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: 293 – 302 – Enies Lobby Arc
Well folks, been over a year and a half, and I just now finally got to episode 300. At this rate, I’ll be caught up with the current arc in about three and a half years – but of course, I’ll still be way behind, because the series is still ongoing. It’s a little stressful to contemplate, but hey, at least I’m having fun in the process.
This was an eventful set of episodes. Nami and Kalifa had an unnecessarily sexy showdown, Chopper activated Monster Point for the first time, Sanji debuts Diablo Jambe, Luffy continues to battle Lucci, Zoro defeats Kaku, Spandam issues a buster call by mistake, and the Straw Hats free Robin from her sea stone handcuffs. The buster call is about to touch down, but we’ll cover that in the next and final Enies Lobby Review.
For this review, I want to start off by talking about Spandam, since he’s the main villain of the arc but I don’t think I’ve really touched on him yet.
Spandam is the human personification of Daddy Issues. He’s a sniveling baby who spends one-third of his time bragging about how much better he is than everyone else one-third of his time blaming other people for mistakes he made, and one-third of his time freaking out about dangerous situations that he is in no way equipped to deal with.
I have a soft spot for characters who break down when things get tough. It’s one of the things I like about Usopp and Nami – they face situations in a way that I find realistic and relatable. As much as I like Luffy, I don’t really vibe with his desire to throw himself headlong into danger for fun. Spandam’s tantrums aren’t charming or mature, but they feel real.
That doesn’t mean he’s a good person – he’s not. His tendency to mock others in order to puff himself up is cruel, and his willingness to end lives for his own convenience is horrific. He’s a selfish, weak man, and underneath all the bluster I think he knows it. I don’t respect him, but I think he’s an interesting character. His inner life must be an absolute nightmare, and I want to know more about it.
Another thing I wanted to talk about was Robin’s newfound belief that her friends would help her. Before they followed her all the way to Enies Lobby, she not only didn’t think they were capable of helping her, she didn’t think that they’d be willing to if they knew about her past. The fact that she’s no longer willing to quietly accept her demise because she believes in her friends’ love for her was heartbreakingly beautiful, and it shows some serious character growth on her part.
Speaking of growth…I have mixed feelings about Nami’s showdown with Kalifa. I’m annoyed that she has to be the one to fight the only female member of the CP9. I’m annoyed that the whole thing seemed like a flimsy excuse for fanservice. It’s possible for two women to fight and not spend the whole thing half naked! No, really, it is! So that annoyed me, but I did appreciate how strong Nami has become, and how much more she’s able to do with her Clima-Tact than she was before. That mirage strategy took some serious smarts, which is exactly what I want to see from a Nami fight.
The other fights were fun too. I’m not going to dive into all of them since there was so much going on and I don’t have much to say about most of it other than “damn it was cool when Sanji’s leg was on fire!!” – which it was, but it’s not like it’s a hot take. Hot…take…get it? Hot…? Because his leg is… Nevermind. I do want to talk about Chopper’s Monster Point.
Seeing him reach new heights of power was both badass and disturbing. He’s not a fighter, he’s a healer, so the fact that he put his own body in danger and then completely lost control of his actions really says something about the seriousness of the fight. It didn’t go away once the fight was over, either. It stayed an issue until Franky straight-up knocked him into the sea. The fact that it persisted after the battle made it feel like it was part of a larger story and it wasn’t just there for shock value during the battle. It made the fight feel more like it mattered, too. I really enjoyed the sense of gravity and continuity, and I’m really worried about what’s going to happen to Chopper afterward.
That’s all for now. Unless the last few episodes of the Enies Lobby arc are so eventful that I need two reviews to talk about them, I’ll most likely be wrapping up my thoughts on the arc in the next column. Thanks for sticking with me!
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