One Piece is one of the most beloved anime in history, but at close to 1,000 episodes, it’s tough for those who haven’t been watching from the start to jump on board. One Piece Diaries tracks one writer’s experience with this daunting rite of passage. With hype for the highs and critique for the lows, this column will help you decide whether to take your own One Piece journey – or let you relive the one you’re already on. It will update biweekly every other Thursday.
Episodes Watched: 164 – 174 – Skypiea Arc
We’re at the halfway point, and I couldn’t be more relieved. I am still not feeling this arc, which makes it hard to motivate myself to make progress in the series. Right now, it feels like a complete and total drag.
One of my biggest issues with this chunk of the arc is the fights. It turns out that the fight against Satori isn’t the only fight I find frustrating. In Episode 170, Zoro fights Warrior Braham. Braham uses a combination of a flashgun and actual bullets to fight. He’s skilled at long-range fighting. Zoro defeats him using his Sanjuroku Pound Ho attack, which he would not have been able to pull off if Braham didn’t inexplicably start charging toward him after staying out of his range and easily causing damage for the whole battle. It didn’t feel like Zoro accomplishing something, it felt like him lucking out because his opponent didn’t have a good strategy in place.
I did like getting to see Nami take on Satori’s brothers, not because they were interesting foes but because I liked that Nami had to defend her severely injured comrades using a weapon she barely has any experience with, her Clima-Tact. I also liked Robin’s fight with Yama because it’s rare that we get to see how absolutely ruthless Robin’s Devil Fruit can be. The other thing I liked about these two fights is that they were quickly resolved and didn’t drag on for multiple episodes.
Another issue I have is with Enel. I’ve met Enel, but so far he doesn’t seem like a convincing or intriguing threat. For a character who is essentially a cult leader, there ought to be something about him that makes him so magnetic to his followers. So far, all I’m picking up is that he can use Mantra, an ability that others can also use, and that his Devil Fruit gives him some cool electric powers. Why does that make him worth following? What does he hope to accomplish? I hope these questions will be answered later, but so far we’re halfway into the arc and he feels more like a sketch than a fully realized character.
Much of what I do find interesting so far is in the form of unanswered questions, which does mean that the story is intriguing enough for me to care about the resolution. I want to know more about Shandora. I want to know more about the Poneglyph Robin found and how it fits in with the rest of the story. I want to know more about the history of the Shandian people. These are all interesting story elements – the problem is that the pacing is abysmal and they waste a ton of time on nonsense.
There was one bit of nonsense that I really loved, though. The part where the Straw Hats were hanging out in the forest and encountered a group of hostile wolves then ended up partying with them was fantastic. I had to pause the scene to show it to my sister, and it actually encouraged us to start researching nearby wolf sanctuaries that we might be able to visit in the future. If I have to pick a highlight moment from this ten-episode stretch, it’s definitely watching the Straw Hats get drunk around a campfire with a group of wolves.
See y’all in two weeks.