One Piece Chapter 1098 Review/Recap
How do you know if a work of fiction is truly great? In my opinion, it’s when the story can elicit great emotion from those witnessing the story. One Piece‘s done that a hundred times over by now. However, the chapters surrounding Kuma’s backstory are amongst the series darkest to date. But this? This hands down might be the darkest chapter Oda has ever written, simply from the pure, raw emotion it elicits. This chapter, the fate that everyone predicted awaited Ginny happened in the worst way possible. Everyone had to say goodbye to Ginny, and hello to Bonney.
Quick note: this chapter was released with the drawings half-done. For the first time in the manga’s history, Oda failed to finish the chapter in time. Thus, many of the pages are half-finished sketches. More on that later, though.
Over the Den-Den Mushi, Ginny’s detachment revealed what happened: they were attacked and almost wiped out by someone from the World Government. They abducted Ginny, who had caught the eye of a Celestial Dragon, and took her with them to become his bride, horrifying Kuma and the others. Since that day, Kuma threw himself into his role with the Revolutionary Army, recklessly charging into battle and helping the revolution as it becomes more violent.
Two years passed, and Dragon, Ivankov, and Kuma got a call…from Ginny. The Celestial Dragons abandoned her after she grew ill. However, they’re horrified when Ginny reveals that this call is meant to say goodbye. As Kuma teleports away, Ginny asks Dragon and Ivankov to look after him, before telling Kuma she’s always loved him. By the time Kuma reaches their church home in the Sorbet Kingdom. Ginny…is gone. Her body turned blue in the sun and skin hardened like stone. She did it all for the sake of her daughter, Bonney.
Kuma Becomes a Father
After burying Ginny at their church, Kuma vowed to raise her daughter as his own, with the help of the townsfolk, who adored her just as much as they did her mother. From then on, Kuma divided his time between the Revolutionary Army (and training Sabo) and raising Bonney. However, one day, Bonney started to get the same blue stones Ginny had.
Dragon reached out to every doctor they knew, and they told Kuma the grim news: it was a rare, almost unheard disease called sapphire scale. Those stones would grow under natural light; even without it, and it was terminal. She would be lucky to live to see her 10th birthday. Worse, Bonney overheard that last part and mistakes this to mean she’ll be cured once she turns 10.
Having no idea what to say to Bonney, Kuma keeps up the lie. He makes her stay in the church and tells her stories of all the places they’ll visit when she’s better.
Then, after six years have passed since Bonney’s birth, disaster strikes. King Becori returned to Sorbet Kingdom…to destroy the country’s deadweight, burning them in their homes.
This might be the darkest chapter that Eichiro Oda’s ever written for One Piece. Oda has given us plenty of characters with dark and traumatic pasts before. But this? Kuma’s backstory might have them all beat in sheer tragedy. And there are so many reasons why.
At the start of this, I said that a hallmark for a great story is the ability to elicit strong emotions from people. If that’s true, then this chapter managed to do so in spades. My hands started shaking in anger as I learned who kidnapped Ginny. Never in my mind did I expect her kidnappers to be the Celestial Dragons. I assumed the Navy or Cipher Pol was trying to lure out her comrades. In addition, while Oda doesn’t say it outright, it doesn’t take a genius to realize how she had Bonney. The Celestial Dragons likely raped her. It’s the only logical explanation. And once you accept that logic, you get hit with the realization that they’ve done this to countless other slaves over the centuries.
With a few exceptions, we’ve been meant to loathe the Celestial Dragons from their introduction. But this? After what we’ve seen of them in this arc, I think “hate” would be putting it lightly. They’ve made Kuma’s life hell from the moment he was born. Enslaving him, killing his parents, kidnapping the woman he loved and then throwing her out like trash. By the time I was done reading the chapter, I was on the verge of tears. No wonder Vegapunk didn’t want Bonney to look at her father’s memories. The thing he’s gone through would destroy most people.
Kuma Might Be in the Running for Best Dad
The tear-jerking moments continued this chapter as we saw Kuma raise Bonney as her daughter. While it is a shock that a Celestial Dragon likely fathered Bonney, it feels like the fans all agree that Kuma was all her true father. And while losing Ginny was heart-breaking, I couldn’t help but smile seeing Kuma raising Bonney with all the love and care in the world.
The juxtaposition of his status as a loving father with his work in the Revolutionary Army is also heartwarming. He was doing it all to give his daughter a better world than the one he was born into, where Nika could come and save everyone. Which only makes it crueler for him to learn that the sun, the symbol of the hero his Dad told him about, could kill the last thing he has to remember Ginny by. I can’t even imagine how he kept himself together for so long.
In addition, this chapter also confirms that, while she can take on the form of an adult, Bonney is technically still a child. So, many fans are about to be in for a world of scrutiny.
It does beg the question: if Bonney’s around 12 years old, how is she still alive? There are three potential theories behind this:
- Her Devil Fruit powers saved her like Law’s did
- Vegapunk found a cure for her
- Kuma made a deal with the World Government
Truthfully, I don’t know if any of these theories tread water. It’s just as likely that something else happened as it could’ve been any combination of them. What matters is that it eventually happened. Knowing that, though, doesn’t make this flashback any less painful, and the incomplete drawings only add a certain dark feeling to it.
The Incomplete Drawings Only Make the Chapter More Haunting
Earlier this week, word went around the fandom that Oda was unable to finish the manuscript for this chapter. The end result was one filled with half-done sketches and incomplete illustrations. Oda has never failed to make his deadline before, so the fact that he finally did so generated a lot of concern. Many fans know how grueling being a mangaka is, and have openly expressed their concerns for Oda’s health on social media, myself included. However, the fact that the chapter was drawn incomplete might have been a blessing in disguise.
The rougher look to this chapter emphasizes that this is among the darkest that Oda’s written for One Piece. The look of horror on Kuma’s face when he learns of Ginny’s abduction is enough to send shivers down a reader’s spine. It shows just how badly Kuma’s life has continued to go and how much he’s suffered. In addition, the fact that this is the first time Oda’s ever missed a deadline isn’t a failure. It’s a testament to his work ethic.
By a wide margin, this was among the absolute best chapters of the Egghead Island Arc, if not the best. The tragedy of Ginny and Kuma is like this great love epic. It shows how Kuma might have the saddest backstory in the entire series (which is saying something), and how unfairly he’s gotten it in life. It had me going from shaking in anger to being on the verge of tears by the end. That’s masterclass storytelling there! It’s more than worth waiting two weeks to see what happens next.
I Give “Birth of Bonney” a 5/5
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