One Piece author Eiichiro Oda’s one-shot MONSTERS: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation has gotten a lot of buzz lately, with all the hype for the anime adaptation hitting streaming platforms in Jan 2024.
But what has got a lot of fans confused is whether the one-shot is canon to the One Piece storyline.
Is Monsters canon to the One Piece storyline?
Yes and no, to be precise. I’ll explain how.
The story is canon to just one character, and that is Shimotsuki Ryuma.
Oda had confirmed in a SBS to Vol.47 that the Ryuma mentioned in One Piece chapter 450 is indeed the same Ryuma in Monsters. However, in chapter 450, the Ryuma we see is in zombie mode.
(One Piece chapter 450)
Nami, Usopp, and Chopper encounter this Ryuma in Hogback’s mansion when Hogback sends him to stop the Straw hats. Hogback states that he is a “General Zombie” who holds the body of a warrior from Wano Country in the New World, further pointing out that the legend of how this samurai cut down a flying dragon has been handed down for centuries.
We see the same thing mentioned in another part of the manga to Zoro.
(Ryuma mentioned in One Piece)
And in the Monsters manga, we actually see Ryuma taking down a dragon with his sword!
(Ryuma slaying a dragon in Monsters manga)
Oda explains in that SBS that the Ryuma in One Piece is now a legendary swordsman who died of sickness and was pleasantly surprised to see that so many people noticed.
Here’s Oda’s exact words:
Q: Is the swordsman “Ryuma” who was once said to have defeated a dragon the very same Ryuma that starred in the short story “Monsters” from your collection volume entitled “Wanted!”?
A: The zombie Ryuma appears in Chapter 450 from this volume, and he is indeed the Ryuma who starred in “Monsters”. In the world of One Piece, he’s now a legendary swordsman who died of sickness. I wouldn’t have minded if this had just slipped through the cracks, but I was happy to see that so many people noticed.
However, some fans have pointed out that the Ryuma in One Piece has white hair, differentiating from the Ryuma in Monsters with black hair, saying that both are different.
But they fail to account for the fact that Oda has specifically mentioned that the Ryuma we saw in Chapter 450 has now turned into a zombie. Which means the Ryuma in Monsters is just his younger self before he died.
The Netflix English account has DIRECTLY confirmed that the Ryuma in Monsters is the same legendary swordsman who hailed from Wano, as mentioned by Hogback.
MONSTERS: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation by Eiichiro Oda tells the tale of Ryuma, the legendary swordsman that hails from the Land of Wano in One Piece.
Coming to Netflix, January 2024! pic.twitter.com/hDh8JPI1mu
— Netflix Anime (@NetflixAnime) December 15, 2023
Some fans also argued that Oda merely used the character and his backstory as the basis to form the character we know in One Piece and that they’re both different. But there’s direct CONFIRMATION from Oda himself that they’re, in fact, both one and the same character.
Perhaps the locations, settings, and other characters in Monsters may not be Canon to One Piece, as Oda only talks about Ryuma the character. Some fans claim that in Monsters, Ryuma killed that dragon in another location.
Oda could have just retconned the location but still kept the character and his events connected in both stories. That’s why I said “yes and no” in the beginning.
TL;DR: Ryuma, his legend, and his backstory in Monsters form the basis of his character in One Piece, which Oda has confirmed in the SBS that they are indeed the same character, and Monsters narrates the story of his younger version.
Otherwise, it’s not confirmed whether the other characters, locations and settings in Monsters is canon to One Piece.