One Piece Diaries #19 – Ruluka Island
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 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: 139 – 143 – Ruluka Island
Once again, this filler arc was not a good time. It was a little more interesting than the Goat Island arc, but by this point, I’m quite ready to be done with the filler and move on.
The crew travels to Ruluka Island, where they discover that the town has been taken over by a corrupt pirate named Wetton, who taxes everybody through the nose. A scientist named Henzo is working under him in the hopes of finding out what’s going on with the Rainbow Mist, a mysterious force that his friends disappeared into when they were children.
Usopp, Luffy, and Robin get dragged into the Mist to a place called Ape’s Concert along with Henzo, and they meet his friends, the Pumpkin Pirates, who are all still children because time passes differently inside. There, Henzo has an emotional confrontation with his former friends – he’s been separated from them for 50 years and has felt incredibly guilty for taking so long to try and rescue them.
Eventually, they manage to escape, and they discover that the Pumpkin Pirates got spit out into another timeline, and grew up normally for 50 years – without telling Henzo, since they needed his scientific research for the whole thing to work out. They show up, 50 years older and members of the Marines, to arrest Wetton.
That twist ending felt way too convenient. I didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t feel like the foundation was laid for it either. Twist endings work when you don’t see them coming but they feel somehow inevitable. This just felt like a cheap way to make sure everyone was happy in the end.
Another thing that really bothered me about this arc is that the Straw Hats didn’t really have a role, and the story could just as easily have happened without them. I understand why a filler arc wouldn’t make major changes to the protagonists in a filler arc, because they might be contradicted later, but you can still give them a role that’s not merely observational. You can still use the arc to reveal their personalities. For example, does Usopp relate to Henzo because he also spent a good deal of his childhood hoping for someone to come back? Is he inspired by his inventions? Does he relate to the fact that both of them are among the weaker members of their crew?
If they don’t use the arc to develop the pre-existing characters, it feels like a waste of time.
Sorry to be so down on this arc. I did really like the name Ape’s Concert, but honestly, that’s about it.
Next up is a canon arc, Jaya, so hopefully, that will be more interesting.