What do you think about Sabo and what has happened to him? What if I told you that he is bringing Vivi and the Revolutionaries to Luffy right this moment? That he will be more important to the story than Ace. And that I’ve actually shed a tear while writing this script? Actually on second thought, don’t answer that.
Okay, real talk for a second. As you know, the reason I love One Piece so much is not because of the fights or the powers or even the world building. All of these are absolutely fantastic, no question about it. But to me, what puts One Piece above other great works of fiction is its out-of-this-world character writing.
Not only does the story have one of the biggest cast of characters ever, but pretty much every single one of them has their own personality, development and purpose in the story. Everyone feels like they belong into this world and each and every one of them does their part to make One Piece the epic adventure it is.
Which brings me back to Sabo. I have wanted to talk about he for a while now, because in a weird way he seems to be the odd one out here, not just for me, but for many others as well. The amnesia plot-line was not very well received, I mean you can’t tell me Sabo never saw an image of Ace in the newspaper before, and in many ways, his only role can easily be mistaken as a replacement for Ace.
And objectively speaking, at this point in the story, if nothing else happened with him, I would go so far as to call him the only bad character in the story, because he doesn’t really contribute to Luffy’s story. However, and this is where this blog turns positive, I finally realised that by thinking this way I might not only have judged his role in the story extremely prematurely, but even worse, I probably have actually drastically underestimated the potential he has for Luffy and the endgame of the story.
Hi, my name is Manu and as an older brother myself, I think I have finally figured out what Sabo’s character is all about, what has happened to him during the Reverie and what role he has to play at the end of the story. Despite being one of the most influential people in Luffy’s life, I was surprised how late in the story he was introduced.
The first time we learn about his existence is during Luffy’s flashback after the end of Marineford. I have seen a lot of people speculate that Oda just wrote he into the story at that point on a whim, but I’m convinced that he was part of Oda’s plans right from the start, which is also why I’m not worried about him being a character without purpose.
Here is some of the early foreshadowing by Oda. His first possible appearance might have been in chapter 99, where we see someone looking suspicipously like he in the crowd as Buggy plans to execute Luffy. This would make further sense, because it is also Dragon’s first appearance in the story. Next we have the flashback of Luffy and Ace sharing Sake to become brothers, and as you can see in the top left corner, there is a third cup, just barely visible.
Another hint, that hit me really hard when I realised what it meant, was Ace’s Tatoo, that we first get to see in Alabasta. At first glance it looks like he found himself the worlds worst tattoo artist, that managed to misspell ace with an s. But then, we saw Sabo set out to sea.
It’s not a strike through S, ace has literally tattooed his Jolly Roger on his arm as a tribute, from the last time he saw his brother, before seeing him die at the hands of the celestial dragons. Gotta be real, I teared up there a little when I learned that. So, I hope you agree that most likely he was always part of Oda’s plan.
What then is his purpose in the story? Is merely being a replacement for Ace? And the answer to that is nyaaaa-kind of but not really, but definitely in a good way. Okay so: Sabo actually has three important roles in the story. For the first of these we have to go back all the way to Luffy’s childhood.
Sabo shaped both Luffy and Ace into the great pirates that they later would become. Ace, suffering under his heritage, was always in a very dark place. It was only thanks to sabo, that he was able to find someone he could truly trust and forget his worries with. On top of this, Sabo served as the relaxed and positive moderator between him and Luffy, as both were very head-strong and impulsive.
In my opinion, Sabo might well be part of the reason Luffy is so incredibly tolerant toward everyone. Even though they were living in poverty in the shadow of the nobles, Sabo, who was a noble himself, was just a friend and brother to Luffy. It taught him that a person is made by their actions and not their heritage.
Even better, since Sabo was well-educated, he most likely contributed most of the knowledge that Luffy and Ace got as children. But most importantly, Sabo was one of the key factors, that inspired both Ace and Luffy to become great pirates. Shanks was definitely a major driver for luffy as well. However I feel like it is this scene here, when Luffy learns about Sabo’s death for the first time, where a lot of Luffy’s ideals and even his dream can be traced back to.
Luffy realising that sabo tried to become a pirate in order to find happiness is basically the premise for each and every one of his crew mates. He finds great people that just like Sabo have been in an incredibly dark spot their entire life, and gives them true freedom and happiness by making them pirates of his crew.
Luffy goes out of his way to pull people out of their darkness, because of Sabo’s death and how he and Ace did not realize it, did not try to help him escape his terrible family. This of course is also connected to Ace’s death, where Luffy now feels like he had failed to save not only one, but two brothers.
And it’s exactly that subtext, that makes Luffy’s reunion with Sabo so special. Now the only arc, where Sabo had a chance to showcase his current personality so far, is Dressrosa. A big criticism I often hear is that Sabo is basically just ace 2.0. And in a way, these people have a point. Both of them have similar ‘cool older brother vibes’, both are powerful members of two of the most influentail groups in the story and both go out of their way to make sure Luffy can go his way.
Heck, Sabo actually eats Ace’s devil fruit and uses his moves. However if you have taken away anything form the many analysis blogs I have made about One Piece, you will know that Sabo unites two important themes Oda uses. Inherited will as well as the concept of two sides of the same coin, where most elements of post-time-skip one piece are a mirrored and inverted version of pre-time skip.
It’s no coincidence then that Sabo appears in Dressrosa, the arc that reflects Alabasta in the first half of the grand line, where Ace made his first appearance. Both arcs serve as setup for Luffy’s relationship with his older brothers. That way, Oda could set up Ace’s capture at Maarineford, and whatever happened to Sabo at the reverie, I’ll get into that in a moment.
But to me, saying that these two characters are the same is just not true. Both have their distinct personalities and differences. And even strength-wise, Sabo seems a lot more capable than ace. He wields the Mera mera no mi easily right after eating it, is able to face off with an admiral and in this scene right here, I’m pretty sure he uses Ryouu to split the platform.
A real beast. Both have their distinct emotional baggage. While Ace feels unwanted and hated by the world, Sabo blames himself for not being there for Ace and Luffy when they needed him the most. [sabo crushes marines mask]In his fight against the marines he seems to go a little bit Psycho for a while, until you realize that he is just very emotional and trying to protect Luffy, no matter what.
That or he is justvery ecstatic about having subscribed to this channel for more one piece content every single week. Interestingly enough, Sabo becomes a little bit more like Ace when eating the Mera Mega no mi, even sharing the same lines as Ace. [sabo saying goodbye and zoro remembering ace]. This could simply be a representation of Sabo inheriting Ace’s will to watch over Luffy.
But as I speculate in my blog on Devil Fruits here, it might very well be that devil fruits themselves store a bit of their previous owners personality in them. What really stands out to me though, is the moment Luffy realizes Sabo is alive and all Sabo tries to do is lessen Luffy’s own burden for not having saved Ace.
He actually thanks Luffy for being alive like 3 or four times, making sure that Luffy doesn’t have any more survivors guilt about Marine Ford. And speaking of Marine Ford, there is one really interesting detail, thatI think you will like. You know that Akainu’s real name is actually Sakazuki. But what you might not know is, that Sakazuki has an actual meaning in Japanese.
The reason his true name is so jarring is that “Sakazuki” is the Japanese word for a pact of brotherhood over sake cups, which is EXACTLY what Ace, Sabo, and Monkey D. Luffy did to signify their brotherly bond. Why would Oda choose that name? Well when you think about it for a second, it really fits.
While Akainu DOES kill ace and take one sake cup brother away from Luffy, Ace’s death cures Sabo’s Amnesia, giving the other sake cup brother back to him and passes his will on to Sabo. Sabo even states that he felt Ace’s spirit lift the fog in his mind as a way of guaranteeing that Luffy always had at least one brother looking out for him.
And it might foreshadow Akainu being involved with Sabo at some point in the story as well. So, up until this point, I believe that Sabo has already contributed a lot to Luffy and to the story overall. But I personally think that the most important part of his arc is yet to come. And that brings us into the realm of speculation about what happened at Marijoe to Sabo.
One possibility is of course that Sabo has been killed. That would fit in with a theory I made about Coby inheriting the Mera Mera no mi, but even if Sabo were to die, it surely wouldn’t be off-screen. Another, much more likely possibility, is that Sabo has been captured and is about to be executed.
While this would be a little bit too similar to Ace’s fate, it WOULD give Luffy the chance to actually save a brother from the government this time, which I don’t hate. However I personally think that Oda is trying to trick us into believing one or the other. My personal favorite idea, is that the Government has taken out the king of alabasta, Cobra and also tried to get rid of Vivi in the process.
This is supported by Imu picking her image during the reverie. I think it would be quite likely that sabo would have gone out of his way, just as he saved Rebecca on Dressrosa and running away with her. As a result, the government could have blamed Cobra’s death on Sabo, but would still want to keep the news from spreading that a revolutionary was able to infiltrate and escape Marijo without being caught.
Remember this scene? Sabo has a vivre card of Luffy and Vivi is bound to return to the crew. So if both of them escaped together from Marijoe and Sabo can sense Luffy’s vivre card burning up during his fight with on Wano, it would make sense for the pair to make their way towards the straw hats, maybe bringing the rest of the revolutionary army along to battle the marines coming to Wano as well.
Sabo reuniting with Luffy would have an additional meaning as well. Remember how all his attacks are dragon based? Well, Sabo is literally the right hand of Dragon himself. And we know that Luffy has no relationship with his father at all. However, Sabo was raised by dragon instead and he grew up with Luffy.
So who better to bring these two together than Luffy’s older brother. And one other thing I would really love to see, is Sabo and Luffy visiting Ace’s grave together at the end of the story. Or, if Luffy doesn’t make it, Sabo visiting both of their graves next to each other. I don’t know why, but I just thinking about that scene at the end of one piece, already puts tears in my eyes.
If you don’t want to cry now, and rather learn why devil fruits may have a will of their own and why Sabo might have inherited Ace’s will by eating his devil fruit, just click right on my face. I swear my eyes are just sweating.
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.