki are in leading roles; they’re the one’s in charge of making important decisions for the future of their crews. But where they differ is their portrayal of leadership; Luffy will take his position seriously when the situation demands someone “take charge.” But Shiki’s role as a leader is a little more……… “pronounced.” Whereas Luffy isn’t afraid of any challenge, going wherever looks the most “Fun” and believes in his ability to protect his friends and their own strength to defend themselves; Shiki was contemplating leaving the Aoi Cosmos when it looked as though he’d be running into threats more powerful than he can imagine.
Even after Hyper accelerated training under Master Xenolith to grow stronger- learning to strengthen his heart and his “resolve,” making his Gravity stronger- he still wasn’t sure if he was ready for the challenge. So- rather than gamble his crew’s lives just to prove he’s tough enough- he might decided to leave before things got worse had Shura not made that announcement. Or even going back a little ways to when “Ziggy” woke up and announced his plans; Shiki was unsure if he was ready to face his Grandfather the way he was. So- rather than face him and lose, be it because he wasn’t strong enough at this time or because he couldn’t bring himself to finish the fight- he kept his mind on finding Mother, with Ziggy being a problem they’ll deal with as he arises. These 2 scenes show that Shiki is unconfident in his abilities, despite in both instances coming off the back of a major power up. Though in the case of Ziggy, it might have been that he couldn’t face his Grandfather with weak resolve.
How all of this comes back to Witch is how it affects Shiki as a leader. Because he hesitated- because he took to long to make a choice in a desperate situation- Ziggy was given the time to hack the Edens Zero, and held them captive when the bombs went off. And Witch died protecting them all. He was presented with 2 options: Try and stop the detonation of 20,000 Antimatter Bombs– each one on their own capable of destroying a small planet going off all at once, or take every second you can to escape with your crew and hope the planet and surrounding planets manage to evacuate everyone before the blast. This was not a situation where you use your “heart” to think; you gotta use your head. Planety Gravity Center be D@mned- this where Shiki would have died. And thanks to the existence of Ziggy, we know the full outcome of what would have happened. But because he chose to flee with his crew, they only lost the 1 crewmate when they may not have lost any had he fled when Ziggy activated the bombs.
And then when it came to the Final Battle with Ziggy- after finally saving his Grandpa from One’s control, and hearing him beg Shiki to prevent him from being controlled again by destroying him- Shiki once again hesitates to go through with it. And because of that- he lost Pino right before his eyes. Or so Ziggy made it seem. Shiki knew it was a trick the entire time, but it was still effective in getting the message across: As the Leader of the Edens Zero- as the one this crew puts their faith in- Shiki Cannot Hesitate To Make A Decision. Or he will lose one of his friends. And with the Final Saga basically telling them that will no longer be given second chances- He has to Put This Lesson into action.
Luffy And Ace
Luffy losing Ace at Marineford is one of the most iconic moments in all of anime. And that’s simply a fact. I say this because- as with any work of literature of art- there are MULTIPLE different interpretations out there in the world. And with the advent of the internet, people have been able to come forward with their own interpretation of what Ace’s death was for Luffy as a character. I myself have this idea that Luffy somewhat blames himself for what happened- both in that Ace had to save him because he was too weak, and because of what Teech told him in their meeting in Impel Down. Teech was going to bring in the infamous Straw hat Luffy to the World Government to become a Warlord, but Ace got in the way. And he got a bigger prize. So you could even argue that Luffy blames himself for being such a target that Ace had to step in to protect him. And because he was too weak to move during the Paramount War, Ace had to protect him from Akainu’s attack. That one’s a little more direct.
What I’m saying is that- from what I am making of Ace’s death- I’m thinking that Ace’s death is either meant to show Luffy how ill prepared he is for the New World, or it’s made to show him the consequences of his reckless behavior. I came to these conclusions based on what I saw during the Summit War saga- from Sabaody right up to the time skip. It could be argued that Luffy’s reckless behavior lead to all of this. This whole saga only started because Luffy went by his emotions and clocked a Celestial Dragon, summoning the wrath of the Admirals- a problem that he was still ill prepared for. And because of his weakness and that choice; his crew was split up. Which would lead to him learning about Ace’s impeding execution on his own.
Following in this mindset; he would use Ivankov’s healing hormones not once but TWICE, taking a total of 20 years off of his total life span. The first time it wore off was in the midst of Marineford, where he would be pummeled by one Marine after another before getting a chance to beg Ivankov to inject him with Healing Hormones again. He begs Iva to do it, thinking that he’d never be able to live with himself if Ace died because he wasn’t strong enough. It shows that he doesn’t think ahead a lot of the time; he acts “in the moment,” not thinking of what could happen in the future when he starts to feel the effects of the Healing Hormones. He’ll be dying, unable to fight to protect his crew. And at that point in the story, the Hormones only lasted him long enough to free Ace and start trying to retreat. But they wore off and he could barely move once again. And Ace had to scarifice himself to save him.
Luffy wasn’t thinking about how long the second injection would last; he just needed to go and rescue Ace. But through that thoughtlessness, he ended up losing Ace. That’s at least how I’ve been looking at it. Though it can also be said that he needed to learn what he was up against going forward. He needed to see firsthand what will happen if he doesn’t prepare for the next leg of the journey. It’s a large part of why he took Rayleigh up on his offer; he learned what happened when he was too weak to move. Jump Forward: The Same kid who cr@pped out in Marineford- the boy who needed someone else to make him move- would fight a stronger opponent for 12 Hours Straight. And might have been able to keep fighting even after that.
One other way to look at it would also be a Reaffirmation of the lesson that Luffy learned from Shanks in chapter 1 of the story. Had Ace left instead of giving in to Akainu’s taunts, then they may have gotten away. But he did. Just like Luffy gave in to Higuma. And because of that, Shanks lost his arm saving him. And Ace lost his life saving Luffy. Though that could also tie back to Luffy wanting to become stronger; so that no one he cares about will get hurt saving him again. Last minute addition.
To Question Yourself: Shura and Katakuri
These 2 are much more similar than I thought. This part I didn’t plan initially, but it’s something similarly important to their characters. Though in different ways. Though I titled this section “To Question Yourself,” the only one who was questioned in the fight against their opposite was Shiki; Luffy’s fight against Katakuri was not meant to make him question himself- Katakuri was. But before we proceed, I feel I should be upfront: As I said, this wasn’t planned to be part of the post. But the more I started noticing similarities, the more this one stuck out- so much so that I felt that I needed to address it to make this post “complete.” But that also means that this part isn’t as “solid” as the earlier points; I still have a plan, but it’s not gonna come out quite as “Elegantly” as the other parts. This opening section is proof of that. Sorry.
Luffy And Katakuri
Like I said: Luffy wasn’t the one who needed to learn from this fight- Katakuri was. But it’s not as if Luffy gained nothing; he learned Future Sight Observation, of course! But that ties into what Luffy was meant to take from this fight. It wasn’t about learning something about himself- he was reaffirming it. And through affirming that his way was the right choice, his Haki- his “Will-” was strengthened. This goes back to the Vol 4 SBS question; the fights in this story are about “Beliefs vs Beliefs.” And Haki- literally translated as “Ambition-” is the power to fight for those beliefs. That’s at least how I’ve always looked at Haki’s use in the story. It’s only as powerful as your “conviction-” something that will grow the more you validate your beliefs. That’s how I looked at that line from Flashback Rayleigh in chapter 886: “The Real Advancement Of Haki Happens During Extreme Use In Battle; The Stronger The Foes You Face With This Power, The Stronger You’ll Become With It.”
“One Piece” Has Long Fights. From Luffy’s 12 hours fight with Katakuri, to the Roger Pirates and Whitebeard Pirates 3 day/ night battle, to Ace and Jinbe’s 5 day Battle, to Aokiji and Akainu’s 10 Day Long Struggle. Everyone I mentioned is able to Use Haki(Though Ace never showed the ability to use it consciously). In my mind; Haki strengthens in the midst of extreme combat because it relies on your Determination- it will grow the more and more you want to validate your way of life. That’s why the Yonko are the way they are; they’ve been through enough combat to validate their way of life and the way they think- they’ve “doubled down” on the traits that got them to this point. Like Kaido said: “Haki Transcends All.” Your Ambition- the desire to win and validate your choices- takes you Higher. Especially when the one you’re fighting is so much “Higher” than you; you want to win that much more. Thus what Luffy Said in chapter 886: He wanted to beat Katakuri at his Best.
As for what was being “reaffirmed” for Luffy and taught to Katakuri: “Letting People See The Real You.” For Luffy, it’s quite simple: He doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what he is; Childish but Fierce; A Dreamer who dreams of the Impossible; Glutton who will swipe the food off your plate if he catches you lacking; True Friend; and a pretty sore loser. No matter how many times someone manages to knock him down, he picks himself back up and throws himself back into battle until he manages to win. Katakuri is the opposite; he doesn’t let anyone see his true face because of what happened to Brulee all those years ago- never even lies down on his back just to make a point. All for the sake of his family. Ever since those guys beat up Brulee, he’s hid his face, and tried to use his “Perfect” image to intimidate everyone away from messing with them. Luffy’s not afraid to let the world see the real him– Eneru help anyone who messes with his friends after that.
Katakuri needed to learn that it’s okay for people to see him fall down; that the real allies in your life are the ones who see your flaws and accept you for who you are. Luffy only reaffirmed that he was right. Because he could still go higher. That’s why Luffy was able to win; Katakuri was so focused on NOT letting down the facade that he stagnated- how can you “grow” when you’re “Perfect?” Luffy had room to improve- as evident during the fight, as well as in the flashback. He wasn’t focused on making sure he “looked good;” he was training to learn Observation, but was having trouble. But he got it. And it’s only gotten better from then. No matter how much Katakuri knocked him down, Luffy got back up again and again– seeing more and more of the future each and every time he did. Luffy Improves- Katakuri Plateaus. And when Katakuri realized that at the end of their fight, he decided- even though he probably could have fallen forward and crushed him if nothing else- to let Luffy have it. Because he knew in his heart of hearts that Luffy was Right. And in proving that, Luffy had already won the fight. That’s how I’ve always seen it, anyway.
Shiki and Shura
Shiki’s battle with Shura begins in chapter 141, when Shura uses his Gravity to hault the Edens Zero. And that initial interaction tells you everything that you would need to know going into the fight. Shiki- despite what was happening- still saw Ziggy as his Grandfather; Shura could not have cared less about his adoptive Father Nero. It also showed Shura’s sense of “Self Importance,” placing himself above Shiki and trying to use his Gravity to push him down even further. Shiki overcame that, and the 2 began to battle properly, showing off the differences in their powers and mentality along with it. Shiki’s Ether Gear focuses on controlling his own personal Gravity, making himself stronger or lighter as needed, with limited control over other objects; Shura controls the Gravity of other objects, moving them around to fit his needs, as well as some level of control over his own. Do you see what Mashima was going for yet?
Shiki focuses on becoming better- he’s not trying to impress anyone or prove himself; he becomes stronger to protect his friend and whoever else needs help- even if it’s someone like Labilia. Shura has something to prove, and he’ll prove it to people by stepping on them so they’ll never forget “Who’s On Top.” They say as much in their Final Confrontation; Shura wants to go to the “Top-” to be the Absolute Ruler of the Universe, and he’ll use and throw away as many people as he needs to. And Shiki knew that when Shura asked him to be his friend. Shiki knew that Shura was the type who’d use him and throw him away when he no longer had any “use” for him- becoming his “Friend” would result in Shiki losing himself in trying to make Shura Great. And if he lost himself to Shura, then he’d have been no match for Ziggy. Like Xenolith told him in chapter 133:
Gravity is ‘The Weight Of The Heart;’ the Stronger the Heart- The Stronger Its Gravity. But you also need Inner Tranqility to Endure That Weight. In Other Words: Strike A Balance Between ‘Strength’ and ‘Tranquility’ of your heart, or your Gravity will Fall To Darkness. Never Forget: The Fall To Darkness- Is The Fall To Ziggy.
– Founder Of Gravity Ether Gear Tactics/ Instructor In The Magimech Arts/ King Of Gravity– Master Xenolith(see Edens Zero Volume 16, Chapter 133)
Another aspect of their Dynamic is their views on life. Shiki believes that all life carries “weight” to it; Shura thinks that only his holds any sort of “weight.” And hearing Shiki’s thoughts on the “Weight Of Life,” Shura went and asked him “Does My Life Hold Weight in your mind after what I’ve done to you?” Shiki does not answer immediately. And Shura proceeds to take his eye. It would not be until a chapter or 2 later that Shiki would answer this question by using “Black Sky.” To use this move, the “weight” of your Heart has to be strong- an incorruptible spirit. How do I put this now? SHIKI- by knowing what kind of “friendship” Shura was offering him- by valuing Life the way that he does- by choosing to be better than Shura and Ziggy- proved that he could handle this move. And in doing so, he used “Black Sky” to defeat Shura- not kill him. Because even his life held weight to someone; he may not have known the full extent of Shura and Nero’s relationship, and didn’t even know about Ijuna(however f*cked up that was), but he knew that SOMEONE loved Shura. He wouldn’t want someone to take HIS friends from him, so he wasn’t going to do that to anyone else.
Shiki’s battle with Shura can be seen as some sort of “preparation” for his fight with Ziggy; it was a fight that tested his resolve and willpower- a fight made to make him understand what he has to do- who he had to be– if he was going to fight his Grandfather. Another aspect of the story that I like: Shiki’s characterization; those little moments Mashima adds to show what kind of character he is always interest me. The one I’m thinking of in specific comes from chapter 104– the chapter after Ziggy attacked with the Edens One. He decided at the end of that chapter to put Ziggy as “Priority #2,” and instead focus on making it to Mother before he does. Because he knew he was ready to do what had to be done; he needed to prepare himself for that day he would have to do it, so he just decided that fighting Ziggy would be done along the way, not knowing when it would happen.
For Shiki, I think he knew that he would choke when it came time to end the fight, so he wasn’t going to put his friends in that kind of danger just to prove something to himself. Then he was confronted with that very scenario: A Gravity user equal to himself took one of his friends and almost killed them. But by choosing to be better than Shura- choosing to not kill Shura or torture him in retribution for Witch- he decided that winning the fight was enough. Come to when it was time to face Ziggy, he knew what needed to be done; he went in prepared to finish this 3 year long conflict. But it was revealed that “Ziggy” wasn’t the one they were fighting. So when the time came for Shiki to put this fight to rest- he couldn’t go through with it, and he lost Pino. That was how it looked; another chance for him to learn what his hesitation and lack of resolve will get him- what will happen to his friends if he isn’t “Strong” enough. I don’t think he’ll forget that lesson again; it’s something he’ll carry into the Encounter With One Void- something that he’ll be carrying for the rest of his life. Something that will influence his Final Choice. And another thing that makes him such an Interesting Protagonist.
These stories are much more similar than I realized when I started out. So much so that I felt I had to talk about it all. But I also felt like that would make the post a “Chore” to get through. And- as you can see- this post took WEEKS to prepare. I had to stop in sections, which really threw off my “momentum” and thus created moments where………. I was speaking coherently? I did my best to get back into that state of mind- the mind of a Literary Analysist(He says like he knows what he’s talking about)- but……. well, you can tell where I stopped and picked up again. That, and I really only planned for the first 2 sections. But again; the more I thought about it, the more I realized the similarities in Luffy’s fight with Katakuri and Shiki’s fight with Shura. And after all of that was said and done; I felt that that was kind of an Awkward place to end off the post. So this section is just going to be addressing the things that I couldn’t talk about, or the things that I meant to say above. Starting with their relationships with their crews.
This is something I noticed coming up to the end of the post: Shiki and Luffy- although having a similar dynamic with their crews- behave somewhat differently in practice. For Shiki, his friends are the only reason he’s able to win. Beyond just a “I Can Do Anything If It’s For My Friends” power up; take for example the fight against the Black Rock in chapters 55 and 56, and the entire Belial Goer Conflict. Both instances demonstrate how this series utilizes the Friendship motif: Teamwork. Shiki’s Gravity and Homura’s sword’s couldn’t break the Black Rock’s scales- Rebecca didn’t have the means to reach the weak point on it’s back- a weak spot they wouldn’t even know about without Pino. They needed each other to defeat the Black Rock; the trust that they have with each other, their specific powers sets, the way they fight- it’s what let’s them get past problems. And even later on in the same arc; Shiki and Rebecca helped Homura stand back up again after she found out what happened to Valkyrie.
And then the fight with Drakken gets recontextualized a few chapters later: Laguna reveals that Drakken needed the Ether from 4 Elemental Masters to stabilize himself- The Element 4. And with their defeat at the hands of the Shining Stars– plus Sister convincing Kris to destroy Drakken’s Life Support Device- Shiki was able to defeat Drakken’s Monster Form. And that’s not even to mention Rebecca’s contribution to the fight; if not for her Cat Leaper and her feelings for her friends- for Shiki– chapter 83 would have been the end of the line for them all. But of course, they’re also Shiki’s “motivation” to become stronger- he wants to have his friends by his side always, and thus has to be strong enough to protect them- to keep them to together. Not that dissimilar from Luffy in that regard, yeah? Yes and No.
Craftsdwarf made a video some years ago talking about how Luffy sort of……… takes on the burden of protecting his friends; that he’s less “Help Me Win This” and more “Help me Fight-” he doesn’t ask for people to fight with him in battle, but rather asks them to help him continue to fight. I’ve recently been able to read through Skypiea, and one scene in particular that comes to mind when talking about this happens in chapter 295: This is where Nami gives Luffy a lift on the Waver to get close to Eneru. That was her decision- Luffy didn’t directly ask her for help- he was content just taking the waver and riding it up himself. And flashforward to Marineford as I talked about earlier, he asked Ivankov to inject him with Healing Hormones- knowing the risk but not caring so long as he could keep fighting. He even had Jinbe get him closer to the Scaffold where Ace was, thus setting the stage for his confrontation with the Admirals. But both instances show what Craftsdwarf was talking about: “If I can’t move, then help me get back up.” They’re support. Shiki’s friends are what help him to win; Luffy’s are why he can fight.
That was the case for the 2 of them up to a point. Later on in the video, Craftsdwarf would talk about how Luffy learned his lesson during Fishman Island, and puts it into practice while fighting Katakuri. Vs Shiki who took on Shura by himself, choosing to stand and fight him alone while his crew went to destroy the All Link system. I think in that instance, he recognized Shura as the “Boss,” and was probably thinking that defeating him here would put an end to the conflict altogether. Or- perhaps he recognized Shura as the Strongest and decided to keep him here and away from his friends. Not a “Role Reveral” completely, but something interesting to think about.
And then you have the topic of the “Inherited Will.” It’s much more a part of “One Piece” than it is “Edens Zero;” one of the main themes Oda conveys with his story, while Mashima has it as an underlying part. Going back to chapter 13 of the story, the Fake Elsie revealed that Ziggy never made it to Mother- a quest Shiki only wanted to go on for Rebecca’s sake and the odd sense of deja vu he got from seeing her. He hears this, and he decides to “see the rest of Grandpa Ziggy’s dream through.” And this would be further expounded on when the Ziggy’s origin was revealed: He’s Shiki from an alternate timeline- one where he chose to try and stop the Antimatter bombs- and was blown 20,000 years into the future, where Organic life was extinct and Machines ruled. To try and prevent that, Ziggy would be sent through the Multiverse to the Origin point- Universe 0– to try and save Mother, and thus Life. Things happened, and he ended up in Universe 1, finding Shiki at some point and abandoning the quest for Mother altogether. Then some other things happen, and- to make a long story short- Shiki would defeat Ziggy, and Ziggy left him to decide the the course the Edens Zero would sail. It makes more sense when you actually look at it.
All of this is to say that Shiki is taking up the torch from Ziggy, taking the Edens Zero to Mother and to Universe 0 where his Grandfather couldn’t. It’s not the most prevalent part of the story, but it’s certainly an element. Vs “One Piece” in which it’s one of the Main themes. Something I didn’t get the chance to discuss in the post is how different series choose to use the same themes. Because a lot of the times, you’ll get people calling X Y Z series a “copy” when it utilizes the same themes; Naruto and My Hero for example. And while both stories convey the themes of “Inherited Will,” “Hard Work,” and even “Friendship” to varying degrees- they’re not specific to these stories.
Various stories have a few different themes they want to get across, with one overarching theme that most if not all story arcs can boil down to. “Friendship” and “Hard Work” are not specific to any one series; they’re themes of the genre that these series find themselves in. Naruto, One Piece, and My Hero Academia all feature the “Inherited Will” idea, but to differing extents. I’ve laid out “Edens Zero’s” use of it, and I’ve talked about each series in a big post before(one that I might do an update on in the future now that I’m a little more experienced). I say all of this because “Edens Zero” and “One Piece” are EXTREMELY SIMILAR the longer you look at them. But I wouldn’t necessarily call “Edens Zero” a “One Piece Clone;” similar themes and similar “Adventure” motif, but they’re different. Speaking in specific; “One Piece’s” use of the Inherited will is one of the main beats of the story- represented in the initial “D.”
Those who possess the middle initial “D” tend to oppose the World Government’s rule; sometimes directly in the case of Dragon, or indirectly in the case of a lot of Pirates. Though they’re not afraid to pick fights with the World Government, as shown with Enies Lobby. Their conflict goes all the way back to the Void Century; a clan that has caused the World Government a number of problems over the course of 800 years. So much so that the Celestial Dragons- their “Natural Enemies-” tell stories about them to make their children behave. You know all this; I don’t why I’m feeling the need to explain this all to you- you’ve probably read both stories if you’re reading this.
If there was anything else I wanted to say so this doesn’t end off awkwardly, I guess it would be: I had fun making this post. More than I thought I would. Like I’ve said a number of times already- these 2 are more similar than I thought. So for any fans of “One Piece” out there looking for something new- I recommend checking out “Edens Zero.“ If you’re looking for a series that captures the same sense of “Grand Adventure;” something fun to talk about with your friends; something with a very well thought out mystery element; epic battles; 3 Dimensional Characters; something that can make you cry when you say farewell to a character- You will find it from the 3rd series from the Legendary Hiro Mashima. It’s also WAY shorter of a read!!
THAT was a lot of work. You would think that the “Final Thoughts” section would be the end of the post, but this section allows me to talk……… regularly. Even though there isn’t much left for me to say. What CAN I say that I haven’t said already? I set out to make a post talking about the similar story beats, and ended up coming out with………. not a “New Appreciation” or “Understanding” of these series- more like………. A New Reason To Love Keep Reading? I mean, they’re hitting on some of the same beats, so……… you might be able to get an idea of where one’s going based on the other? Shiki has some kind of choice to make, and Luffy- though not a straight up “Destiny” child- is clearly meant to be the one that does something. I think both stories are about the choices we make and how they affect the world around us; both Shiki and Luffy are meant to bring about some kind of “Great Change,” yeah? I wonder what choice they’ll make when the time comes…………..
That’s all I got for you for today, boys and girls. Til next time, everyone- Stay safe; stay healthy; and have a Magically Wonderful Day. Laters!!!