Orochi from One Piece was the first Kurozumi to successfully take the Shogunate, but he wasn’t the first to get his hands dirty trying.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece episode 965, “Crossing Swords! Roger and Whitebeard!” now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
With Whitebeard’s crew busy helping care for Oden’s two sons, Episode 965 of One piece“Crossing swords! Roger and Whitebeard!” actually, it takes a break from the main characters to delve into some much-needed background for the penultimate villain of the arc: the usurper of the serpent in the grass, Orochi Kurozumi.
In the episode, Shogun Sukiyaki, Oden’s father, expresses his wish for Oden to succeed him as the Shogun, but since Oden is out of the country, he appoints Orochi as the acting Shogun in case his illness overtakes him. This will no doubt come as a surprise to many viewers as Sukiyaki is shown to be quite a down to earth man, however he does refer to Orochi as someone Oden treated as “his little brother”. Yasuie, a witness to this, is just as confused, but agrees to Sukiyaki’s arrangement before asking Orochi why he never told Yasuie about his Kurozumi heritage.
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Then how One Piece It is customary, the scene changes to a flashback within a flashback, showing Orochi’s past. We follow him as he is hunted by the Kozumi clan loyalists simply for being a Kurozumi, calling them the “Parasites of the Land of Wano”. Barely managing to escape, Orochi mourns his life, wondering why he must suffer for his grandfather’s crimes. It is then that he sees an abandoned shack and seeks refuge inside, only to find it occupied.
Inside are an old woman and a silent old man with a biwa who scare the young usurper. The woman then reveals to Orochi her family’s past, or rather, the exactly details of his grandfather’s crimes. While the exhibit is a bit clunky for her efforts to resist doing a flashback-within-a-flashback-within-a-flashback, the witch reveals that, prior to Sukiyaki’s birth, there was no heir to the clan. Kozuki, and as a result, the other daimyo were ready to take the throne. Thus, the leader of the Kurozumi clan, Orochi’s grandfather, began to kill the other potential pseudo-heirs, so that when the time came, he and only he could inherit the throne.
But after successfully poisoning the rest of the daimyo and making it look like an inside job, who should be born but Sukiyaki? With the heir secured, when Orochi’s grandfather’s treachery was discovered, he committed seppuku while pursuing the rest of his family.
By telling Orochi this story, the woman deflects the direction of her anger away from her grandfather, who was clearly trying to take his rightful place in power, and about Sukiyaki, the one whose birth prevented power from being given to his family and, by extension, to he. This lure of “what could have been”, coupled with the promise of power from the woman using her ability to mimic any face and the convenient Snake-Snake Fruit dropped at her feet, Orochi finally decides to stop wallowing in. pity and run. instead, he chose to use his acting skills to rise through the ranks of society, while collecting money to create a weapons plant, as per the old woman’s plan.
And so, after stealing Yasuie’s funds and taking advantage of Oden’s generosity, the woman transforms into Oden to visit Sukiyaki in the capital, presenting Orochi as someone who is like a “little brother” to him, but that’s because it doesn’t mean the end of the story. It is unknown how many times we see Sukiyaki alive after Orochi’s entrance to the palace, as a later scene reveals that the woman has copied Sukiyaki’s form, and is pretend her illness. From what we know, Sukiyaki was poisoned within hours of Orochi’s entry into the Flower Capital. It also explains why the Sukiyaki costumed woman’s cough sounds so falsely to the casual observer prior to this reveal. As the clone who was tasked with Orochi’s rise to power, he was clearly not as good a performer as Orochi himself.
And so it is that we finally understand how all the pieces fit into place that an absolute no one as Orochi, whining and plotting Orochi, he could so easily seize the power of the legendary Kozuki Clan and, with it, seal Wano’s blood-soaked future.
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