Since the start of Kaido’s introduction, he was already being built up as one of the strongest characters in One Piece. This is a given when Kaido is the central antagonist of the much-awaited Yonko Saga where Luffy and the Straw Hats are promised to face off with the strongest pirates of the seas. When the Straw Hats finally arrive in Wano Country, we expected Kaido to be the fireworks explosion cherry on top of all that build-up. When all is said and done, did Kaido live up to the hype?
While Kaido is a great character and is worthy of the title, “World Strongest Creature,” he did not live up to the full potential of the implications of his suicidal introduction. There is also the issue that Kaido has been hinted to have a strong flashback section, only for the flashback to be underwhelming.
We will argue all the points where Kaido did not live up to the hype. This is not to say he is not a great villain. When a Saga like the Yonko Saga lasted for a decade, any villain hyped as the biggest threat will have trouble living up to the hype.
The Hype of Kaido As The Strongest Creature
Kaido’s introduction is the best introduction of any villain in One Piece. He is in the clouds thousands of feet from the ground, and then he falls to the island below, creating a giant crater, but he is unharmed. If anything he is annoyed that the pain he feels is not enough. It turns out his favorite hobby is suicide since he cannot die, even by his own hands.
When we reached Wano, the first thing he did was blow up mountains with minimal effort with one fire breath. He then defeated Luffy with one hit: The first time Luffy got defeated in that little effort.
Kaido then goes on to fight fellow Yonko, Big Mom, splitting the sky in the process. They fought for days, when they stopped, they have no visible injuries or fatigue.
Then he fights off the Nine Red Scabbards with little effort after an initial surprise that they can hurt him. Most of the Scabbards are as strong as Kaido’s top fighters, and he defeated them easily anyway.
Next up is his match with The Worst Generation alongside Big Mom. They defeated all of them to an inch to their death, especially Zoro. Kaido then gets to defeat Luffy again once or twice.
The only reason Luffy gets to have a chance against him is because of three impossible power-ups in a row: Luffy mastered Advanced Armament Haki in a record time of a few days. He then mastered Advanced Conqueror’s Haki in the middle of the fight with Kaido, by instinct after simply realizing the technique exists. Finally, it turns out his Devil Fruit is secretly one of the most powerful in history and has now awakened.
One of these power-ups is a miracle. Three of them happening in a span of a few days and minutes is downright impossible. Yet it happened anyway.
So, is the hype of Kaido being the strongest villain yet, true to the hype? In this category, absolutely.
Kaido’s Crew Did Not Live Up To The Hype
While Kaido was hyped since the introduction of the concept of Yonko, this extends to his pirate crew as well, The Beast Pirates. If they do not live up to the hype, that reflects negatively to their leader.
After all, these are not just any old pirate crew this is the crew of a Yonko. They must feel like the strongest group of pirates the Straw Hats have ever encountered, light-years away from even Doflamingo’s crew, the Donquixote Family. The problem with the Beast Pirates is that they do not feel that much stronger than the typical pirate crew the Straw Hats encountered in the past despite the story saying otherwise.
None of the Beast Pirates have any feats that make them feel like an overwhelming threat. Think of CP-9 in their first introduction where they beat up multiple strong characters effortlessly and have turned out to have manipulated all of them for years. Rob Lucci, himself defeated both Luffy and Zoro with little effort.
Let’s go to the Donquixote Family, where all of them are dominant forces in the Dressrosa Arc as they turn multiple strong characters into harmless toys before they are even a problem. When they are not doing that they beat all of them within inches of death.
Aside from Jack The Drought, who battle the Minks Tribe for days, The Beast Pirated did nothing that intimidating. Even then, Jack cheated with poisonous gas when he got too frustrated he could not defeat his enemies fast enough.
The Tobiroppo, a group of the six best fighters of the Beast Pirates after Kaido and the three commanders under him, is introduced a little too late in the story. By the time the Straw Hat B-team defeated them, it felt like they were just introduced a few episodes ago.
It did not even feel like they were a challenge. For a group who are supposed to be as strong or stronger than the Shichibukai they went down rather easily. None of the Straw Hats are that tired after. Compare that to the Donquixote Family or the top agents of Baroque Works, where the people in charge of defeating them needed to muster every ounce of strength just to win.
Most of the time, the defeat of the Beast Pirate top fighters is so anti-climactic that it is hard to believe the fight is already over. This includes even when Sanji defeated Queen, for instance. Over so suddenly, you would not know he was defeated if a title card did not announce it.
King is Kaido’s strongest fighter, and he is defeated by Zoro, who is heavily injured from fighting two Yonkos, while his energy is being sucked dry by his magic sword, Enma. So even when Zoro was at his weakest, he can still defeat King?
So there you are, The Beast Pirates. A strong group of villains, but not the strongest we have seen so far.
The Disappointing Lack of Substance From Kaido’s Flashbacks
With the Yonko Saga, the tradition is that every major villain gets a flashback for the audience to get to know the villain’s struggle in life. In Dressrosa Arc, Doflamingo gets a flashback where he suffered due to the people’s bigotry against Celestial Dragons. We realize that the reason Doflamingo is such a monster is that he believes he was entitled to a life where he is the king above all else. That right was taken away when his father took away his birthright as a Celestial Dragon. Doflamingo is a monster, but we sympathize with his life full of suffering and we know why he does what he does.
Big Mom also received much attention with a flashback of her as a child. We realize that because of her monstrous strength even as a toddler, no one can control her, and suffered a life where she had no family, and everyone is afraid of her. Her present tyrannical presence now and her compulsion to have dozens of children is an attempt to force the world to be his family. Because no one could control her as a child, she never graduated from being an adult. Mentally she is still the same child from the past.
Since these two major villains have excellent flashbacks for us to get to know them, it stands to reason Kaido would receive a life story too. As Wano Arc goes by we get some glimpse of it. We learned that Big Mom and Kaido were once in the same crew. The two hate each other now, but references to their past friendship is littered throughout.
Then we get a flashback of how Kaido and King become friends. We see Kaido, who unlike his present state is full of laughter, smiles, and confidence in the future. So far we see a glimpse of who Kaido is building in pieces. Clearly, there will be a flashback of Kaido’s life story coming any moment now. Then it did…
With Doflamingo and Big Mom’s life stories, we really got to know them. We know what drives them. Whey value most of all. This is not the case when we finally got Kaido’s life story. Because unlike the other two, Kaido’s is just a montage. It is mostly just about him being the strongest, from when he was a teen to his adulthood, ending with the vague quote from King that whoever defeats Kaido in the future might be Joyboy.
The problem is we do not need this flashback to know Kaido is the strongest. We know that from the start. We did not get any details of his friendship with Big Mom or his time in the Rocks Pirates. We did not get any insight into why he turned to a more nihilistic individual in the present when he was full of light in the past. Nothing. No character informing emotional bit at all.
The Disappointing Way Kaido Got Defeated
Ever since we got to know Kaido as he jumped off the clouds so he can send himself a worthy death, we know that he is all about suicide. It defines him. Everything he does is for the exact purpose so he can have a worthy death that he believes Roger and Whitebeard achieved. The problem is Kaido is so strong that even with his hobby of daily suicide, there seems to be nothing on earth able to kill him. So he is getting ready to start a war so big he has no choice but to die.
It is disappointing that his suicidal tendencies played no part in the story aside from his initial introduction. He is always hunting for a good and fair fight against a powerful opponent, but whenever he gets disappointed by the outcome, it is not because he failed to die from the fight, but because he did not believe he defeated his opponent in an honorable way.
His suicidal tendencies is not mentioned ever again. Replaced by his motivation of always searching for an enjoyable fight with an honorable victory. There is this notion that if Kaido did defeat his opponent honorably, he would be happy.
This lack of follow-through on Kaido’s suicidal personality leads to a disappointing finish. Visually, the Kaido Vs. Luffy fight ended similarly to Luffy Vs. Doflamingo fight where Luffy is trying to use his giant fist to finish off his opponent, while the opponent is using his own finisher. While it looks similar the context is different.
In One Piece, Luffy always defeats the main villain in an ironic way that visually represents the destruction of the villain’s dreams. Crocodile wants to hide from the shadows so Luffy punches Crocodile in full view of the country.
Dressrosa is a beautiful land at the surface, but is actually a prison secretly manipulated by Doflamingo. So Luffy defeats Doflamingo by punching him so hard, the landmass of Dressrosa gets destroyed with him to be rebuilt anew by its people absent of Doflamingo’s influence.
Since Kaido’s suicidal tendencies are no longer being explored, when Luffy punched him to his ultimate defeat, there is no deep context to it, aside from the surface level that the final boss is now gone. There is no exploration that Kaido is finally at peace. Did he finally achieve his ultimate goal of a worthy death? None of that is explored or answered. As of right now, none of us can even confirm if he is actually dead.
Where Kaido’s strength is concerned he has proven to be a powerful villain. Where he falls short of the hype is a matter of how his story did not reach the full potential of his character.