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: 70 – 77 – Little Garden
Hello, lovelies! I’m back to talk about ‘Little Garden’, an arc in which the Straw Hat Crew is stranded on an island filled with dinosaurs, giants, and of course, schemes from Baroque Works.
It focuses on two giants, Broggy and Dorry, who were banished from their hometown in order to settle a fight, which they’ve been waging for decades. Baroque Works planted explosives in the alcohol belonging to the Straw Hats, which they unknowingly shared with the giants, injuring Dorry and putting a damper on their warrior’s feud. Luffy is outraged that this special, enduring bond, forged through warfare, was interrupted. Usopp is inspired by their brawl and wants to be a warrior just like them. Nami and Vivi think the fighting is nonsense and that they should just resolve things properly already.
This brings me to something I’ve been wanting to talk about. Oda has been quoted multiple times saying that he doesn’t really care what his female readers/viewers think of the series, as his primary audience is young boys. I understand catering your work to a certain audience, so I won’t criticize that, even if it doesn’t feel great.
What I will criticize is that he seems to have a very narrow idea of how boys and girls – and men and women – think. For example, he blows off critiques how he draws the female character’s bodies and Sanji’s perversion because that’s what boys and men want to see. That’s not true. Not every man is straight, and not every man is comfortable with disrespectful depictions of women.
Also, whether he’s aiming the series at them or not, Shonen Jump has a massive female readership. This doesn’t obligate him to cater the story to female readers, but it does mean he shouldn’t dismiss them.
Oda’s views on men and women came up here, too. Nami and Vivi weren’t impressed by to giant’s pride-based relationship – they think fighting over an abstract concept like a warrior’s pride is ridiculous. Meanwhile. the male characters – at least those who were paying attention – found it touching. Usopp was literally sobbing about it.
I felt like this guided my impression of their conflict. As if, because I’m a woman, I’m naturally going to agree with the female characters. When I felt swept up in the emotion of the conflict, I felt like the series didn’t want me to be. And when I found myself agreeing with Nami that it was ridiculous for Broggy and Dorry to spend all that time trying to destroy each other, I felt like I was being roped into thinking that way. I wouldn’t have felt as pushed around if say, Vivi and Nami had different opinions from one another, or if one of the male characters had expressed a negative opinion about the conflict.
I hope this trend will change as more female characters are introduced, and as we move on to more modern storylines. We’ll see.
Pivoting to another topic: this arc introduced Mr. 3 and his companion Ms. Goldenweek. While they’re fairly lackluster as characters, I found their Devil Fruit powers to be absolutely delightful. Mr. 3’s Wax-Wax Fruit is pretty basic, but the applications were so creative! Dude made a giant waxen birthday cake with a jack-o-lantern head that turned people into wax statues, that’s fantastic!
Ms. Goldenweek’s mind-controlling paint was amazing. I can imagine so many other applications for it. Commanding an army of wine moms after a paint-and-sip! Getting kids to go to bed after finger painting! Making burglars totally disinterested in hitting up your freshly painted house! The possibilities are endless – and the in-universe applications were a lot of fun. It was genuinely disconcerting to see Luffy not care about helping his friends, and a huge relief when the paint turned out to be an explanation.
I’m a little sad to know that they likely won’t be important later on, because I haven’t been this taken with an anime superpower in a long time. But I’m also excited about what kinds of creative moves will be happening down the line.
From here on out, the arcs are starting to get a lot longer. ‘Drum Island’ is 14 episodes, which is twice as many as ‘Little Garden’, and after that comes a 38 episode arc! I’m not sure yet how I’m going to divvy up these reviews – it depends on what actually goes down in the episodes themselves – but you’ll likely see more than one article covering each arc.