In Wano, Luffy refuses to celebrate until all can feast with him
It's the end of the day. Peace has been achieved. The citizens are happy. The wannabe warlord that was plaguing them has been punched through a wall, or a street, or a roof, or whatever construction material happened to be lying nearby. Now it's time for the Straw Hats to celebrate their victory in the best way they know how: a feast. Eating a lot is the finest way to congratulate yourself when you've just spent an entire arc ensuring an island doesn't get destroyed.
Food and the mass consumption of it during parties is a frequent occurrence in One Piece — and not just because Luffy requires obscene amounts of meat to simply survive. It serves to complete a theme that's prominent in the narrative, one that sees the people of an island that's just been liberated able to live freely and lavishly for the first time in a long time. There are few better representations of a place that's achieved equal power and standing for its residents than open access to food. The allowance of food and the elimination of hunger makes for the elimination of suffering, often on a grand scale.
Without food, there is fear and the horrors of starvation. It creates a deep paranoia to go along with the physical after-effects of being malnourished. It's one of the reasons hope is so rare on these islands run by vicious pirates. Any attempts at reclaiming not just their standings but the resources necessary for life could be met with a backlash that removes them. The dribbles of sustenance they get, the little bits of rice and water, are better than a slow death. It keeps people weak and it keeps them subservient. And it's featured most heavily in Wano.
Wano, run with isolationist intent by Kaido, allows few chances for thriving. Only those willing to work for him get that opportunity — only the strongest of them get access to food and nutrition that's sustained in any way. The people that live out in towns like Okobore are only allowed the scraps of whatever is consumed by the more powerful. Children like Tama drink from poisoned streams, risking deadly sickness. Luffy is able to bring a cart of food for them, and upon seeing Tama enjoy an apple, promises her that when he leaves Wano, she'll have as much food as she wants for the rest of her life.
It's here that all of those feasts the Straw Hats have taken part in come full circle. There is a certain amount of luck inherent in the Straw Hats' adventure — not just luck that allowed them to find one another, a band of lost souls looking for those that would one day support their dreams — but in how they've been allowed to prosper on the Grand Line. The food that's been granted and the goodwill that corresponds with it. It's part of Luffy's unnatural ability to win people over and to create allies out of potential antagonists. So they come to feast and celebrate among the residents they have saved from almost certain doom. And then they just kinda pass out, because fighting and eating is a lot of work.
But there is no feast for the common residents of Wano and no food available to give to Luffy and his crusading group. As such, there is no victory until everyone, not just the Straw Hats, are allowed to enjoy these very literal fruits of their labors. It's why Luffy refuses to celebrate before he and his allies head out to Onigashima. The people of Wano still starve. No achievement can been won until that is changed.
There's still quite a while to go left in the battle for Wano's freedom and there's no telling what will have happened when the dust settles. But in trying to grant the poor and the underclass residents of Wano a chance at the food the Straw Hats have so often enjoyed means giving them almost the best kind of triumph one can ask for. For with food doesn't just come survival, but equality. It gives them the same option the Straw Hats have given one another by their choice to join together: A platform to move forward, to follow dreams, to feast.
Daniel Dockery is a Senior Staff Writer for Crunchyroll. Follow him on Twitter!
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