Look. If you had. – I can’t do this. Do you also think that this is one of the most under-appreciated characters in One Piece? A character that literally gets called a god, that has awakened observation Haki and that ultimatly got knocked out by Luffy. – Nooo, I’m of course talking about the one and only Enel, god of thunder, maker of great faces and ruler of the moon.
Because he plays a much more important role in the story than you might think. Enel is the only villain in the story that is neither pirate nor marine, he’s just this random guy, with a ridiculously powerful devil fruit that has an absolutely terrible god complex. The great thing about Enel, is that we can talk about both, his absolutely fantastic character as well as all the world building that surrounds him and the arc of Skypea.
Seriously, do you even remember how much worldbuilding we got through Enel? So, what exactly was Enel’s role in the story, what does he teach us about the one piece world and will he ever come back from the moon? This is the story of Enel, God of Skypea. When you really, think about it, at the time, Enel and the skypea arc felt sort of out of place with the rest of story.
Usually arcs tie into each other like fisherman island and arlong park, build up to a climax like the alabasta saga or represent a fundamental turning point in the story like marineford. Every new island we visit and every new villain we meet fits in smoothly with the path the straw hats have taken so far, and brings them closer to their goal.
And then there is this entire arc, up in the clouds, that almost seems to be a side-adventure for the crew, where we get to see Robin as part of the crew, the spirit of the merry and the importance of dreams and believing in them. Similarly, the villain is yet another corrupt ruler of a country that has to be liberated by Luffy. But I would argue, that it’s just the opposite, Skypea might actually turn out to be one of the most important arcs in the entire story, and Enel one of the most interesting characters.
Personality wise, I think you agree that Enel is an egocentric maniac. Skypea, which is inhabited by three races of sky people is full of conflict. We have the tribal Shandians, who were at war with the angel-like skypeans, only for Enel to come in and make enemies out of both.
He conquers the land and declares himself God, ruling from the comfort of his residence, where surrounded by pretty women, with his heavenly mantra he controls and punishes anyone who speaks badly of him. The god theme is actually pretty strong with Enel. First of all his name: Enel is most likely based on the deity Enlil and El, from which many names honoring the biblical go are descended. Micheal, Rapahael, Esekiel, you get the idea.
Funnily enough Enel is also the name of Italy’s largest electricity provider. His thunder powers of course a reminiscent of deities like Zeus, while the metal ring with Tomoe drums set into his back are clearly inspired by the Japanese thunder deity Raijin. By the way, that must be the most uncomfortable piercing anyone ever had.
In other words, Oda made it a point to mash as many different gods into this character as possible. The cherry on top is the fact that Enel’s big goal is leaving earth and reaching the fairy verth, or as I like to call it: Moon. For Enel, the moon is the natural realm of god, so clearly he must get there. After all, he believes himself to be a god.
– A god complex is an unshakable belief in one’s own importance, characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a god complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they were unquestionably correct. Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges, basically making it a severe form of narcism.
I’m sure some of you just felt like I described someone you know. Make sure they don’t get their hands on a devil fruit! Now, understandably, all this may sound twisted and delusional to you, ..because it is, but Enel has the power to back it up, wielding the powerful Goro Goro no mi, which allows him to control, transform into and create electricity at will.
Next to Blackbeard’s Yami Yami no mi and Whitebeards Gura Gura no mi, it’s named as one of the most powerful and destructive devil fruits in the OP universe. So powerful in fact, that he can easily annihilate an entire island, something that the ancient weapon Pluton is infamous for. A one man buster call if you will.
Oda even stated that at the time, Enel would have gained a bounty of at least 500 million berries if he were a pirate down on earth, simply for his power alone. But Enel was not only strong and evil, terrifying a whole land, he’s also charismatically smart and has a decent sense of humor. – Enel come across as pretty stupid in some ways, and in some ways he is, but he is also the guy who restarted his own heart and build a damn spaceship powered by himself to reach the moon.
And here people say that Luffy is creative with his devil fruit. Enel is not a villain, he’s an experience. – What sets Enel apart from other antagonists in the story is his arc wit Luffy, which is also why I strongly believe that we will see him again in the story. Here’s the deal: For most major villains in the story, just like for Enel, we get a decent amount of set-up for just how bad and evil they are.
And indeed we do get the impression of how tyrannical and frightening his rule over Skypea truly is. Plus, Enel and his men are messing most of the straw hats up worse than in almost any other arc until that point. – 5 left – The fact that Enel himself came for many of the straw hats unlike even crocodile, was a first, that made it clear how much of a threat he was.
And yet, Enel’s encounter with Luffy lack the elements all other major villains in one piece share. First of all, we get no backstory or motivation for his actions. All we know is that he destroyed the island of his people, Birka, and took an army with him to subdue skypea. What’s up with that? We don’t know why he ended up destroying an entire island, why he doesn’t have wings, where he got his fruit or why he wants to go to the moon so desperately.
Enel is the type of character that seems to have a very fascinating and relevant backstory, and we never get to hear it. The second thing, is that Luffy’s actions always punish the villain in some way or form for their deeds and end their desire. Crocodile and Doflamingo end up in prison, Lucci has to let Robin escape, Ceasar looses his lab, Big mom looses the vinsmoke technology, … you get the idea.
Enel however, while robbed of the golden bell, simply proceeds with his plans to go to the moon as if nothing happened. Luffy protects skypea and fulfills his promise to ring the bell, but he doesn’t change Enel or stop his initial goal. These two things suggest to me that Enel might return at some point.
But of course there is a lot more to that. Now let’a get into worldbuidling. Oh, boy where to start. First of all, as you know, Enel is the first enemy that uses openly uses observation Haki against Luffy, also pretty damn potent observation Haki at that, being aware of the entire island.
Since we haven’t met Whiteboard yet, this is also the first devil fruit power we meet, that in terms of destructiveness blows everything out of proportion. Smoker and Crocodile look pretty ridiculous compared to this – The most important thing about skypea, however, is what it tells us about the history of the world.
Skypea tells us not only about the existence of islands in the sky, an entire world above the clouds, it teaches a lot about the past. As it turns out Shandora, the ancient city of one of the sky races, was affiliated with the ancient kingdom. Not only do we find a poneglyph there pointing to fisherman island, but we also find a legendary city of gold, that already trumps anything the one piece could offer in terms of gold and silver.
Additionally, we are also introduced to Noland, a Roger-like character, that seems to play a very important role in the story as well. But as if this wasn’t enough already, we also find out in probably the most important cover story we ever got, that this race of sky people, did not only have an ancient civilization down on earth, all 3 of the races actually come from the very same moon Enel went to.
And here things get crazy. We learn that the sky people had this ridiculously advanced country there on the moon, creating sentient machines, before flying down to earth after using up all the resources there. We also see some of the robots being build on Karakuri island, accidentally the same highly technological place, that Dr. Vegapunk is from and where Franky spent the time skip.
Oh yeah, and there are space pirates as well, and their Logo looks like Fukurokujo from Wano, who has the same earlobes as Enel and … huhhh. You see, I’m pretty sure skypea will be one of the most important arcs in retrospect, one we enter the endgame.
I actually have a fantastic theory in store for you guys about the ancient kingdom and skypea. If you’re interested let me know in the comments. And going back to Enel, who now has this entire army of robots on the moon, one more important thing is the name of his home, that he destroyed: Birka. You see Birka is not only the name of the ancient moon city, but also a real historical place.
The real-life Birka was one of the most important trade centers in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. And what island is viking-themed? Yes. You! Exactly, Elbaf! Ten points to Huffelpuff. And we know that Elbaf has both this giant tree growing into the sky, and we also know that there is a proper entrance to the sky islands somewhere in the new world.
Coincidence? – All of this implies to me, that one of the most interesting characters with an unfinished character arc, should come back at some point in the future. And even if he doesn’t, Enel wasn’t just a villain, he was an experience.
That’s me, Andreea Blaga, author of the blog anime-everything.com. I work as a content creator in the US. I am also passionate about Japanese Anime.