One Piece’s Wano Arc is heavily underway with no signs of slowing down. The Straw Hats are gearing up for the long-anticipated showdown with Kaido on Onigashima and we are on the edge of our seats. In most One Piece arcs, a large chunk is dedicated to fleshing out the backstory of newly introduced characters (the childhood arc of Ace, Luffy, and Sabo for example). This time around, we are introduced to Kozuki Oden—a talented samurai and next in line for the Wano throne. Kozuki Oden’s story is one that left such a huge impact, we felt he deserved his own unique spotlight. Let’s talk about how Kozuki Oden shook the world of One Piece and its fans alike!
Kozuki Oden - A Brief Recap
Kozuki Oden began his life as nothing more than a troublemaker. However, due to his royal ancestry, he was forced to accept his destiny to become a ruler in the land of Wano. This irked Oden to no end, who longed for nothing more than to leave his homeland, and set out on an adventure. After gathering several retainers to help improve the land of Wano, he eventually set sail alongside the infamous pirate captain Whitebeard. On his journey, he met his wife and fathered two beautiful children.
However, while he was away on his adventures, the land of Wano fell into turmoil. After the dreaded Kurozumi Orochi took up the mantle he plunged the land of Wano into darkness with support from pirate Emperor Kaido. Oden did battle with Kaido but was no match for his power. With him and his allies sentenced to death, Oden offered one final deal in exchange for the lives of his patrons. Kozuki Oden would be boiled alive and if he could withstand this torture for an hour (while holding his friends above his head), they would all be set free. Unfortunately, after Oden passes his task, Orochi reneges on his agreement and, with Oden’s spirit and body already at their limit, Kaido lifts a pistol and ends the life of the once brave samurai.
Why People Love Oden!
Wherever Oden goes, he can’t help but attract followers. After saving Kawamatsu the kappa, Dog Storm, and Cat Viper from being burned alive, they proceed to stick to the man like glue! Oden shares his food with two starving orphans but becomes vexed when they too decide to never leave his side. Oden never actively recruits any of his guards but finds him self-employed with a strong and powerful group of people under his command. After he escapes to the seas, he is forced to undergo a brutal trial in order to join Whitebeard’s crew. This is another endurance test as Oden must hold on to a rope and be dragged behind the ship for three days. In the final minutes of his challenge, mere seconds before achieving his dream, he releases his grip to save a damsel in distress (this woman—Toki—later becoming his wife).
Despite his outward callousness, it is clear Oden cares for not only his friends but for the people of Wano as well. He is forced to dance in his underwear daily regardless of the weather, in exchange for the lives of several Wano citizens. This not only takes a toll on his body but it ruins his reputation among the people. However, Oden never lets this affect his mentality. He continues to persevere and only loses his cool upon realizing this too was a trick. Likewise, although his retainers see him acting shamefully, they steady their resolve knowing there must be some reason as to why Oden would so actively taint his reputation. Oden commands such well-earned respect and any actions he takes are supported by his allies whether they seem rational or not.
Oden, Roger, and Whitebeard
One of the greatest things to come from the backstory of Kozuki Oden was probably the longest exploration we have seen thus far into the life of Pirate King Gol D. Roger. Midway through his adventures with Whitebeard, Oden is recruited by Roger due to his ability to decipher the language inscribed upon several poneglyphs. These maps show the way to the final island of the Grand Line, and whoever reaches it first will go down in history as the greatest pirate who ever sailed the seas. Several episodes are devoted to Oden’s exploits with Roger, Shanks, Buggy, Rayleigh, and even Teach. We witness the extent of Roger’s power as he swiftly sends Oden flying after being provoked. We see Teach’s first induction into Roger’s crew and hints of his later villainy. We also get a glimpse of Raftel; the final island in the Grand Line and the goal of our main protagonists—Luffy and the Strawhats.
One Piece does such a fantastic job of worldbuilding and delaying satisfaction. Roger has been a central figure in the show from the first episode but only now—at around episode 900—do we see an extended arc featuring his presence. As mentioned previously, Oden’s retainers are forever indebted to him for providing them with food and shelter. We as an audience must also pay our respects as were it not for Oden, we very well might have had to wait for ANOTHER 900 episodes for a peek at Roger’s glorious mustache!
Oden goes through so many hardships during his time. His trial to join Whitebeard’s crew, his ordered dancing in the capital, and his eventual boiling, would all be enough to end the life of any normal man. However, in spite of all that he is put through, his smile never seems to waver. Some of the best moments of Oden’s screen time are devoted to watching him bond with his family. He tries to teach Momonosuke to swordfight and talk about the kind of women he likes, he plays with newborn Hiyori aboard Roger’s pirate ship, and he always makes sure to ask whether Toki wouldn’t rather leave his failings behind and escape into the future (much to her irritation).
Oden’s monstrous strength, while impressive, is nothing new to the world of One Piece. We’ve seen many talented sword wielders in this show before and we will likely see many more as we reach the inevitable 2000th episode. Yet, what Oden offers is something that we seldom see in Shounen action anime nowadays. One Piece does an amazing job of grounding its supporting cast. Had we not come to know of Oden’s ambitions and mistakes, we would not come to despise Orochi and Kaido as much. Had we no knowledge of his retainers’ history, their goal to reclaim their land would have fallen on deaf ears. We should have known that if One Piece can make a grown man wearing a diaper into a touching story, Kozuki Oden’s story would be all the more captivating.
So, these are our thoughts about Kozuki Oden; the ruthless samurai and loving father. Despite all he has gone through, the legacy he leaves behind still inspires the people of Wano twenty years after his death. We hope to see more of his influence in the coming weeks as Luffy and his friends gear up to take down Kaido! What do you think of Kozuki Oden? Let us know down below!