One Piece Diaries #47: Thriller Bark Arc #5

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: 374 – 381 – Thriller Bark Arc

What an absolutely incredible final set of episodes. I am gobsmacked. I already know that One Piece has amazing moments, but whenever I encounter them, even if I know that specific moment is coming, I’m always so freaking impressed.

The defeat of Moria was cool, but I’m not going to spend much time talking about that. As is typical of One Piece arcs so far the big bad is important, but they’re rarely the biggest factor at the end of the arc. Instead, this part is about reaching toward the next part and expanding the series’ universe, which I think is extremely cool.

First I want to talk about Zoro’s sacrifice for Luffy – and Sanji’s attempted one. Both of them were fully willing to die for their captain – but they weren’t willing to let the other person do the same. That means that despite their rivalry, they were also willing to die for each other. It was a powerful depiction of their bond with one another, as much as it was of their loyalty to Luffy.

Zoro was willing to go further than that, though. He probably expected Kuma to kill him quickly, but instead, he put him in a world of pain while also taking that pain away from Luffy. Zoro knew that not only was he probably going to die, he was also going to suffer…but he still did it.

He didn’t tell Luffy about it both because of his own pride and because he didn’t want to burden his captain with the knowledge that he suffered for him. Sanji intuited that and make sure the story wasn’t spread around. Neither of them comes across as wildly emotionally intelligent most of the time, but this showed that they both have some serious depth to them.

I do think the whole thing might have been slightly more impactful if Zoro’s injuries lasted for more than a couple of days, but I understand why they couldn’t really prolong things too much.

The other major thing in this arc was, of course, Brook’s backstory. What a punch in the gut. The Rumbar Pirates were such a joyful, wonderful group who bonded meaningfully with each other and with Laboon through music. Watching them lose half the crew to an unidentified disease and then to poison was devastating, and it was even worse watching Brook wander around by himself for years collecting their bones. The searing loneliness this must have produced was so well-rendered, especially when contrasted with the present, where he was surrounded by people, singing the same song he once sung with his friends.

The fact that he suggested everyone sing at the end to leave a message for Laboon and live the last moments of their lives in happiness instead of fear was so beautiful. I was literally crying as I watched, which wasn’t ideal because I was watching it on my phone on the subway.

I appreciated finally learning that “Bink’s Sake” was “Bink’s SAKE” as in the drink, not as in “for his sake.” I literally have two bottles of sake in my fridge right now. How did I not realize this?

Before I go, I also want to talk about the Vivre Cards. I’d heard of them before, but I thought they were some kind of merchandise that fans could buy. It turns out that they’re actually extremely cool. I love the idea of having a card that can guide you toward another person, and show you their status. I have a lot of thoughts about how those could be used in both positive and exploitative ways. If only I still had the time and energy to write fanfiction…

The fact that Luffy decided not to go see his brother when his Vivre Card indicated that he was in danger was interesting. He strongly believed that his big brother will be just fine without his help – not only that, but he wouldn’t want to be seen in a weaker state. As the oldest sibling in my own family, I both get why Ace might feel that way and also feel really bad for him that his brother sees him that way – although, I guess that’s what he wants.

Next up is the Spa Island Arc, which I’m dreading. It has my arch nemesis, Foxy, in it, plus it’s an episode where everyone is going to be half-naked all the time which means annoying perverted antics.

It came out in 2008, when I was a 20-year-old American college student watching a bootlegged DVD of Evangelion borrowed from a hot guy in my anime club, but I am convinced, convinced that the Japanese creators of this arc tailored the arc to annoy the crap out of me, whose existence they were definitely aware of. It was totally that and not like, that sort of humor generally selling well or it fitting with the general vibe of the series or whatever.

Just because I said all of that I’ve probably cursed myself to actually enjoy the arc. We’ll see!


For more of my work, check me out at Ranker, at Medium, on Twitter @annalindwasser and @sinistealatte, and on my website 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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