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: 398 – 405 – Sabaody Archipelago Arc
Well, the Sabaody Archipelago Arc has come to an end. The last three episodes were spectacular, but the episodes before it were a little on the dull side, at least for me.
We’ll start with why I wasn’t so jazzed about the first part. It focused on the Marines trying to take down the Straw Hats after Luffy punched the Celestial Dragon. What followed was a bunch of chaotic fights, none of which really stood out. This was disappointing. I know that Trafalgar Law and Eustass Kid are supposed to be pretty important characters, so I was really hoping to get to know them a bit better. Before they joined the fight all they did was sit around and look at the Straw Hats, and after that, we only got to see them use about one move each.
That said, Kizaru was a pretty fun new character. He acts like he’s constantly in the midst of a senior moment, but then he’s a total badass with an amazing Devil Fruit power. The Logia Fruits might be a little repetitive, but they still manage to be cool every time.
I also liked hearing a little more about Rayleigh’s history with the Roger Pirates – that really helped broaden the world of the series.
Once things got really serious, the overall quality of the episodes amped up by a lot. The animation was top-tier – some of the best that the series has served up so far. The story itself took a really interesting turn. Prior to facing Kuma and Kizaru, the Straw Hats have dealt with some truly challenging opponents. But so far, there wasn’t anyone who Luffy thought was too dangerous to take on. Sometimes, it felt like he wasn’t properly assessing the situation and was trying to muscle his way through with shonen protagonist plot armor.
Here, it was different. He recognized that there was no way his crew could defeat their current opponents, so he told them not to fight, but to run. For Luffy, the absolute most important thing wasn’t his pride or his status – it was keeping himself and his crew alive. His absolute devastation when Kuma sent everyone flying to who knows where was so raw and palpable. He didn’t just cry, he bashed his head on the floor while grunting and moaning in a totally undignified way. It felt so real.
I could have done without the montage where the Straw Hats join the crew. At this point, I already know how much they care about each other and how painful it is that they were just separated – if I’m beaten over the head with it, it feels less emotional, not more. Also, I might have missed something, but I’m pretty sure the montage didn’t include Franky – is he not an important member of the crew?? Oh, and the rough art from the beginning of the series kind of ruined the immersion. It felt too sentimental and therefore not as powerful as Luffy’s raw grief from the previous scene. As a viewer I was right there with him, feeling his pain – so much so that I even forgot about my burning questions about what the hell is going on with Kuma.
But that’s just me being picky. Overall, I really loved these final episodes.
My next review will focus on episodes 406 & 407, the two “Historical Arc” filler episodes. After that, we’re heading into the Amazon Lily Arc. I’ve only heard a little bit about it so I’m not sure what to expect – whatever happens, I’ll be sure to tell you what I think.
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