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One Piece is a larger-than-life adventure featuring larger-than-life characters with fantastical powers. It’s no surprise that creator Eiichiro Oda loves drawing inspiration from real-world mythologies, which are some of the grandest stories out there.
Whether it’s Elbaf, a nation of giants that directly references Norse mythology, Sengoku’s Buddha Devil Fruit, or Momonosuke’s relationship to the Japanese tale Momotaro, One Piece is peppered with mythological references from the whole world. Blackbeard and Luffy’s relationship could also be a reference to a mythological tale from one of Earth’s oldest civilizations: Egypt.
Blackbeard from One Piece and the mythological Egyptian god, Apophis
In Egyptian mythology, the god of darkness and chaos, Apophis, is the sworn enemy of the sun god, Ra. Each day, Ra uses the sun as his divine barge, sailing through the sky and bringing light to all the earth before settling in the underworld for the night. Apophis sought to kill Ra each time he navigated the darkness, but he failed each time.
Apophis is the god of darkness, but he also has the ability to create earthquakes – very similar to Blackbeard in One Piece, who has both the Yami-Yami no Mi and the Gura-Gura no Mi. Apophis is also depicted in the form of a serpent, a creature said to share the same characteristics as Blackbeard. In mythology, serpents are creatures of deception and cunning, two traits that perfectly describe Blackbeard. He waited decades to find the Yami-Yami no Mi, infiltrating the Whitebeard Pirates for the opportunity to obtain it. Blackbeard tricked his crewmates into thinking he was one of them, only to betray their trust the moment they found the Devil Fruit he was looking for.
Another factor that associates Blackbeard with Apophis is the general serpent symbolism. In Egyptian mythology, snakes are depicted differently from other cultures, often as royal and protective creatures, except for one: Apophis. Just as Apophis is the snake that breaks the mould, Blackbeard breaks another in One Piece. Clan D – of which Blackbeard is supposed to be a part – is shown to be fearless in the face of death, often dying with a smile on their face. However, whenever Blackbeard is about to die, he begs for mercy or tries to get out of it somehow.
Luffy, Nika and the Egyptian Sun God, Ra
Regarding Luffy, the connection with Ra is more obvious. During the battle against Kaido during the Onigashima Raid, Luffy was badly injured to the point that even fans thought he was dead. However, her Devil Fruit suddenly awakened her true abilities, revealing that it was not Gomu-Gomu no Mi, but Hito-Hito no Mi, Model: Nika.
In the One Piece mythology, Nika is the god of the sun who is said to spread joy wherever he goes, and seeks to bring smiles to the faces of the downtrodden. Such benevolence is closely linked to Ra, who is said to be the father of all creation and who arrived in the universe to banish the existing darkness.
The real name of Luffy’s Devil Fruit helped establish another connection between the Straw Hats captain and the real-life Sun God. The ship the Straw Hats sail on is the Thousand Sunny, whose figurehead is a lion’s head, but also distinctly resembles a sun.
Sun God Luffy sailing through the world of One Piece, freeing oppressed peoples and spreading joy while riding a sun is a pretty literal take on the myth, but all signs point to it. Many characters in the story said that Luffy would bring “the dawn of the world”, a concept still unexplained in the narrative. A straightforward interpretation would imply that Luffy will change the world for the better in some way, but for now, it’s still one more connection to Ra, who brings dawn every day.
Blackbeard is considered by fans to be Luffy’s last opponent in One Piece. Although this is yet to be confirmed, the God of Darkness taking on the God of Light in a final showdown would definitely be a fitting ending for both of these characters.