One Piece: King’s Backstory Is Another Tragic Addition to Oda’s Cruelest Trend

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece Chapter 1035, "Zoro vs. King," by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul, and Vanessa Satone, available in English from Viz Media.

What separates Oda from a lot of shonen mangaka is the emphasis he puts on the backstory for his characters, and One Piece chapter 1035 is another example of that. As the fight between Zoro and King persists, we finally get a glimpse into King's past, and there may be more in common between him and Zoro than we initially considered.

During the fight, Zoro managed to unmask King with his last attack, revealing his (beautiful) face. The spectating Beast Pirates all murmured between themselves as it seemed that King's true appearance is of interest to the government, with any further information being worth 100 million beli. King seemed infuriated by this and so the All-Star set his own men ablaze in a fire shaped like his own captain, which took the swordsman by surprise.

Teen Alber meets Young Kaido in Lab

Readers then got a glimpse back into King's past. A teenage King, originally named Alber, was one of the Lunarian tribe and a subject of experimentation by the World Government. Kaido happened upon Alber as he was busting himself out of the laboratory. He decided to free Alber as well since he was about to start his own pirate crew, but the Lumarian asked him "Can you change the world we live in?" Kaido gleefully responded, "I'm the only one who can change it!" As they escaped the burning laboratory behind them, Kaido gave Alber a new name, King, and promises he'll protect him and made him his right-hand man.

For a backstory that takes only a single page, it effectively communicated King's past, telling us why he hated the government and how he met Kaido. While not the most tragic backstory in One Piece, readers can still assume that this was a traumatizing period for King given by the line Kaido said about "endurance tests," but it isn't outwardly stating. The most noteworthy aspect of King's backstory, however, is how it mirrors Luffy's first meeting with Zoro.

Luffy meets Pirate Hunter Zoro in Shell Town

Luffy met Zoro while he was imprisoned in Shell Town by Hellmeppo. Zoro had made a deal with the son of the marine captain; that he would stay tied to the most in the courtyard for one month, without food or water, for having killed his wild dog and saving the little girl, Rika. Just like Alber and Kaido, Zoro was tied up and Luffy was about to start his pirate career. The rubber-man came to meet the so-called bounty hunter, "Pirate Hunter" Zoro, and he ended up breaking Zoro out as well when Hellmeppo and Morgan double-crossed them on Zoro's deal.

Despite their different philosophies and character, it's interesting how the pairs of captain and first mate both met each other under similar circumstances. This probably won't be the last time we see King's past, as knowing Oda, Kaido will have his own flashback by the end of Wano. King and Queen will likely have parts to play in the Yonko's past.

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