One Piece Diaries #44: Thriller Bark Arc #2

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: 348 – 357 – Thriller Bark Arc

Hello hello! Sorry, I’m late with this one. I spent like a month preparing for the holidays and then having extended family visits. Soon after that, I got COVID-19. As I’m writing this, I’ve been sick for about five days, and I’m only just now able to do anything besides sleep and play Pokemon Violet. So, I haven’t abandoned you lovely readers – life just got in the way.

A lot has happened in the last nine or so episodes. The Straw Hats discovered that Gecko Moria, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, is the mastermind behind all the chaos at Thriller Bark. He’s using his Devil Fruit to pull peoples’ shadows out of their bodies and reanimate the dead – which he calls ‘marios’ or ‘death dolls.’ He manages to steal Luffy, Sanji, and Zoro’s shadows. Meanwhile, Absalom has kidnapped Nami and is attempting to force her to marry him. Now, they’re trying to get their shadows back – and of course, rescue Nami. Oh, and we learned that the pirates that Laboon was waiting for were Brook’s crew, who perished during their travels and were never able to keep their promise to reunite with him.

Let’s start with the Laboon story. To be honest, I already knew pretty much the whole thing. I had to write it up four or five times for different “tragic backstory” lists on Ranker. Sometimes I don’t mind spoilers, but in this case, it seemed like it would have been a pretty cool twist and I wish I could have appreciated it more. Still, Brook’s desire to reunite with Laboon added another dimension to his character – one that goes beyond just being a nasty weirdo. Part of me resents this – I don’t want to have to like someone who acts the way he does!! But at the same time, it does make him a more complex character and I do appreciate that. Also, I want them to actually reunite. Laboon deserves that. I don’t know if it’s happened yet – that’s the one element of the story I haven’t been spoiled on.

Luffy getting his shadow stolen was interesting. It’s rare to see him get completely overwhelmed like that – despite his struggles, there was literally nothing he could do to prevent the outcome. His shadow getting placed in the body of an ancient warrior named Oars was hilarious – and completely the wrong choice for Moria. As if anyone with Luffy’s spirit is ever going to be obedient! Sanji and Zoro’s marios were great too – I love the Zoro ones’ fashion sense, and Sanji being an ugly dog-penguin was a great touch.

One thing I really appreciate about this show is that it doesn’t take the characters too seriously. Zoro might be a great swordsman, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a zombie wearing a cutesy t-shirt and a metal waistband quoting him. His character is strong enough that it stands up to that kind of mockery – and the same applies to the other characters.

Characters like Usopp are sort of the reverse of this. He’s seen as weak and melodramatic most of the time, but he also has some extremely badass moments. In this batch of episodes, the moment that stands out the most is the one where he totally resisted Perona’s ghosts because he’s already so negative that they can’t make it any worse. Meanwhile, those ghosts have Zoro apologizing for existing and Luffy wishing he could be reborn as a clam. This moment was hilarious, but it also showed Usopp’s unique strength.

Nami also had an interesting moment – when she convinced the boar lady who was in love with Absalom that she was cheering her on. That whole joke was unpleasant. I don’t love jokes about “undesirable” women trying to force themselves on men – they’re sexist and unfunny. But I did appreciate Nami’s cleverness in directing the boar lady’s jealousy away from her and making sure Absalom got a taste of his own medicine. I’m not loving the whole “wedding” thing – zombies creepily dressing up her unconscious body and then putting her on display in a makeshift chapel is just creepy. That being said, Sanji’s extreme focus on rescuing her is kind of funny – and knowing this show I feel like she’s going to get rescued, but it’s not going to turn out the way Sanji wants it to.

Another joke that I thought was interesting was Brooke’s attachment to his hair. At first, it’s totally played for laughs as something that stops him from successfully fighting, but it turns out he has a good reason for his obsession – it’s the only visible part of his body that didn’t rot away, and the only thing he thinks Laboon will recognize. This show has a lot of talent for making the same thing seem both funny and meaningful.

One more thing before I go – Gecko Moria has the worst voice I have ever heard in anime – seriously he sounds worse than Asta from Black Clover, a show I had to drop despite it being interesting because his voice literally caused me ear pain. I commend the voice actor for producing something so vile. Meanwhile, I really liked Spider Monkey’s voice. Too bad he died almost immediately.

That’s it for now. Sorry if this was a little disjointed – blame the COVID. Until next time!

~~~

For more of my work, check me out at Ranker, at Medium, on Twitter @annalindwasser and @sinistealatte, and on my website annalindwasser.com. If you like my writing and want to help pay for my Crunchyroll subscription, you can donate to my Ko-Fi.

One Piece is one of the most beloved anime in history, but at over 1,000 episodes, it’s tough for those whoCOMICONRead More

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