One Piece creator has been planning legendary character since before the franchise even started

Anamika Das
Luffy smiling in Gear 5

Eiichiro Oda’s early work proves the most legendary character in One Piece was planned years before the beloved manga’s debut.

Recently, the One Piece author’s first editor revealed the concept art of one of his unfinished works. Titled ‘Forward’, the manga was pitched by a 19-year-old Oda. However, the idea was apparently shelved since it never made it to serialization.

Forward’s protagonist is a young man named Monkey D. Pao, who looks quite similar to our very own Monkey D. Luffy. The concept for this character was someone who likes to “stretch and sleep”. Sounds familiar?

Besides his illustration, Oda noted, “People who can laugh off their weaknesses are the strongest.” This seems like a reference to the character’s power. Monkey D. Pao might be someone who becomes stronger the more he laughs.

This is reminiscent of a legendary One Piece character who’s also incredibly strong and notorious for their laugh. The Sun God Nika made an explosive introduction in the story when Luffy transformed into the deity in Gear 5.

It’s thanks to Gear 5 that we learned how laughter plays an important role in Nika’s powers. But it’s not just Nika or Luffy who has this incredible ability. The mysterious Joyboy also possessed the same powers during the Void Century.

Like Luffy and Nika, Joyboy’s powers also included stretching, coupled with the signature manic laugh and the freedom of doing practically anything he wanted. However, unlike Nika, he wasn’t a deity but a real person.

Given how we don’t know most things about Joyboy, including his real name, the historical figure may actually be Monkey D. Pao. It’s plausible since we know he also belonged to the D clan. And his being blood-related to Luffy is an exciting prospect.

While this is all conjecture at this point, it’s not impossible. Oda has previously incorporated a character from his earlier work into One Piece canon. With a 30-year gap in between, Monsters’ protagonist Shimotsuki Ryuma was confirmed to be One Piece’s legendary samurai and Thriller Bark’s antagonist.

Interestingly, Forward was conceived in the same year, 1994. So, it’s entirely possible that like Ryuma, Pao will also find his way into One Piece’s canon.

For more, find out if Bonney will join the Straw Hat Pirates or if Sanji will get Conqueror’s Haki. You can also check out our explainer on Bonney’s Devil Fruit and Bonney’s new transformation.

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