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: 54 – 61 – The ‘Warship Island’ Arc
Here we are at the first filler arc of the series, the ‘Warship Island Arc’. Here’s the basic rundown: the Straw Hat crew is helping a little girl named Apis transport her elderly dragon friend to Lost Island, a place where he’ll regain his youth and vitality. But they have two major obstacles. The first is that the Marines are after Ryuuji for his bones, which they call “Dragonite” and believe will grant them immortality. The second is that no one has any idea where Lost Island is.
While the arc wasn’t the most exciting one I’ve seen so far, it didn’t really feel like a filler arc. It had the same overall atmosphere and was no more or less compelling than any of the other stories that weren’t big plot points. It’s probably fine to skip it if you’re trying to blast through the series, but it’s an enjoyable little detour. Episode #61 does lead into the ‘Reverse Mountain Arc’, which is canon material so that one might be important to watch. The Calm Belt plotline is also apparently canon, which I appreciate because it’s such an innovative idea.
Apis herself was adorable, but I felt like there was a lot of information missing that would have made her more interesting. The biggest question I had was this: how did she get ahold of the Whisper-Whisper Fruit in the first place? It’s quite a convenient power given her circumstances, so where did she find it? Did she know what it was going to do before she ate it? The details were entirely glossed over – as were the details about why Luffy is able to talk to animals too. Since this is filler, I don’t know if I’m supposed to take this as an actual skill he has, or just something invented for the arc.
But for all the questions I had, the resolution did get me in the feels. Watching the Millenium Dragons protect their friend and ensure that he could safely revive on the newly emerged Lost Island was touching. I was also impressed by Apis’ dedication to protecting the island, even when she knew that she wouldn’t be around to see the dragons return to it in 1,000 years. Even though she really wanted to join the Straw Hat crew. It’s hard enough for adults to make sacrifices that they won’t see the fruits of – imagine being a little girl and forgoing immediate pleasure for a long-term goal! I know they had to give her a reason to stay behind since she’s not a canon character, but I was impressed anyway.
The villains didn’t really stand out, but I did appreciate that there was some discord and disagreement between different members of the Marines, and with the mercenary they hired. I also liked that Eric explicitly connected his desire for immorality with a fear of death – most characters who are trying to become immortal talk about their desire for more power, while their more vulnerable emotions are just an undercurrent.
I’m not sure how to feel about the ending. I was already getting kind of annoyed with Eric and wasn’t really keen to watch a drawn-out final showdown. But it’s unsettling that Nami kicked him off the boat, knowing that he couldn’t swim, and everyone thought “oh, that was smart” rather than “we should probably try to resolve things without killing people.” Maybe the lack of Vash-like sentiment feels more jarring than it would if I hadn’t just finished Trigun, but it’s still harder to root for heroes who feel nothing about taking lives – especially when Eric just had a whole speech about his fear of death. That said, it is filler – I’m not going to take this as a representation of Nami or anyone else’s character.
The next three arcs are super short, so I’ll probably be combining them into one review unless I have a lot to say about any one of them. Until next time!