One Piece Diaries #14: Arabasta #2

by Anna Lindwasser

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 passageWith 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: 102 – 112 – Arabasta 

Here we are at the halfway point! This arc focused primarily on crossing the Sandora Desert, trying to find and take down Crocodile, and trying to get Vivi to Alubarna so that she could try and stop the rebel army. But despite this part being mostly focused on getting from one place to another, it still had plenty of exciting moments – in fact, there was so much going on that it’s hard to know what to focus on.

One standout moment was Luffy’s first fight with Crocodile. This was the first time he encountered someone who he actually struggled to defeat. Crocodile’s superior strategy and his ability to transform into sand made him a poor match for Luffy’s tendency to jump into conflict without thinking it through. As a result, Luffy got seriously hurt and only survived because Miss All Sunday decided to help him out. While I haven’t minded seeing Luffy wreck his targets easily, it was nice to have a change of pace.

It wasn’t just this battle – the villains are really dangerous this time around. Mr. 2’s strategy of imitating the king and fanning the flames of a civil war was genius, and the fact that he managed to pull it off speaks for both his skill as a Devil Fruit user and as a performer. Crocodile fed one of his subordinates to a gigantic bananawani without the slightest hint of remorse. Miss All Sunday’s Flower-Flower Fruit has the potential to destroy anybody in an instant.

I’m not sure yet what all this strength and cunning translates into, and I’m a little frustrated about not knowing what Crocodile’s goals are yet, but since we’re halfway through the arc I can chalk that up to effective suspense rather than key information being left out for no reason.
I also liked that the hardships the heroes face aren’t exclusively about the villains. They also have to fight their environment. Many of these episodes are spent with the protagonists exhausting themselves as they try to survive the desert climate – and many of the political conflicts are due in part to water scarcity. Good old-fashioned shonen villains are a lot of fun, but I love it when conflict feels real.

Another dose of reality that I appreciated was when Vivi tried to stop the rebel army, but couldn’t get Koza’s attention because everything was so loud and chaotic. Who knows if they’d have listened to her if they could hear what she had to say – they have good reason to be fed up with their king even without what Mr. 2 said while posing as him – but I’m glad they paid attention to the physical logistics of the scene.

That’s all for now, except for one thing. Raindinners is the greatest name for a business I’ve ever heard in my life. If I ever open up a restaurant, that’s what I’m calling it, copyright be damned.

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