Bink’s Sake (because I love this song)
Welp, I finally finished the Thriller Bark Arc! While I mentioned earlier it was dragging a bit, the ending made it all worth it.
Real quick before I go on since this is my first real post about One Piece, I would like to say that, in the case of the anime, while the filler is pretty unfun when it comes around and I tend not to enjoy it that much because it tends to happen in the middle of an arc (coughEniesLobyArccough), I think that the main story is really interesting and I’ve come to love it alot. I love this show because it has a really charismatic group of characters and an unbelievably creative setting that can, really, go anywhere. I’ve come to love and admire the Strawhat Pirates a great deal since I think they’re a great group of people and I think the loyalty they have is really amazing. I almost can’t believe I almost missed out on this series, which I’ve come to love, just because the animation is a little iffy early on. I really recommend this series a lot to anyone who likes shounen the least bit.
Moving on…Well, after slogging my way through that terrible Ice Hunter Arc, I was pretty happy to finally be getting back to the actual story. Now, although I may be a little off when I say this, but I feel like, early on, there was a crap ton of emphasis on the comedy aspect of the show. Don’t get me wrong though. Most of the time when a stupid joke pops up, I’m sitting there with a stupid smile slapped across my face, and I think that One Piece can be really funny sometimes. But, I felt like there was a little too much comedy going on. Though, I guess looking at the arc in terms of its place in the series, it did come after a pretty unfunny time, so I guess I can understand why it felt like there was so much comedy in this arc.
There are several things I liked about this arc. First and foremost, I was so utterly happy that there were no random filler episodes that made no sense at all, meaning all 44 episodes were Thriller Bark which made me happy. Also, I thought that Moriah was a pretty interesting bad guy due to his devil fruit powers which revolved around controlling shadows, an ability that stumped Luffy for an unbelievably long amount of time… In addition, I finally got to the ninth member of the Strawhat Crew: Brooke, the walking, talking, sword-fighting skeleton! All I really need to say when it comes to Brooke is that he had me with his first “Yohohoho~”. Despite being the oldest member of the crew, he acts like a goofball (no surprises there though) and is constantly making skeleton jokes. As with almost all of the other pre-Strawhat Crew membership back stories, his was a bit depressing because all of his friends died, leaving him all alone on their ship when his soul found his body again. Watching Brooke’s past and thinking all the terrible crap Luffy and the others put their bodies through, really made me start to think about whether Oda would actually kill off members of or the entire Straw Hat Crew. I would like to think that he wouldn’t because I think that it would ruin the story, especially considering that he’s written hundreds on hundreds of chapters about these people and all the crap they’ve survived. I would like to think that he would want to give them a happy ending. Anywho, seeing Brooke’s back story, and even seeing Luffy use Gear Second and Gear Third and hearing about the strain it puts on his body, just got me thinking about the fate of the Straw Hat Pirates once the end rolls around.
Getting back to the topic at hand… Because the beginning was not necessarily the most exciting, I was pretty happy when the middle rolled around and the individual member fights started. The one I probably liked the most, was probably, strangely enough, a tie between Usopp’s and Zoro’s. Zoro’s was over pretty quickly, but it was definitely one of the more interesting ones sine Zoro is…well Zoro, whereas I liked Usopp’s simply because Usopp is such a scaredy cat most of the time, and it was nice to see him work his way through Perona, which was a fun battle to watch, especially at the end.
The end of the arc though (the last 10-15 episodes) was, by far, the best part. Even though they couldn’t really defeat Odz or Moriah without Luffy, the Straw Hat Pirates did put up a pretty good fight. The final showdown was, as usual, the best battle out of the bunch and was over fairly quickly. My absolute favorite part of the last bit of this arc, though, was when Kuma showed up. With Luffy down and out after using both Gears, the rest of his crew was defeated in probably less than 5 minutes. Although it may sound a little weird, I found it really refreshing to see them be defeated because, thus far, they have managed to basically win almost every fight they’re in with, though I suspect a large part of that is because Luffy ends up taking on the final boss. Speaking of Luffy being the one who typically bears the burden of the final boss, Luffy’s crew finally comes to the realization that they really have to get stronger and be able to take on strong opponents by themselves without Luffy’s help in order to lessen the burden on his body, something I agree with completely. The other part I liked about Kuma defeating them was that it reminded me of why I think the Staw Hat Pirates are so admirable when it comes to the strength of their loyalty.
I was smiling like such a fool when they said they would never hand Luffy over willingly because I never cease to stop loving it when they show how much they care for each other. Zoro, especially (and Sanji too, I guess), makes an amazing show of loyalty when, when he asks Kuma to take his life instead of Luffy’s, meaning he would end up taking on all of Luffy’s damage from the fight he just finished. That whole part was impressive mainly because it was really touching to see that coming from a guy like Zoro whose loyalty is undoubtedly unquestionable, but whose caring side rarely comes out. Now I use the word carely loosely because Zoro is obviously not the most caring guy in the world, but he does care for those close to him in the sense that he wants to protect them. I think this is especially true not only because he was willing to give up his life for Luffy but also because he wouldn’t let Sanji take his place. Though, I do have a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn’t let Sanji do it out of either pride or the fact that he saw it as his duty as first mate to make those kinds of sacrifices…or maybe he was in a sentimental/caring mood…Speaking of Sanji, I thought he was pretty cool too, considering he was barely able to stand and was offering himself up to die instead of Zoro.
In addition to Kuma showing up and making the arc awesome, the end of this arc also had some explanations and foreshadowing. We finally find out that the piece of paper Ace gave Luffy way back in Alabasta turns out to be a Vivre card which is a bit of a life gauge, shrinking when the person’s life who it belongs to is in danger, as well as a compass since it can lead the holder in the general direction of the person who gave it to them. As luck would have it, when Luffy pulls out Ace’s Vivre card, it has started to shrink, meaning Ace’s life is in danger. While Luffy is initially quite shocked, he decides against going to find his brother, believing that Ace is on his own adventure and can take care of himself. Seeing this moment and Luffy’s refusal to go to Ace were killing me inside because I have been spoiled, for quite a while now, about Ace, and seeing that event coming closer and closer breaks my heart.
All in all, the Thriller Bark Arc was good, with the last ten or so episodes being the best part. Now that I’m finished with Thriller Bark there’s a (thankfully) short filler arc before the Sabaody Archipelago Arc. Seeing the preview of the next arc, all I can say is: Why the heck do they keep bringing back Foxy?! He wasn’t that great, guys. We need to put him to rest in the realm of filler arcs…forever.