In One Piece, Luffy has repeatedly suffered defeat at the hands of Kaido – which is exactly what makes this shining battle so exciting.
One Piece’s Wano Arc is in an interesting state right now, especially with the Luffy and Kaido battle going on. During this part, the two fought twice and both times, Luffy lost Yonko known as the Strongest Creature. Even in Chapter 1020, even though he can hardly move, he still plans to kick Kaido’s ass. However, this is what excites Wano and could prove to be a more thrilling climax towards the end.
In typical shonen fashion, as the protagonist approaches his final battle against the main antagonist, they stumble at first, gain some kind of power, and manage to turn the tide in the end. Of course, not all works are so dry and there are many ways to disappoint the audience’s expectations. In previous One Piece installments, Luffy lost his first battle with the main antagonist but managed to win the second; Such examples include Crocodile and Rob Lucci.
During their first battle at the start of the Wano part, Luffy used his Gear Four against Kaido, but Yonko was able to knock the rubber man unconscious with a single attack. One Piece affirming how much stronger Kaido is than Luffy while reinforcing that the goal of defeating him is impossible. Since then, Luffy has trained and enhanced his haki control in Udon prison with Hyo, leading to the Onigashima raid.
When Luffy rematched Kaido, he wasn’t alone because Zoro, Kidd, Law and Killer were also by his side. This makes Kaido feel like an even stronger adversary, especially since we’ve just seen him defeat 9 scabbards a few chapters earlier on his own. Furthermore, outnumbering you and Big Mom doesn’t guarantee victory for the Supernovas, but we’ve seen their attacks still sever two Yonko.
When the story comes to Luffy facing Kaido alone for the second time, it seems like the fight could go both ways. Luffy is able to infuse Conqueror Haki into his attacks like Kaido, dealing significant damage. However, in the end Luffy lost because he didn’t reach the level of mastery of it like Kaido. Unlike Goku reaching Super Saiyan or Ichigo unlocking Bankai, Luffy’s advanced Conqueror Haki is not an instant upgrade. He still needs to master this technique to help defeat Kaido, which makes the One Piece rubber man’s struggles feel more rewarding.
Now in Chapter #1020, Kaido is facing Yamato while Luffy is recovering, but then still hasn’t given up on defeating Yonko. There are two good reasons why Kaido has to face many opponents
First, it makes the reader more than just a battle between Luffy and Kaido. The people of Wano have suffered for decades at the hands of Kaido, and the Scabbards are fueled by revenge after Yonko kills their master, Oden. They have both personal and exploitative reasons for fighting Kaido, which gives the weight of watching them fight – even if it’s a loss – instead of just putting all their hopes up. into Luffy.
The second reason is that the Wano arc has a lot of characters. Some were even introduced in Onigashima, like Yamato or Tobi-Roppo. If this was simply about getting Luffy to meet Kaido, the story would be a lot more predictable. Instead, One Piece feels more like a board game with all of these moving characters acting in their own way. Kaido losing would be a good thing for all of Wano, but Yamato also has personal reasons when facing his father, which makes their current fight even more emotionally heavy. It’s impossible to convince that reader by letting every character believe that Luffy will simply save the day – everyone has to contribute something.
Luffy will most likely face Kaido in the end, and knowing Eiichiro Oda, the hype surrounding it will be one hell of a battle. For now, though, we’ll have to keep cheering for Yamato while Luffy recovers.