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: 68 – 69 – The Diary of Koby-Meppo
…I think I have a new favorite minor character.
Those of you who don’t know me wouldn’t know this, but I can get pretty fixated on minor characters. In Naruto, that’s Iruka Umino, Naruto’s first teacher/father figure. In Yuri on Ice, that’s JJ Leroy, the arrogant Canadian skater who has a panic attack mid-performance.
My One Piece minor character obsession may very well change, but right now, it’s Helmeppo. Yes, the guy who I said looked like a lemon earlier in this column.
Because I guess I love a lemon, I’ll be mostly talking about Helmeppo for this review. There were other things I liked about the mini-arc, but he’s what sticks out for me.
Helmeppo is the son of a high-ranking marine official named Morgan who used his position to exploit others. The power went to Helmeppo’s head, and he acted like a total jerk about it. The easy life comes to an end when his father is arrested and he ends up working as a chore boy for the Marines.
Not only is Helmeppo not used to constant daily labor, he’s also grieving the loss of his father. His father might be executed, which is understandably upsetting. But he can’t even be properly sad about that, because his father has made it clear that he thinks of Helmeppo as a worthless object who he’s never actually loved.
Luckily for him, he has his new friend Koby to keep him busy during this tumultuous time. He also has Garp, an eccentric vice admiral who sees potential in the two of them and pushes them to keep training their strength.
Helmeppo’s character arc isn’t finished yet, and I’m not sure who he’ll become. But right now, I’m really enjoying watching him learn the value of hard work and self-improvement while also processing his father’s abusive behavior both towards himself and towards others. When his father uses him as a hostage in order to escape from the Marines, he could have just gone along with it, but instead, he vows to capture him. He’s obviously terrified, but he does it anyway.
Earlier, that would have been unthinkable, both because he wouldn’t have known where he stood with his father, and because he wasn’t ready to start thinking about right and wrong. Morals are starting to mean something to him, and I’m here for it.
I’m not sure that I love his choice of landing place – I’m no fan of military institutions in general, and while I don’t quite know what the Marines stand for in One Piece, it doesn’t seem great.
Despite those reservations, I’m compelled. I want to see more of Helmeppo the lemon-headed weirdo.
Next up is the ‘Little Garden’ arc. I’ll be back in two weeks to tell you what I think. For now, I’m going to see if I have any lemon-flavored seltzer left in the house.