One Piece is one of the most beloved anime in history, but at over 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: 175 – 185 – Skypiea Arc
Well, I’m at the 75% mark for this arc. I know I’ve been kind of down on the arc so far. While I’m still not loving it, I have a lot more positive things to say this time around.
The battle between Luffy and Enel has finally begun. So far I have pretty much zero interest in Enel as an individual. I think I’ve said this before, but villains whose only goal is amping up their own power are rarely interesting to me. Sure, it’s nice to see them get their butts handed to them, but since I know that’s going to happen somehow anyway it’s not nearly as satisfying as villains who are complex people with interesting motives. I don’t know everything about Enel, but the vibe I’m getting is pretty lacklustre.
That said, I am enjoying the fight. Enel’s inability to hurt Luffy with lightning is a fun twist, but it doesn’t immediately decide the outcome. Enel has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve that Luffy has to overcome. That keeps it from getting too boring, which I appreciate. One of those elements was Mantra, which I know is actually the first introduction of Haki. Because of the articles I write for Ranker, I already know a lot about Haki, so I don’t think it had the same sense of mystery and coolness as it might have if I hadn’t already been massively spoiled. Still, it’s fun to see elements that I know will be important later
It’s also interesting that the fight is so fragmented. Luffy tries something, gets knocked out of the way, then comes back later to try again. Most shonen fights I’ve seen are more self-contained, either that or they feel fragmented because the pacing is bad. This isn’t like that. Instead, Luffy is being repeatedly stopped in his tracks and being forced to come up with new strategies. That feels realistic and keeps it interesting. It also provides multiple opportunities to focus on other elements of the story.
Those other elements were also interesting to watch. There was plenty of comic relief – the chaos of Luffy, Nami, Aisa and Gan Fall trying to escape from the belly of a giant snake was hilarious, as was the little dance Suu did when trying to explain how the injured Sanji and Usopp left their ship.
There was also a serious conflict that’s worth thinking about regarding the Shandians and Skypeians. Of course, the Shandians being forced off their native land is egregious, but at the same time, it’s the only viable land around, so what are the Skypeians supposed to do, sit there and starve? Still, that doesn’t make up for how they treated the Shandians. I don’t know all the details yet, but colonization rarely ends well.
The moment when Gan Fall takes full responsibility for his part in the ongoing war and validates Aisa’s anger was impressive. Luffy and Nami kind of ruined it by saying that it wasn’t really Gan Fall’s fault and that Aisa shouldn’t be mad at him. She’s a small child whose people have been oppressed for hundreds of years, facing the living leader who perpetuated that oppression. Gan Fall may not have caused the initial problem but as Skypeia’s former leader and as a beneficiary of Shandora’s resources, his apology is needed and Aisa’s feelings are justified. The protagonist disagreeing with that was uncomfortable, to say the least.
While Nami kind of annoyed me in that scene, she really impressed me in another one. I love that Nami chose to go with Enel for her own survival. That’s how she survived in the past – she joined Arlong even though she hated him, all while planning a way to save herself and everyone else. She tried to do the same with Enel, but this time she made a different choice. She wasn’t going to endure years at his side. Instead, she told him that she wouldn’t go with him to the Fairy Vearth after all. In the past, she never would have made that choice, but now that she’s gotten physically stronger and has a genuine support network, she can make that choice. She showed genuine growth, and it was so, so cool.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be back in two weeks to talk about my thoughts on the final stretch of the arc. Thanks for sticking with me!