One Piece Finally Fixes its Stale Villain Formula in New Arc

Warning: SPOILERS for One Piece chapter 1062How One Piece just portrayed Dr. Vegapunk is actually fixing a stale villain formula that has been plaguing the long-running shonen series for decades.

In a trend that has only been getting progressively worse over the years, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece has made a habit of introducing random villains halfway through arcs and sometimes during the final battle. The end result makes it more difficult for fans to get invested in the stories or exploits of these new antagonists, only serving to steal time away from the long-established villains readers are more invested in. Even when the series brings these new bad guys in earlier, they always tend to thrust them onto the page all at once, forcing readers to divide their attention across numerous new characters rather than focus all their attention on one.

But in chapter 1062, Oda seems to have finally learned from his previous mistakes by not only introducing numerous “different” villains at once but allowing the reader to be just as invested in each of them as they would be in One Piece’s mysterious Vegapunk himself. There are actually six versions of Vegapunk as this chapter reveals and, based on a small diagram, each of them possesses a different quality: greed, violence, wisdom, thinker, evil and good.

Why One Piece’s Usual Villain Formula Hurts the Story

This is a much more effective strategy than just throwing a bunch of random faces all at once, especially since One Piece associates them with certain qualities that readers can get excited about. This new creative technique moves away from how the series typically introduces its villains, which is during random meetings about things readers don’t understand yet, further alienating them from what should be an important moment. Some fans might view the series’ old way of doing things as an effective strategy that makes its world bigger than it already is. But this usually doesn’t work from a narrative standpoint when taking into consideration how much effort is put into other aspects of the story. One Piece should introduce each new villain in a way that makes them stand. The later these new antagonists make their debut in any given arc, the less likely casual readers will get invested in them because they already care more for the established villains.

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Of course, the introduction of these six “satellites” of Dr. Vegapunk could have no effect on the host of other villains that may appear during One Piece’s final saga. But, the fact that the series went out of its way to tell readers how many versions of Vegapunk there are is promising, since this is something that the series would normally hide from readers to keep them guessing. Readers can only hope that One Piece doesn’t fall back on old habits.

Read the latest chapter of One Piece now from Viz Media.

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