One Piece has been quite a journey so far. Not going to lie about that because it is true. Water 7 ended around chapter 441 and that is still over 500 chapters away from the catch up. When I started writing this, I am still less than halfway through One Piece before I can call myself caught up. Still, I am pretty happy with how things are going so far. I have made some significant in reading this manga and I cannot see myself stopping now. At three chapters a day, I am at a very sustainable pace that keeps me very intrigued and fascinated with going on. This manga is so well put together that it is kind of amazing. I suppose it helps that I read the best arc, to me, so far.
To keep my thoughts brief for those who have not read One Piece and should not read forward anymore, Water 7 is the perfect Saga for me. It has everything to make it great. Good character drama, mixture of different genres, political intrigue, train fights, very interesting villains despite the amount of time we haven’t spent with them, and meaningful story arcs that I am sure will have some lasting effects. At 130-ish chapters it sounds long, but the story is paced well and incredibly character driven. It also helps that it has a lot of cliff hangers that propels it forward a great amount. The villains themselves (CP9) are lacking a bit in characterization, but they are very imposing and cool so I don’t mind it.
And now for the more focused arc analysis. Hope you guys are ready!
Long Ring Long Land Arc
Well, talk about a very fun sort of character arc with a little bit of drama here and some good fun here and there. With the end of Skypeia, the Straw Hats arrive at Long Ring Long Land. They are quickly found by the Foxy Pirates and forced to take part in the Davy Back Fight. A three-round fight of different types like a boat race, a ball game, and a fight down in an extremely specific sort of pirate style. Different crew members could take part in each part of the event and whoever loses a competition gets to take a crew member from the other people’s side. The Foxy pirates cheat a lot which adds some drama. All in fun though.
At this moment, I think it is easy to say that we know the Straw Hats aren’t going to lose any crew members at this point. At least, that is what I thought while reading it though. Round one was lost, so Chopper was taken. It was nice to see the Straw Hats work hard to get him back. Plus, this was a great unification sort of event to see how the Straw Hats work together despite their different personalities. If anything, this showed the Straw Hat’s personalities quite a bit more than usual. In a particularly good way of course. Luffy and Ussop working together is great. Afro Luffy was fun.
The most dramatic of a selling point or cliff hanger for this arc was meeting one of the four admirals of the Navy, Admiral Aokiji. An admiral that questioned Robin being a part of the Straw Hats and defeated Robin and Luffy in combat with his ice powers. With the Merry Go falling apart and some doubt with Robin now, the Straw Hats make their way to Water 7 with some gold in hand.
Water 7 Arc
The beginning of Water 7 was insanely good. In a dramatic way that pushed the Straw Hats in ways that were completely unexpected for me at least. For one, the second the Merry Go landed at Water, Robin was gone. Like completely gone. She was completely shaken by what Admiral Aokiji said and something changed in her. The second portion was that the Merry Go was heavily damaged. That is two dramatic things to start off with and it only gets deeper. In a good way. A way that feels natural and draws you in. Lucky the Straw Hats got some gold from Skypeia, right?
Well, that did not work either. When the Straw Hats visited Water 7, got their gold transferred into a large number of berries into three suitcases, and got their ship checked by someone at Iceberg’s ship labs. Iceberg who apparently saved the town through ship building and being the mayor of the town. Eventually it was revealed that the Merry Go was beyond repair. Plus, the Straw Hats got two thirds of their gold stolen by Franky of Frankies gang and Usopp got beaten up resulting with the stronger Straw hats beating up the Franky crew while the main one was out. It is wild.
Of course, it gets even worse. Robin appears to have joined forces with the mysterious government group CP9. A group that intends to find the blueprints of the ultimate ship and the Straw Hats were being blamed for Robin’s Murder attempt of Iceberg. At the same time, the conflict between Luffy and Usopp made it to the head. Luffy wants to buy a new ship and Usopp is overly protective about the Merry Go. That leads to the fall out and Luffy fighting against Usopp and his many gadgets he got from Skypeia. Of course, Usopp lost. He is fighting Luffy. Usopp left the crew for now and chaos starts. OH yes, only starting.
This leads to all sorts of chaos afterwards. Luffy and the Gang break into Iceberg’s home while CP9 is there to beat up Iceberg and take the plans for the most powerful ship on Earth. There is a fight but sense the Straw Hats were held back by Robin, none of them won. Plus, Iceberg did tell CP9 about Franky having the blueprints and with Robin being the only one who could ever read it, CP9 takes both of them as prisoners and escapes on the sea train. This is the arc about Robin and Franky at the same time. It is very character motivated. I like that.
There is also the backstory of Water 7 thrown into a flash back right before the Straw Hats ride on another sea train after CP9 and the two hostages. Iceberg and Franky were both apprentices under Tom, the guy who built Gold D. Rodger’s ship. Tom was determined to be a criminal from the world government because of that fact, but had judgement set aside because of the train ship that saved the town. After that, Franky’s ship inventions spelled doom on the judgement ship and that separated the two. Such chaos.
And that leads to the train ship chase to Enies Lobby. You know, after it was confirmed the Straw Hats are innocent for once? A chase that is very spy like in story wise, but goody in execution. This is the part where Usopp as the sniper king, Sanji, and Franky after he escaped from chains. Those three against some members of CP9 on a very thematic level compared to competition. All while the other train is on the way. I loved it. I loved every bit of what we have seen so far. Of course, none of that was anything compared to what happened at Enies Lobby arc.
Enies Lobby Saga
This saga is amazing in how it is constructed. It is a not stop thrill ride with nonstop action and character moments. All sorts of character growth and fights in one singular spot. All with a great lean in with Straw Hats facing against different members of the CP9 with Franky’s group of people on law island. Yeah, that’s the experience here and I can’t help but love all of it. The flash back where Nico Robin’s will to live after being a criminal all her life for knowing a language that is illegal and finding friends that want her is powerful stuff. Same with Franky finding his own place aside from it.
I also appreciate the gimmicks provided to make the CP9’s keep away game with the Straw Hats even more complex. First off are the handcuffs that are strong and can weaken those with devil fruit powers. There is a quest to search for the right key to free Robin along with some other handcuff shenanigins amongst the Straw Hats. Also, different members of CP9 turned into animals except for the woman Nami fought after coming out of the bath. Very dramatic but fun, so tonally perfect. That felt like fanservice to me, but it did not slow the plot done and was interesting to watch. That was also a match that Nami showed the ability of her staff.
There were other great moments in there too. In terms of abilities and some many cool character dynamics between the Straw Hats. Like, I never expected Chopper’s hidden form he was forced to go in an overly dramatic sense. This was moments after Franky and Chopper had their fantastically hilarious when Chopper kept tossing Franky drinks to power himself and they were never Cola. We could talka bout Sanji and Zoro’s growth in fighting again and Luffy’s determination and Gear 1 and 2 transformations that could put his life in danger for his crew. Plus, Usopp helping the giants at Enias Lobby out and getting them on board with the attack. It is great stuff.
I have so many favorite moments in this saga. I have already named some of them, but the Straw Hats declaring war on the world by destroying Enias Lobby’s Flag to save Nico Robin is my favorite my favorite. It is heartwarming because it shows that Luffy and the Straw Hats really do care about here. It is also an oh yeah moment and endured me into the Straw Hats even more. Just like Franky said towards the end of it and his “I think I like these guys moment” after he thought about killing them. The buster call from the Navy with Spandam’s call and the Merry Go saving the Straw Hats were great too. Man, the Merry Go sinking was so sad. It broke my heart to see it fall apart.
Post Enies Lobby
This finale was full of fanservice. In a good way. In ways that want to make you cheer and be happy. The first part has to do with a ship. Franky built a new ship out of some fancy wood for the Straw Hats called the Thousand Sunny. A ship that the Straw Hats forcibly make Franky join (thank you Nico Robin). That was kind of scary, not going to lie. The ship is awesome. I just love looking at it because it is a great design. Especially the front of the ship that looks like a bad lion or a Sun. The name came from Iceberg, so that works. Works very well. We know Franky and like him, so seeing him as the Ship Wright is excellent.
The second part of the fanservice came from the bounties that everyone got. It is supposedly the power level of One Piece, right? It works very thematically along with some interesting world building too. For instance, the bounties are posted all over the world so other people can see them. For instance, it lets people who have stake in at least one of the Straw Hats. They know that the Straw Hats are alive and doing well just by seeing their picture and not even caring about the number provided to them. It also helps you think about characters you have not seen for a while. Yeah, I just really like that.
Lastly, the fanservice was on Luffy. A lot of things we did not know were revealed and it was mind blowing. Perfectly paced at the right place after a massive event like Enies Lobby. The first surprise was seeing Koby again after who knows how long. He got a scar and he has grown. The second one was Luffy’s Grandpa Garp. A super strong admiral that can throw cannon balls like nothing and wanted Luffy to be a part of the navy. Third, that Luffy’s dad is Monkey D. Dragon of the Revolutionary Army attempting to overthrow the world’s government. All massive things that just happened even if we as an audience expected these things.
I can honestly say that this is my favorite saga so far. It is very well thought out, put together, and everything else. I have said everything that I have needed to up to this point in the post itself. Robin is on the time for real and now there is Franky! Time for Thriller Bark! See you next time in not as long of a time. Oh, there was a fight between Ace and Black Beard that was a cliff hanger. Cannot wait to see where that goes. Or maybe I can.