One Piece is one of the most beloved anime in history, but at close to 1,000 episodes, it’s tough for those who haven’t been watching from the start to jump on board. One Piece Diaries tracks one writer’s experience with this daunting rite of passage. With hype for the highs and critique for the lows, this column will help you decide whether to take your own One Piece journey – or let you relive the one you’re already on. It will update biweekly every other Thursday.
Episodes Watched: 31 – 53 – Loguetown & Buggy’s Crew Adventure Chronicles
Before jumping into the actual arc, I just want to say that One Piece is a great anime to watch while working out. It’s easy to follow no matter how hard your heart is beating, and the characters are so active that it makes you want to be active too. I watched at least half of these episodes while on the elliptical.
The Loguetown arc was a little different from the previous ones. Rather than pursuing a unified goal, each of the characters got involved with their own storyline. Luffy was searching for the execution platform where the former Pirate King was executed, Zoro got mixed up with a marine who looked like his childhood friend Kuina, Sanji entered a cooking competition, Usopp dueled for honor, and Nami went shopping. Meanwhile, the Buggy and Alvida alliance, along with the Marines, are all hunting down Luffy in order to either get revenge or cash in on the reward.
That reward is a big deal – Luffy is now a wanted man, worth 30 million berries. It’s hilarious that he doesn’t seem to understand the implications of this, or if he does, he doesn’t care. I can’t tell yet if he’s supposed to be a lucky idiot or smarter than everyone else. If it’s the latter, that says a lot about the true nature of the One Piece World.
The episode that impressed me the most was probably Episode 50. In this episode, Usopp ends up duelling a guy called Daddy the Parent. This name was so ridiculous that I have to immediately stop watching to text my sister about it. But despite the absurd name, it was actually a really touching episode.
I loved getting a chance to see Usopp’s father express his feelings for his son in the flashback. It made me feel more invested in the series on the off-chance that Usopp gets to reunite with his dad. Even though the premise of duelling to the death over a minor slight felt silly, the humanity of all of the characters really came out here. You could understand why both Usopp and Daddy wanted to prove their bravery, and you could tell that the narrative knew there were more important things than their pride.
Another thing I loved was that Zoro just straight up bought a sword that he knew was cursed. The idea of someone willingly embracing a curse has been always been a fascination of mine. I’d rather he seemed more cognizant than cavalier, but it was still hilarious to watch him launch the sword straight into the air.
I wasn’t as into the whole Tashigi storyline. At first, I thought she actually was Kuina, but it turns out she’s another person who is being limited by the patriarchy in much the same way. The problem is that this is all being told from Zoro’s perspective. Of course, he doesn’t care what Tashigi is experiencing in the workforce, he doesn’t know her and her job actively opposes him as a pirate. But he never really understood what Kuina was going through, either.
I’d be more into the series’ flirtations with feminist issues if I had good reason to trust the narrative, but so far, I have my guard up.
As those of you who read One Piece Diaries #1 may recall, I wasn’t a huge fan of Alvida being read as ugly because of her weight. Now that she’s eaten the Smooth-Smooth Fruit and has dropped several hundred pounds, she has a completely different body and face, and everyone is obsessed with her beauty. Which she only has because she’s thin. That’s not funny, it’s actually just fatphobic and misogynist.
That wasn’t the only misogynist part of this arc. When Sanji meets Carmen, he tries to kiss her when she compliments his cooking. She responds by whacking him in the face with a frying pan. I’m really, really not interested in watching a woman be sexually harassed as a joke. While Carmen didn’t seem to care outside of mild annoyance, the reality is that harassment like that is terrifying. And when you’ve experienced it over and over again throughout your entire life, as many women have, it’s hard not to connect it with those real-world experiences.
I know it’s a filler episode – I’m just hoping it’s also filler characterization.
Before we go, I should also talk about Smoker. I found it interesting that he both greatly respected the former king of the pirates and his apparent successor Luffy, and was determined to take him down anyway. The arc didn’t really delve into why, other than that it was his job. I’m not sure what sort of role he’ll play in the future or if we’ll get any more detail on this, but I do like that his motives seem complicated from the jump. I’m also fascinated to know what’s going on with this Dragon guy. I know a few spoilers, but I’m trying to forget them and let myself speculate.
Next up is a filler arc, which I plan to watch and discuss. If I could watch Mizuki transform into Tony the Tiger and emotionally manipulate Iruka in the Naruto fillers, I owe One Piece the same courtesy. Luckily, there don’t seem to be nearly as many filler episodes.