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: 136 – 138 – Goat Island
The ‘Goat Island’ arc saw the crew escaping from the Marines and landing on a random island inhabited by goats.
Once on the island, they meet an old man named Zenny who coerces them into doing his chores. That is until Chopper discovers that he apparently has only three days to live. The crew is so rattled by that concept that they start doing his chores willingly.
But it’s not just kindness that motivates them. They think he might have hidden treasure that they want to get their hands on – or, at least Nami does. The rest of the group doesn’t seem to care that much.
Three days pass, and Zenny doesn’t die. But he isn’t long for this world. In fact, he’s building his own tomb. Originally, he was trying to build a pirate ship, but he realized he wasn’t strong enough to get the lumber down to the water. He decided to die on the island and symbolically fulfill his dreams of becoming a pirate.
Luffy tells Zenny that his advanced age is irrelevant and he can still become a pirate if he wants to. Then there’s a skirmish with the Marines that doesn’t go anywhere, and some drama about the treasure, which did exist but which was eaten by goats. Then the crew leaves, pondering whether they’ll ever see Zenny again.
I loved the goats themselves, but that was about as far as my affection for the arc went. I try to be positive about the things I watch, but I just didn’t vibe with this arc.
Zenny’s whole situation was confusingly handled. I’m no medical expert, but it seems like if you can tell that someone is going to die in less than 72 hours, that means you’ve observed clinical signs that they’re already started to die. Chopper declaring something so extreme with seemingly no evidence makes him seem a lot less thoughtful and competent than he is in canon episodes. The repeated jokes about how Zenny hasn’t died yet just felt tasteless.
The same applied to Luffy’s blithe “age doesn’t matter, you can still do it!” statement. Of course, older people can still pursue their dreams, but pirating is a dangerous gig. For an elderly man whose heart condition apparently has him on death’s door, there are some serious practical barriers. For a perfectly healthy teenager to just brush those aside felt insensitive, not encouraging.
What’s actually encouraging in those situations is to acknowledge what a person says their limits are and help them brainstorm ways to achieve what they want despite them, not to say “you have imagined or misinterpreted your own lived experience, just do the thing anyway.”
I know Luffy isn’t going to think it through that deeply, but it was still annoying. It was equally annoying to see Zenny respond as if he’d never thought of that before himself. I can see how it might be encouraging to have another person believe in you, but the execution just did not hit right for me.
My irritation about those moments aside, the arc was dull. I don’t expect it to advance the overall plot, but it’d be nice if it were a more interesting self-contained story.
Up next is the ‘Ruluka Island’ arc, which is more filler. I’m looking forward to getting back to canon!