For those not attached to the manga or show called One Piece, The Summit War Saga was an examination of Luffy by taking away so much from him and discovering what was left. In the beginning arc of Sabaody Archipelago, which was very much like the beginning of Skypiea, we met this strange set of islands growing from trees with an awful environment. It leads to Luffy and his crew’s fight against fish-men slavery at an auction house. Mostly for one mermaid, but others are saved from their actions too. It expands the world, adds extra pirate crew elements, and has some cool technology as well. That is of course before everything goes wrong and Luffy and the Straw Hats gets defeated and “erased” one by one. Finally, everything that Luffy has done since the beginning has hit him as hard as a rock to where he finally disappears completely defeated by himself. Also, his brother Ace is prison and is destined to be executed very soon.
The next parts are such a long journey from level zero of the Amazon Lilly islands with the Pirate Empress Boa Hancock to the Pirate Prison Impel Down where Luffy starts a Prison Riot and meets so many characters we met before along with Invankov who worked with Luffy’s dad on his way to saving Ace. Too bad he was taken away. With a thrown together crew of pirates, Luffy D. Monkey makes his way to Marine-Ford which is an all-out Pirate vs Navy War for Ace’s (Luffy’s Brother) Life that shakes the foundations of the world as we know it. Also, Luffy is there and a factor in the conflict, but only a minor force. The pirates lose, Luffy loses even more, and it’s astonishing. It’s so cool how Luffy and his crew just feel like a part of a world that moves around without them. They do affect it, but not as much as one expects.
The Summit Wars Arc was such a freight train of intensity and insanity just like the Water 7 Saga. Everything was weighed down by characters feelings and such like that. I think that Water 7 is all together better, but Summit Wars is definitely ranked #2 in terms of One Piece Sagas to me at this point. A longer, but excellent examination of Luffy’s core elements as a whole.
With that, it’s time to dive deeper into the Summit Wars Saga now. Here there be spoilers! Yargh! (I’m enjoying this pirate thing.)
Sabaody Archipelago Arc
Two things before entering this portion of the saga. The first one is Arlong’s old crew members making an appearance in a very soft way. Number two is the fact that Sanji’s bounty picture gag where they don’t get the picture right. The two factors meet instantly one way or another at the beginning of this arc. After the Straw Hats save a mermaid named Camie on their way to Fish-Man Island, she offers them Takoyaki and they visit her Takoyaki Stand at Sabaody Archipeligo run by former antagonist from Along Park, Hatchan. Of course, the pirate Duval who looks like Sanji from the bounty picture attack with flying fish. The Straw Hats help both by fighting for Hatchan and also Sanji hitting Duval’s face so he won’t be accosted by the navy. Two things that mean something later on.
That leads to the development of the world of the Sabaody Archipelago. It’s not an island, but a bunch of trees standing out on the ocean that are large enough of create islands on. There is no magnetic pull on the Log Pose because of the fact that it’s not an island. It’s an island that uses bubble technology for a lot of things like bikes, a middle ground where the navy and pirates a like stop by before heading to the new world, and a place where nobles called Celestial Dragons rule with an iron first. If they are accosted by anyone, the navy can arrive very quickly to cause havoc. We meet a lot of newer pirates that competing against the Straw Hats, but the most important ones are “The Surgeon of Death” Law and Kid who has killed lots of people thus gaining a bad reputation.
I am skipping over so many details because so many things happen in just one One Piece Chapter alone that could fill out over 500 words at minimum. One Piece is just great at building a foundation for a world to happen and using a small detail you can notice in the background and making it even larger when it’s recalled later on. One Piece is a great character story at this point, but one thing is on top of another thing which is on top of another thing at the same time which makes the world feel real. Like the Straw Hats are just a part of it and what they do does and doesn’t affect the nature of the world itself. Anyway, back to the story of Sabaody Archipelago with the Straw Hats needing their ship, The Thousand Sunny, needing a special coat to make it to Fish-Man Island. The search for the guy results in crazy things happening. Plus meeting a certain female bar owner who used to be a pirate there helping the search. Her name is Sakki and she’s really cool.
This is where we see the worst part of Sabaody Archipelago happen. While Fish-men and humans live in the same areas, there is a high level of racism there as well. Racism as Fish-men are taken off the streets by hunters for money and their sold in a slavery auction. The most valuable commodity on that island? Mermaids. Camie is taken off the streets and is planned to be sold on an auction to the elite class. Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as the Straw Hats cause havoc by assaulting Celestial Dragons, the elitists of this group, and rush as fast as they can to the auction house before it happens to save her and everyone else. Well, besides Zoro who is lost once again and gets in his own trouble. Oh, the Straw Hats are looking for is there at the auction to be solve. A powerful old man named Rayleigh who is there to steal the money from the auction for himself and worked under Gold D. Rodger. Connections on connections.
The auction house invasion by the Straw Hats and other pirates starts out pretty good. Luffy interrupts the auction through his power and craziness, all the slaves possible are saved, and the navy is being held back by Luffy, Law, and Kid. Three powerful pirate captains in which Rayleigh is very impressed by Luffy and his abilities. Here is where the question of morality comes into play. Luffy and the Straw Hats only cared out stopping the auction because of Camie. A personal connection that they know about. They didn’t care about the auction so much itself because they were supposed to lie low in this fascist and horrible area they are in so they could get to the next area. This is only a stop for them. So one could say that the Straw Hats aren’t perfect people fighting for injustice either. I mean, they are pirates and they don’t want to be heroes because that’s not their mission. I’m just not going to let people off for this though, but I guess that just makes the morality of this series questionable. At least they did stop the auction so the Straw Hats got that point in their favor. I still really like them and they are wanted people so they have to lie low sometimes. Gah.
What happens after the captains and their crews try to escape is when the major changes happen to a Skypeia like story. Admiral Kizaru is there and makes himself known for one as well as the Navy’s hunt for the Straw Hats gets more insane with stronger opponents. Kuma makes an appearance again; except he comes in the form of powerful clones. The Straw Hats barely defeat one of them then Zoro somehow defeats another. Yet, they keep appearing. As the Straw Hats try to escape, the pirates are erased one by one until it’s down to Luffy. He cries for his lost crew as he is also erased. Or so we think. I mean, do you think a story would end like this after knowing it goes on for five hundred more chapters? I mean, it’s possible to follow another crew that has been established. Like, Law for instance. He seems pretty cool. But no, what happens is something else entirely. The saga continues.
Amazon Lilly Arc
In the opening of this arc, we learn that our Straw Hats weren’t erased. Just merely sent who knows how far to islands where each person can learn more about their abilities, but still struggle at the same time. Well, except Luffy who ended up on an island of Amazon women called…Amazon Lilly. That’s where the name of the arc comes from. He is in that Steve Trevor visiting the island of the Amazons from Wonder Woman sort of scenario. Usually, he would be killed outright for being a man. But it’s Luffy who has no attraction women at all and is just completely honest with his feelings out loud. He’s the most positive force of go getter energy that’s ever existed so of course the island is infatuated with him. Not that he cares too much, just that he has an ends to justify his means.
So I don’t have much to talk about when it comes to this arc other then Luffy and Pirate Queen, Warlord of the Sea Boa Hancock. She has the ability to turn anyone that lusts after her to turn them into stone and considering that she is the most beautiful women ever, despite her looking a lot like Robin, her devil fruit power affects mostly everyone. Except Luffy. Luffy fought for his survival during a match where Haki power was shown against Boa’s sisters, asked to save the women Boa turned into stone, and saw Boa Hancock’s slave tattoo and didn’t care about it. Of course, Boa fell in love with him. I guess that’s a shonen protagonist thing. She’s so pure and innocent behind that bad ass exterior, she just turns into mush around him. It’s pretty adorable for someone so bad ass to feel that way.
This arc did a fantastic job of developing the Amazon Lilly island, but it also added another way for Luffy to get out of the island and save Ace. Yes, Luffy’s brother Ace. This island arc is where Luffy, not us, finally learns about his brother’s imminent death. All from Boa’s mom who likes reading the news. Next comes to the decision that will change the scope of this arc forever. Will Luffy choose to go after saving his brother or reuniting with his crew? It sounds like a hard choice, but Luffy finally chooses to go after his brother and that changes so many things. Luffy and his crew could have kept sailing, but the decision that Luffy makes will put a large dent into One Piece history and the battle that will happen soon.
Off to Impel Down.
Impel Down Arc
Before Ace gets sent to his execution, he’s held in the fifth floor of the great pirate prison, Impel Down. The prison itself is like Dante’s Inferno. Each floor down holds pirate with a higher bounty then the last and is made up of five floors in total that are known to people. Not to mention that the floor itself is guarded by gradually higher-level beasts and monsters. In order to for Luffy to get in there in the first place, he needs Boa Hancock’s help. It’s a good thing that Boa Hancock’s stone ability also erases people’s memories from when they were frozen. She can also have terms in how she joins in the execution like visiting Ace at the prison for example. Too bad she can’t take Luffy all the way down. Only into the entry way. She does meet Ace and leaves to form a force against Whitebeard at Marineford.
Luffy, however, has to go the hard way down. He causes the largest riot known in the prison’s history and such on his way down along with meeting some long lost friends on the way. Buggy the pirate, members of Baroque Works, Crocodile, and a lot of others helping him down the journey down and fighting all sorts of monsters too. All while other prisoners are over the place too. Of course, Ace is also with a certain War Lord of the Sea, Jinbei who was mentioned at Arlong Park, was in jail next to Ace before he was taken outside of it. Plus, Luffy got to meet other people after dealing with Warden Magellan who is a nice softy with poison powers, allowed Luffy to meet Ivankov who doesn’t care about gender and worked with Luffy’s father Dragon. They healed joined Luffy with others on his way out.
The end result of this scenario with Luffy on a ship with Jinbei, who is a good boy, and other pirates of mixed opinions and plans on the way to Marine-ford. Luffy is on the way to save Ace and he just somehow gets these random people together. He has this natural charisma and fortitude about him which just invites people into it together. They aren’t his crew, crew he hand-picked himself because he liked all of those people though. The choices he made continue to pile and pile on top of him to save a singular person that doesn’t want to be saved instead of his people and his happy place. He’s also very badly injured as well. Regardless though, the battle of Marineford where world changing things are going to happen and somehow Luffy is going to change everything there as well. Oh, Black Beard was there and was the guy who got Ace imprisoned. Bad guy in motion.
I don’t think that anything that I will ever can fully realize the majesty of the Marineford arc. What this arc is is one massive battle that has so many layers and changes to momentum. A lot like battles that happen in real life. A lot of shonen battle series usually revolve around one on one fights to settle the fate of the world or the universe in general. The only other series that had a large battle as some kind of finale is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood during the promised day with it’s episode after episode of the final battle and troop movements. This is a massive battle between the navy with it’s admiral along with it’s different warlords of the sea, otherwise known as privateers, against the infamous Whitebeard and his pirates. This battle has so much weight to it that it changes the fate of the One Piece world at large.
This arc is the passing the baton of the age of pirates. The old age of pirates passes away to give way to the newer age. On top of the ladder of pirates in this instance is White Beard. An older pirate that has powers that can shatter the world and a group of cult like followers who call him Pops. Ace is one of them. Ace, a guy who renounced his claim of being the son of Gold D. Rodger to give his allegiance to White Beard. This older pirate has never been on screen at this point exudes so much leadership and charisma by the way he carries himself and the way people treat him. Everyone has so much respect for the guy and I can see it. If I was in that world of One Piece and a pirate to be, I would want to join someone with as much noteriety and fame of him as well. Too bad he dies in the most bad ass way possible. All to save Ace.
Along with the passing of White Beard comes the era of chaos through the appearance and growth of Black Beard’s influence at the same time as Luffy appearing and changing the direction of the battle field towards saving Ace once again. Luffy has his singular goal to save Ace which White Beard naturally uses for his own purposes. He does get beat up quite a bit, but he keeps going anyway until Ace is finally saved. At the same time is Black Beard as a void of morality itself. He abuses the system in whatever way he can, like becoming a War Lord of the Sea and take people from Impel down as well, to disrupt the two-party system in place just like he can. The two are obviously connected as Luffy being a symbol of hope for the future and Black Beard as the chaos of the coming times. So is Luffy’s appearance of the emperor’s Haki in Amazon Lilly and here too in pivotable moments.
So, I have skipped through a lot of things. That’s true. I haven’t talked about how Oars Jr was trying to save Ace and how sad his fate was, Ace not caring about himself, the loss of the pirates at Marineford, the admirals in question (Akainu, Akaiju, and Kizaru), the war lords of the sea meeting former warlords of the sea in battle, and everything else. This arc has too much going on for me to say anything in that level of detail because that would ruin so much of the depth of this arc. That’s One Piece. The end result of this battle was Ace dying in front of Luffy, the damaged Luffy taken away by Law for surgery to Amazon Lilly, and everything broken up by the red haired Shanks himself. An Emperor of the sea. Also Koby, the kid from the beginning, putting the battle to a stop through reason was powerful too. I should mention him.
So once again, we have to talk about choices. Luffy chose to save him brother and it failed for him. Seeing him wrapped up in bandages being mentally defeated for the first time in his entire life. He feels like he lost everything when his crew is still scatter across the world of One Piece in places where they can grow in some way for the future. The well timed flash back with Luffy and Ace as children slowly going the way of pirates was heart breaking. Gah, I have cried too many times over this manga. At least there is a glimmer of hope for the future.
Post Marineford Arc
Just going to close this post out very quickly. You know, if I can. This arc is the set up for the One Piece time skip. Where characters are, what their characters can do, and how can they get stronger. Luffy has Rayliegh training him on how to use Haki. A special ability that few people have. All the others train in whatever way they can to protect their recently saddened Luffy in order to protect him. Even if Luffy is getting stronger, so does everyone else. Everyone needs to be stronger for Luffy to not feel the same way when part of his life has been closed off. With Luffy giving the symbol meet at Sabaody Archipelago in two years, One Piece moves into the time skip. For once, Luffy doesn’t have to put on his Straw Hat and be someone for a while.
I’m glad that Fish-man Island is a much smaller arc.