One Piece part 3

December 2, 2012

Well… After over a year since my last blog on this series, safe to say that the One Piece anime is still at the halfway point. Is it that hard to move along? I guess after that super big battle between the marines and pirates to save Ace that in the end was really in vain, they need to take some breather before the next big adventure. During that super huge battle, for the first time we don’t see Luffy and his crew fighting together because they were all separated and blown to different islands in an unfortunate prior incident. Now with the big battle over, it’s time for our favourite Straw Hat Pirates to reunite, each with their own big badass power up moves and techniques and get along with their next draggy, oops, I mean exciting adventure to the New World. I hope they don’t take another year to move an inch forward. One year seems like a long time, but thankfully there is this One Piece Wiki to help refresh my memory as always…

Individual Training Arc
After that flashback arc, Luffy is still distraught that Ace had really died. But Jimbei reminds him he still has something important: His crew. And thus Luffy really wants to see his mates again. As for them, news of the big war and Ace’s death reach them as they hurriedly try to make haste to leave their respective islands and head straight to Luffy. At the same time, Rayleigh offers to take Luffy to an island for intense training and to further control his Haki. Luffy is contemplating on this offer since he wants to reunite with his crew. Then he decides. He is going back to Marineford with Jimbei and Rayleigh. But he’s not back to seek revenge despite pounding a few marine guards on his own. The elaborated stunts he pulled including ringing the big bell 16 times, throwing a bouquet of flowers and let photographers take pictures of him and his tattoo on his arm is just a distraction for him to send a secret message to his crew. Of course the rest of the world learns that Luffy is very much alive. So when his crew are in the midst of departing from their islands, they make a u-turn and decide to improve their current skills so that when they reunite, they will be more powerful and better. Thus the secret message is for them not to meet in 3 days time but in the next 2 years. Seems like a long time, eh? Oh, Sengoku has resigned as the fleet admiral.

2 Years Later Arc
Thank goodness we don’t have to wait that long. But we’ve been watching this series for over 10 years so I know the excruciating pain. Anyway the Straw Hat Pirates have finished their individual training and are making their way back to Shabondy Archipelago. They are excited to see how they’ve changed. You can tell with their new looks, they look even more powerful than ever! It’s just tantalizing to see what kind of new moves they have developed for the last 2 years. Don’t rush. We’ll get to see them pull it off gradually in big battles. So this is what the surprising and jaw dropping total makeover of the Straw Hat Pirates crew look like now:

Luffy: Still sporting his trademark straw hat he got from Shanks. But he’s got a big ‘X’ cross scar on his body. Shows how intensity and toughness of his unforgiving training, no?

Zoro: A scar over his left eye? Is he blinded in that eye? Well, he wears a green robe now so his waist band isn’t that obvious.

Nami: Suddenly this navigator becomes so sexy. Too sexy for our eyes! Long flowing hair and… Did her boobs got bigger?

Usopp: No more a skinny bugger but has those six-pack abs now. Oh, don’t forget his bigger afro hairstyle too and a sporting bushy beardy.

Sanji: Still the smoker, still the ladies men, still the cook who fights with his legs. Except he got a little more beardy.

Chopper: He traded his pink fuzzy top hat for an oversized blue cap? What’s underneath it? His brains? And for the umpteenth time, he is a reindeer not a raccoon dog!

Robin: Also receiving the sexy-up treatment. Is she trying to be trendy? Sunglasses over her head, showing more cleavage and is that sarong she is wearing?

Franky: Probably the one that underwent the most change. He’s now like an oversized robot. His once big Popeye arms are now even bigger mechanical parts. More cyborg parts but the way it’s coloured makes him look like a big clown. I wonder how he can keep his balance since his top is so much bigger (and looking a lot heavier) than his bottom. Still hasn’t lost his perverted sense of fashion. Super…

Brook: Now a flamboyant musician known as Soul King. His dressing is of a rock star with heart-shaped glasses, crown hat, feather boa, floral pants and sometimes with an electric guitar in hand. Can people in bones look this good?

However with rumours of Straw Hat Pirates reuniting on Shabondy spreading, it won’t be so easy for the original ones to meet because there are a bunch of fake Straw Hat Pirates! A very fat Luffy? Plump Nami? Chubby Zoro? Old man Franky? Skinny afro Sanji (looks like a drug addict)? Obese Usopp? Is that a real fox as Chopper? Anyway at one glance at this bunch of loser jokers, you know they are fakes because they are all overweight or unfit. But who can blame the others for not knowing? The original members have not met in 2 years and think their mates have really changed. The fakes are using this advantage to stamp their authority and push their weight around, not knowing they have bumped into some of the real counterparts. Especially Luffy (thanks to that weird and lame disguise Hancock gave him, nobody could recognize him). While most of the real Straw Hat Pirates crew have converged and met at Shakky’s place (surprisingly the number 1 lost guy, Zoro was the first to arrive), all they need to do now is wait for Luffy to show up. Thousand Sunny is kept safe these 2 years thanks to Duval and his Flying Fish Riders and surprisingly Kuma himself (so he was just acting as a villain all the while?). While a group of pirates are converging to fake Luffy, the marines and Pacifistas are also trying to scramble and take in Luffy. He is still wanted after all these years, right? So the inevitable fight begins. Sentoumaru uncovers the fake Luffy because he well knows this fatty isn’t close to being the real one. The real Luffy is in the midst and gets entangled in the battle. As expected, he isn’t the same Luffy he was 2 years ago and shows how much he has powered up by easily taking out a Pacifista. Finally all the real Straw Hat Pirates meet up and set sail to their next destination amidst the chaos with their allies (including Hancock – say goodbye to the love of your (fantasy) life) stalling the marines to allow them to make their getaway.

Journey To Fishman Island Arc
Getting to Fishman Island is no easy task because it is located 10,000 metres deep. You have got to navigate the unpredictable currents and face off with lots of ferocious sea monsters. What’s more, the dark and cold eerie atmosphere of the underwater sea. Thank goodness for Rayleigh’s coating, Thousand Sunny is able to make its journey without experiencing its bubble bursting and have the crew plunge to their watery grave. One of the murderous pirates that gathered at fake Luffy’s gathering, Caribou realizes the potential of capturing the real Straw Hat Pirates and orders to go after them. Caribou is bloody confident with his attack but it fails miserably. Not only his crew got killed when their ship’s coating burst, he got captured by them. During the journey downwards, the gang encounters the mythical giant Kraken, fight it and Luffy even made friends with it in the end (calling it Surume?). Their adventure takes them through an undersea volcanic are and an encounter with the Flying Dutchman ghost ship and its giant sea bonze, Wadatsumi. Turns out their captain is Vander Decken IX. He wants them dead but the crew manages to escape by the skin of their teeth. With Kraken guiding them downwards, an undersea avalanche knocks Kraken out while the rest plunge below to reach Fishman Island.

Fishman Island Arc
The crew are surrounded by fishmen on Sea Kings. They claim they are the New Fishman Pirates. He wants them to join their group or die where they stand. Luffy isn’t the type who negotiates and flatly rejects them without second thought. So it’s death he chose? Till Franky uses his final burst on Thousand Sunny for another escape and into Fishman Island. But their coating bursts and their crash landing means the crew who just got together are separated once more. If you’re wondering why there is light and air 10,000 metres underwater, I guess the giant tree absorbing light and air from above to its root to this certain point may seem absurd. Hey, you don’t really want some scientific explanation for that, do you? Anyway Luffy, Chopper, Usopp and Sanji are being treated and reunited with Camie and Papagg (who is now a famous fashion designer). For the several next few episodes, Sanji’s nose bleeding will become some sort of a running gag because he is so happy to see beautiful mermaids, that he doesn’t mind dying here. Seriously? Serious. Just the sight of these babes sends him into nose bleeding frenzy and Chopper will have a tough time finding blood for him. Do humans and fishman blood mix? He can’t control his lust, he pays the price. He hangs on precariously between life and death. This is paradise. This is heaven. This is eternal bliss. I guess he got his dreams crashing down when he realizes the nurses that are taking care of him are 2 girly guys. Just like the ones back in Kamabakka Kingdom. Oh, so screwed!

The three princes, Fukaboshi, Manboshi (“mambo”?) and Ryuboshi (“la-ti-do”?) are looking for Straw Hat Pirates. The mermaids hide them thinking the princes will capture them as they are wanted pirates. However their intentions have been misread. It is because Luffy and co are well known pirates, they cannot go through proper immigration and thus they’re here to pick them up. Plus, Fukaboshi has a message from Jimbei for Luffy (not to fight Hordy). Camie takes Luffy and co around the island. They meet a fortune teller, Madame Sharley whose predictions are never wrong. Because Thousand Sunny crashed on impact, Caribou has also escaped and started kidnapping mermaids to sell at the auction for a high price. And nobody on the island knows it’s him. I guess that swamp ability proved useful, eh? To her horror, she predicts Luffy will destroy this island. While shopping at Papagg’s store, King Neptune (“jamon”?) himself brings Luffy and his friends back to his Ryuugu Palace for a banquet. Franky is trying to find Tom’s relative while Robin searching for an important piece of history. Meanwhile the villain of the arc, Hordy Jones and his men of New Fishman Pirates are planning to make their revolutionary move to go to Ryuugu Palace and kill Neptune. Yup, they hate humans and believe fishman should never mix with them and that they are the superior race. Simply because they can breathe underwater? Also, Hordy and Decken meet and form an alliance to bring down Fishman Island. Plus, Hordy wants revenge on Luffy because he brought an end to Arlong’s ambition thus ruining that dream of conquering all humans. So let me guess. He wants to continue that ambition.

Luffy’s stomach couldn’t wait any longer for the banquet so he wanders along till he reaches Hard Shell Tower. Seems there are lots of axes thrown and stuck onto the metal door and wall. Inside, he meets Neptune’s youngest but giant mermaid daughter, Shirahoshi. It is learnt that Shirahoshi is holed up in this tower for 10 years because Decken was obsessively in love with her. He ate a Mark-Mark Devil Fruit which means anything he throws with his hand will always be able to find its way to Shirahoshi. So it was either marriage or death. Decken won’t let anyone else be her bride and if she doesn’t choose him, she dies. Sighs. Even obsessed stalkers happen underwater. Thus he has been throwing axes ever since. Despite Neptune and his sons trying to find Decken, it was to no avail. Since Shirahoshi yearns to go out and see some places, Luffy agrees to bust her out. After all these years, this guy doesn’t understand protocol. Neptune’s ministers accuse the other Straw Hat Pirates for wanting to destroy the island and hastily attack them. It backfired and the royal army got rounded up instead. With Luffy busting out with Shirahoshi inside shark Megalo‘s mouth to Sea Forest, the ministers are further horrified that the princess is being kidnapped. The Sea Forest is the grave of Shirahoshi’s mom and Neptune’s wife, Otohime reside. It is where Jimbei is now and waiting for Luffy to arrive. Hordy and his fishmen (including some human pirates under his thumb) storm into the palace as their first step of the plan. Decken is horrified that Shirahoshi is not here and goes after her.

Hordy floods the palace and has a short bout with Zoro. Though Zoro defeats Hordy in an underwater battle, Hordy’s men gave him Energy Steroids to boost his power. While the heroes try to escape the palace, Hordy and his men capture Zoro, Usopp and Brook. Hordy’s other generals are occupying other parts of the island and making those cowardly citizens step on a portrait of Otohime. Some of the citizens are close in believing Luffy and his crew as the culprit for kidnapping the princess. Megalo is at his limits and vomits them out. Oops. So what happens when Sanji sees the most beautiful mermaid of them all? Is he really going to die of massive blood loss? Well, he becomes petrified. Even his nose bleeds have taken to new heights. Luffy is tied up and confronted by the citizens. Decken arrives and proposes to Shirahoshi once more. However she rejects him because he is not her type. Devastated, he is going to kill her. Luffy breaks free from his captivity and wows the crowd by knocking Decken out with his powerful new move. They then flee to Sea Forest where they meet Jimbei and also Franky with Tom’s relative, Den who agrees in helping him coat Thousand Sunny. Jimbei realizes that Hordy has invaded the palace and so begins another flashback of how he sent Arlong to East Blue 8 years ago. Brings back horrifying memories for Nami, eh?

Fishmen and mermaids have always been long discriminated by humans. Ironically if Fishmen were so much stronger, how did they allow humans to pin them under their thumb? Numbers? Queen Otohime and the hero Fisher Tiger once tried their best to bring both species together. This is their story and how it all almost ended in vain. Otohime was strict to criminals but also showed her kindness. That’s why she was everyone’s beloved queen. However I suppose there is so much her people could only love her because she wants them to put their signatures to sign a petition for equality between both races. They have their reservations. Jimbei and Arlong knew each other and were like brothers to Tiger. Tiger left to be an adventurer and after his return from Mariejois, he along with Jimbei, Arlong and Macro form the Sun Pirates and earned their reputation of fighting the marines and freeing slaves. Even if Arlong hated humans, Tiger will not allow them to kill because it will make them no less than humans. Their goal is freedom and liberation. At the same time, Otohime gains growing support for her petition. One day Tiger and his crew save a young slave girl Koala. Despite putting on a cheery face to protect herself, Tiger assures they won’t kill her and vows to bring her back to her home. After they return her, the marines attack the Sun Pirates and Tiger was seriously injured. He refused a human’s blood transfusion even though it’s the only thing that will save his life. He reveals he during his time as an adventurer, he didn’t go globetrotting. Instead he became a slave at Mariejois and hoped his crew will never reveal this to anyone else. All the hatred stays in this room. The new generations must be free of this. So Tiger dies and Arlong became enraged and went on a killing till spree till he is apprehended by the marines. As painful as it may seem, to protect Tiger’s pride and reputation, they let humans take the credit for killing Tiger.

Otohime continues her petition campaign as Jimbei leaves the Sun Pirates to join Shichibukai to protect his kind. As his position as one of the warlords, Jimbei frees Arlong and though they both fight, they can’t kill each other due to the bond they have. From then on, Jimbei, Arlong and Macro went their separate ways to form their own crew and the Sun Pirates disbanded. And that’s how Arlong ended up becoming a nightmare in Nami’s life. A Tenryuubito docks at Fishman Island and like the arrogant bastards they are, thinks he is superior despite his pathetic condition. He even takes Otohime hostage to get what he wants. If not for Otohime’s plea, the citizens would’ve just killed that bastard. Which I think would’ve been ideal because nobody has to know about what happened to this f*cker. It was then when young Shirahoshi in a panic unknowingly unleash her call to summon Sea Kings to save her mother. Decken saw her powers and sets her sights on marrying her. That’s because he realizes her legendary mermaid powers to control Sea Kings. Something which his descendents have been trying to obtain but failed. So Otohime decides to leave for the surface with the Tenryuubito to negotiate and assures her people she will be back. After days and nights of worrying, Otohime returns with much good news. Tenryuubito has agreed to her cause and she even has signed papers from them as proof. By this time, her people have opened their hearts and willing to put down their signatures. While the petition is picking up steam, suddenly the box of papers goes up in flames and during the commotion to put them out, Otohime is shot! Her sons are furious but she wants them not to be angry on her behalf. Because Shirahoshi is unaware of her powers and thus unable to control them, she hopes her sons will protect her. They calm down and vow to do just that (I guess that’s how Manboshi and Ryuboshi’s catchphrase came about to soothe Shirahoshi’s heart). Her final request before her death is not for them to hate her assassin but to continue to achieve their goal to live together. The assassin turns out to be a drunk human and is executed on the spot by Hordy who was then part of Neptune’s royal army.

Back in present time, we should realize that Hordy is much more dangerous than Arlong because the latter will never hurt his fellow fishmen no matter how much he hates humans. But Hordy is different and will kill his own kind to achieve his own ends. Soon Hordy broadcasts he will kill any fishmen who have any associates with humans and will execute Neptune in 3 hours. He easily threatens his fellow fishmen by reading out names from the signed petition. Those names are on his hit list. He’s going to read them all out? And why are the fishmen showing so much panic just when their names are read? I thought fish have backbones… Luffy wants to go rescue his mates who are trapped at Ryuugu Palace but Jimbei doesn’t want him to rush in. I mean, Luffy fell asleep during the entire flashback! I don’t think we have another time for another explanation. So the 2 loggerheads prepare to fight each other. Meanwhile Zoro and the rest can’t wait for their crew to rescue them. It’ll be kingdom come since the place will be filled with water soon. So Brook uses his new technique of temporarily removing his soul from his body to find Papagg and rescue them. If only that starfish don’t get freak out by a ghost. Well, Brook is after all dead in the first place. Hordy is making his way to the plaza to execute Neptune. He eats more Energy Steroids and this turns him into an even more badass villain with super badass strength and power. See, eating too much steroids will turn your black hair white. And your eyes evil red too. I thought he looked like an albino case. The princes and the royal army arrive at the plaza to fight Hordy and his generals but are no match. They’re on steroids too. Now the princes add to their collection of hostages. And those dumb citizens could only watch in horror and do nothing. Hey, what else could they do? Meanwhile dejected Decken plans to destroy the entire Fishman Island.

Jimbei, Shirahoshi and Megalo are seen leaving Sea Forest to the plaza. But they got caught. Great. More addition to their hostages. This is too easy. Sharley tells Hordy that it is Luffy who will destroy this island, not him. Hordy is not amused and shoots his water bullet at her. Now for the ultimate revelation. Jeng jengjeng! He reveals he is the one who assassinated Otohime. Surprised? I actually saw this coming so I wasn’t. Honest. Hordy fooled a drunk human pirate to burn the petition papers then as a distraction. That was when Hordy fired his shot. The stupid pirate was pestering Hordy for his reward and conveniently got what he deserved. Yup, he got killed and framed for Otohime’s murder. However Shirahoshi is not surprised and has known this for several years. Megalo was the sole witness of this incident and told her about it (we don’t understand shark tongue, do we?). She never revealed it to anybody because she kept her promise to Otohime to not bring hatred to others. It’s time for the execution so Hordy tortures the king and princes. The citizens are so distressed that they are calling of Luffy’s name to beat the crap out of this Hordy dude. Yeah, so desperate that their logic has been twisted in the sense if their island is going to be destroyed anyway, they want Straw Hat Pirates to do it. Hahaha… Before Hordy could kill Neptune, Luffy jumps out of Megalo’s mouth. When everybody else fails to touch Hordy, Luffy does it easily when he lands a kick right at that baddy’s chest. This was part of Jimbei’s plan to make Luffy the island’s hero but knowing he won’t sit still, that’s why they knock him out and hide him in Megalo’s mouth. Nami’s invisibility has her steal the keys to free the royal family and have the king and the princes flee the scene. Remember when the citizens wanted Luffy to be the one to crush their island? Well, now he’s here, they’re asking him if he is friend or foe. Duh!!! Luffy’s answer: It’s for you to decide!

With all the Straw Hat Pirates reuniting as one again, the final fight is at hand. Luffy couldn’t care less if Hordy became the king of whatever country. But if he wants to be the King of Pirates, then he better think again. It’s like declaring war to him. It is he who will be the King of Pirates. Hordy is confident that his 70,000 armed New Fishman Pirates along with 30,000 enslaved human pirates will be enough to end this. I mean, 100,000 villains against only 10 (Straw Hat Pirates + Jimbei)? Folks, now you’re going to see what quality over quantity means. Half of the pack charge and Luffy uses his Haki to knock them unconscious!!! 50,000 baddies just gone like that! Freaking awesome!!! Surprised? You better be? And get ready to get your asses kicked big time! So our big time battle as we see no matter what kind of tricks Hordy’s men unleash, our heroes will do it better with their new techniques. Like Zoro’s Black Rope Dragon Twister, Sanji’s Sky Walk (he can now walk in air because of his desperate attempt to escape those gay guys back at Kamabakka), Robin’s giant pair of stomping feet and what is Straw Hat Pirates without Franky’s outrageous new inventions. Yeah, a rhinoceros motorbike, a Brachiosaurus tank and finally a combination of this two into a giant size Franky called Iron Pirate! Super! Hordy orders reluctant Kraken to kill Shirahoshi because he has been holding his brother’s life at gunpoint so Kraken has no choice but to oblige. But when Luffy offers to save his brother’s life because they’re friends, it was enough for Kraken to defect. Now he is protecting Shirahoshi in Luffy’s place while he goes to kick Hordy’s butt. See, it’s good to make friends everywhere. Yeah, Luffy is untouchable! Go, Luffy go! Show ’em what you’re made off! However the short bout with Hordy is put to stop when suddenly the giant legendary Noah Ark is seen crashing into the island. It is Decken and he is going to destroy everything by smashing it into the island. Shirahoshi isn’t going to be a cry-baby coward anymore and swims up so that the ark will approach towards her instead of her people. Instead of being useless fish, for once they try to be helpful. Even if it seems bloody absurd that the whole bunch tries to hold down the chains to let Shirahoshi get away, it’s not really working. It’s like ants trying to hold back an airplane. Get it?

Hordy has jumped aboard the chains and making his way to the top so he fires his water bullet to send those pathetic citizens crashing to the floor below. Luffy may be in a bubble but underwater, Hordy is much faster. This is after all the fishman’s domain. He could’ve died in the sea water if not for Fukaboshi coming to his rescue. So it’s a high speed underwater chase and be careful of Hordy’s sharp fins. It can slice through anything! Shirahoshi continues to swim upwards. Gee, is she going to swim 10,000 metres all the way up to the surface? Once more she rejects Decken so he is going to kill her so that she will eternally live in his heart as his wife. Thankfully Manboshi and Ryuboshi are in time to protect their dear sister and won’t let that sicko do as he pleases. Hordy thinks he can finish Luffy off anytime so he abandons his fight for now and meets Decken on the deck. He stabs him for his betrayal. What happens to the ark when he’s dead? Free fall!

So just as Luffy begins his fight with Hordy, Luffy’s crew also begin their fight against Hordy’s generals. I guess this is the part where they can show us their much improved skills like Sanji now being able to walk on air (honed during his escape bid those gay guys on that gay island), Chopper doesn’t lose control of himself when he turns into a giant monster and Franky packs a couple of mean robots. Luffy better hurry and defeat Hordy because with Decken now totally out cold, the ark is inching closer down to the island. So we got some citizens panicking wanting to evacuate and some trying to be a hero and stay because they believe in Luffy. Seriously? Like they can do anything useful but watch with baited breathe. Then the ultimate revelation of what Hordy’s true form is… He is a monster born from the environment of fishman’s resentment and hatred towards human. Huh? So is he a spiritual thingy or what? I don’t know. I find this hard to believe. Maybe they’re talking in a metamorphic way because I thought it would be easier to believe if they were unfortunate kids scarred and traumatized seeing all the bloodshed towards their own people and grew up unable to shake that hatred away. So this Hordy and co fear that the hatred towards humans will fade and thus became evil and don’t want peace for their people. Whatever.

The fight reaches its climax when Luffy unleashes his Red Hawk move on Hordy and despite the latter eating more Energy Steroids to increase his strength (and his hideous monstrosity looks), we all know that Luffy will emerge the victor in the end because after all that hard repetitive pummelling, which living thing can actually still be conscious? With Luffy’s crew also rounding up all of Hordy’s generals, the focus falls on (no pun intended) preventing the ark from crushing the island. During the fight, a giant bubble was successfully puffed all over the ark. Though this slows the ark’s fall, it still doesn’t dispel the fact that it will crush the island. So how is Luffy going to stop it? He is destroying the ark with his Elephant Gattling! If only the ark wasn’t that big. And it looks like he hardly made any impact after all that punching. But still he is not giving up. Shirahoshi can’t stand anymore of Luffy’s pain (partly injured during the fight with Hordy) so when she screams, she inadvertently summons a group of Sea Kings. They haul up the ark and pull it away. Their existence is to serve Shirahoshi and she can call upon them whenever she needs them.

Luffy is not out of danger yet because he has lost lots of blood. Because of his rare blood type, only fishman and mermaids can help donate blood. And guess what? They’re still afraid of being persecuted of some old law if they help humans. Gee, that’s the thanks they give after Luffy saved their island from being flat. Thanks guys. You really helped show your true colours. So the only one brave enough to step up and donate his blood is Jimbei. The transfusion is successful and Luffy offers him to join his crew. He can’t. For now. He needs to settle something first and in the future if this option is still open, he’ll gladly join. After a hard fought battle, it’s time for celebrations as the Straw Hat Pirates are given a rousing welcome, lots of delicious food and underwater entertainment. Amidst the party, we learn several developments like Shirahoshi is supposed to be one of the 3 ancient weapons that will destroy the world. Ever since Sengoku resigned during the great battle with White Beard, Akainu and Aokiji fought a close battle over that position. In the end, Akainu is the victor and since Aokiji couldn’t accept his style of rule, he quits the navy. Blackbeard has replaced White Beard’s position as one of the Yonkou and is running wild in the New World, searching for strongest Devil Fruit users so he can extract and use their powers. Hordy and his generals are still alive though thrown into prison but the effects of the Energy Steroids mean that they turn into old feeble grandpas. I guess they can only give lip service about their threatening returning. So people, please remember. Don’t do drugs. Then we have that sinister Caribou guy after eavesdropping about that ancient weapon thingy, his greedy side got the better of him so he releases all the mermaids he kidnapped (which frees the accusation towards Straw Hat Pirates) and starts ransacking the palace of all its treasure (everybody is away partying with the human heroes). Neptune didn’t mind the treasures taken because the lives of his citizens are more important. Of course, Nami gets permission to get them if she finds them and the money faced woman sends Luffy, Zoro and Sanji to track Caribou down. Let’s say they easily beat him up and got all back all the treasure he stole.

From one problem to another. With the Fishman Island just being saved, here comes another big issue. Ever since White Beard’s demise, Fishman Island is under the protection of Big Mom, one of the Yonkou. However she is holding the island at ransom because if they don’t feed her with sweets and candies, the island is as good as destroyed. And during Hordy’s attack, the candy factory is destroyed. Big Mom’s underlings, Pekoms and Baron Tamago are here to collect their ‘payment’ because some tea party is due in a few days. They couldn’t care about their circumstances and if the desired candies aren’t delivered, they will face Big Mom’s wrath. Of course Luffy overhears all that. Pekoms and Baron Tamago know Big Mom’s anger when she doesn’t get her sweets and they know it’s definitely her on the line (because she got wind that she won’t be getting her favourite sweets from Fishman Island). So who is going to pick up that call? Luffy! This guy doesn’t know the meaning of fear and death. Luffy won’t have the island destroyed again since he just saved it and is willing to give all the treasures in exchange. But Big Mom won’t budge despite her underlings would gladly take them and buy her sweets along the way back. Because of this, Big Mom shifts her target to Luffy and his crew in place of Fishman Island and wants him to come to the New World. Good. Luffy thinks of going there too. Because he is going to kick her butt and claim Fishman Island as his own territory. Once more, Fishman Island is saved. Luffy eventually gives the treasures to Pekoms and Baron Tamago. The latter duo leave but are intercepted by Caribou who wants his treasures back. Let’s say he got easily defeated again. Didn’t even put up much of a fight. Also, one of the treasures is called Tamate Box and inside it is laced with traps. Guess what will happen if somebody opens it? Maybe Big Mom will be the first victim. Jimbei thinks of cutting ties with Big Mom and we see a ruthless Marine group called G-5 led by Smoker and Tashigi apprehending human pirates who have just escaped Hordy’s slavery and resurfacing in the New World.

And just like in One Piece fashion, they have to dedicate one entire episode for them to say goodbye. Yeah, goodbye here. Goodbye there. Thank you here, thank you there. Please come back again. We’ll be waiting. I promise. We promise. You know the drill. So what about that premonition about Sharley seeing Luffy destroying the island? Though it’s good to know that she won’t be relying on her crystal ball anymore (because she broke it), but it doesn’t mean that her premonition has failed for the first time. It is noted that it maybe a year later or 10 years later. So don’t discount the fact that it really hasn’t come true. But for now, every fishman and mermaid would love to believe in their heroes. Before setting sail to the New World, Nami is given a new Log Pose to navigate the treacherous seas. This Log Pose has 3 needles because due to the change in the island’s magnetic field, the path to it may just disappear or change and cause them to get lost. So it’s better to have several directions of the islands pinpoint. Leaving the island and riding up won’t be easy too. First they’ve got to put up with Sea Kings that want to eat them, getting washed away in some underwater hurricane and being led up by a pod of whales that remind them so much of Laboon. So it’s not all smooth sailing once they resurface in the New World because it is stormy with rough waves and ferocious winds. If that is not enough, they bump into a fleet of Marines. It just keeps getting worse, eh? Or to them, it just keeps getting better.

One Pissed…
Looks like it’s not going to end anytime soon as I feared. Just like how Bleach surprised me early this year by ending its run, there is a faint hope that this series may get the same treatment too. But it is not likely going to happen since this is a very popular series around the globe so I doubt they are going to end this anime. I could have easily just stopped watching but there is a mysterious force which attracts and compels me to sit and watch this show every week. So I guess despite my complaints of how long and draggy this show can be at times, it still proves to be an enjoyable and fascinating watch. So for the past one year, the main focus was still on Fishman Island and I think this one will last a little longer since it is one of those important arcs that have some connection to some of the Straw Hat Pirates crew. And finally after over one year, they have finally made their move to the New World. Remember, we’re still at halfway point from the end where Gold Roger hid his ultimate treasure. So for the time being, the many other characters we have seen so far are not given much prominence or appearance yet like some of the higher ranked marines, the other pirates (remember Blackbeard) and those Super Nova rookie pirates (the last time I remember, some of them got pawned in the New World).

So as far as this one over year is concerned, besides the battles and the typical comical bits, it was interesting and refreshing to see the total change in the Straw Hat Pirates crew. As compared to their previous looks, they also have this maturity exuding their appearance and one look you can tell they’re not to be messed with. They certainly have powered up and no longer the ‘weak’ selves they were 2 years ago. Now they can take on even more powerful enemies when they cross over to the other half of the Grand Line. Yeah, more characters, more terms and more plots as we go along. Everything just keeps increasing, eh? As always, the same thing that irks me off in this series is the herd mentality and cowardice of the ordinary people. The fishmen are no different. It’s getting tiring to see them lose all their confidence in just a snap of a finger like as though they never knew the word ‘hope’ before. And when they think the tides are turning, all of a sudden they get their confidence back and cheer on for the heroes. Unless something unexpected happen to them (say, they get hit by a powerful shot whatsoever), then it’s back to glooms-ville once more. I guess whether you are humans or some other species in this anime, the general common people want to live a peaceful life. Then once in a while, you need a despicable villain to shake things up and spice up their boring lives so that a hero could come save the day. So for the case of the fishmen, they were afraid to get their hands dirty or take responsibility to take the first step in promoting equality and peace with humans. I mean, they’re comfortably living down 10,000 metres deep so why bother wanting to go up to the surface where injustice and discrimination awaits? Well, why be a frog in a well when you can explore the vast unknown? And when Otohime died, it’s like they cry-father-cry-mother. Too late. When she’s alive, you people weren’t that appreciative of her efforts. I doubt that even if Luffy and his crew emerge victorious, it is going to be a long time before humans and fishmen could really walk side by side putting their arms around each shoulder. That will take generations. With bastards like Tenryuubito still around, that dream will still be very distant. Man, I really like to see them all dead. Believe me, the world would be a better place without them. What order? I don’t give a sh*t about that (just like Luffy).

The other great thing about this year is the latest opening theme song. We Go by Hiroshi Kitadani tries to emulate the same excitement and beat that we first heard as the first opening song sung by that same guy too when we are introduced to the world of One Piece. It’s not a bad piece actually but if you ask me, I still prefer We Are better. It’s probably that song has been around for over a decade and from time to time when I feel like it, I’ve been humming it in my head so the charm of We Are is definitely still there. But given a few more times, I’m sure We Go will be as epic as We Are. Though there aren’t really any fillers for this year, there is only one and as far as I remember, it is that second collaboration with Toriko. Yup, that show that has that muscular titular character going around the world facing off with weird creatures somehow relating to food to find the best food and create his ultimate dinner course. So for that particular filler, we have characters from both sides of the series coming in together to find the food that would cure and save Chopper’s life before time runs out. Be careful what you eat and not pick up and eat anything you find on the ground. I’m sure if Luffy wasn’t a pirate, in an alternate dimension he would’ve been a globetrotting foodie hunter and devoured the world’s supply of food. Yeah, I don’t know what kind of stomach he has. Maybe he needs to take in more brain food and less meat. Like that will help.

So till the next time, like I have always said for an anime like this with a very long journey that has no end in sight yet, it is the journey that counts and not the destination. What is the real One Piece and if it is really at the end of Grand Line is anyone’s guess. I really thought that someone should just start from the other end to reach the final island where Gold Roger supposedly hid that ultimate treasure. Unless the world is flat. Not! Of course like I said, it’s the journey and not the destination. Thus I’ll still be sticking around to watch this series and I am confident that it is the timeless and classic adventures that will reward me in the end. I hope it’s not a one piece t-shirt that says “I faced the dangers, endured testing times, put up with the risks and confronted the perilous challenges from islands to islands to reach this final place. And all I got was this stupid t-shirt…”. That will be just super disappointing.

One Piece part 2

July 9, 2011

Remember that joke, how many Gokus does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One. But it takes him ten episodes to do so! So what does this has to do with the pirate-themed One Piece? Well, it has been over a year since my last blog on this series and well, they’re still at the halfway point! Now this is what I call really dragging the plot. Recalling back to my very simplified blog post on this series, it has been one very long adventure but the whole of last year was about Luffy trying to rescue Ace who is going to undergo a public execution. Well, watching long running anime series really made me lazy doing any blog review. So as usual, I’d put them in very summarized form (if I can remember them) and for those wanting to read more, I’m sure there are many fansites out there dedicated to this very popular series that stays true to the manga. Or like my ‘favourite’ website, check out Wikipedia for the episode summaries for this season.

Impel Down Arc (cont.)
Yeah, Luffy manages to bust into the world’s most secure prison of the Marines, Impel Down. Nobody checks in, nobody checks out. Along the way, Luffy gathers several allies as he tries to go deeper into the 5 levels of the prison in his attempt to rescue big brother Ace, he faces lots of challenging obstacles in his attempts to get to the bottom of it all. Whether it is the thorny and bloody Level 1, the dangerous but ugly animals in Level 2 (including that ugly giant Sphinx that ends his sentence with some sort of noodles words), the hot and sandy Level 3 of starvation (where they face shorty Saldeath’s armies), the hot burning pot in Level 4 and taking on Sadie’s Demon Guards. Hancock visits Ace and during the commotion, she whispers to him that Luffy is on his way to bust him out, surprising that death-row guy.

Luffy fights Magellan and his poison powers on Level 4 while reluctant Bon Clay has to run away since he knows he stands no chance against the warden. Buggy releases all the other prisoners so that they can distract and start a rebellion. In the end, Magellan’s poison overwhelms and covers Luffy’s entire body, though the latter pushes his body to the limit and manages to give him a good punch. Can he survive it when nobody else can? Luffy is thrown into the icy prison of Level 5 where he will freeze to death. Bon Clay impersonates as Hannyabal and tries to find the legendary Emporio Ivankov AKA Ivan in hopes to heal Luffy to atone for his abandonment. They are attacked by wolves but unconscious Luffy’s Haki causes the pack to blackout. The next thing Bon Clay knows is that he is in a secret level: Level 5.5! Uh huh. Amazingly this is a secret level whereby not even a single jail warden knew where all the prisoners disappeared to. Ivan is there too and he is some sort the queen of all transvestites. Every prisoner there is enjoying his/her time eating, drinking, dancing and be merry! I didn’t know life here was so good! What’s more, everybody is taking out their deep desires by cross-dressing, etc. Disgusting or sick? But they’re all happy.

Bon Clay begs Ivan to heal Luffy and I’m not sure about this method about injecting some hormones into him and locking him inside a room, screaming for who knows how long as everybody else outside could just cheer him on. For whatever and obvious reasons, this has to work because Luffy is miraculously healed and is displayed in his endless amount of appetite after that. That’s why he is the O-N-E. I don’t know how Ivan measured this but it will take 10 years of his life. But they got more things to worry about and rest is not an option as Ace’s execution is less than a day. We also learn that there is a secret and rarely known Level 6 whereby the most dangerous criminals are kept here such as Ace, Jimbei and Crocodile. Ivan is shocked to learn Luffy is the son of the revolutionary Dragon and pledges to serve him since he and his comrade Inazuma once served Dragon under one of his armies. By the time Luffy and co finally reach Level 6, Ace has already been handed over to the Marines. All that effort wasted. Now they have to run back up. Sighs… Here we go again.

As Luffy and the rest battle to go upwards, Blackbeard and his crew bust in. They free a dangerous ex-warden Shiryuu and make him part of their crew. Blackbeard faces off with Luffy temporarily but the latter has to go since time is running out for Ace. Magellan fights Blackbeard and wins and then goes to stop Luffy. My, he must been having a busy day. The prisoners plan to hijack a Marine ship. Magellan uses his desperate attempt to stop them from escaping. Luffy and the other surviving prisoners manage to board the ship and surprisingly the gates opened for them. Seems that Bon Clay impersonated as Magellan and ordered the gates to be opened. He sacrificed himself so that the rest could go and save Ace. A noble act indeed. I’m sure even if Magellan pounds on poor him, there is nothing more that could be done since Impel Down’s reputation has been tarnished.

Rescue Ace Arc
Ace’s public execution is ticking down as every Marine including the 3 Admirals along with some of the Shichibukai are lining up and preparing to face the possible rescue party from the Whitebeard Pirates. Sengoku reveals to everyone that Ace is the real son of Gold Roger! I don’t know how, when they executed him, they decided to get rid of his lineage. But Ace’s mom, Portgas had him inside her womb for 20 months! She died after giving birth to him and Roger handed Ace in the care of Garp. How ironic, eh? Son of the world’s most dangerous pirate in the hands of a high ranking Marine officer. Yeah, and with Luffy and Ace becoming sworn blood brothers, I guess that is just inviting trouble. Like a time bomb ticking. Now it’s the time to explode. Luffy’s stowaway ship manages to sneak into the Marine’s HQ somehow as Whitebeard and his allies made their surprising entry from underneath. Yeah, no matter how high and armed those walls are, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t think about putting up some defence underwater. They really didn’t thought of that?

So this is where the big battle of the era begins. Whitebeard Pirates and allies against the entire Marine. Luffy and the rest also manage to join in as the battle becomes one big messy and chaotic affair. I guess Aokiji’s freezing of the water in the middle makes a big convenience for the battle to take place. Don’t worry. It’s nothing like Disney On Ice. So lots of swords clashing, bullets flying, cannons firing, people screaming, it’s crazy I tell you. Along the way, we see some past flashbacks like Whitebeard’s, how Ace met him and become one of his ‘sons’, why he is hunting down traitor Blackbeard. We also get to watch as Luffy takes on some of the Shichibukai albeit just a short while. He can’t be having time to fight every one of them if he’s really going to save Ace so I guess it’s best to leave it to his comrades and Whitebeard’s allies since that big old guy seems to have trust and faith in him. The Marines are going to shut the pirates in via some solid defence wall. If not for Oars Jr’s dead body preventing the entire area to be closed off and provides a small opening for the pirates to charge forward into the plaza.

More fighting takes place as Ace is in a dilemma and feeling crushed that everybody is going all out to save him and starts wondering would it have been easier if he was just executed. Not from his allies’ point of view. They’re going to rescue him no matter what. Sengoku launches his sneaky strategy by ordering the execution of Ace before the scheduled time, stopping all broadcasts of the war, rounding up the pirates fighting at the entrance with the Pacifistas cornering them and playing mind games on one of Whitebeard’s allies, Squard so that he himself stabs Whitebeard thinking he betrayed him. Don’t worry, that guy is big enough not to be killed by such as a stab though weakened. Of course he realized it was all a trap but you can’t do anything by crying. The charge forward continues as Akainu uses his magma meteor move to melt the ice and have the pirates drown. Luckily for Luffy, he is being propelled over the walls by Jimbei and he begins his fight with the admirals. And the other pirates manage to also breakthrough after riding on one of Whitebeard’s submerged ship that paddles them right through the wall. I guess after watching all the horror of fighting, Coby decides to get into the thick of the action by facing Luffy if he’s ever going to achieve his dream of becoming the admiral of the Marines. Too bad he gets knocked out on first hit. Yeah, note the total difference in their power, dude. He’s got a long way to go.

Escape From The Marine Base Arc
Sengoku orders the execution of Ace now so Luffy unknowingly unleashes his Haki and causes a big portion of both sides to collapse. As Luffy climbs up to the plaza where Ace is, he is faced with Garp. But Garp hesitated and contributed to his loss. When Luffy finally reaches up to Ace, Kizaru destroys the key with his light beam. Sengoku transforms into a giant Buddha to crush the brothers. Previously, Mr 3 sneaked in and disguised himself as one of the executioners. When he regains consciousness, he creates a duplicate key with his wax power to free Ace and as the platform collapses but before taking them out, Ace uses his fire powers to land them to safety. He’s back in business. So now after rescuing him, they have to escape. Seems to be perfectly fine till Akainu starts mocking Whitebeard. Ace will not let him have his way and attacks him though he knows pretty well he is playing into his hands. Akainu is going to kill Luffy so Ace uses his body to protect him. As a result, Ace dies. It’s no joke! He’s really dead! After all this attempt to free him and now he’s gone?! Whitebeard is absolutely mad as he pounds Akainu. Never underestimate the wrath of an angry father. I’m amazed he is still alive. Whitebeard orders his crew to escape while Jimbei takes Luffy (in shock and unconscious) away. He singlehandedly takes on all the Marines and this proves that quality is better than quantity. However things aren’t going to end pretty seeing that Blackbeard and his crew show up. He reveals his plans of becoming a Shichibukai just to break into Impel Down and rescue his other crew members. Whitebeard faces off with Blackbeard and the former has the advantage. Till chicken Blackbeard uses a dirty trick and orders his members to kill Whitebeard. Having no regrets, after all the hundred bullets, cannons and sword slashes taken, he dies standing! OMG! It really gives a new meaning to that term. He is sure one tough old bugger… Say, the large hole right in his chest, doesn’t that remind you of those Hollows in Bleach?

With Whitebeard really gone, Blackbeard fights Sengoku and Garp while the other emotional pirates continue to make their getaway. Akainu is still hot on Luffy’s trail. He is pretty adamant of not letting that pirate go scot free. Luffy can consider himself pretty lucky because Trafalgar Law’s submarine emerges in time to take Luffy in. The submarine submerges full steam beneath, barely escaping from Aokiji’s freezing blocks of ice. Man, at this rate, he can freeze up the entire ocean! Then Shanks and his crew showed up, Blackbeard and his team makes a strategic retreat. With Sengoku’s permission, Shanks will conduct a proper burial for Whitebeard and Ace. Then Sengoku declares the war is over and orders those who are still able to help those injured. With the world celebrating the end of the greatest war (of course the Marines won lah), Law manages to stabilize Luffy’s condition. Yeah, he’s a doctor. Hancock, with an excuse to pursue Luffy, offers Law’s crew to board her ship and seek refuge back at Amazon Lily. I guess for the first time, the island allows in a bunch of men though they are confined to a particular corner of the island. Jimbei stays by Luffy’s side. And when he wakes up, reality hits him that Ace is dead for good. We have never seen Luffy cried so bad like this (not from what I can remember) so much so he went into shock.

Luffy & Ace’s 10 Years Prior Arc
So traumatized by Ace’s death, that Luffy’s shock mode allowed us to peek into his untold story when he was a kid with Ace back in West Blue. Ten years ago, Garp forced mountain bandit leader, the big fat Curly Dadan to take care of Luffy. She already got her hands full with Ace but do you think she has a choice? Ace didn’t like Luffy much but that didn’t stop Luffy from bugging and following him wherever he went (including a gigantic junk area where the unwanted lives, Gray Terminal). Ace had another friend named Sabo and they’re collecting (more accurately, stealing) and stashing treasures and valuables as kick-start to their pirate dream. Do you need so much money to become a pirate? Till they stepped on the toes of Porchemy, a ruthless pirate of the Bluejam Pirates. They stole his loot and of course which pirate would feel insulted if a young lad did you in. Unfortunately Luffy’s blundering ways got him captured. Ace and Sabo fear that he would spill the whereabouts of the treasure, but as time passes they notice the pirates are still looking for it. Luffy takes a whacking but remains to keep mum. This is when Ace and Sabo enter and rescue him and beat the pirates to shame. Unfortunately for Porchemy, he got killed by the big bad boss Bluejam himself for being such a useless embarrassment.

With this, Luffy becomes part of Ace and Sabo’s group as they swore to be blood brothers. At the same time honing their skills (Luffy always loses out as he can’t control his powers yet) as it is vital for survival in this land. Oh, don’t mention the discrimination among the people too. Especially those living in the inner city walls, they are made up of stuck-up nobles and royals. While the trio are running their usual eat-for-free tactics in the city, Sabo’s dad spots his son, whom he believed to have died long ago. The trio also decide to live independently instead of Dadan’s shack. Might as well, since they never listened to her anyway. They continue to power up like fighting a badass tiger to see who will become captain of their pirate crew (everybody wants to be a leader) and also meet an old geezer who was once a pirate captain and fought Gold Roger. But their carefree days are numbered when Sabo’s dad enlists the help of Bluejam to look and bring back for his son. They know where Sabo’s whereabouts is all the time but remain silent so his dad would be more anxious with each passing minute. Sabo reluctantly goes back to his father so that his brothers could be spared. Bluejam makes Luffy and Ace do some work planting boxes around Gray Terminal while Sabo is made to live and learn like noble. All I can say is, if daddy knows Sabo’s stubbornness not to change (he still believes he was influenced by the other 2 to become a pirate), why is he so stubborn in forcing Sabo to live the life of a noble. I mean, he already adopted another stuck-up stupid kid (perhaps he was just a back-up in case) and Sabo keeps running away from home only to be caught, so is daddy stupid or something too? Just let him go and pretend he never came back lah!

Then Sabo learns the horrifying news that a Tenryuubito is visiting the place (another f*cking obnoxious guy because his lineage thinks they are hell of a grand for being pioneers of something so much so they look down on everybody and do not breath the same air with the commoners) so the rich and famous have this crazy idea of burning up Gray Terminal down to the ground, leaving nothing. Thus the reasons boxes of explosives were placed all over the place. So when the fireworks really start, Sabo tries to warn his brothers but couldn’t make it in time. He meets Dragon who realizes that this city and the world is crap because a kid like Sabo is saying that he won’t be truly free in this town. Bluejam is confident that he and his crew will be alive because he made a deal with Sabo’s dad. Unfortunately, he realized he has been tricked and left to die in the fire. Yeah, as a ruthless pirate, he should’ve seen this coming. They try to kill Ace and Luffy but Dadan and her guys come to rescue. Even if she hates those boys, she still treats them as her children. After all, they are put under her care by Garp. Don’t want to earn his wrath, right? The bandits take Luffy and run while Dadan and Ace team up to beat Bluejam. Dragon lets some of the Gray Terminal people on board his ship. At the end of the big fire, the place is nothing but ashes. Luffy and the bandits are worried about Ace and Dadan’s fate but they soon came back. Seems after they beat Bluejam, great fire walls (not the internet one lah) blocked their path. Dadan used her body as shield as she runs through the blaze. With her body badly injured, Ace takes care of her in the woods.

On the day the Tenryuubito is to arrive, everyone in town waits with baited breath for his arrival. Since the entire town is deserted, Sabo is left with just a guard sleeping on the job. It doesn’t take him long to knock him out and escape. But I guess he chose the wrong time to escape because his little stolen dinghy crosses the path of the magnificent Tenryuubito’s ship. Everyone at the port is shocked to see something like this but nobody could do anything. Even shocking for Sabo’s parents to see their child doing such a brave act. See, after all the trouble he has put them, why didn’t they disown him? Better make donno. Sabo is leaving peacefully but the f*cker Tenryuubito didn’t like a commoner passing by and shoots his ship with a bazooka!!! F*CK!!! Sabo is killed! News of Sabo’s death reaches Ace and Luffy and they couldn’t believe he’s gone. Sabo had previously written a letter for them which states that he is going out to sea to gain true freedom (but he gained another kind of freedom instead) and also wants Ace to promise to look after Luffy. For the next 7 years, Luffy and Ace train hard. Then Ace leaves the island followed by Luffy 3 years later. He shows us that he has greatly improved his rubber skills by taking out a giant sea monster with a single blow.

In pieces…
Yeah, I have to admit that it has been a long draggy affair. The whole year was void of Luffy’s Straw Hat Pirates crew members. Though we see a continuation somewhere between the arcs, their unfinished respective storyline indicates that there is still more to come as it obviously hasn’t ended yet. No Zorro, no Sanji, no Nami, no Usopp, no Chopper, no Robin, no Brook and no Franky. Not even those Super Nova rookie pirates on Shabondy Archipelago (only short cameos – including Law’s). I’m sure it must have been a real good break for them, eh? It was a real shocker that Ace and Whitebeard died. Maybe sometime in the future, they will be revived again? I don’t know, I thought this series doesn’t really like killing off characters seeing that on several occasions, characters that are once thought to be dead came back alive or are at least shown their whereabouts.

The funny part about this past whole year of escaping Impel Down and rescuing Ace was the fact that it felt like it was so close, yet so far. It took Luffy half a year to break in and out of the prison and another half a dozen months to rescue Ace. Because of so, each time I snickered and thought to myself, “Hey, they’re still running at this point. How big is this damn Marine base anyway?”. Yeah, they’re still running towards the plaza. Like as though they’re never getting close to it. Like a mirage. And I thought after running a considerable distance, I really thought they should be closer. Looks like the whole place is bigger than it seems. Or are they just running around in circles? It’s also odd that if this place is so big, how come everyone can hear the other so clearly? It’s not like there are loud speakers everywhere and even if there are echoes, wouldn’t the cacophony of the cannons and explosions drown it all out? As for Ace, I really wanted to ask him, “Hey bro, are you tired of kneeling on the platform for 6 months watching the battle unfurl?”. Yeah, so was his death justified in the end?

Another thing which bugged me was the number of casualties on both sides. You know, they been fighting so long and you can obviously see the low level Marines and pirates being killed. But as you go along, you don’t really see much dead bodies scattered around. Maybe even none. So really, are their numbers that overwhelming because the way they show it, it’s like an entire continent worth of armies preparing for a major battle if you ask me. So after they have fallen down, do they get up the fight and resume their battle? Maybe. You won’t notice that these low level guys may look the same and are clones! Can you tell really tell them apart? Plus, after all that tremendous destruction, it’s a miracle that Marine’s HQ is still standing. I thought the entire place would’ve sunk by now. Another point that I have been pondering is the Devil Fruit. As we all know that there is only 1 of each type in this world and no duplicate. Seeing the amount of Devil Fruit users appearing, I’m wondering if the future of this world will be void of anymore Devil Fruits since they’ve all been eaten up. Will the world be a boring place or a safer place with the lack of them anymore? Whatever will be, I’m sure the world will change due to the effects of the Whitebeard-Marine war. Which major battle in history never leaves a long lasting effect for its generations to come?

There were really lots of amusing characters that comes in all shapes, sizes and even personalities. For instance the prisoners who broke out from Impel Down and swore their allegiance to Buggy, they really have a damn positive attitude. What do I mean? Buggy sure has gotten himself into lots of trouble seeing that those blokes can come up with lots of reasons for Buggy’s indecisiveness and hail him as their great leader. Deep down in that clown’s heart, he’s just a coward and each time he wants to break free, he just can’t and has to live up to their expectations. Whoever said being a pirate is easy? Then Whitebeard’s division commanders from the looks, appears to have come from all sort of designs thrown in together. Let’s see. Among them we have a big hulking Viking guy, a big He-man resembling guy, a large biker-like guy smoking a cigar, a cross-dresser, a prince and a fish guy. If you really want to tell a story and dedicate several episodes on how they came to join Whitebeard’s crew, I think I will pass. And yeah, everyone still has that herd mentality. They get depressed so easily when the tide is unfavourable but get their hopes up in an instant they get some morale booster. For all those reporters watching the battle at Shabondy Archipelago, it’s like everything they see is such a big deal to report. Don’t even mention about the crying part. Many of the characters were like so emotional for instance when Whitebeard is about to die, etc. Hey, even grownup men and mean pirates cry. They’re human after all.

Since it’s only been a year or so, so I guess there is nothing much or any drastic changes. The cartoonish-like drawing is still there, the voice acting, the mid-intermission, its trademark jokes and the draggy action and flashbacks. The series still doesn’t intend on having an ending credit or theme so I guess it saves a lot. So far in that span of over a year, there is only one change in the opening theme. Currently it is One Day by The Rootless, a fitting moderate rock piece on the direction that this series is heading to. That is what you call consistency rather than changing it after a few episodes.

So the adventure may be still at halfway point and though it won’t be ending anytime soon (unless…) I’ll still be sticking around to catch how all this is going to turn out. Despite the draggy affair, somehow it must be the mysterious way the producers made it to retain viewers’ interest in addition to staying true to the manga. That’s why it is still so popular not just in Japan but elsewhere in the world today. There are too many questions that need answers like what is really the One Piece and the many other characters that will come into play. Whether or not they have an answer at the end, it’s not the end of the journey that counts, it is the timeless romance of the voyage with your crew that is the real treasure and perhaps my guess the One Piece that everyone is so crazily looking for.

One Piece

January 8, 2010

Arr, matey! Fancy a high adventure on the seven seas and take on swashbuckling pirates? Unless you’re just contend in just reading the manga or watching the anime series One Piece. This is a very long running anime and because it has stayed true to its manga roots, it is no wonder its popularity has been rising over the years and speaking of which, it has been more than 10 years that the anime has been running! Thanks to the creator of the series Eiichirou Oda and due to his magnificent work, he has been dubbed Oda-sensei. One of the very few animes which could retain and garner attention of anime fans worldwide. Even if you are not a hardcore fan of the series, you should at least know and heard a little about this series.
 
Now I have not actually read the manga nor have I actually followed the anime series ever since its inception back in 1999. The truth is, I only started to watch the show around 2 years ago when it was nearly halfway to its 400th mark (by now it is well over 400 episodes! Imagine that!). It’s just like The Simpsons of Japan in terms of air time, eh? So what made me go watch the show? Well, initially I had a little interest to watch it before that but I was always procrastinating due to the hefty amount of episodes and hoped that the series would finish before I started watching. But I was naive and wishful thinking, it didn’t. So what the heck, if I don’t start then, when am I going to start? That’s right. So my weekly romance of the series thus began and I was like watching as close to around 20 episodes per week to play catch up! Maybe it’s a good idea to delay watching the series because come to think of it, if you watch it week by week, overall it would look draggy as some of the entire episodes can actually focus on just 1 thing. So if you watch a bunch of them, take away the opening and ending credits, the next episode preview and some of the episodes which have a 5 minute recap of what has happened so far (especially those long arcs), I’d say on average I’d watched around 16-17 minutes per show.
 
But enough of that. The reason I’m blogging this is that I’ve got a feeling that I have forgotten most parts. So before I lose that entire memory of mine, I’d just like to blog it down for nostalgia. Speaking of which, it’s true that I am starting to forget already. So my blog won’t be that comprehensive and if you’d like to know more about the series, there is always the up-to-date Wikipedia and many other more dedicated One Piece fansites all around the internet.
 
The premise of the story tells of a young boy named Monkey D Luffy. Your typical not-so-bright kid but with a high sense of justice and values even if he doesn’t really know how to put it in words. Since this is the age of pirates, Luffy is one of the many who seek to obtain the late legendary Pirate King, Gol D Roger, who has hidden his One Piece treasure at the end of the most treacherous sea in the world, the Grand Line. I was thinking if the world is round, why not start from the other side? I guess maybe the entrance is just one way. Hey, if you go against the flow, where would all the exciting adventures be? Not only Luffy sets his mind on obtaining One Piece, he is also bent on become the great Pirate King himself. Something which most of everyone will laugh and scoff at. Don’t underestimate this boy. Furthermore, he prizes his straw hat very much because it was given to him by Shanks, the leader of the Red Haired Pirates. Shanks lost his left arm while saving young Luffy. Shanks gave him his straw hat so that Luffy would return to him one day when he has become a great pirate.
 
Seeing that this is a fantasy world, you will notice how certain characters including Luffy possess superhuman-like powers. That is because in this world, there are what you call Devil Fruits in which whoever eats them will gain certain powers like how Luffy is a rubber man and stretches because he ate a Gomu Gomu No Mi (rubber fruit). Expect to see him stretch his body parts (no dirty thoughts, please) as he unleash his trademarks move which I find they are just a variation of each other even if he calls them by a different name. No two Devil Fruits are alike so you can assure that you won’t see any duplicates though there will be model variations. A reason for high explosive exaggerated moves, eh? So why don’t one eat another Devil Fruit? Well, as far as I can remember, the body will explode. Don’t be greedy. There is a catch when one devours a Devil Fruit. He/she cannot swim in the sea and will fall like a hammer! That’s something that pirates wannabe wouldn’t want, eh? But I noticed that many top pirates too posses the Devil Fruits power. Yeah, just don’t swim. So as Luffy embarks on the adventure of the lifetime, he’ll gather a crew of his own, meet friends and foes alike, fights for allies, fights against enemies, powers up, go on an even more exciting adventure. Seems repetitious? But that’s why Oda-sensei manages to keep it fresh with all the new ideas, characters and plots.
 
When one first sees One Piece, the drawing and art may not be like your typical Japanese anime standards and for those not familiar with anime drawings would easily mistaken it to be a Western cartoon. Don’t blame you. Even I initially had that impression. Because of the powers of the Devil Fruit, this give rise to odd-looking characters with odd-looking body parts. So if you are really particular on how characters should look or should look as good as your bishonen or bishoujo, well, just hang in there. I’m sure you’ll get used to the art.
 
West Blue Arc
Besides the Grand Line, the world is divided into 4 divisions: North, South, East and West. The start of the series has Luffy trying to gather a crew of his own when he faces off with a fat and ugly female pirate Alvida. She has a crew, Colby who seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Something about he boarded the wrong boat and ended up being a pirate. As expected, Luffy wins and rescues Colby. However Colby’s dream is to be a Marine rather than a pirate so well, Luffy acknowledges that. The first crew Luffy ‘recruits’ is the pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro. A great swordsman (uses 3 swords: 1 in both hands an another via his mouth) and just like any Luffy’s future crew, nobody takes a liking for Luffy even if he pesters them to join his crew but will eventually give in even if they have some reason. Luffy saves Zoro from public execution of a corrupted Marine, Morgan and his spoilt son Helmeppo. Then after the duo along with jewel thief Nami take on pirate clown Buggy and his crew, they stop over on an island to get a boat of their own. Luffy’s next recruit is Usopp, a habitual liar but a good sniper. So it’s no surprise nobody believes him when Kurohadol, the butler of Usopp’s sick lady friend Kaya, displays his true colours of taking over her fortunes and attacking the village. But leave it to Luffy and co to settle things and Usopp is on his way to be a great pirate. Dream on pal. As token of appreciation, Kaya gives them a proper ship named Going Merry. Luffy also names his crew Straw Hat crew because of you know his obvious trademark hat.
 
Next they need to find a cook. It would be useless to sail the seas if they have nothing to each. Plus, Luffy is a glutton and loves any meat. That person would be Sanji of the famous floating restaurant Baratie. As usual, this lady-killer isn’t interested till some strong pirate Don Kreig crashes into his place for food and becomes ungrateful. While Luffy takes him on, Nami runs away to her homeland. Zoro also encounters one of the Shichibukai (literally the seven strongest pirates working for the Marines. Because they are on the Marine’s side they enjoy lots of privileges including exempted pirating), Dracule Mihawk. Zoro gets a taste of what true swordsman skill is and lost with honour. You’ll notice how Sanji uses his legs for battles since cooks consider their hands to be valuable in the kitchen. His kicks sure pack a punch. In the end, Luffy beats Don Kreig and has Sanji join his crew. Well, that cook is a flirt so I guess if Nami wasn’t around, he wouldn’t even think about joining. Next the gang head to Nami’s homeland. It seems that a group of Mermen pirates led by the cruel Arlong has the village on stranglehold. The reason money-minded Nami has been a thief all the while so is that she could by back the village from him. But when Arlong breaks his promise, distressful Nami pleads to Luffy to save her. Of course he would. He’d already have set his sights on recruiting her as his navigator. Nami also removes her Mermen tattoo on her arm and replaces it with a combination of a windmill and orange.
 
Before the quintet head into the Grand Line, they made a pit stop at Logue Town, the place whereby Gol D Roger was executed. They also encounter Captain Smoker of the Marines and the combo team of Buggy and Alvida (now she’s looking slim and pretty!). As Luffy and co make a run for it, a mysterious figure, Dragon, allows them to escape from the Marines. Later I found out that this Dragon guy is Luffy’s dad and is considered the world’s greatest traitor. By now, Luffy’s fame is spreading wide so much so as the series progresses, the Marines will issue higher bounty for him (this world’s currency is called Beri). Yeah, how high can they go. It’s like they’re doing charity by offering so much not only on him but on other powerful pirates as well. Are they that hard to catch? Must be.
 
Apis Arc
The crew makes a detour when they saved a young girl Apis from the Marines. We also learn that one can’t easily cross into the Grand Line because of the Calm Belt. In this section, there are no waves and winds. This means if your ship is stuck here, it will literally mean forever. Plus, there are giant dangerous Sea Kings residing underneath. In this arc, the obese Admiral Nelson and a hired henchman, Erik, are seeking Apis so that they could get their hands on some legendary 1000 year old dragon. Plus, Apis is able to communicate with the dragon because she ate a Whispering Devil Fruit. The gang’s adventure to escape with the aging dragon has them discovering an abandoned island where the dragons used to live. Then the lost island resurfaced, Erik betrays Nelson, Luffy and co take on his admirals, guess who wins? And with all that over, now they’re all set for the Grand Line adventure.
 
Laboon Arc
After entering the reverse mountain side, they encounter a huge whale with a scar across its face, Laboon. They learn from his lone caretaker, Crocus that when Laboon was a calf, he followed his beloved Rumba Pirates down to Grand Line but seeing that the sea is too dangerous for him, they left him back here while promising to return one day. So lonely Laboon tries to bang and destroy the hard continent to reach them at the other side but to no avail. Luffy makes a promise with Laboon that they will do a rematch when they come back so he can’t destroy that lame straw hat logo painting on his front then. Before they leave, Crocus gives them a Log Pose, which is essential when travelling between islands of the Grand Line. Without it, you’re good as dead and lost because of the irregular and misleading wind and sea pattern.
 
Grand Line Arc
This includes meeting a secretive group of villains known as Baroque Works. One of them, Vivi, is actually a spy to infiltrate the organization and when her identity is exposed, she knows too well that they are out for her head. Vivi is the princess of the Arabasta Kingdom and it seems she has found out the mysterious leader of Baroque Works: Crocodile, who is also a Shichibukai. So in the meantime she and her giant duck join Luffy’s crew. Sadly as they leave the Whiskey Peak Island, her faithful royal guard Igaram has been killed when Crocodile’s assistant, Miss All Sunday blows his ship up. Other initial adventures include visiting the prehistoric island with 2 giants battling each other ever since who knows when and a short side story of Colby and Helmeppo (turning over a new leaf I suppose) joining the Marines and undergoing rigorous training from Monkey D Garp. Yup, you guessed it. He is Luffy’s grandpa. What’s with their family line anyway? One a pirate, the other a Marine head and another a traitor. Such colourful family background.
 
Drum Island Arc
While the Baroque Works dealings are still in the background, the Straw Hat crew find themselves on Drum Island after battling a weird crew led by a selfish and cruel tyrant Wapol. Nami is out sick and thus the need to recruit a doctor as soon as possible. On this whole island, there is only 1 doctor, Kureha, but this "witch" lives on the other side. Kureha has a reindeer assistant that ate a Human Devil Fruit so at times, Tony Tony Chopper as what he is called, transforms into a little human or a hybrid. Furthermore, the islanders aren’t too fond of Luffy and co because of their past experiences with pirates. Then to everyone’s horror, they learn of Wapol’s return. Before he was banished, he ruled with an iron fist and made all doctors exclusive for himself and let the people suffer. As usual the flashback of some quack doctor Hiruluk but I don’t remember much to elaborate. As usual, Luffy beats the crap out of Wapol for good, Nami gets cured and Chopper joins the crew as their medical doctor. Chopper from time to time does experiments on his Rumble Ball which seems to give him temporary strength (depending on which type).
 
Arabasta Arc
The crew arrives at Arabasta Kingdom and the rest are surprised to meet Luffy’s older brother, Portgas D Ace of the Whitebeards Pirate. Note the contrasting difference in character. How can such a carefree joker like Luffy be the captain? Ah well, I guess there’s something about him which makes his crew respect and follow him. Portgas is here to find a traitor from his crew Blackbeard. But later it is found to be a hoax so before he leaves, he gives Luffy a Vivre Card paper (something about it which indicates the direction of the person and his/her life). They also enter Erumalu city to find it is now a desert due to some misuse of some Dance Powder which brings rain. Vivi also learns that there is a rebellion planning to overthrow the kingdom and is led by her childhood friend Kouza. Plus, Baroque Works are the one instigating both sides from the shadows. It wouldn’t be interesting if Luffy and the rest didn’t take on the highest subordinates for Baroque Works. Their ranks are given and are called by their numbers while their assistants by a famous holiday (previously, Luffy and co met and battled some of them already). Our heroes also run afoul into Smoker and his assistant Tashigi but they got trapped by Crocodile. Even if Luffy busts free, takes on Crocodile (he has eaten the Sand Devil Fruit) and initially lost, Luffy is the hero so he can’t really die that easily. So a lesson for Crocodile to learn is to make sure the person you thought have killed stays dead.
 
So it’s a race against time to stop the oncoming rebellion from Kouza while Crocodile plans to unleash some powerful Pluton weapon to wipe everyone out and take over the kingdom. Awesome fight scenes that has Luffy’s side eventually winning them include Usopp-Chopper team bettering against Mr 4-Ms Merry Christmas, Sanji winning against face-changing Mr 2 Bon Clay, Nami beating Ms Doublefinger with her new weather creation stick courtesy from Usopp, and Zoro claiming victory after a hard fought battle with steel/blade body ability Mr 1. Elsewhere, Vivi manages to tell Kouza about Crocodile’s plan but before he could call his side to surrender, he gets shot (note he doesn’t die. Many characters who are thought to be dead somehow come back alive. Like Igaram). Meanwhile Ms All Sunday AKA Nico Robin, takes the king of Arabasta, Cobra (Vivi’s father) to a tomb where the Pluton Poneglyph is hidden. Since Robin was the only one who can read such hieroglyphics, Crocodile gets suspicious and thinks she has never intended to tell him at all and gravely wounds her. Luffy arrives in time to have a second round rematch with Crocodile and he emerges victorious this time after all the hard trading punches and moves. Luffy also saves Robin from the wreckage and she can’t comprehend why he is doing so since she is his enemy. As for the Pluton weapon, Vivi realizes it has been hidden in the clock tower and since there is no time to stop it, one of her loyal guards sacrifice himself by blowing himself up with the bomb in the sky (don’t worry, in the end things indicate he is still alive). When order is restored to the kingdom, Luffy and his crew celebrate with a feast. But they have to run since the Marines are on to them. Vivi isn’t joining them since she has a responsibility towards her people and the distraction from Mr 2 Bon Clay helps the Straw Hat crew to escape. Also, the gang finds Robin on their ship and to their surprise she joins them. Also, Crocodile has been stripped of his Shichibukai title and privileges.
 
Goat Island and Rainbow Mist Arc
While the next several episodes are fillers including character focused episodes like Usopp’s fireball fireworks, Sanji’s cooking on board a Marine ship, Chopper’s Rumble Ball secrets, Zoro’s flashback before he met Luffy and Nami’s dream of creating a complete world map only to be hindered by the nuisance of her noisy crew. The Goat Island arc has Luffy and crew meeting a lone old man named Zenii living on the island with his herd of goats as companions. Of course a corrupt Marine official is bent on getting some treasure because Zenii was a money lender to pirates. Ironic, isn’t it? In the end, it is revealed that all his money were eaten by his goats a long time ago and that his true treasure are their companionship. The Rainbow Mist arc has the gang landing on an island whereby everyone hates a mad scientist named Henzo because they are heavily taxed and this money is used to fund his research for some phenomena called Rainbow Mist. It’s like some dimension-time-bending thingy as Luffy and some of his crew are absorbed into a rainbow-like portal and thrown into another ship graveyard-like dimension only to find several kids. Just like Neverland, eh? Never grown up. Fifty years ago, when a pirate Whetton (now governor of this island) attacked the community so the children fought back but their ship sailed into the portal with the kids on it and since then they got stuck except for Henzo. So in real time, Whetton’s aim is to create a tower via Henzo so that he could link both parallel dimensions together and reclaim the lost treasure on his ship. Whetton knows he can’t beat Luffy so he tries to make them all stuck in the other dimension. The children stayed back to generate enough power to blast Going Merry through the portal. In the aftermath, Whetton and his men are arrested by a Marine officer, who is one of the grown up kids.
 
Jaya Arc
The next island is Jaya and the crew meet a descendant of an infamous liar Nolan. He is Montblanc Cricket but he knows too well that the history of his family has been twisted. Something about how Nolan went on an expedition, found a lost city of gold, went back to tell the king but when the king and his convoy came, there is no such island. Of course, anyone would conclude he was lying and had him executed. So Montblanc has been diving into the sea ever since to seek the truth of the lost city. On the island, Luffy and Zoro encounter and got ridiculed by Bellamy the Hyena about their dreams. He got a taste of what it means to face a pirate with a higher bounty later on. Soon Montblanc and his monkey crew fix up Going Merry so that they can ride a once-in-a-lifetime knock-up stream and enter the legendary Skypeia Island which is located in the clouds. Elsewhere, with Crocodile’s status as Shichibukai revoked, the higher authorities of the Marine are having a discussion to replace him. A member of Blackbeard’s crew pops in and suggests Blackbeard.
 
Skypeia Arc
It’s like an island in the sky. Weird people (with little white wings on their backs?) and weird customs (doing a "Heso" as a salute?). Anyway such a great arc won’t be great without a great villain. The self proclaimed thunder god Enel is holding his form of fear on the citizens of Skypeia. Well, he seems to be able to know and hear just about anything so if you say bad, you can expect lightning to strike you anytime. If this ever happens in the real world, there’re going to be lots of roasted people. Of course there are those Shandian tribe rebels who claim to be the rightful owners of Vearth (the only true dirt and land on Skypeia) led by a hothead Wiper (yup, that’s his name. If it was Viper, it wouldn’t sound as bad as this car accessory). Enel’s got a high and mighty attitude well since he is nearly as close to God himself and he’s got some plan to destroy the entire Skypeia kingdom. Because Luffy and co and Wiper’s rebel team are in the way, Enel unleashes his Enforces and Priests in a survival game. Enel predicts that at the end, only 5 will remain. So it’s an all out battle royale right from the start as Enel joins in as well as other new comers (whether they want in or not, so long as they are on Vearth, they’re part of the game. Hey, it’s God’s command). Then amidst all that, the usual flashback of how Nolan met a great Shandian warrior, Calgara and helped the tribe to be cured of some disease, though the tribe misinterpreted it as an act of treason against them. So Calgara eventually realized Nolan’s good intentions but he has already left. To atone for that, the island has a golden bell which rings a beautiful sound so that it could help Nolan find his way if he ever intended to come back here. And when Nolan did come back, the island was missing because due to the knock-stream, it sent it flying above the clouds. So you could say Jaya and Vearth was once a joint up island.
 
In the end, the remaining ones include Nami, Zoro, Robin, Wiper and Gan Fall. Since Enel counts himself, one of them has to go out. Yeah, everybody gangs up against Enel but Enel wipes them all out except Nami who decided to play along and follow him to his finished golden ark. Where is Luffy? Well, he and a little girl of the Shandian tribe, Asia, is stuck in a giant python’s stomach. Can’t believe Enel can’t detect them. Are pythons’ stomach invisible to any radar effect? So anyway Luffy comes out and another epic showdown. It’s a good thing that Luffy is Enel’s enemy. Why? Because he is made of rubber and that means electricity won’t have any effect on him. But even so, Enel is good enough to take on close combat with him and also initiates a machine to destroy Skypeia. Enel is also after the golden bell (lost during when the island split) but can’t seem to find it and it only took Luffy and co to guess where it was. Luffy wants to ring the bell so that he could tell Montblanc that the bell is up there and not under the sea. In which, he is successful as he beats Enel too. In the aftermath, Skypeia is safe though part of it has been destroyed by the machine. Robin deciphers a Poneglyph and is surprised Gol D Roger wrote on it there. How the heck? As for Enel, he isn’t dead yet because he is seen flying in his golden ark in his delirium to what he calls the ultimate Vearth: The moon. Erm… There’s no oxygen there lah. Luffy and co’s Going Merry float down with Skypeia devices. Only thing is, they are falling into the Marine’s headquarters.
 
Navarone Base Arc
Yeah, fate has them landing right smack in the middle of a marine stronghold. However the marines find the ship empty. Is it a ghost ship? Well, they’re all in hiding. The base commander Jonathan seems to know what is going on but I guess he’s having a little fun of his own seeing the events unfold. Of course some got captured, lots of run around here and there, retrieve the stolen treasure from Skypeia that was confiscated (they’d better or Nami will blow her top) but in the end, the Straw Hat crew manage to regroup and make their daring escape from the base.
 
Foxy Fightback Arc
Luffy and co’s next island is Long Ring Long Land Island. They meet an annoying pirate Foxy and his motley band of pirates whom he has gotten via his weird Foxy Fightback game. To make matters worse, Luffy’s ignorance and blundering has the Straw Hat crew getting involve in that game. Since this Foxy guy has a penchant for cute animals, he takes Chopper after winning the first out of 3 games (a boat race). Note his Noro Noro beam too (makes you go slow for several seconds) and seems to get easily depressed. Then in the second game (a ball game), Luffy wins but takes back some other animal belonging to an old man. I guess Chopper will have to sit still and wait for the 3rd and final game which is a roller skating ring match. Luffy wins and Chopper is back with them. However, another blunder causes Luffy to accept another game challenge from Foxy. That guy doesn’t learn, does he? Unfortunately, Luffy lost both the first 2 rounds and lost Chopper and Robin. So in the final round even if he wins, he can only take back 1 of them. Thus Luffy in this final match, both sides will bet on everything. So in this boxing parody bout, Luffy beats Foxy and in addition in reclaiming his comrades back, also claims Foxy’s entire crew but since he doesn’t need them, he sets them free. Shortly, Luffy and co come into one of the 3 highest ranking admirals in the Marine, Aokiji. Robin knows him and isn’t too fond of him. As expected, Luffy and Aokiji clash but they are no match for his ice powers. Aokiji decides to spare Luffy’s life because he considers this as a repayment of debt for defeating Crocodile.
 
Water 7 Arc
After sailing the treacherous Grand Line, Going Merry has taken some damage so the Straw Hat crew’s next destination is Water 7, where they need to find a shipwright to repair their ship. Don’t worry. They have enough money from the treasures given from Skypeia. They meet the mayor of this city, Iceburg, who is also part of the company which houses the finest shipwrights on the face of the planet: Galley-La. The other staff include Rob Lucci (he talks through its pigeon!), Paulie (rope master), Lulu (some part of his hair is always standing out), Kaku (looks like grown up Pinocchio), Tilestone (another big guy) and the secretary Kalifa. There is also the local ship dismantlers called Franky Family, led by the part-cyborg Franky (likes running around in his swimming trunks?). The turning point came when Franky stole Luffy’s bag of money and even if they had the money, Galley-La said Going Merry is beyond repair. It is better to get a new one. Luffy makes a painful decision but Usopp can’t agree to it because Going Merry was a gift from Kaya and there is some emotional attachment to it. Because of that, Usopp fights with Luffy and though he lost, Usopp leaves the crew. But that is not the end of the crew’s crisis. Robin has been acting strange after she change upon some shadowy figure who whispered "CP9" into her ears. To make matters worse, Iceburg was shot and injured one night and the blame was put upon Franky, Luffy and co.
 
It seems the world government’s secret and most powerful police, Ciper Pol 9 AKA CP9 is bent on stealing the secret Pluton blueprints. Some of them were impersonating as Galley-La members for years like Lucci, Kaku, Kalifa and Blueno (impersonating as a bartender). Robin thinks she is a burden to her crew and voluntarily follows CP9. A phenomenon called Aqua Laguna is approaching so the gang have to take the last train to catch Robin before the city curfews itself. Franky, Sanji and Usopp (disguising himself as Sogeking – he’s even got a theme song of his own!) manages to get onboard the train heading towards Enies Lobby, the judicial island where Robin will face her trial and punishment as accused by CP9. While they battle some of the lesser subordinates, Luffy and the rest later take a sea train called Rocket Man on a track system created long ago by a skilled shipwright and Franky’s master-cum-guardian, Tom the Fishman.
 
CP9 and Enies Lobby Arc
The race to save Robin is on. The Straw Hat crew teams up with the other members of Galley-La and Franky House to break through all the obstacles that Enies Lobby has to offer, whether they are giants guarding the gates or streams of marines and world government officials. We learn that the head of CP9, Spandam (hmm… wearing those masks to cover up his hideous scars reminds me of the man in the iron mask), holds a grudge against Robin. He may be cruel but he is in fact a coward and holds no true fighting powers unlike his other CP9 members. Flashback on Robin’s past on how she came from an island considered to be the world’s greatest library, Ohara. Because they did some forbidden research, the world government is going to wipe them out and that time, Spandam’s father was leading that expedition. The island burns like hell till nothing under a move called Buster Call but Robin survived and escaped because Aokiji’s help. So you could say that this is the reason why Robin became distrustful of people and turned to a life of crime and even after turning over a new leaf after the Arabasta incident, she still feels guilty and a burden to Luffy and co. But would Luffy care? He’s here to save her because she is their comrade. That’s it. Nothing else matters.
 
So the one on one battles start and the Straw Hat crew have to obtain 5 keys from CP9 in order to free Robin. Since they didn’t say which keys, I guess they’ll have to beat each one of them. Prior to Luffy’s warm up match with Blueno (which also has Luffy powering up to some move called Gear Second), we have Franky taking on an Owl, Fukurou, who can’t seem to let his tongue slip on important information (is that what his mouth zipper is for?), Chopper against a kabuki-like Kumadori but the reindeer took a risk and ate several Rumble Balls which turned him into a mindless monster reindeer (Hulk Smash! Just kidding), a sword match between Zoro and Kaku (he turns into a giraffe), Sanji versus Jabura (he turns into a wolf) and Nami against the bubble ability Kalifa. As expected, they all win. Meanwhile as Luffy chases after Robin (Spandam in a desperate move to take Robin away), he encounters Lucci and another epic battle begins. Rubber man vs leopard man. Sure we see Lucci’s flashback as some cruel and rising kid befitting this kind of position but it’s all part and parcel of the show on why he turned out like that. Bla bla bla. To make things worse, Spandam has invoke the Buster Call. Yeah, they’re going to roast this island even if it belongs to their own. All in good timing while the marine ships fire their cannon from every angle on the island, Luffy powers up to Gear Third, did the unbelievable by knocking Lucci out cold after an intense match, frees Robin and the entire crew escape via Going Merry (it’s like that boat has a spirit of its own and sailed all the way here by itself!).
 
In the aftermath, back at Water 7, everyone says their emotional goodbye to Going Merry so Iceburg and the rest builds them a totally new and better ship and names it Thousand Sunny (that lion head somehow reminds me of that perverted stuff toy Kon from Bleach). Franky also joins Luffy crew and Usopp rejoins them before they leave to their next destination. Then we have other developments like Garp, Colby and Helmeppo paying Luffy and co a visit, Ace finally gets to duel Blackbeard but the latter’s Darkness ability proves too much for the former’s Fire ability and lost. As this arc is one of the longest so far, it was a little irritating when they showed a few non-related filler episodes like the feudal Luffy the Legendary Oyabin and dedicated episode recaps of each of the Straw Hat crew on how they joined Luffy. And since Luffy and co beat the world government, his bounty rises to 300 million Beri! Wow! Each of his crew too now has a handsome bounty on their heads. Well, except for Chopper: 50 Beri. An insult or what? So don’t play play with this bunch of pirates. They have taken on the strongest pirates, marines, world government and even God and emerged victorious in all! What is next for them?
 
Accino Family Arc
The Accino family is bent on collecting the Straw Hat crew’s flag. I guess what makes every pirate its identity is also its flag. Though Luffy and co bump into the Phoenix Pirate crew led by the depressed Puzzle (due to some failure in the New World – the other half of the Grand Line), they encounter lots of assassins from the Accino family as they traverse through the icebergs. Unfortunately, the Straw Hat pirates lost their flag and will have to go all out to retrieve it. After lots of battling and the final match between Luffy and the head of the Accino family, Don (possessing a Heat Devil’s Fruit), they get their flag back while Puzzle gets his confidence back as his crew stalls the Accino family to give time for Luffy and co to escape while promising to meet them once more in the New World.
 
Thriller Bark Arc
Luffy and crew are in the misty Florian Triangle and chances upon a deserted ship with a talking skeleton, Brook. While the rest may be a little afraid, Luffy wants him to join his crew and Brook accepts. Well, Luffy did mention he wanted a musician and Brook qualifies for it. Yeah, Brook is such a joker himself since he makes life-death statements. The gang then got sucked into the world’s biggest ship, Thriller Bark, which is owned by Shichibukai Gecko Moria. The ship is so big that you may think it’s an island. This place may send the shivers down many of their spine (especially Usopp) because of the walking dead zombies. Chopper meets a Dr Hogback whom he looked up to but later finds his research to be morally questioned like bringing to dead back to life just like how he did with some famous actress Cyndri. Then Zoro and Sanji went missing and later it’s revealed they got their shadow/soul implanted into one of the many hideous zombie doll animals of Perona. Also, the general of the zombies, Absalom, seems to be infatuated with Nami and plans to marry her to the extent of kidnapping her but a wild boar zombie, Lola, is bent on making him her bride first. Soon the gang learns of Moria’s ability to manipulate shadow because of the Shadow Devil Fruit and this whole ship is like some sort of experiment to him. Furthermore, when one loses his/her shadow, he/she can’t go out openly into the sun or else they will be dissolved. Brook is one of them too, a reason why he follows the crew to Thriller Bark to settle a score. Moria then successfully steals Luffy’s shadow and puts it in a huge monster giant, Oz, as his ultimate and powerful zombie.
 
Amidst all that, we’ll hear Brook’s past of how he was the only survivor from the Rumba Pirates and is seeking to reunite with Laboon back at Reverse Mountain. While Usopp fights against Perona and her spirits which makes one go into instant depression, Sanji rushes to save his beloved Nami from Absalom’s unholy matrimony ceremony (can’t believe Nami stayed unconscious throughout all that ruckus) and Zoro takes on a legendary zombie swordsman, Ryuuma, believed to posses Brook’s shadow. When Zoro defeats Ryuuma, the latter gives Zoro his sword and Brook’s shadow returns to its rightful owner. With the resurrection of Oz, the Straw Hat crew take the menacing giant on but to their surprise Oz can stretch just like Luffy. Even his personality is uncannily similar. Meanwhile another Shichibukai, Bartholomew Kuma, arrives on Thriller Bark to inform Moria that Blackbeard has been made a Shichibukai as Crocodile’s replacement for defeating Ace and also he is here to make sure of the Straw Hat crew’s defeat just in case, something which doesn’t go down well with Moria as he teams up with Oz to prove he can do it by himself. So they also find out that Oz don’t actually stretch like Luffy, just that his body has to follow the form of its shadow that Moria is controlling. Elsewhere, Luffy bumps into the Rolling Pirates led by big-lips Lola (what’s with her asking any guy to marry her but gets instant rejection?). All of them lost their shadows and they have faith that Luffy can defeat Oz and Moria by implanting hundreds of captured shadows into him. Yeah, he’s bulging like the hulk even if he has acquired the shadow’s strength albeit temporary. And once all the members of the Straw Hat crew are knocked unconscious, it’s a showdown between monster Luffy and Oz. Luffy defeats Oz and with the help of Brook, destroys its spinal cord to prevent it from moving further.
 
Moria isn’t going to give up yet as he absorbs all the 1000 shadows on his ship to bloat up himself into a monster. By this time, Luffy is back to his original size and lost all the implanted shadows but unleashes all his super techniques including the all new Gigant Jet Shell to send Moria reeling in defeat. Thankfully everyone got back their shadows just before the sunrise could disintegrate their bodies. As Luffy lays unconscious, the joy of victory is cut short when Kuma appears to finish the job. His powerful repelling powers sends everyone flying away and knocking them out after unleashing a powerful blast when they refused an offer of him taking Luffy’s head in exchange for their lives. A fatigue Zoro then offers himself in place of Luffy so Kuma creates a pain bubble in which he will let them all go if he could survive it. Zoro has only but 1 choice. In the aftermath, when everyone wakes up, Sanji sees Zoro standing but covered with blood (Hogback and Absalom escaped with unconscious Moria while Perona was made ‘disappeared’ by Kuma). The healing process begins as everyone celebrates their newfound freedom and of course listened to Brook’s past. Before the Straw Hat pirates depart, Lola notices Luffy’s Vivre Card is close to being falling apart and fears that the life of that person’s card is in grave danger.
 
Flying Fish Riders Arc
After that spa island filler, Luffy decides to make a little detour after encountering a mermaid, Camie and her pet starfish, Papagg to rescue a fellow friend from the clutches of the Iron Mask Duval and his Flying Fish Riders. The gang finds out that their friend is Hachi, whom some of them fought against when he was with Arlong. However he has turned over a new leaf and I guess the motivation for Luffy to go save him was his takoyaki. Can’t think anything but food, eh? It seems this is all part of Duval’s plan as revenge against Sanji. Why? When the world government drew up bounty posters for the crew, they didn’t have a picture of Sanji and horribly sketched his face instead. So this Duval guy somehow has that uncanny resemblance so his life (even if he was a bully) was hell as he is being mistaken for him. Pissed off Sanji teaches him a lesson and kicks his face several times till he turns…. Handsome?! Thus Duval becomes grateful and they are like so good friends now. So if there is anything they need, just call him and he and his gang will hurry over. Yeah, just try not to wink, Duval. Perasan betul…
 
Shabondy Archipelago Arc
Wow. It took nearly 10 years of air time to reach the halfway line. Anyway, since the gang’s next destination is Mermen Island, they need to find a specialist to coat their ship in order to dive down. This brings them to Shabondy Archipelago whereby the several islands are divided into grooves. This place serves as a pit stop for all those who plan to enter the New World. In addition, the world government headquarters is located nearby and also the Nobles called Celestial Dragons. They are so arrogant, obnoxious, proud and all the other words you can find so much so they wear oxygen masks as not to breath the same air as commoners. Nobody dares stand up to them because they have the backing of the world government and Marine. This of course pissed off Luffy when they are seen doing as they please but is greatly restrained by Hachi. Later the gang finds out that there since their arrival, this brings a total of 11 rookie pirates with a bounty of more than a million Beri on their heads. Luffy ranks second and the one who tops the list is Eustace Kid with a bounty of 315 million Beri. As they search for the coating mechanic Rayleigh (also Gol D Roger’s right hand man), Camie gets kidnapped and is sent to the auction house. Duval and his crew are called up to help send the Straw Hat crew to the auction house to stop Camie from being sold to the highest bidder. They also learn how Fish people and Mermen are greatly discriminated on this island. Plus, mermaids fetch the highest price. Everyone arrives but fails to stop the process and as Luffy is the last one to show up, he punches one of the Celestial Dragons, the moronic Charlos who fired a shot at Hachi when his identity has been exposed. This throws the entire area into chaos. The Marines are called in as the Straw Hat crew fights the Celestial Dragons’ bodyguards. Rayleigh who is also one of the auctioned humans, used his Ambition power to knock the bodyguards unconscious. He says how he has always wanted to meet Luffy. Camie is freed but the house is surrounded by Marines.
 
Since Kid and another high bounty rookie pirate, Trafalgar Law, were at the auction, they ‘team up’ to take out the Marine foot soldiers with their weird powers. Meanwhile one of the 3 powerful Marine admirals, Kizaru, has arrived on Shabondy as he takes on the other high bounty rookie pirates at the same time which include Basil Hawkins (voodoo user?), Drake (ex-Marine turned pirate), Apoo (funny limbs…), and Uruoge (some priestess from Skypeia). In short, they’re no match for Kizaru. Eventually Luffy, Kid and Law have to make a run for it but each of them encounter Sentoumaru (a stocky-build sumo wrestler-like guy from the technology division of the Marine) and Kuma. Not the real one but a Pacifista (some super cyborg). They sure have got their hands full and could’ve been worse if Rayleigh hadn’t intercepted to keep Kizaru busy. To make matters worse, they are no match for all of them when the real Kuma appears. He uses his powers to send each of the Straw Hat crew ‘vanishing’. Well, that vanishing thing may be something like flying nonstop for 3 days as said by Sentoumaru. Finally the Straw Hat crew tastes ultimate defeat when Kuma sends Luffy, the last one standing, vanishing too.
 
Amazon Lily Arc
Lone Luffy has been flying in the air for 3 days and finally lands in a jungle island. I guess being a glutton and low on jungle survival, he just eats any mushrooms he can find. Thankfully he is found by several Amazon ladies and was taken in to be nurse. Seeing that this is an all-woman island where strength equates beauty, the ladies are amazed with their new findings. So when they were removing mushrooms from him and found 1 that is irremovable, an elder concludes that he is a man, taking them all by surprise. They are wondering how he got in since this island is located within the Calm Belt. So of course Luffy gets up and because of his little unrefined behaviour, they misinterpret it as being a brute and decide to eliminate him before their queen Boa Hancock (another Shichibukai)whom they fondly call Hebihime, return. Luffy though is grateful for the women who saved his life, has to escape their arrow blasting attacks. Elsewhere Hancock is returning from another pillage only to be confronted with a Marine vice admiral who requests her presence at Ace’s public execution. Due to that, Ace’s Whitebeard Pirates may intercept and thus the need for her presence. However Hancock isn’t going to oblige and though she wants to continue enjoying her privileges as a Shichibukai. After turning the entire Marine crew except for the vice admiral into stone with her Mero Mero Devil Fruit powers, she leaves but the vice admiral is adamant and will wait for her.
 
The pursue for Luffy is still on when Hancock returns. Everybody loves her and nobody in their right mind would go against her. Simply because she is too beautiful. Yeah, she just need to act cute and she’ll be forgiven. So when she is taking a bath, Luffy who is still running away and thinking of asking this island’s chief for a boat, accidentally crashes into her bathing room and saw her forbidden back. If no women ever saw her naked, what are the chances that of a guy? Another order to hunt him down and it won’t be long before Luffy is captured and brought to public execution. The women who saved Luffy felt guilty and went to plea for clemency but merciless Hancock turns them to stone. Luffy is upset that she did this to her own comrade and for the first time in Boa’s life, someone who isn’t taken in by her beauty. He thinks she is annoying. She sends a giant panther to devour him but Luffy punches it away, surprising them. Then Boa’s sisters Marigold and Sandersonia (both Devil Fruit users of the snake type) are directed to execute him. During the fight, Luffy protects them when one of their backs became exposed to the crowd. After evacuating the crowd, Hancock is further surprised by Luffy’s answer if he wants to save those ladies or take a boat out of here. He chose the former. Hancock explains how she and her sisters were slaves to the Celestial Dragons and the mark on their back was proof of it.
 
Everyone now has a favourable view of Luffy as they feed him with lots of food (even wanting to touch him!). When Luffy learns his brother Ace is going to be executed, he desperately pleads for a boat to go rescue him but Hancock falls ill. Actually she is love sick! OMG! She has turned from a cold hearted woman into some tsundere lovey-dovey character! Hancock agrees as she secretly stows Luffy away on that vice admiral’s ship on 1 condition that they head to Impel Down first (the place where all prisoners are kept). In order not to keep viewers in the dark about Luffy’s crew, short clips are shown on their whereabouts. Like Nami at some sky weather control island, Franky at some snowy science lab island, Chopper on an island with giant birds, Sanji running for his life on transvestite island, Robin on a eternal bridge building ‘country’ constructed by prisoners, Zoro unfortunately landed on a desolated place where Perona earlier ended up (I guess she was lonely and wanted to ‘keep him’, Usopp on a man-eating-insect-and carnivorous plant island and Brook being worshipped by a demonic cult for some revolution thingy.
 
Impel Down Arc
Luffy and Hancock enter the world’s most tightly guarded prison holding hardcore prisoners. Luffy manages to sneak out to rescue Ace on his own without getting caught while Hancock is being escorted by vice guard Domino, vice prison warden Hannyabal and chief warden Magellan to see Ace (who has been recently visited by his grandpa Garp). Of course with Luffy making a ruckus trying to get deeper into the prison, he faces many obstacles at each level while meeting ex-foes-turned-‘allies’ like Buggy, Mr 3 and Bon Clay during his journey. Their attempts (except for Bon Clay) to cooperate with Luffy in order to get out backfire as they get dragged deeper into the prison. They’ll never get out at this rate. People trying to get out while he tries to get in. We are also introduced to another Shichibukai, Jimbei, a mermen, who has been imprisoned because of his refusal to fight against Whitebeard Pirates (because he looks up to him) as they too attempt to rescue Ace. Yeah, it’s going to be one hell of a bang that will shake the world when they collide. Hey, isn’t that ex-Shichibukai Crocodile in jail with them?
 
One heck of an adventure…
So that’s where I currently am at this point and it is safe to say that I will be continuing to watch this series since I find it interesting and engaging. Sure on occasions it may be draggy if you look at it on an overall picture in terms of number of episodes needed for a main story arc but it is what helps viewers to understand better about the characters and situations even better. Now if Oda-sensei does not end his manga work anytime soon, I’m thinking it will take around another 10 years or more to reach the end half of the Grand Line, don’t you think? But think of all the exciting adventures that Luffy and co will face. Like they say, it isn’t the destination which is important, but the journey. Through thick and thin, I feel that this crew has what it takes to go all the way to the end.
 
There are too many odd and trivial things which I have noticed throughout my duration of watching the series so much so that I may have forgotten what they are. Just like how I noticed everyone (especially extra minor characters) have this sense of herd mentality. In the sense that everyone initially has a pessimistic outlook as they think our heroes cannot defeat the impossible. Then when they get the slightest hope, they make a total u-turn cheering them on. Sometimes when the match is like a roller coaster ride (hey, being a hero doesn’t mean giving the enemy all the time but you have to receive some too, right?) so their support also wavers. These people have got no backbone. Another thing which I noticed is how when the characters get emotional and cry, you can see their tears or whatever body fluids flowing out not only from their eyes but their noses as well! I know it is true but at first I find it funny and disgusting. Then of course, I got used to it.
 
Just like the many terms and jargons in the series. Okay, so maybe I have forgotten some of them by now since they weren’t re-inforced but for the main ones, it’s still in my memory. Don’t worry, most of them are easy to remember and do not require complex tongue twisting techniques just to blurt them out. There are also many likeable characters and those whom many would love to hate, whether they are just supporting or minor characters for that particular story arc. Some are memorable because of the quotes they say which may very from realization insights (like Hiruluk’s saying that a man truly dies when he is forgotten) to contradictory stupid ones (like Spandam’s "Shoot her to death, but don’t kill her"). But these characters help our main heroes grow stronger and formidable as they go along.
 
For the mid-intermission, you can tell which character will hog that short 5 seconds because each of the background music is tailor suited to for that particular character’s personality like Zoro’s death march-like theme and Franky’s upbeat and funky beat. The animation for the initial episodes of the series started off with the character’s face on their bounty and wanted posters. Later they changed it to the things which the particular character in the Straw Hat crew likes such as Nami’s map drawing and oranges and Chopper’s medicine bag and blooming sakura trees. As I have mentioned, the animation of the series isn’t your standard Japanese art but at times such as comical moments, the characters will go into those trademark incredulous looks or rebuking mode. Oddly, I find many female characters in this series to be quite gorgeous. Slim, tall and lanky.
 
Regarding the names of the characters, place and certain items, I find some of them to be creative while others an eyebrow raiser. Sure, no doubt that since this is a fantasy adventure on the high seas, you’ll meet a diverse range of cultures. I noticed that the Shichibukai has names in relation to animals and if not, they look like one. Except for the new addition Blackbeard, of course. Also, some of the characters in the series are named after famous pirates of the past. I wonder if they’ll name one in the future after Jack Sparrow. Another thing I find amusing is the Den Den Mushi which is literally the main telecommunication transmission via a snail. The odd part is that the snail’s mouth and expression moves exactly how the speaker of the other line is talking. Quite a handy handphone, I’d say.
 
Since the series has been a long running production, the list of seiyuus is a very long one indeed. I guess some who played supporting characters even lend their voice as minor characters in the sense that they voiced a character in an earlier arc and then another character in a much later arc. Some of the usual main casts had a change albeit briefly. Especially Chopper and Nami’s voice, for a short stretch I noticed that the seiyuus for them sounded slightly different (In the case of Chopper’s seiyuu, I found out she was on maternity leave, so they needed a temporary replacement). After watching too much episodes, you’ll get used to Luffy’s loud and noisy behaviour that is voiced by Mayumi Tanaka (Mao in Chuuka Ichiban). She must be so used to the role by now. Other casts of the Straw Hat pirates include Kazuya Nakai as Zoro (Hijikata of Gintama), Akemi Okamura as Nami (Risa in Lovely Complex), Kappei Yamaguchi as Usopp (male Ranma in Ranma 1/2), Hiroaki Hirata as Sanji (Sha Gojo of Gensoumaden Saiyuki), Ikue Ootani (Pikachu of Pokemon), Yuriko Yamaguchi as Robin (Ritsuko of Neon Genesis Evangelion), Kazuki Yao as Franky (Bunshichi in Tenjou Tenge) and Yuuichi Nagashima as Brook (The Principal in Hidamari Sketch series). As for the rest, I’m sure if you’re interested, you can look it up by yourself. I’m just too tired to do the rest. It may take all day.
 
Speaking of the opening and ending themes, there are quite a number of them. They can range from catchy fast beats to slow tunes. I noticed that after the CP9 and Enies Lobby arc, the series does away with the ending themes and go straight into the next episode preview. That means, viewers will only get to see the opening theme but this time it lasts over 2 minutes! Of all the themes, the best one is still the first and original opening theme, We Are! by Hiroshi Kitadani. This upbeat and lively pop beat I think serves as the series’ overall theme. So much so there is a remake of this song in a hip-hop style much later in the series. Not only that, some of the background music are based around this tune as well. Speaking of which, there are a variety of them in the series with many of them sounding like a piece made for the grandeur of an orchestra concert. They may be action suspense or just buoyant. As for the soundtrack album, I did a little research on them and found out that some of the songs on initial albums are repeated over in later albums. Is it to make more money to fill up the CD so as not to make it look empty or is the old one out of print? Note the recent 12th opening theme, Kaze Wo Sagashite, sounds very gay… Ugh…
 
The popularity of the One Piece series isn’t just confined to manga and anime. Ever since its conception, there has been many TV specials, OVAs and even movies spawned over the years. People don’t get tired of them, do they? Then they have drama CDs, light novels, art books, guidebooks, video games and even trading card games! You have really got to be a real hardcore otaku and obsessed fan if you are going to have all the One Piece merchandise. Yeah, like a million pieces of the series worth of products. Haha! Thus it is no surprise that the manga won several awards not only in Japan but worldwide as well.
 
So what do you think that One Piece is at the end of the Grand Line? Well, at first thoughts based on the word itself, it may be a golden swimwear. Haha! Just kidding. Maybe it would turn out into something shocking and unexpected or something rather plain and disappoint many who has harboured high hopes of it. Whatever it is, I’ll be rooting for Luffy and co for the many adventures to come. So if you think Pirates of the Caribbean is tough, you haven’t seen anything yet. Now, if I were to have a Devil Fruit, what kind of powers should I have? Should I have the kind which saves the world or the one which destroys it or simply just for my own used like being able to understand animes without subs. Hey, wait! I could just take up Japanese classes instead. Hmm… Tough choice. Life isn’t as smooth sailing always.
 

One Piece