One Piece is one of the most beloved anime in history, but at over 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: 196 – 206 – G-8 Arc
Back when I declared my intention to start One Piece, people who thought I’d probably skip the filler like a normal person told me to make sure I didn’t skip the G-8 arc. It was, they said, the best filler arc in the series. It could, they said, easily stand beside some of the canon arcs.
They were right! I freaking loved this arc!
Here’s a quick run-down for those who haven’t seen it. After escaping from Skypiea, the Straw Hats find themselves trapped in G-8, a heavily guarded military base. Unsure of how to escape, they try to blend into the base via disguise while they figure out what to do. They catch the attention of Captain Jonathan, a chill dude who means to defeat them with strategy. But of course, Jonathan isn’t their only obstacle – they have a whole base full of marines to get through.
Sounds like a pretty basic premise, but the execution was fantastic. The arc avoided some major filler pitfalls. Some filler arcs feel like they’re disrupting the main plot. While I don’t know exactly what comes next, this arc felt like a natural progression from Skypiea to the Straw Hat’s next adventure.
Also, while it’s understandable that filler arcs can’t do major character development that might contradict later canon information, this can sometimes result in a flat story where the major characters take a backseat. While we don’t learn anything new about the Straw Hats in the G-8 arc, we get to see how they’d react in new situations based on their existing traits. Of course, Sanji would teach a military kitchen how to avoid food waste while lusting after the sexy head chef. Of course, Chopper would risk his own escape to operate on injured soldiers. Of course, Usopp would strike up a friendship with a mechanic who loves ships more than his own life. Everyone was perfectly themselves and it was delightful.
But it wasn’t just the Straw Hats who made this arc great. Captain Jonathan’s easy-going personality combined with his sharp strategic mind and genuine respect for the Straw Hats made him a fabulous adversary. His relationship with his wife Jessica was both adorable and mutually supportive – I couldn’t stop smiling whenever they were together, whether they were arguing about vegetables or cheering each other on for punching jerks. Jessica’s decision to accept Sanji’s recipes for their merit despite his being a pirate was delightful. Kobato and Mechao were a lovely father-daughter team. Condoriano was a total heel, but damn he was hilarious.
I also really enjoyed the ending. The Straw Hat’s ingenuity in figuring out how to get out of the G-8 fort was both impressive and offbeat. It didn’t just work, it also showed how creative they can be when they work as a team.
Overall, the G-8 arc rocked. I’m a little worried because it’s supposedly the best filler the series has to offer, and I have a whole lot more filler to watch from here. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Up next is the Long Ring Long Land arc, which is apparently broken up by a filler arc. Right now I’m a little stymied by the logistics of how I’ll review it, but I’ll figure it out.
Also! If you want to ask me any questions about my One Piece journey, hit me up on Twitter @sinistealatte. I’d love to hear your thoughts!