One Piece Diaries #28 – Foxy’s Return 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: 225-228 – Foxy’s Return Arc

After watching the ‘Davy Back Fight’ arc, I couldn’t imagine a universe in which I’d ever want to see Foxy and his crew again. I still can’t imagine that universe. The only reason that I found their ‘return’ marginally less annoying than the original arc is because it was over faster. Foxy and his underlings are basically Team Rocket with heterosexual vibes.

Needless to say, the first two episodes of this arc felt like a complete waste of time. I don’t even want to recount the events because they weren’t funny and they didn’t matter.

The second two episodes, which introduced Aokiji, are another story.

I already knew a little bit about Aokiji from writing Ranker articles, so I missed out on some of the shock that some viewers might have felt when they learned that he was a high-ranking Marine, that he had the Ice-Ice Fruit, or that he had a past with Robin. But that didn’t ruin it for me – I had no idea how the whole thing would play out.

The man’s swagger is impossible to deny, but so far, I’m not a fan. His initial laziness and his willingness to get down to business when he thought it was necessary reminded me of Shikamaru Nara from Naruto – that’s fine. What’s not fine is his casual sexism – I really did not enjoy his comment about Nami’s breasts. It was just one line, but it immediately soured me to him and made it harder for me to enjoy elements of his character that I would have otherwise found charming or interesting.

It is genuinely frustrating to be looking forward to meeting a character and then getting hit with something like this. I either have to find a way to accept it so that I can keep enjoying the series, which is draining and guilt-inducing. Either that or I just stay mad, which is draining in its own right. It’s not like this sort of thing is surprising, it just sucks.

So, the whole Aokiji intro was off to a bad start, but what about the rest of the story? I was curious about him – I wanted to know more about his history with Robin and why he thought she was so dangerous. I was also interested in Robin’s abject horror at the sight of him – what did he do that freaked her out so much? Essentially, these few episodes did a great job at creating intrigue.

I liked the process of trying to get everyone unfrozen. The sense of tension around getting it done combined with the realistic approach made for a satisfying couple of scenes. Shonen anime tends to be pretty inconsistent about what the human body can actually take, so when things that would actually be emergencies are treated as such, I’m happy. I also liked that Sanji and Zoro were actually taking the situation seriously and cooperating instead of just yelling at each other.

I was also a little bit annoyed with Luffy’s decision to fight Aokiji by himself. Aokiji himself supplied a reason for it – that if he defeated Luffy he’d look unreasonable challenging the others – but I doubt that was it. Knowing Luffy, he probably just wanted to take on a strong opponent himself. This isn’t a trait that I find particularly compelling – rather, it can often feel stupid or contrived.

Is it good that Aokiji didn’t freeze everyone, allowing the rest of the crew to save Luffy later? Sure. Did Luffy have any reason to think that Aokiji wouldn’t straight up kill him if he fought him alone? No. It feels less like a decision made organically by the characters and more something that benefits the plot.

Why does it feel that way? Because generally speaking, Luffy’s motives can be pretty opaque. I don’t like not knowing what he’s trying to accomplish until he’s already finished with it. He’s the protagonist, which means that he’s the most important person to understand. But often, he’ll do things that neither he nor the narrative explains, and it’s only at the very end that we get a glimpse into his thought process. While it’s sometimes satisfying to see that he had a reason all along, it can sometimes make him difficult to understand, relate to, or care about.

While I don’t expect the narrative to reveal everything about him right away, I do expect that 200+ episodes in, the narrative wouldn’t intentionally keep the reasons for his behavior a secret until the very end.

I don’t want to end on a negative note, so here’s something else I liked. Aokiji riding a bike on the ocean was one of the most visually charming things I’ve seen recently. I like imagining how all the different animals he encounters might react to something like that.

Up next is ‘Water 7’, which is 34 episodes long. At that length, expect to see 3-4 reviews covering the experience. I’ve been told that ‘Water 7’ is one of the better arcs in the series, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like for myself.

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