Author’s Note: All spellings in this article are taken from the Viz Media translation of the One Piece manga.
I don’t think I have to convince anyone here that One Piece is one hell of a series. Yes, it definitely appeals to audiences on the most base of levels — the characters, the emotion, the plight of the characters are all top notch — but where most shonen manga end is really where One Piece truly begins.
From the get-go, it was clear that author Eiichiro Oda wasn’t in this game for the short term. The story’s protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, had the loftiest of dreams — one that wouldn’t be possible in a short series. That was our first clue that the story would be a lengthy one. However, with the climax of the Alabasta arc, the introduction of the Ancient Weapons, and our first look at a Ponegliff, it became even more evident that Oda had his long game hat on. He wasn’t just planning for the immediate arc. He wasn’t planning for even a long-running, multi-arc saga. No. He was planting objects, clues, and hints for what will likely be a thirty-year epic fantasy on the highest scale.
Of course, while the positives for such a tale are immense, there are some drawbacks. As we all recently experienced in the Dressrosa arc, when a story stretches out over a long period of time, little details (and sometimes even big ones) tend to fall away from the reader’s minds. While Oda may have had the foresight to plant all the right pieces, it’s meaningless if the reader isn’t able to process all of them, and unfortunately, the reality is that a number of those longterm plants from Oda will be lost to many mainstream fans.
One Piece has many of these long term plants. From historical details to the Ancient Weapons, fans aren’t wanting for things to analyze. In honor of One Piece History Month (yes, I’m a bit late, but deal with it), as well as the recent reveal of the Road Ponegliffs, we at The One Piece Podcast thought it may be helpful to go back, talk about the importance of Ponegliffs, as well as detail all the stones we’ve seen in the series so far. We know you’re the most hardcore of fans, so we’d hate for even the smallest of details to be lost.
So without further ado, let’s hop into a little bit of One Piece history!
II. Overall Explanation of Ponegliffs
It goes without saying that we can’t really talk about Ponegliffs without first establishing what the heck a Ponegliff is.
The Ponegliffs are large, cubed, monolith-type blocks with ancient text carved into them. The ability to read this text is knowledge that has all but been lost to time. The only known group of people who knew how to decipher this language were the scholars of Ohara. However, the knowledge to be gained through the Ponegliffs was deemed dangerous to the World Government, and as such, it was declared illegal even to read them. This didn’t bode well for the scholars of Ohara, who had learned too much about the Void Century that the World Government has done everything in their power to suppress.
In chapter 395 of the One Piece manga, Professor Clover went into great detail about why the Ponegliffs were made, and why the World Government is so afraid of them.
“Why did the people of the past resort to writing on the stone in order convey a message to the future? They dotted the world with these unbreakable stone tablets, onto which they carved their history. Isn’t this because they felt that their message would be eradicated if left only on paper and books? In other words, this is proof that the people who left the Ponegliff behind had an enemy!!
If we assume these people were annihilated by their enemy, then this enemy survived through the subsequent history. And coincidentally, the 100-year void ended 800 years ago, which marks the birth of the World Government.
If the World Government happened to be the enemy of the people who were annihilated, we can conclude that the 100-year void contains a history that was inconvenient to the World Government and hence was erased!!
After reading ancient manuscripts and the few Ponegliffs that have been found, we’ve gradually discovered the existence of a nation…of which no trace now remains. What is clear from these manuscripts is the existence of an immense kingdom. It appears that they once had enormous power, but all information about this kingdom has been relentlessly erased.
It is probable that these people understood they would be destroyed by this alliance of nations, later called the World Government, and carved the truth of their existence into the pieces of stones…Which survive to this day, known as Ponegliffs.
Without a doubt, the so-called Ancient Weapons could destroy the world. However, and more importantly, history will reveal, that the very existence and idea of this kingdom is in fact what the World Government finds so threatening, isn’t that so? We still don’t know the nature of this threat, but the key is this ancient kingdom that once thrived…”
The World Government concluded that Ohara knew too much and ordered their execution in the name of safety. The reason, according to one Elder Star, had to do with the danger of the Ancient Weapons.
“Reading the Ponegliff makes possible the revival of Ancient Weapons — it poses a danger to the world!! Even if you do not have evil intent, others may come along who intend to take advantage of what you’ve learned.”
This claim was obviously false. In reality, the World Government continued in their mission to suppress any information about the Void Century. Everyone on the island was killed — with the exception of one of the Straw Hat Pirates, Nico Robin.
So what exactly is written on these Ponegliffs, you ask? The actual content varies. While it is true that some of these Ponegliffs reveal the location of the dangerous Ancient Weapons, that is by no means the only thing they reveal. Some tell bits of ancient history, and four specifically — as we’ve learned in more recent chapters — can be used to locate Raftel, the final island on the Grand Line.
Ponegliffs and Their Importance in the Story
Admittedly, while first hopping into this editorial, I hadn’t even realized the juggling act Oda had been doing with the Ponegliffs. In reading any story, I’m very much about story structure, character development, and pacing, though when it comes to specific details, it’s very much in one ear and out the other. If you’ve ever heard me try to actually name the characters on the One Piece Podcast, you’ll realize that I’m terrible with the little details.
It’s because of this that the true deft in which Oda has been revealing the Ponegliffs and their purpose had been lost to me up to this point. In my mind, the only real thing that came to mind was the unraveling of the Void Century. Sure, I remembered stuff like the Ancient Weapons, but I’d always merged the two in my head for some reason.
Only now, after the revealing of the Road Ponegliffs, do I get that Oda is weaving a three-fold tale here. We have three sets of Ponegliffs, and three goals in mind, all of which will eventually play into the story of Luffy becoming King of the Pirates. While Robin states in chapter 301 that there are two types of Ponegliff stones, “Stones with information and stones that show the locations of others,” I will be dividing these stones up differently, as I find it most helpful to do so. While I acknowledge there may be a better, more specific way, to divide them up, this is the format I found most useful for story purposes.
The way in which I will be dividing up these Ponegliffs is as follows:
- Historical Ponegliff Stones
- Ancient Weapon Ponegliff Stones
- Road Ponegliff Stones
Between these three types of Ponegliffs, Oda has truly proven his ability to multitask, and while we know him to be a master of long-form storytelling, let’s hope he’ll be just as masterful at paying off this story as he’s been in setting it up.
Historical Ponegliff Stones
First up, we have the “Historical Ponegliffs.” These are the Ponegliffs that tell bits and pieces of history, weaving a tale to be read for generations (for those who can decipher it, at least). These stones not only tell of history, but they also show the location of other stones, almost like a clue in a global scavenger hunt. These are the Ponegliffs that Robin seeks in hopes that she will construct the Real Ponegliff, the stone that supposedly tells of the mysterious Void Century.
“I was looking for the Real Ponegliff,” Robin reveals to King Cobra in chapter 218 while in the Royal Mausoleum in Alabasta.
“Among the many Ponegliffs that exist in the world, it’s the only one that recounts the true history.”
“Yes, there are several Ponegliffs that hold information scattered throughout the world. I’m sure that by connecting them and reading them they’ll become a document that fills the ‘Blank History’ for the first time. Connecting them will complete a text, the Real Ponegliff, which doesn’t yet exist.”
While recounting the true history of the world doesn’t necessarily have any direct effect on Luffy, the rest of the Straw Hats, or their goals, they most definitely align with Robin’s personal goals, and as such, they will undoubtedly have huge ramifications near the conclusion of the story. The world of One Piece is full of just as much political instability as the real world, and the revelation of the Void Century is sure to take down the World Government like a house of cards.
Ancient Weapon Ponegliff Stones
We had our first exposure to these Ponegliffs in the Alabasta arc. It was the main objective of Sir Crocodile to find this Ponegliff in hopes of learning the location of Pluton, one of the three Ancient Weapons. What this weapon actually does is unknown, and Crocodile ends up getting sent to prison before he’s able to fulfill his mission.
Finding these Ponegliffs is no goal of the Straw Hat Pirates, but as they make their way through the Grand Line, they keep stumbling into them. First was the revelation of Pluton, then of Poseidon, and finally of Uranus. As these are all weapons of great power, they have mostly been revealed through the actions of enemies.
The saga of Pluton played out over Alabasta and Water 7, Poseidon partly played out in Fish-Man Island (though her story is far from over), and we’ve yet to see what Uranus has in store for the story of the Straw Hats, but it’s bound to be big.
Road Ponegliff Stones
This is the most recently-revealed set of Ponegliffs, and the one that brings our hero’s goal in plain sight. Find the locations found in these stones, and you will find the location of Raftel, the last island on the Grand Line, and the location of the One Piece.
Of the three types of Ponegliffs, this one is the most straightforward.
IV. Ponegliffs Recounted
Royal Mausoleum – Alubarna, Alabasta – Chapter 202
Purpose: Location of Pluton
This Ponegliff was the very first one we encountered in the story. In Chapter 202, King Cobra leads Nico Robin into the Royal Mausoleum, where the Ponegliff has sat for generations. It supposedly reveals the location of Pluton, one of three Ancient Weapons.
Nico Robin lies to Sir Crocodile, and tells him that the Ponegliff only chronicles the history of Alabasta, though in reality, it does, in fact, reveal the location of Pluton. This Ponegliff is buried in the rubble after the fight between Luffy and Crocodile.
Shandora Ruins – The Upper yard, Skypiea – Chapter 272
Purpose: Reveals location of the Golden Belfry
Note: This is not actually a Ponegliff, but is written in Ponegliff script
While exploring the ruins of Shandora in the Upper yard of Skypiea, Robin comes across this ancient text, which states the following:
“Hold the truth in your heart, keep your mouth silent. We are the ones who weave history with the reverberations of the Great Bell.”
The Great Bell hangs in the center of the four altars.”
This text merely gives the location of the Golden Belfry and the location of the real Ponegliff stone below.
Golden Belfry – Upper Yard, Skypiea – Chapter 301
Purpose: Location of Poseidon
This Ponegliff is a part of the Golden Belfry in Skypiea, and gives the location of the ancient weapon, Poseidon, which is later revealed to be Princess Shirahoshi in Fish-Man Island.
“The Ancient Weapon that Bears the name of the god ‘Poseidon,’ its location…” Robin said to herself upon reading the text. “Another weapon!! A different one from the Pluton in Alabasta! To think that such dangerous things continue to sleep in this world, even now!!”
The location of Poseidon wasn’t the only thing written on this stone. Off to the side was something else etched — a message from Gol D. Roger, also written in the ancient text.
“I hereby Guide this document to its end. Pirate Gol D. Roger.”
This message indicated that the Ponegliff had served its purpose, and therefore no longer needed protecting from the Shandorians.
Ohara Ponegliff – Chapter 395
There’s nothing really special about this Ponegliff, as far as we know. All we do know is that it was found by the Marines during the invasion and destruction of Ohara. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know its contents.
Unknown Ponegliff – Chapter 398
This is one of the Ponegliffs Robin ran into while on the run from the World Government following the destruction of Ohara. Like the one above, it is unlikely that we’ll ever know its contents.
Sea Forest – Ryugu Kingdom, Fishman Island Ponegliff – Chapter 628
Purpose: An Apology from JoyBoy
As mentioned above, most Ponegliffs give locations of weapons, locations of other stones, or little bits of history. The one found in the Sea Forest in Ryugu Kingdom was a bit different.
“It’s a bit different from other Ponegliffs I’ve read before. It’s almost like a letter. Or maybe an apology. But who is it apologizing to?”
Robin finds that the message was written by someone named JoyBoy. But who is JoyBoy, and what is it he is apologizing for, and to whom? King Neptune gives us the closest thing to an answer in chapter 649, over twenty chapters later.
“JoyBoy is a person who lived on the surface during the 100-year void. So, at least 800 years ago. That message was meant for the mermaid princess on the island at the time. It was an apology for breaking a promise with Fish-Man Island… The contents of that promise are not clear, but someone will come along to fulfill the promise in JoyBoy’s stead… So we believe in that day, and uphold our part of the promise by protecting Noah through the generations. For it is not until the day the promise comes about that Noah will fulfill its actual purpose!!”
Jimbei Ponegliff – Chapter 786
This Ponegliff was found in Jimbei’s cover story, “The Solitary Journey of Jimbe, First Son of the Sea,” which spanned from chapters 751 to 785. In the story, Jimbe finds the Ponegliff in the ruins that Wadatsumi throws up from sea.
We don’t know what the stone says, or what its purpose is just yet, but seeing as Jimbei and Wadatsumi have loaded it up and taken it on the road with them, we’re bound to find out eventually.
I’d like to think this could be the missing Road Ponegliff, which would complete the map to Raftel, the final island on the Grand Line. This does, however, seem unlikely, as the Ponegliff shown in the manga does not have the dark tint of the other Road Ponegliff we have seen. But it’s always possible that the difference in coloration could simply be an error on Oda’s part. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Four Road Ponegliffs – Chapter 818
Purpose: To Guide Sailors to Raftel
There are four Road Ponegfliffs in the world of One Piece, and their purpose, as stated by Dogstorm:
“That red stone is called a Road Ponegliff!! It is meant to serve as a guide to the place the most powerful men on the sea seek!! The end point of the Grand Line!!!
“There is not one red Road Ponegliff in the world…but four!![…]
Yes, this stone marks a point, but that point is not Raftel. Similarly, the other three red stones contain the other coordinates for other points!! When you know them all and you connect the four points on a map, it will naturally appear in the middle of them.
The location of the final island, which for centuries has only been reached by the King of the Pirates and his crew…RAFTEL!!!”
Locations of the Road Ponegliffs
- Resting within the Whale Tree in Zou
- In the posession of Big Mom
- In the posession Kaido
With the recent chapters of the manga, Oda certainly seemed to have laid his cards all out on the table — at least as far as Ponegliffs go. We have three separate sets of Ponegliffs, and three concurrent storylines to go with them. One set is character-focused (Historical), one is crew-focused (Road), and one is world-focused (Ancient Weapons).
Prior to this point in the story, we were truly headed for unknown territory. Like Luffy and the Straw Hats, we had no idea what adventures were in store for us, or what dangers awaited. Now, with the knowledge of these Ponegliffs, a course has been set. We will uncover the Void Century with Robin, realize the true danger of the Ancient Weapons with the rest of the One Piece world, but more importantly, we will sail on the Thousand Sunny all the way to Raftel, the very island Oda promised we would reach back at the beginning of this decades-long tale.