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One Piece's Wano Arc's Five-Act Structure & The Concept of "Jo-Ha-Kyu"

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Written by   75
1 year ago

Most modern works of fiction use a Three-act structure, a narrative structure that divides the fictional work into three parts: Beginning which acts as the setup. Middle which contains the main conflict & Climax which features the resolution of such conflicts.



Don't Worry: No Wano Arc Spoilers For ONE PIECE


The Manga One Piece followed that modern structure for most of its arcs, but with Wano arc, Eiichiro Oda tried to do something different. Since Wano is based in Japan, Oda decided to use the Japanese Theater structure used in Kabuki stage plays, a five-act structure that compromises of the following acts: Jo, Ha, Ha, Ha, Kyu.

While some fans noticed it before me, I first noticed this when the final chapter of Act 1 was released and that chapter was called: HA! I didn't know the concept at the time.

Later I read that Oda is basing Wano's story structure on Kabuki plays and when he titled the final chapter of the Jo-act as Ha, he only cemented the theory. It became apparent when Act 2 ended and we entered the second Ha act.

While I understood all of the above from fans' discussions by the middle of Act 2, what I didn't understand is the importance of the name Jo-Ha-Kyu and what it meant!

Jo-Ha-Kyu as a story structure does not necessarily mean 5 Acts! The literal meaning is: "beginning, break, rapid." The concept isn't used only in Literature or Entertainment, it's a huge concept in Japan adapted to many fields including Martial Arts!

Every act must start Slowly (Jo) move with an increasingly faster pace (Ha) and end swiftly (Kyu!) If you followed Wano arc in One Piece, that's how both the first, second workd. The current third act is swiftly moving to its end too.

By God's will, I hope Oda continues making this manga more awesome!


What makes it more interesting is that in a traditional Jo-Ha-Kyu story, every scene in every act would follow the same Jo-Ha-Kyu structure. Every scene will start slowly and picks up the pace to a swift end!

That requires a lot of skill, and retrospectively speaking: Oda did just that for the most of Wano arc's scenes.

The best example of this in application would be the end of Act 1! Those who read the Manga/seen the Anime would know about it!

All of this makes me want to re-read the previous Wano acts with this information in mind! It would be interesting to see how well Oda applied the structure to all the hundreds of scenes in this arc so far~

So, what do you think? Comment below!


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Written by   75
1 year ago
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