One Piece Diaries #26: ‘Davy Back Fight’ Arc

by Anna Lindwasser

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: 207-219 – Davy Back Fight Arc

The ‘Davy Back Fight’ arc, also known as the ‘Long Ring Long Land’ arc, is not a popular arc amongst One Piece fans. Sure, there are people who love it, but most people are not fans. I can understand why.

The arc is centered around a series of contests in which the contestants wager their crew members. Luffy agrees to this competition both because he’s tricked into it by Foxy of the Foxy Pirates, and because he wants to help an old man named Tonjit and a horse named Shelly that the Foxy Pirates had been harassing earlier. The contests themselves have a fun, carnivalesque air, but the potential outcome is serious – the Straw Hats could lose a member of their crew.

I found this premise extremely irritating. I didn’t like seeing the crew go through repeated bouts of humiliating nonsense. I didn’t want to see their unity as a group be threatened by something that seemed petty and ridiculous. I didn’t like the disconnect between how serious the consequences were with how casually the competitions were being presented.

But I couldn’t even get caught up in the emotions surrounding the possibility that the team might be torn apart because I know it wouldn’t happen. Not because I’ve read spoilers, but because scenes with the whole crew from later scenes are depicted in the OP. So I just ended up feeling irritated rather than invested in the outcome of the fights.

The arc went on for way too long, and for reasons that annoyed me beyond just boredom. While I could understand Luffy’s desire to go through with the first round of fights in order to rescue Shelly, the second round was totally unnecessary. Luffy agreed to it because… what? He wanted to present their flag to Tonjit like a trophy? He wanted to have fun at his teammate’s expense?

It was just hard to respect his desire to do something so dangerous for the sake of pride. Likewise, it was hard to get behind Zoro’s insistence that they had to go through with it because of manliness or honor or whatever. Then I got even more annoyed because Zoro presented it as something women wouldn’t understand. The whole arc made me feel pretty sour towards Zoro, both because of this and because of his constant bickering with Sanji. Sometimes their arguments are funny, but in this case, they were so frequent that they were grating instead.

Oh, and the thing with Luffy’s afro was kind of uncomfortable too. Not being Black myself, I won’t pretend to be an authority on how offensive it was…but it did ring some alarm bells. The claim that the Afro was “wild” and helped him “unlock his primal instincts” is an obvious reference to stereotypes about Black people. I get that these episodes were produced in the early 2000s in a country that isn’t always as cognizant of these stereotypes, but that doesn’t make it a good thing.

Overall, I just didn’t have much fun with this arc. There were a few amusing moments, like the part where Usopp and Nami did tandem insults and praise to confuse Foxy, or the part where Chiqicheetah reacted to Luffy’s long kiwi (not a euphemism) as if it were catnip. I couldn’t help feeling a bit moved when Foxy’s whole crew jumped into the ocean to save him. The moment when Sanji saves Porche even though it put him at a disadvantage was nice – I guess there are times when his chivalry isn’t the worst thing in the world. But my overall feeling about the Davy Back Fight is “I’m glad I never have to watch it again.”

Up next is the Ocean’s Dream arc, followed by Foxy’s Return, which is technically part of this arc according to some sources, but which I’m going to separate to make my own life easier. Until next time! 

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