One Piece remains among the longest shonen manga series of all time. Starting in 1997 and continuing to this day, One Piece stood as one of the Big Three manga of Weekly Shonen Jump, alongside Naruto and Bleach, which both started afterwards. But even when those two series reached their ends, One Piece continued. Unlike its peers, additionally, One Piece never appeared to hit a wall or peak, and Eiichiro Oda put together a continuous saga filled with arcs that rose and fell naturally.
However, in a recent interview, Oda revealed that the story of the Straw Hat Pirates will be coming to an end, likely within the next five years. However, this begs the question of how the saga, with all its plot threads and ideas, can be wrapped up in half of a decade.
THE END IS NEAR
The news of One Piece's conclusion came through a YouTube interview, which was translated for English speakers on Twitter.
A team of seven Japanese Youtubers collectively named Fischer's toured Oda's manga studio. Oda offered them autographed art among other things, but the most interesting aspect to the visit was the interview conducted during that time. Many aspects of One Piece's future were discussed, but most surprising of all was Oda's statement that he intended on finishing the series within five years.
1 hour ago, Japanese Youtubers called Fischer's posted a video of Oda’s studio. They held an interview with Oda. Here is my summary of the interview. Oda said he’d like to finish OP in 5 years. He kindly gave 7 autographs to each of the Youtubers.😍 Video: https://t.co/66lKhrod52 pic.twitter.com/MX0qWKXqwd— sandman (@sandman_AP) August 30, 2019
In addition to discussing details like Oda's love of sushi, they discussed several upcoming plot points, more specifically that "the great incident by Straw Hat Grand Fleet mentioned in [the] Dressrosa arc" will take place "soon."
The interview gave no clarification as to how soon this will occur and whether or not this will help tie together the greater plot of One Piece. However, all this begs the question of just how much ground is left to cover in One Piece.
The Big Conflicts
Obviously, the biggest way the manga can end is if someone -- hopefully the Straw Hats -- actually find the titular One Piece. However, there are numerous other plot points that could still be covered.
Oda has periodically mentioned ending the manga at various points in his career with the project. He has mentioned the project reaching the "halfway point" several years ago. Since then , many plot and ideas brought up earlier in the manga have been tied into the plot. One example of this is the Land of Wano, which is currently being explored in the anime. Wano first came up in Chapter 819 of One Piece (Episode 771), before coming back into play 90 chapters later.
There are also several characters who need to come back into the plot as well. Zoro still needs to defeat Mihawk, his rival and most recent master, in battle. Shanks, the red-headed pirate who inspired Luffy to become a pirate, still needs to reunite with Luffy after the time-skip.
But most notably, Marshall D. Teach, Blackbeard himself, is still out there. As one of the most powerful villains in One Piece, Blackbeard has mostly been on the sidelines of the post-time skip era of One Piece. Oda is seemingly building up to something huge with the villain's return, which could very well play a role in the series' endgame.
Can It Be Satisfying?
One common issue with many long-running shonen series is that the ending fails to be satisfying. Either the conclusion is overly drawn out or far too rushed. The final third of Naruto is essentially a gigantic war that seems to go on forever. The final arc of Bleach, thanks to the series premature cancellation, feels overly rushed yet conclusive.
But Oda as consistently been very open about how much of One Piece is left. He has deliberately paced the story out in a very particular way, which indicates that everything Oda wants to tell is unfolding exactly the way he wants. As Shonen Jump's most successful manga since Dragon Ball, One Piece enjoys a position of favor that allows Oda to write One Piece as he pleases. Given Oda's consistent track record, if he says he has five years of stories left to tell, fans have every reason to anticipate five climactic, thoroughly satisfying years of pirate action.