Who killed Ace in ‘One Piece?’

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The notion of characters facing permanent death in the expansive world of One Piece has long been a rarity. While we’ve witnessed their defeats, apparent departures from the storyline, or even obliterations, true demise seemed implausible—until the saga reached Marineford.

Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece, had never been anticipated to eliminate pivotal characters. For decades, death was reserved for side characters exiting the tale or events like Roger’s execution. The narrative was typically devoid of deaths, maintaining a lighthearted tone despite its serious undertones. However, a distinct shift in the entire atmosphere of One Piece marked the transformation from its earlier quirky shonen tropes to a more serious and intense storyline.

This transformative period unfolds during Water 7 and Enies Lobby, laying the groundwork for an impending war in Marineford. As this arc emerges, the narrative trajectory takes a significant turn, and the concept of death ceases to be a taboo topic within the story. The turning point arrives with the tragic demise of Ace, prompting collective sorrow among fans and altering the series’ tone drastically.

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Indeed, Ace, Luffy’s brother, meets his demise during the tumultuous events of the Marineford War, meeting his fate at the hands of Akainu. The saga unfolds after Luffy discovers Ace’s imprisonment in Impel Down, a high-security prison for the most notorious criminals and pirates. Determined to rescue his brother at all costs, Luffy embarks on a mission to liberate Ace from captivity.

Despite their valiant efforts, chaos ensues during the battle to prevent Ace’s execution, pitting the World Government and some Warlords against Luffy and the Whitebeard Pirates, each side striving to determine Ace’s fate. A brief moment of success in freeing Ace is quickly overturned when tragedy strikes.

Akainu, a fleet admiral among the Marines, targets Luffy with a fatal attack. In a selfless act to shield his brother, Ace intervenes, bearing the brunt of a devastating magma strike across his torso. Sacrificing himself to save Luffy, Ace tragically succumbs to his injuries, falling victim to Akainu’s lethal assault—an act that solidifies Akainu as the series’ most detested figure, surpassing even Blackbeard in infamy.

While fans were aware of the looming threat of Ace’s execution, a glimmer of hope emerged as he briefly escaped his impending fate. However, this fleeting moment of hope was swiftly dashed, inflicting a double blow to the hearts of fans. Ace’s demise not only marked the first significant death in One Piece but also instigated a pivotal shift in the narrative, steering it toward deeper emotional complexity and storytelling depth.