One Piece: Was Sabo Ever Really Intended to Be Ace and Luffy's Brother?

In the expansive and intricate world of One Piece, the concept of "family" extends beyond blood ties. It is through the shared experiences and adventures at sea that many characters form their own unique bonds, akin to familial relationships. The Whitebeard Pirates serve as a prime example of such a chosen family. Likewise, the Straw Hat Pirates, although not related by blood, share a deep connection. However, even before Luffy encountered his current crew, he had already formed significant bonds with a few other characters, eventually becoming sworn brothers with them.

Ace's introduction into the series captivated fans, who quickly developed an affinity for the character. He was portrayed as a strong and reliable individual who always looked out for his younger brother. When the fiery young man met his tragic fate, it left the fan base heartbroken. Nevertheless, the introduction of another of Luffy's brothers after the time skip raised questions about whether this character's appearance had always been part of the narrative plan or if it was simply a means to fill the void left by Ace's popularity.

Sabo's Existence Was Already Hinted at During the Paramount War Arc

The revelation of Sabo's existence came as a stunning surprise to fans, especially in the wake of Ace's tragic death. Prior to this revelation, it was widely believed that Portgas D. Ace, the second-division captain of the Whitebeard Pirates, was Luffy's sole brother. However, Sabo's introduction was not a mere impulsive decision on the part of One Piece's creator. In fact, subtle hints regarding Sabo's existence were cleverly sprinkled throughout previous arcs, particularly during the "Paramount War" arc.

During his capture by the Marines, Ace deliberately chose not to inform Luffy about his predicament, fully aware of his brother's impulsive nature. However, when Luffy arrived at Marineford determined to rescue Ace, the two inevitably had a conversation about Luffy's actions. This crucial exchange took place in Chapter 558 of the manga. In that moment, Ace instructed Luffy to stay out of his affairs and escape. Luffy, unwaveringly devoted to his brother, firmly reminded Ace of their bond. It was during this exchange that a brief flashback occurred, depicting the moment when they shared a drink of sake together. However, keen observers may have noticed a significant detail that eluded many at the time: there were not just two cups present, but rather three, subtly hinting at the existence of Sabo.

Sabo Takes on Ace's Role in Terms of His Relationship With Luffy

While it is evident that Sabo's introduction was premeditated, it cannot be denied that he assumes a role in Luffy's life that echoes the late Ace. As the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Army, Sabo displays a level of protectiveness, care, and support for Luffy that mirrors the bond once shared between Luffy and Ace. Sabo's interactions with Luffy highlight his unwavering loyalty and his willingness to go to great lengths to safeguard his younger brother's well-being and dreams.

Moreover, the acquisition of the Flame-Flame Fruit adds another layer to Sabo's connection with Ace. When Ace tragically perished, his formidable Devil Fruit reemerged in the world. Sabo eventually inherited the right to consume it, acquiring his late brother's extraordinary powers. With his newfound abilities, Sabo carries on Ace's fiery legacy while infusing it with his own distinctive style. This symbolic gesture signifies the passing of the torch from one brother to another, ensuring that the spirit of adventure and brotherhood in One Piece endures.

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