WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece Vol. 95, by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul and Vanessa Satone, now available in English from Viz Media.
With Luffy now free from the Udon Prison and Big Mom in the hands of Kaido, Zoro receiving a new blade known as Enma, and the rebellion against Kaido restructured following the demise of Yasuie, the pieces seem set in place leading up to the epic final battle against Kaido and Orochi. However, things are far from straightforward in Volume 95. This volume reveals deadly alliances between powerful villains, the dissolution of a pillar of power, the ultimate blow against the rebellion and the origin of the legendary figure behind Wano's rise.
Big Mom and Kaido are... Together?
Big Mom invaded Wano with the intention of attacking and obliterating Kaido and his forces in a brutal invasion, but it appears the situation has changed. Several guests are coming to celebrate at Kaido's Fire Festival, with numerous pirate crews from within and without Wano joining in. One surprise guest of honor is Big Mom, the very person who obliterated Udon Prison and beat Queen to a pulp.
It seems Big Mom has buried the hatchet with Kaido after briefly fighting with him. Now, rather than wanting to invade Wano, she has formed an alliance with him, joining her crew with his in a pirate alliance. This tips the scales against the rebellion, who anticipate to only be facing Kaido and Orochi's combined forces, which they estimate to be 30,000 people.
Of course, this comes with a caveat. Once the two of them conquer the world together, they intend on finishing their epic brawl. This union is clearly one based entirely on practicality -- but also, in pursuit of a good fun time. Their behavior stuns their own crews, who struggle to fathom the decisions these pirates make.
This is far from the first alliance between Kaido and Big Mom. The three were part of the Rocks Pirates, led by Rocks D. Xebec. However, in a confrontation with Gol D. Roger and Navy Vice Admiral Garp on the God Valley, the Rocks Pirates splintered apart in a confrontation that the World Government later tried to hide from the world to the point where God Valley appears on no map.
The Dissolution of the Seven Warlords
One Piece Vol. 95 offers a glimpse of the outside world beyond the Straw Hats' adventures. Things are unraveling as news rocks the entire Pirate World. While some disturbing news surrounding Sabo has affected his circle of friends, the big news is the dissolution of the Seven Warlords as figures of authority.
The Seven Warlords of the Sea are an alliance of seven pirates -- Donquixote Doflamingo, Crocodile, Dracule Mihawk, Boa Hancock, Buggy, Edward Weevil and Bartholomew Kuma -- who govern territory in service to the World Government. However, after some impassioned speeches and debates, the Seven Warlords were stripped of their titles and authority. This is in part because of Doflamingo and Crocodile, who both had their titles revoked preceding this incident. The two abused their power, with Doflamingo, in particular, servicing Kaido's greater agenda by creating artificial Devil Fruits.
This results in open rebellion. While some, like Mihawk and Boa Hancock, welcome the challenge with confidence, others, like Buggy, are understandably freaking out about losing all authority over their people. The decision causes complete upheaval in the political structure of the world. Some pirates, like Marshall D. Teach, see this as a perfect opportunity to amass power and riches.
Orochi Attempts to End the Coup
While Orochi was humiliated by Yatsuie's deceptive statements surrounding the rebellion's concealed message, he still took steps in his paranoia to ensure the rebellion could not organize. He blew up several bridges connecting the regions of Wano together, obliterating all ways the rebellion could travel to Tokage Port. This left the retainers under Oden in disbelief as they arrived at the destination, only to find no one there.
It remains to be seen if this will snuff the rebellion out entirely, but as we see, it would be all but impossible for the rebellion to wait another year, for they would no longer be able to remain hidden for that long. While the separate components of the rebellion are all still intact, they are divided by distance. Against the forces of Big Mom, Orochi and Kaido, they might be unable to stand a chance.
This ultimately leads the samurai to reflect on Oden's life, with how he rose to power as the daimyo of Kuri, assembled his various loyal vassals, and ultimately hitched a ride on Whitebeard's ship to see the whole world. We also see how Orochi weaseled his way into Oden's ranks. The volume ends with Gol D. Roger expressing interest in meeting Oden.
What One Piece always manages to do so well is find new ways to entangle the various elements of the lore together, establishing a universe so complex and so developed that no other shonen manga can come close to its level of complexity. The latest volume serves to offer context to the various legends surrounding Oden, Wano and the greater lore of the One Piece universe.