It's been almost two years since we set off to Big Mom's territory with Luffy and co, and what a two years it's been. The Yonko saga has well and truly begun, and if this is only the beginning then we're in for a treat over the next few years... ARC REVIEW: WHOLE CAKE ISLAND So I've re-read the arc (824-902, plus 903 since it shows us the aftermath of everything that's happened) for this. I apologise for how long this thread is going to be, but there's been a lot of stuff. Arc Summary We catch up with Sanji, who's on his way to Whole Cake Island on Bege's ship. We learn that the Germa and the Vinsmokes have a reputation as villains, and that Sanji doesn't seem too fond of them. We also find out what Sanji's bride, Pudding, looks like, and she's a cutie... Cutting back to the Sunny, the crew are out of food, and decide to go fishing. Luffy catches a fish, and before anyone can tell him to stop, he eats it. It turns out the fish is poisonous, and Luffy ends up in a bad way. While Luffy is out of commission, a mysterious ship shows up... The mysterious ship belongs to Germa 66. Sanji's brother, Yonji (who the crew initially mistake for Sanji), and his older sister, Reiju (aka Baeju), interact with the Straw Hats. Reiju comes down and helps save Luffy by sucking out the poison (which was pretty hot) The crew arrive in Totland, Big Mom's territory. We find out everything is made of sweets; something which Luffy and Chopper take advantage of. We meet Pudding, who owns one of the buildings Luffy and Chopper ate part of, and she offers to help the Straw Hats find Sanji, asking them to meet her by a certain port on Whole Cake Island. We also find out that Big Mom has 39 daughters and 46 sons by 43 different husbands, meaning the Charlotte Family is made up of 129 people. The crew then splits up: Brook and Pedro head off to search for Big Mom's Road Poneglyph, and Luffy, Nami, Chopper and Carrot head off to meet Pudding. Pekoms has gone missing, warning the crew to turn back. We find out Big Mom has an eating disorder, where she goes into a fit, destroying cities and even going as far as killing her own children, until her food cravings are satisfied. We then find out Jinbe is in Big Mom's territory, and he stops Big Mom's tantrum. Jinbe informs Big Mom that he will be cutting his ties with her so he can join Luffy, and then has to face her roulette. Pudding doesn't show up to the rendez-vous point, and Luffy and co. end up getting lost in the Seducing Woods, a forest where all the plants are sentient thanks to Big Mom's Devil Fruit ability, the Soru Soru no Mi. In the woods, we meet Brulee, Big Mom's 8th daughter, who has the Mira Mira no Mi, which allows her to manipulate mirrors. Brulee traps Chopper and Carrot in the Mirror World. We also meet Pound, one of Big Mom's ex husbands, and the father of Lola. Meanwhile, Sanji reunites with his father, Judge, on the Germa ships. We also see that the Germa army is made up exclusively of male soldiers. Sanji informs Judge that he has no intention of going through with the wedding, and the two fight. Judge wins after using underhanded tactics, and orders Reiju to place handcuffs on Sanji that will explode if he tries to escape the island. We discover Pedro and Tamago have a history. We see Caesar Clown encounter Big Mom. We find out his gigantification research is for Big Mom, who wishes to have a tea party where she can see everyone eye-to-eye. We find out that Capone Bege is responsible for Pekoms' disappearance. Bege's wife, Chiffon, is a member of the Charlotte Family who bears a striking resemblance to an old friend of the crew... It is later revealed that Chiffon is Lola's twin sister. Capone shoots Pekoms. Pound reveals that Big Mom takes a "Soul Tax" from the citizens of Totland, with each citizen giving up 2 months of their lifespan each year in order to continue living there. This allows her to create Homies, which are non-sentient objects given sentience by her Devil Fruit ability. In the Seducing Woods, we meet Cracker, one of Big Mom's three commanders with a bounty of 860,000,000 Berries. Luffy vs Cracker begins. We find out Cracker's Devil Fruit allows him to create and manipulate biscuits. Cracker's appearance on his wanted poster turns out to be one of his biscuit soldiers, and Luffy discovers his true appearance. Nami subdues the Homies using Lola's Vivre Card. Chopper devises a plan to use the Mirror World to the crew's advantage. Meanwhile, Sanji's other brothers, Ichiji and Niji, have returned from a mission. With the family complete, the Vinsmokes dine together. Sanji and Niji get into a fight over food, as well as Niji's treatment of their head chef, Cosette. Judge reveals that Zeff will be killed if Sanji refuses to comply with their plan. Niji beats Cosette. Yonji reveals to Sanji that the Germa soldiers are clones, and that their father used to work with Vegapunk, researching the "Bloodline Elements" of living beings. Ichiji and Niji join Sanji and Yonji. Sanji attempts to fight Niji for injuring Cosette, but is beaten after being told Zeff would be in danger if he fought back. We find out Ichiji, Niji, Sanji and Yonji are quadruplets. A flashback to Sanji's childhood then begins. Judge's children had all been genetically modified to be strong soldiers capable of leading the Germa once they grow up. Whilst his siblings were successful, Sanji's modifications had failed, meaning he was a normal human child. This led to bullying from his brothers, who would beat him regularly. We find out Sanji had an interest in cooking since childhood, often cooking for the rats on the ship. Judge, however, disapproved of this, forbidding him from cooking. We find out Sanji's mother died during his childhood. Judge then fakes Sanji's death due to him being a failure, choosing to keep him imprisoned in the ship's cellar. We then get a further flashback of Sanji attempting to cook for his mother, Sora. Despite his food being terrible, she eats it, and tells him it's delicious, asking him to cook for her again. Reiju decides to help Sanji escape the ship while the Germa are crossing the Red Line to the East Blue. Sanji manages to escape, but not before Judge tells him not to associate himself with the Vinsmoke Family ever again. Back in the present day, Sanji is left heavily injured after being beaten up by his brothers. We then cut to Luffy vs Cracker, which has been ongoing for 11 hours. With the help of Nami's Clima-Tact, Luffy has been eating the biscuit soldiers, resulting in him increasing in size. Reiju covers up Sanji's wounds, and the Vinsmokes head off to lunch with Big Mom. Luffy defeats Cracker using Gear 4 - Tank Man (Full Version). The Big Mom Pirates find out about Cracker's defeat. We find out that the last person to win against one of Big Mom's Commanders was Urouge, who defeated the ex-fourth Commander, Snack. Urouge was then defeated by Cracker. Luffy, Nami and Pound then head off to find Sanji, and happen to find him while he's on his way to Big Mom. Despite Luffy's best efforts, Sanji refuses to come back with the crew, resulting in him fighting Luffy and beating him to the point of unconsciousness. Sanji then separates from the crew, saying he intends to go ahead with the wedding. As the Vinsmokes leave, Luffy shouts out to Sanji that he'll wait for him in the spot they separated to continue their adventure together, refusing to eat anything other than his cooking. Luffy and Nami are then attacked by Big Mom's army, and are defeated. Nami loses the Vivre Card. The Vinsmokes meet Big Mom. Sanji and Pudding meet for the first time. Sanji reveals the extent of his wounds to Pudding, and claims she's his only remaining hope, as he is sacrificing his dream in order to save both Zeff and the Straw Hats. Sanji then asks Pudding to marry him. Sanji asks Big Mom not to harm the Straw Hats, which she accepts. Big Mom shows the Vinsmokes (minus Sanji) her library, which contains books filled with living beings. Whilst showing them the library, we find out she has an issue with the Giant Clan. We find out Luffy and Nami have been imprisoned in the library. Luffy talks to Big Mom over the Den Den Mushi. We find out Big Mom hates Lola because she refused to take part in a wedding that would have allegedly granted her the power to become Pirate King. Luffy claims that it's not Lola's fault that Big Mom hasn't become Pirate King, but her own. Brook and Pedro begin their plan to take the Road Poneglyph. With Pedro acting as a decoy, Brook heads to the Treasure Room, where the Poneglyph is located. Brook defeats the guards using Soul Pocus. During the raid, we meet Big Mom's Commander Smoothie, who has a bounty of 932,000,000 Berries. Pudding visits Luffy and Nami. After revealing something that shocks them, she leaves. Chopper and Carrot gain control of the Mirror World by capturing Brulee, and begin to search for Sanji. Brook finds the Poneglyph, but ends up running into Big Mom herself. Pedro fights Tamago. We find out Pedro once snuck into Big Mom's territory and lost one of his eyes, as well as 50 years of his life. Pedro defeats Tamago. Brook begins to fight Big Mom. Sanji, who has headed to Pudding's room with food, finds out that Pudding has captured and injured Reiju. Pudding is then revealed to have a third eye on her forehead, which she keeps covered. He then overhears a conversation between the two, in which Pudding reveals to Reiju that all the Vinsmokes, Sanji included, will be assassinated at the wedding. This turns out to be the same thing she told Luffy and Nami. Pudding then reveals she has the Memo Memo no Mi, which allows her to manipulate memories. Pudding manipulates Reiju's memory so she forgets their conversation. Jinbe shows up in the library, and frees Luffy and Nami by burning the books. Luffy then heads off to find Sanji. Sanji visits Reiju in the infirmary, and informs her of the assassination plot. Reiju decides to accept her fate, and resolves to die alongside the other Vinsmokes. It is then revealed that Sanji's mutations failed because Sora took a drug when she was pregnant with her sons in order to counteract the modifications Judge had made. Whilst it didn't affect his brothers, it worked on Sanji, which meant that rather than being an emotionless killing machine, he was a kind child. Reiju also informs Sanji that the explosives in his handcuffs are duds, and tells him to go look for his crew. On his way to find Sanji, Luffy encounters Reiju once again. Reiju informs Luffy that Sanji knows about the assassination plot. Luffy then heads off to the place he agreed to meet Sanji. Jinbe and Nami join Chopper and Carrot in the Mirror World. Pedro is also there. Brook has been defeated, and is being kept by Big Mom as a toy. He overhears Big Mom and Pudding talking about the assassination plot. When Sanji lifts Pudding's veil at the wedding, she will reveal her third eye. While he's still shocked from seeing her third eye, Pudding will shoot him in the head. Sanji decides to go and find Luffy. The crew in the Mirror World manage to rescue Brook from Big Mom. Brook reveals that he managed to obtain a rubbing of the Road Poneglyph. Sanji feeds Luffy. After an emotionally intense conversation, Sanji reveals to Luffy that he wants to rejoin the crew, but doesn't wish to see his family die. Luffy then tells Sanji that he'll help him crash the wedding. Luffy talks to Jinbe, who proposes the idea of allying with Bege to crash the wedding. Bege, who is on security for the wedding, plans to kill Big Mom. Luffy accepts the suggestion, and the crew head to Bege's. We find out Pekoms was saved by the Sun Pirates. We find out Jinbe has left the Sun Pirates to join the Straw Hats. We find out Caesar is working with Bege on the Big Mom assassination plot. The Big Mom Assassination Plot is revealed; by breaking a portrait of Big Mom's "mother", Mother Carmel, they aim to send Big Mom into a state of distress, which will provide an opening in her guard for a brief moment. In that moment, they plan to shoot Big Mom with the KX Launcher, a weapon designed by Caesar that uses bullets containing a deadly poison. The alliance then plan to escape through the mirror world. We meet commander Katakuri, who has a bounty of 1,057,000,000 Berries. Katakuri is also working security for the event, and has the ability to see the future. The wedding begins. Sanji and Pudding are to get married on top of the Wedding Cake. The Vinsmokes take their seats. They are unarmed. Sanji lifts Pudding's veil, and she prepares to kill him. However, Sanji tells Pudding her third eye is beautiful, causing her to break down in tears. It is revealed that this is the first time anyone has reacted positively to Pudding's third eye. Pudding is unable to shoot. Katakuri then attempts to kill Sanji by firing a jellybean at him. Sanji dodges. The Straw Hat and Bege plan then begins. Luffy emerges from the wedding cake, causing it to be destroyed. The alliance begin to fight the Big Mom Pirates. Jinbe reveals that Katakuri has the Mochi Mochi no Mi. Jinbe officially cuts his ties with Big Mom, and is unaffected by her "Life Or Death" ability due to not being afraid of her. He then states that a man joining the future Pirate King has no need to be afraid of a mere Yonkou. Brook detsroys the photo of Mother Carmel. However, due to her anger at the Wedding Cake being destroyed, this has no effect on Big Mom. Perospero then coats the Vinsmokes in candy, trapping them. He then prepares to kill them, despite Judge's tearful protest. Luffy shows Big Mom the broken portrait, causing her to scream. The scream causes several guests to be knocked out. The alliance are saved thanks to their trusty earplugs. Sanji, Nami, Carrot and Chopper save the Vinsmokes: Sanji melts the candy using Diable Jambe, and the others give them earplugs, and their raid suits. As Bege and his crew prepare to shoot Big Mom, we get her flashback. It is revealed that Mother Carmel was the previous owner of Big Mom's ability. Big Mom was abandoned as a child, and taken in by Mother Carmel, who ran an orphanage. They lived on Elbaf. Big Mom was an abnormally large child who liked to eat. During a festival that involved fasting, Big Mom began to crave a certain food, triggering her food tantrum. She ended up killing a hero of the Giant Clan, and as a result, her, along with Mother Carmel and the rest of the orphanage, were forced to leave Elbaf. On her sixth birthday, it is implied Big Mom ate Mother Carmel and the other orphans during a food-induced trance. She then met Streusen, with whom she started her crew. The assassination plot fails, and the mirror through which the alliance planned to escape breaks. Bege allows them all to take refuge inside his castle. The Vinsmokes put on their raid suits and help the Straw Hats fend off Big Mom's crew on the way to the castle. The alliance enter the castle, but Bege is taking damage. Sanji cuts his ties with the Vinsmokes. Caesar is tasked with carrying Bege out of danger, as the Alliance are housed in his body. Germa then offer to protect the Alliance as they are indebted to Sanji. As the escape begins, Luffy and Sanji also exit Bege's body to help Germa fight Big Mom and crew. The Alliance are defeated by the Big Mom Pirates. However, at that moment, the Tamatebako Big Mom got from Fishman Island explodes, causing the castle to collapse. The alliance manage to escape in the confusion. Streusen manages to save the other guests. The Alliance splits, and the Big Mom Pirates decide to pursue them. Katakuri is leading the group going after the Straw Hats. Big Mom is craving wedding cake. Perospero tells Big Mom the Straw Hats are hiding her cake on their ship. Big Mom decides to pursue them. Pudding offers to make another wedding cake for her mother. Big Mom catches up with the Straw Hats, and engages them in combat. Nami manages to distract Zeus, one of Big Mom's most powerful homies, using her Clima Tact. Zeus then becomes Nami's slave. Katakuri and Perospero. are waiting for the Straw Hats on the Sunny. Pudding asks Chiffon, and then Sanji, for help with the cake. Or really, Chiffon asks Sanji because Pudding is unable to talk to him properly. Sanji then heads off with Pudding and Chiffon to make the wedding cake. Once the crew arrives back on the ship, Perospero coats the Sunny in candy. Luffy vs Katakuri begins. Pedro self-destructs in an attempt to take down Perospero and save the crew. The candy armour disappears, but Perospero is still alive. Luffy takes Katakuri to the Mirror World to continue their fight, and asks Nami to destroy any remaining mirrors on the ship, in effect trapping himself in the Mirror World with Katakuri. The fight continues. Sanji and co. begin to make the wedding cake. The Straw Hats on the Sunny continue to run from Big Mom. Katakuri traps Luffy under a heap of mochi, and then heads off for a meal. Katakuri eats in secret, as it is the time in which he can let his guard down. Luffy (angrily) eats his way out of the mochi and disturbs Katakuri's meal. It is revealed that he has a deformed mouth, something which he keeps secret. Enraged, Katakuri resumes the fight. The cake is finished. However, Sanji and co. run in to Oven, Big Mom's 4th son, whilst they transport it. Pound fends off Oven with Sanji's help, in an attempt to protect his daughter. Pound eventually sacrifices himself to protect Chiffon. The Sunny is surrounded by ships, and Big Mom is in hot pursuit. Carrot notices a full moon, and transforms into a Su Long, the Mink's true form. With her new found strength, she begins to take down ship after ship, with Brook's assistance. Bege wants to poison the cake, but Sanji refuses, saying the taste alone will be enough to knock her out. Big Mom begins to attack the Sunny. However, the cake shows up at a crucial moment, distracting Big Mom. Bege then sends Big Mom's fleet towards the Straw Hats. We find out that Oven has instructed the citizens of Whole Cake Island to destroy their mirrors, leaving only one for Luffy to escape from. Sanji, who is with Pudding, waits for Luffy near the mirror. Sanji informs Pudding they'll be parting ways soon, and Pudding asks Sanji for one last request. Luffy defeats Katakuri using Gear 4th - Snake Man. Pekoms shows up to help Luffy escape the Mirror World. Using his Su Long form, he distracts the fighters situated by the mirror. Sanji helps Luffy escape. However, the escape doesn't go to plan, and the pair end up trapped. Sanji's siblings show up at the vital moment, with Niji eventually throwing Sanji and Luffy in the direction of the Sunny. As the Straw Hats escape Big Mom's Territory, they are backed up by Germa 66 and the Sun Pirates. Jinbe decides to stay and fight with his old crew. Luffy permits him, and tells him to meet them in Wano. It is revealed Pudding's last request to Sanji was a kiss. The Straw Hats escape Big Mom's territory. As the world hears of the Big Mom assassination plan, Sanji's bounty increases to 330,000,000 Berries, and the name "Vinsmoke" appears on his wanted poster. The Only Alive message Judge placed on him is gone. It is revealed that Niji gave Sanji a raid suit. Sanji refuses to wear it, though. Luffy's bounty rises to 1,500,000,000 Berries. He now has a reputation as the Fifth Emperor of the Sea. * With that very long summary over, I'm going to get in to some of my favourite parts of the arc: Sanji's Growth: Personal, not Physical Coming into WCI, we were told that this would be Sanji's arc. The Year of Sanji, and so on. We expected backstory, fights and major powerups for our curly-eyebrowed love cook. We certainly got the first of those, but not so much the others. Aside from the heart-wrenching Luffy vs Sanji fight, there wasn't that much action for him. A few kicks, a couple of dodged bullets, but then also a fair few beatings. But then, is he really a fighter? Sure, he's strong, but is that why Luffy wanted him to join? What this arc reminded us all of is that Sanji is first and foremost a cook. Looking at his backstory, the development he got in his relationship with Luffy, and his eventual saving of everyone around WCI when he made the cake, show that the one thing he cares most for is making food for the people he cares about. Sure, he'll fight, but he won't do anything that would risk him not being able to cook. As well as this, we see Sanji overcome the demons from his past by facing his biological family once again. Even though he's rejected them, he's done it on his terms. The scene in Bege's castle where he tells Judge that he's not his father offer closure to that chapter of his past. His brothers seem to have some form of respect for him now as well; even though they still consider him weak, he was strong enough to save their lives despite the rough treatment they'd given him. Whilst he's very physically strong, his resolution to save the people who gave him a traumatic upbringing shows a mental strength and kindness that the Vinsmokes, save for maybe Reiju, would ever be able to emulate. Luffy and Nami: Sanji's Best Friends? This arc also gave us a lot of development with regards to Sanji's relationships with his crewmates, though mainly Luffy and Nami. The development with Luffy was at the forefront in the first half of the arc - the Luffy vs Sanji fight and its aftermath showed us just how emotionally intelligent Luffy is, and demonstrated the trust he has in Sanji, as well as his own understanding of who Sanji is as a person. Throughout the series, it seemed to me that Luffy and Sanji's relationship has felt more "personal" than any other crew member's relationship with Luffy. There's a high level of both mutual understanding and mutual respect between the two, which is highlighted repeatedly in this arc; when Sanji tells Luffy to leave, saying the exact words Cracker had used to taunt Luffy just moments ago, Luffy doesn't buy into it. Instead, he puts his own dream on the line, saying he'd rather starve to death than become Pirate King without him. Luffy knows well that Sanji has dreams of his own, and in putting his own dream on the line, he also challenged Sanji to come back and achieve his dream. The other in-crew relationship that got a lot of growth this arc was that of Sanji and Nami. Through most of the series, we've seen Sanji constantly fawn over Nami, and go out of his way to protect her. However, this arc showed us the other side to the relationship, with Nami worrying over Sanji at various points in the arc. From the guilt she felt for not being able to stop him from coming to Whole Cake, to that slap (which was one of the heaviest moments in the arc), to the teary-eyed hug she gave him once he returned from baking the cake, we see just how fond Nami is of Sanji. Of course, Sanji has his own Nami-protecting moments, but that's to be expected. Even though there's lots of heart-eyes and over dramatic moments, the two of them have a close (and very cute) friendship. Spoiler: BONUS: Friendship is cute Nami: A strong support fighter? Speaking of Nami, she's really blossomed as a character since Zou, and the events of this arc have further pushed her growth. In the Cracker fight, we saw her provide game-changing support to Luffy both by taking advantage of Lola's Vivre Card, and by using her Clima Tact. By the end of the arc, she'd managed to capture herself a powerful servant in the form of Zeus, one of Big Mom's strongest Homies. She really feels much more reliable, and is showing much more resolve than in previous arcs. A Nami that takes initiative is one that really boosts the overall strength of the crew. Germa 66: A powerful ally? My favourite thing to come out of this arc was this set of good-looking Power Rangers. Germa 66 have added another dimension to the One Piece world by introducing technology and science to a story which hasn't had much of either. Add in Judge's Vegapunk connection and the resulting gene modifications to his kids, and we might well have been given a glimpse into the future of One Piece. I initially thought they were going to be the main antagonists of the arc, but they ended up on our side, which is cool. It's likely that they'll pull through against Big Mom, and once that happens, we could well see them again in the future, potentially as an ally in the final war. It's just a shame they didn't get more screen time... Also, Reiju is best girl and there's nothing you can do to change my mind Sanji and Pudding: A Successful Foray into Romance Whilst it didn't start off great, the Sanji/Pudding relationship ended up being a real high point of the arc. For the first time in 900 chapters, we actually got a real romance in the series, and it was good. Both characters grew up as outcasts, but unlike Sanji, Pudding was never so lucky as to find people who accepted her for who she was. As a result, the Pudding we meet is one that's trapped, and has based her existence on the premise that she's some disgusting, unloveable monster. But through Sanji, she may well be able to overcome her past and develop self-confidence. For someone to say that the one thing people have always been disgusted by is beautiful and genuinely mean it is a big deal, and we see it affect Pudding from that moment on. She develops genuine feelings for Sanji, who unfortunately doesn't realise because he sees it as part of the act. The scene where Pudding is re-watching her kiss with Sanji is probably within my top 5 for the arc, and it makes me wonder why Oda hasn't made more genuine attempts at romance. * The Tide is Turning More so than after the defeat of Doflamingo, the One Piece world has been set ablaze. One of the three great powers, the Yonko, has been disrupted, and unlike 99% of previous times, the Yonko has come out worse off than her challenger. 2 of 3 commanders defeated. An island left in relative ruin. A powerful ally defecting. A failed assassination attempt that ended up becoming an attempt on her own life. Big Mom has truly lost to Luffy and co., and the world has heard. Could more pirates end up challenging her? Might she be dethroned? All we can say for sure is that the events of Whole Cake Island are just the beginning for something much, much bigger. What are your thoughts on the arc? Disagree with anything I've said? Share your thoughts!