One Piece Diaries #20: The Jaya Arc Reviewed

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: 144 – 152 – Jaya Arc 

The ‘Jaya’ arc is a prelude to the ‘Skypiea’ arc, which means that most of it us about setting the characters up to get somewhere more interesting than the place they’re already inhabiting. Despite that, it still manages to be a good time.

During this arc, Luffy encounters the Bellamy Pirates, who seem to exist solely to harass other people and amass power for themselves. Aside from one standout element that I’ll address later, they were straight-up infuriating. This made it that much more satisfying when Luffy knocked out Bellamy with a single punch. I wanted Bellamy to shut up and stop saying cruel and annoying things, which was neatly accomplished when Luffy hit him. It was truly an epic moment. When Bellamy’s sidekick demanded to know where Luffy was going and he raised his bloody fist and said “to the sky.” I literally shrieked. What a sick burn. What a great moment.

I wasn’t entirely sure why both Luffy and Zoro refused to fight him during their initial encounter. Maybe this is just me missing something, or maybe it’s that it really wasn’t clear enough – I’m not sure. Nami did tell them not to fight, but she quickly took that back, and they’re not the kind of people who can’t adapt to a situation or who would mindlessly obey anyone.

I’ve seen other people explain it as not being interested in Bellamy because he wasn’t standing in the way of his goals or threatening his friends…but he also was beating the hell out of him, and there was no indication that he wouldn’t soon turn on Luffy’s weaker friends. I know that Zoro and Puffy have a superhuman level of stamina, but it just seemed foolish to let themselves get injured when they could have defended themselves. The whole thing made both of them feel a little harder to relate to.

One of the major themes of the arc is the concept of dreams. Most members of the Straw Hat crew have a seemingly impossible dream that they’re chasing. In Mock Town, the idea of striving for the impossible is worthy of, well, mockery. Luffy is disgusted by their negative approach to life, and they’re almost cartoonishly proud of it.

It was an interesting clash between seemingly incompatible ideologies. The Bellamy Pirates’ insistence that dreams are worthless is, ironically, the one thing I actually found interesting about them. When my own mental health is at its worst, I can get really argumentative with people who try to convince me that things are better than they actually are. I get convinced that my own dreams and ambitions are completely impossible and that only an idiot would put stock in them. I’m never as cruel or aggressive as the Bellamy Pirates, but I do relate to that level of hopelessness.

It also puts Bellamy’s arrogance about his own power into perspective. In his mind, there isn’t much beyond his immediate experience, and most of what does exist is bad. So of course he’s going to hold onto what he thinks he’s mastered with all his might, and of course, he’s not going to be able to conceptualize power that’s beyond him.

Cricket was another interesting character. He was thrown out of society because he wanted to prove whether or not his ancestor’s dream-like assertions were true. He didn’t necessarily believe in the old man, nor did he particularly care whether the massive treasure he described had existed.

He’d been treated like dirt his whole life because of his reputation as a con artist and a liar. He wanted to know where to place his anger. Should he place it with Noland, the ancestor whose apparent lies were so damaging to their whole family line? Should he place it with the people who refused to believe Noland? He can only figure it out if he determines once and for all where the gold is.

…yeah, I had a lot more to say about the minor characters than the protagonists. I’m not sure if that says something about me or something about the protagonist. Anyway.

The end of the arc was cool, too. I knew who most of the figures at the meeting were already. I’ve been having to write about One Piece for my Ranker articles for a long time before I started watching the series, so I’m approaching this with a lot of previous knowledge. Spoilers can sometimes suck the fun out of things, but with One Piece I’m really liking seeing characters who I know will be important later crop up. Like I know that Donquixote Doflaminngo won’t be a serious threat until later, but here he is! And even though I knew that Whitebeard had this massive, imposing presence, there was nothing like seeing it in real life.

Up next is the ‘Skypiea’ arc. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now, so I’m hyped. Since it’s a long arc, I’ll likely be dividing my reviews into chunks, kind of like I did for the ‘Alabasta’ arc. See you in two weeks!

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