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In this Adventure we look at how the Straw Hats are starting to bond and play, we look at the power of nerdry, the ripples that have begun to travel through the world, but mostly? Marines. Marine ideology. Marine practicality and examine Tashigi and Smoker.

Also, why an Adventure rather than an arc? Because it is shorter for one thing. For another while there are plot threads started here and there, the Straw Hats don’t make a large impact on Loguetown itself. Yes, the people in it, but the overall nature of the town doesn’t change.

As we get started I love love love this adventure. Because here we leave the drama and danger (for the most part) behind and see how the Straw Hats interact with one another and figure each other out and it’s just so [chinhands]

So let’s begin~ !

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Right away of course we revisit the idea of Nami knowing exactly what she wants and knowing her limits. She doesn’t just complain that the paper is getting too expensive, she ‘s proactive about it, telling the news coo that she won’t pay for more than she’s willing to give. We also see she likes to keep abreast of the news as Nami doesn’t drop money on anything she doesn’t want. Also I’m betting that Usopp just assumed Nami was done raising money (since I doubt she told him she’d be stopping) because he’s so narrative minded. In other words, Nami not having to worry about saving money ever again! Is the happy ending. The expected one But yeah, no, Nami is all about the money. Or rather what money can bring her. She wants to at least not be living hand to mouth.

As for Usopp it’s interesting to look at his take on money and budgeting. Clearly he must have had some money, through some inheritance or a kind of allowance from the village (or maybe occasional gifts from Yasopp?) The most he was lacking in Syrup was companionship of his own age and parental guidance—but he had plenty of things and probably bought his own food. (as we’ll see later) But I think he’s probably on the safe side of spending, with occasional splurging, but is either none too interested in newspapers or could have just bummed it off of someone else.

I also love Usopp’s little chemistry station and how he seems to move it away from Nami from one panel to the other. Also while I think the tobasco star is volatile stuff, he’s being wonderfully dramatic about its danger.

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Poor Usopp. XD

But already we’re seeing them play off one another and bring out different sides. Right away Nami is utilizing Sanji’s helpfulness to her own ends. (And protecting what is precious to her). Sanji, who would feed anyone, is kicking Luffy away from the mikan. Granted, Luffy’s probably not really hungry XD but would he have stopped him from pinching at least one had those trees belonged to anyone but Nami? Probably not.

Also, just to bring it up, I think while it may be seen as stingy not to share her mikan openly—it’s really just a measure of preserving them. If Luffy thought it was open season on mikan he would most likely be pretty careless about how much he was eating and maybe inadvertently damage the trees in doing so. But even if that isn’t the reason and Nami is just being stingy, so what? Nami is free to be stingy now and define the boundaries around her own stuff.

I love, too, how Luffy is just like okay, I’d rather be happy anyway. And then proceeds to be so.

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Two things here.

First, Zoro. I don’t really like the translation here because I think it’s too antagonistic for this early in the game. Stephen’s translation has: ‘She uses him like a tool’ which I like better, or the more clear Viz: ‘She has him wrapped around her finger.’ Why I like these is because Zoro isn’t really annoyed by this or really thinking Sanji is an idiot—mostly he just seems mildly surprised how easily Nami uses him. Zoro, you sweet summer child. You have a lot to learn. (also poor Usopp XD Everyone just casually ignoring him. Also I love Luffy’s excitement there.) Also interesting is Zoro is off to the side once more, away from the main group. Why? Probably no reason other than that he wanted to be over there. Still, this is something I’m definitely interested in tracking.

For Nami, not so much about Nami but a sense that the world is deeper than we know. It’s great foreshadowing that they’re not just going to sail around, but be involved. Also that the world is in a state of turmoil right now. Lots of things going on as a new age rapidly approaches.

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Firstly, for the top panel, look how relaxed Nami is. She’s got herself furniture (set up by a certain ero cook, most likely), she’s barefoot and carefree. You can already tell she’s not holding herself with the same amount of tension she had before.

And their reactions… Nami looking mildly worried like, ‘am I seeing what I think I am?’ Usopp looking on the verge of freaking out about it (though it may just be pain still). Luffy ‘s utter surprise. Sanji like what is that and is it something we should be concerned about. Annd Zoro out of the loop. XD Sleeping again.

We see a shot of Luffy looking extremely happy about being a wanted man with a reward to the tune of 30,000 beri and then…

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Firstly I love how Nami has a full grasp of the situation. Not only will they be put at risk but will have strong bounty hunters on their tail. Though, of course, what she fails to understand is that Luffy knows the risk, too. Or at least, knows there will obviously be risk to being a pirate (as Garp is a Marine after all) and, of course, is willing to accept it and pleased that he has a bounty poster already and that it’s so high! It’s part of making a name for himself even if it was unintentional.

And Usopp XD A couple chapters ago he was freaking out over the possibility of getting into trouble with the Marines, but now that there are no Marines around or danger looming, he’s all for this wanted poster stuff! Especially since he’s actually on it and he has the potential for becoming famous! Since Usopp does love the attention, even if he’s still not really clicking with the idea of consequences. (Though tbf I think it has something to do with making it look easy. Luffy is tickled by this and makes accepting it and pirate life look easy, so of course if he can handle it, Usopp can definitely handle it …buut not so much)

But also, as much as Usopp wants to be in the flashy spotlight? Sanji wants to be there, too. He wants a name for himself and to be known and famous all over the world. He’s committed to the pirate idea and the Marine chasing them idea because he knows that’s the consequence of being a pirate—so he might as well be the coolest suavest motherfucking pirate there is. Only, it’s kind of difficult if you don’t even have the back of your head on a wanted poster.

Also, I love that Usopp reads the reason behind Sanji’s poutiness 100% correctly.

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Because at the thought of going to the Grand Line and being infamous gets Sanji practically doing the nakama kickdance of friendship with Usopp. And I love for all of Sanji’s things about men, he has no problem slinging an arm around Usopp’s shoulders and just moves right along with the flow! This is actually probably the first time we’ve really seen him grin like this about something other than a lady or a fighting smirk. It’s almost a complete 180 from the tension he had in him at the Baratie. Here, we see Sanji completely relaxed without needing to present himself in a certain way and his inner (wonderful) dorkiness coming through.

And Nami has a thing with consequences as well, which we’ll see in a later arc. Unlike Usopp she’s completely aware the consequences are there and is never fooled into thinking they won’t be… but she would prefer to weasel out of them if she can. She doesn’t want to just go to the Grand Line here, but escape to it.

Also I love that Zoro spotted the island. He was dozing perhaps, but only lightly, and maybe he heard the call of a gull (or his nakama… but I’m sure he’s used to them being loud even now) and woke up to see the island, calling their attention to it. Also… I just… really like him in that shot.

We have an excellent moment where Nami glances over and knows that island means they are close to the Grand Line. Like there isn’t even a beat of hesitation. She knows what it is and where they are and it’s just another example how good she is. (Granted Cocoyashi has got to be fairly close to it but, still)

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It’s awesome that not only does Nami know about what the island indicates, she knows about Loguetown. Also that Loguetown “Is the Beginning…and the End…” makes me wonder if they’ll revisit it at the end of OP. Not for anything sad, but to just mark the end of that particular journey.

Also, Luffy, is a Roger!nerd. (and also a pirate!nerd, lbh) but Roger is his inspiration. Loguetown is significant to him and there’s just this sense of weight to his expression. His gaze is focused and intense on that place.

But for Nami in the last panel? This is love and this is how she expresses it. She said flat out that they couldn’t afford to linger in the East Blue. And yet, going to Loguetown would definitely include lingering… but she knows Luffy would want to see it, so asks if he wants to go. I’m also willing to bet she brought up that bit of trivia just because she knew it would ping Luffy’s interest. Her face is just so kind in that shot, too. (Also I love how you can see more of her pinwheel in that shot as if freedom is coming to her more bit by bit)

Before we get into the town itself, let’s pop over and back a few pages to see what the Marines are up to.

We see a shot of the Captains defeated thus far (Buggy, Krieg, and Arlong as Kuro flew right under their radar and Alvida was hardly a thing) and then:

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And here we basically see the entire problem with the Marines and Marine ideology in general at this level. They don’t stop to ask why, or to guess at Luffy’s intentions. He is a pirate therefore must be evil, therefore must be eliminated. Though he certainly didn’t stop and try to take over Orange Town or Cocoyashi. Of course, at this level, it may be taken for granted that Luffy is going to be evil.

At a higher level, perhaps, this is a form of propaganda. Whether evil or not, Luffy is definitely a threat to have defeated such top tier crews. They don’t know what he is capable of and so it doesn’t matter what he did or did not do. He is not under their jurisdiction and so has to be taken down. Of course, granted, Nezumi probably didn’t do the Straw Hats any favors by saying he was beaten by them. So at least the Marines of the East Blue know that Luffy will harm Marines. (On the other hand Nezumi is still alive to blame them so that should suggest something… )

A high ranking officer which doesn’t have a name that I am aware of, tells the assembled Marines below: Gentlemen! If you must run for your lives, now is the time to do it!

This is the fortress of "peace" in a time of piracy!! Weakness is unacceptable! (using Stephen’s translation for no other reason than I can copy/paste)

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The Marine ideology isn’t in and of itself bad. There is no room for weakness because the Marines have to be the strong ones. There is no shame in the civilians in not being strong or in not being able to fight off their assailants because that is what the Marines are for. Their creed revolves around making the seas safe from the truly terrible pirates that sail in them. And they are needed because the world can be a terrible place for the weak.

And yet…? The end is this….

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Shades of freaking Akainu anyone? Also the idea that there is no running or weakness in the Marines. Yes, they cannot be weak… but on the other hand, what constitutes weakness? That this is here maybe means the fight between Akainu’s ideals and Aokiji’s ideals were inevitable. Because Akainu’s have already spread so far.

But what is Absolute Justice according to this?

Protecting the weak, yes, and not looking down on them— But showing no mercy or understanding to pirates and the situation that surrounds them. To go after them as hard as you can and uproot their evil with no idea of the surrounding events because the surrounding events don’t matter.

This is the world that lead up to Marine Ford. Though it’s worth it to say it didn’t start just now. Maybe it started when Ace was born or when Roger died. Maybe even before that, who knows? But the world has a deep past and Luffy is entering right into the middle of it and being at the same time completely unaware (but not unaffected).

Anyway, let’s leave the Marines for now because the Straw Hats have arrived at Loguetown.

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I love the sense of place in this series. Every town has its own character and Loguetown is no exception. There’s people of all sorts wandering around, going into shops. People with weapons, people without. We also know that Bartolomeo is in this mix somewhere. And possibly Dragon already and others! But for now ….

A few bits of character work…

Sanji continues to comment on things (reinforcing what we already know) and I don’t really have anything to say about it just yet but I think it’s interesting.

Usopp showing that he is a village boy born and bred and the only town he’s seen outside of Syrup is Cocoyashi. This is massive in comparison. (and looks it) I just love that little detail that he’s impressed by the size of it.

Luffy fist pumping the air at being at such an exciting new place.

And Zoro and Nami just kind of hanging back and looking like ‘yep. It’s a town alright.’

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Each of them has their things to do, which I love.

Luffy heads straight for the goal to go be nerdy at it.

Sanji and Usopp both going shopping… What I love about that is, they’re shopping for stuff they really love to do. It’s not that Sanji needs to buy groceries, but that he’s seeing what’s there to buy. What ingredients there are. What he can learn. Also more of a sense that Usopp likes to tinker with stuff. He’s not just a sniper that has good aim, but he likes to invent and create projectiles and other things. Basically I love that he enjoys his fighting style.

And Zoro. Oh, Zoro you sweet summer child. You are going to get yourself into so much trouble for this. I imagine he’s stopped suspecting Nami at this point and since she is nakama he can rely on her and trust her. Which he can! Because it’s not as if she doesn’t give the terms to him up front. It’s possible that Zoro doesn’t really get how exorbitant that is, or doesn’t really mind all that much. Money is not that important to him except as a means to eat, drink and maintain his weapons. So I don’t really think, for him, owing Nami money is an issue. For now.

Meanwhile Nami definitely looks like the cat that swallowed the (well prepared and lightly seasoned) canary.

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I kind of wonder if Zoro was pinged by the word ‘monster’

Mostly though, I’m showing these panels because of the general attitude of Loguetown. In the above panel and the below, everyone is walking by looking tense, hands clenched, gazes straight head. In the top that one guy is sweating a little. They are not going to get involved or draw the punks’ attention to themselves. That being said, they probably know she is a Marine and we just read that it’s no bad thing for civilians not to get involved. (and is probably better that they don’t)

(I spy Pandaman in the top panel, to the right just behind the Puffy Coat guy. Oh, Pandaman, you always know where the action is. And the guy wearing a Manji shirt. Secret Whitebeard fan perhaps?)

This scene itself is a little more complicated to understand fully. This scene not only introduces us to Tashigi as a character, but also in a sense, Smoker –especially in regards to his sense of Justice.

So let’s look at these two guys first. What do we know about them? That Smoker threw their boss in jail. So, yeah, typical Marine right? Well, no. Because these guys aren’t in jail are they? In fact they’re free enough to deliberately seek out Tashigi in order to get revenge. (And also saying that they themselves are cowards for picking on someone they deem weaker and not having the balls to go after Smoker himself).

Also, look at how Tashigi frames it. ‘If you haven’t learned your lesson’. (Viz: “if you haven’t had enough” Stephan’s: “If you still haven’t learned from your mistakes”) And what does a lesson imply? That they were supposed to learn something from this. That they are being given a second chance. Perhaps their boss did something so egregious (or right under Smoker’s nose, or annoyed Smoker enough) that he couldn’t ignore it and pitched the guy into jail. But not them. He’s giving them a second chance.

And Tashigi? She is loyal to Smoker. She believes in Smoker’s Justice. So much so that she’s willing to teach these cretins the message that Smoker tried to instill (or beat) into them the first time.

But also, ultimately? Right away we see that Smoker’s Justice is not Absolute Justice. He does not crush all evil doers (or suspected pirates, or want to be pirates) under his fist. But he doesn’t let people get away with shit either, striving to maintain order.

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Here we see Tashigi easily underestimated, for her looks and quite possibly for her gender (and perhaps overall klutziness as well). Though she is, of course, not as weak she looks.

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First? These guys wouldn’t have made it far in the Grand Line if they reached it all. No matter how bombastic they are, that their dream is crushed so readily means that it’s rare they would have survived a disaster. If their boss is in jail? So what? Wait for him to get out or go on without him. (or, hell, try to bust him out if you want to travel so badly). Lost a ship? Work up to buy a new one or hire on to a ship heading in that direction. There’s a thousand ways to get to the Grand Line (or at least the reverse mountain) but these guys are only interested in revenge.

Second, though I think Tashigi is confident in her abilities, she feels the pressure of being watched by the civilians (who must have confidence in her strength as a Marine), and is thinking hard about the process.

Third, despite walking around with their heads down, when things heat up the people show their worry about Tashigi’s well-being. Zoro is also underestimating her, ready to step in and save her butt. I think he grabbed Wado first, and then saw her move.

She creams both the guys at once, which is quite awesome, and then this:

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So even though she pulled off a spectacular move, she overcompensated with it and wasn’t able to stick the landing, hence the flat on her face on the dirt. I love Zoro just standing there watching her. But like the coolest thing here? The civilians admire her even if she
faceplanted on the ground. They think she’s fantastic and strong. Zoro has nothing bad to say about her trip, he just crouches and helps her out with her glasses. Why? Well yeah she may have been klutzy and overcompensated but she’s also learning... and no matter that she fell, she still succeeded and that’s worth noting. Also, she moved faster to attack then Zoro could defend her. And that is worth noting, too.

(and please XD don’t bring up Timeskip!Zoro and Tashigi interactions because that’s a whooole different animal)

We see, too, another side of Loguetown. While it’s about nerds and their nerdry, it’s also about the effect these characters have on others and what they bring out in them. For Tashigi, she tends to bring out certain protectiveness—perhaps due to her gender or overall clumsiness. But she also inspires cheers when she succeeds. This kind of vulnerability mean that people, especially civilians who don’t have a stake in the criminal side of things, tend to like her.

(also as an aside, I know that there is a rumor that the top hat guy in the crowd at the execution stand is Sabo… but I wonder if it’s actually that guy, second from the right in the long coat…)

We then see Tashigi’s face without glasses and Zoro having a startled reaction to her resemblance to Kuina. But we’ll forgo that shot for the moment and follow the chapter as it sort of does its first “decks of the world” series.

First stop? “On A Certain Island”

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Of course they are intimidated by him. Not only is Mihawk an intimidating man (and greatest swordsman in the world) but he’s a Shichibukai. Him being here could mean nothing but trouble. But nah, Mihawk is just on a social call. I love that Shanks is easy-going to be hanging on an island like this—with no idea what that means. Is it because it’s peaceful? Tropical? Has great booze? It could mean anything.

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I think it’s hilarious that the badass group shot they have going on here is more than likely the result of them being hung over. We know it’s true for Shanks. I love how there’s a massive umbrella there, too, as if Shanks just can’t deal with the light rn. And Yasopp casually leaning against Lucky Roo all barefoot is super cute.

Also of course this suggests that Mihawk and Shanks have fought before, which is what settling would imply—and that Shanks… Well he’s telling Mihawk that he’s not in a good mood, but it’s not a threat so much as telling him he’s in a damn bad mood and not up for any rematch shenanigans.

Which of course Mihawk counters with a dig because he is tsun tsun. But also I think at this moment he believes it, too. Not that what he believes is necessarily true. Though what that says to me is Shanks is not a yonkou just yet and has been busy just bopping around the Grand Line having lazy adventures and just existing as a pirate.

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Essentially Mihawk just wanted to bring this to Shanks’ attention, because maybe Shanks is easygoing enough not to read the newspaper, or because Mihawk just wanted to get his thoughts on it. (but not because it was a convenient excuse to hang out. Not him. He’s too tsun tsun for friends. …Okay I kid… Mostly) Also I like that Shanks talks of Luffy. I wonder when he told Mihawk. I kind of imagine it being sometime after their battle where they are drinking and chatting and Shanks is speaking of this kid who impressed him.

Also I love how there’s immediate smiles and excitement just at the realization.

Shanks has this joyful expression as he says: So you’ve come at long last, Luffy!
And then this:

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It’s party time again! Shanks is a man who knows when to celebrate and he’s going to celebrate even when he’s going to have an even worse hangover later. So did Hawkeye bring trouble in the end? To future Shanks perhaps who will be grumpy as hell. XD But I love how Shanks just invites Mihawk to the party. They are a weird sort of friends, but they are friends.

Meanwhile, Fusha Village is celebrating Luffy having a Wanted Poster, and maybe even becoming a famous pirate for their town!

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The mayor is having none of this celebrating shenanigans, though the people blatantly ignore him. XD And Makino is just pleased to see Luffy looking so happy in chasing his dream.
And then the mayor says… that…

What does it mean exactly?

Hell if I know! I’m not even sure what dream they’re talking about. Is it Luffy’s dream to be a pirate? Or to be Pirate King? If it’s his fate is it due to Dragons’ revolutionary activity making it hard for Luffy to be a Marine even if he wanted to? Or some other reason we don’ t know? We’ll find out one day.

As we come into chapter 97, Nami is trying on clothes.

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And I love this, despite the poor shop owner’s tears.
Why is Nami trying on exquisite clothes she doesn’t intend to buy?
Because she can.

For the first time in her life she has the ability to tempt herself with clothes like that, without having to worry about her village or Arlong or any of that. She has money that she can spend on what she wants to spend. (which tells me she probably had a cache somewhere.) In the end, she goes for something more her style and easier to move around in, but it’s just so great to see her new found freedom.

(Also the name of the shop is something like Robecca’s Clothing. Oda, pls)

Meanwhile Luffy is looking at the execution platform and thinking that “That’s the place where the Great Pirate King was executed”

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(I love the guy in the cowboy hat btw)

First I love how the crowd just fades away and the only thing that exists in Luffy’s mind is the execution stand. Not just that but the history of it, the story of it, the significance of it. But this right here is foreshadowing and further explaining Luffy’s outlook on (personal) death. The Pirate King mythos is rooted not only in how he lived, but how he died. How he inspired others to go after him and find the one piece and a whole new generation of pirates were born. Death is inevitable. Even great men die. But he had a grand adventure before that. He lived a full life. And when he died it was without regret. We don’t really know how much Luffy knows (though given Shanks’ tendency to talk, probably a lot… but I also wonder what he may have learned inadvertently from Garp)

For the most part, though, this can be summed up in Luffy being a Roger!nerd and Pirate!nerd and is completely adorable at it.

Speaking of nerds…

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Look at this big one. I think this speaks to how much Zoro admired Kuina and looked up to her and still does in many ways. But also how close he keeps Kuina’s memory, how loyal he is to it and how important it is to him. (I think calling her copy –or ripoff according to one translation—is out of this loyalty to Kuina’s memory. There can’t be another one like her.) So seeing someone else who is the spitting image of her and also a swordsman? Just freaks him out. Zoro doesn’t handle emotional shocks easily (because he doesn’t get them all that often) and just doesn’t know how to deal with this new bit of information. So he tries to tell himself that it’ll be alright—except he still can’t get the thoughts out of his head.
To be fair

They do look a lot alike.)

(Also Zoro says twice in the Viz translation “I was weak”, which doesn’t appear here or in Stephen’s version. Also he reflects to himself in the Viz That there are women swordsmen. Make of it and use of it what you will, but I do think female swordsmen are rare on the East Blue outside of, perhaps, Marine presence. It’s highly doubtful Zoro has encountered one before this. Also weak… perhaps… weak to not be able to look at her for long? Or just remembering how he could never defeat Kuina? Either way it’s an interesting line. )

At any rate, Zoro enters an Arms Store and asks to purchase a sword. The shopkeep (Stephen’s translation name) Ippon-Matsu greets him and tells him to look around.

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Much like the thugs underestimated Tashigi due to her appearance, Ippon underestimates Zoro by how poor he is, thinking he’s not even a swordsman.

Ippon sees a swordsman, or at least a successful swordsman, as someone who can buy top notch equipment. If they are poor they obviously can’t be any good. But he’s not entirely unjustified in thinking so. XD You would think a swordsman would know the going rate of weapons, and not be satisfied with blunt trash. Zoro probably doesn’t know the going rate of swords as he likely had the two unnamed katana with him before he left home (as would make sense for Santoryuu wielder) , but also he’s a career swordsman and good enough to make anything work for him in a pinch.

Ippon notices Wado and wishes to see it.

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Again, underestimating Zoro …and trying to swindle him out of it by thinking Zoro doesn’t understand its value. Which of course Zoro doesn’t, but it has sentimental value and I love how he doesn’t let anyone smacktalk Wado. Though it’s not just due to his own pride or promise, naturally, but because of who Wado represents.

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Roronoa Zoro is having a very weird day. I just love his expression in the top left, like what the hell is this guy going on about? I don’t know but I wish he’d stop because it’s kind of weirding me out.

And then this other nerd shows up. XD I love how Tashigi cannot help herself. She sees Wado and immediately gloms onto it. I mean, she had to spot that from across the shop.

Interestingly, she’s seen it before, because she recognized Zoro, so what really caught her attention was not so much the hilt and scabbard but...

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The edge. That’s a hell of a detail to even pick up in suggestion from a distance, but Tashigi knows her swords if nothing else. She knows them so well she even can fit the edge with the name. I love how enthusiastic she is about it. Also Zoro’s changing expressions. Like when he says Wado it’s like he’s just holding it together, trying not to look her too hard in the face because that’s just freaky, yet the eyebrow raise as he learns something new.

Also it’s interesting that Wado Ichimonji has a meaning like that… “Straight Road to Peace” ( I mean considering that Zoro can get lost on one haha) I really like to think that a sword defines a swordsman, and in this case, Wado is Zoro’s protective side. And at his core, the reason why he will come to fight… and this reason is something he rarely deviates from, which is to say protection. This is the sword he holds onto the strongest and the ideal he upholds the most and we’ll see him use it when he’s looking after someone.

At any rate, Tashigi Ippo’s bluff on it being a “decent sword” at best and reveals how awesome a sword it is.

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Ippon…is really kind of an asshole. XD And though he calls Tashigi a timid girl which I don’t think that’s entirely fair. She was enthusiastic about the sword and then apologized, having no idea what she did. Though she could stand to use a little more awareness of the situation generally speaking, here at least she had no idea that Ippon was in the middle of a swindle. Not that she’d let it go by if she knew. Also Tashigi being a klutz again…which makes sense as Ippon just chucked the sword at her. (which for someone who is so stuck up about who owns what sword, can’t treat them very well) I think the reason he’s being so harsh on her though is because he can get away with it.

Also Shigure translating as drizzle…eh it’s not wrong but it can also be translated as Autumn Rain which is much better for Tashigi I think. She’s not just someone with little impact. (aka a drizzle)

As for the last panel, though Zoro doesn’t know Wado’s true monetary value, it’s nevertheless true that he understands its value deeper than Ippon ever will. It’s a sword that carries the weight of his promise, but is also a sword of old tradition (as it had been a family heirloom) and it resonates with him.

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I think it’s interesting that Zoro had no idea that Ippon was trying to swindle him…though I think if he had actively been trying to sell the sword he might have caught on a little quicker. Here, though, he just doesn’t get it. I think he’s pretty aggravated at all the yelling this guy is doing and can’t get whether it’s about him or not –not that he did anything to deserve it… and he’s still grumbly at Tashigi for looking so much like Kuina… but at the same time sweatdropping over her finally noticing him now. Once Tashigi narrows in on a certain thing or idea she gets incredibly myopic.

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But Zoro gets over it fairly quickly as he goes about inspecting swords.

As for Tashigi in the far right. A better translation is: You must love swords, too!

Also with all the puzzle pieces seeming to fit, why doesn’t she catch on that Zoro is Zoro?

Well, first, in as much as Tashigi will give people a second chance; she still sees certain things in Black and White. Good and Evil. So here is a nice, helpful guy, with a cool sword. He doesn’t look evil and he really loves swords! He’s like a fellow fan! So if she likes him, how could he be evil? He’s just a nice, if grumbly, civilian.

Also to be fair, it’s not as if he has a Wanted Poster, so it’s not unreasonable she doesn’t know what he looks like.

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The reason for Tashigi’s mad on for pirates having swords is understandable? But why bounty hunters? I think because it’s a spiritual thing for her. Swords should be used in the defense of the people (via the Navy) or defense of the self for civilians—or otherwise put to a good and noble purpose. Killing people for something so crass as making a quick beri is not acceptable. That is abusing the swords’ nature, especially swords which were so lovingly crafted. But it’s also another aspect of her black and white nature.

She doesn’t consider, as Zoro points out, that maybe there’s a reason for bounty hunters. That they are needed for the people that, for whatever reason, the Marines won’t/can’t get to themselves. But also Tashigi probably doesn’t consider the life of a roaming bounty hunter and having to make money to live. Also Zoro is being kind of a troll by not letting her know he is who he is. XD But I also I think he’s being cautious. He knows she’s a Marine or at the very least a police officer, so at the very least it’s not a good idea to tip his hand just yet if she doesn’t know.

As for the swords crying… I think that Tashigi does have some haki, and that she can feel what she says she feels—but she’s still fairly myopic, focusing on what she most wants to see. In other words, she has this idea that the swords are crying and perhaps only hears the crying ones.

But then we come to the core of Tashigi’s character in two parts. The first?

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Her loyalty to Smoker. We inferred it before at the fight, but here she’s obviously standing up for him. But Smoker being a monster seems like a pretty common thought through Loguetown. Granted he doesn’t make the best first impression (as we’ll see) but generally speaking, people don’t seem to like him and/or fear him. Granted the thugs don’t like him because of what happened to their boss, so that’s understandable. Ippon doesn’t because he’s losing business. But he’s losing business because Smoker is doing his job. He is making Loguetown a safer place to be.

Moreover, Ippon can afford to say things like this about him without fearing retribution. He certainly couldn’t have said something like that in Morgan’s town, Fullbody wouldn’t have stood for it and I doubt Nezumi would have either. Essentially, Ippon is calling Smoker a monster just because of that and his Devil Fruit and Tashigi can’t stand that. She sees all the good that they are doing to this town and how much better it is and Smoker is not a monster. Monsters are horrible cruel people, which is not him. And hearing her say that makes her angry. But she doesn’t lash out or cite him. She lets him have his say even if she refutes it.

(I also sort of headcanon that Smoker and Tashigi haven’t been here for very long, relatively speaking. Maybe a year or two tops. Since this guy doesn’t look too destitute for not having too many customers. Of course he could just be exaggerating)

Also, I like Zoro’s little sweatdorp there. As if he’s mentally saying, that could be a problem. Because, come to think of it, they haven’t encountered any other DF users aside from Luffy and Buggy.

Still, all this is more Tashigi in relation to Smoker, which is important given being a Marine is very much part of her identity as well as being under Smoker’s command.
But for herself?

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I think it’s easy to think of Tashigi’s ambition as silly or naïve, as well as a little too narrowminded. After all, we just saw how she would take the great swords away from Zoro just because he was a bounty hunter, without even knowing his circumstances. But it’s just as strong an ambition as anyone elses. Moreover it is rooted in the idea of Tashigi’s protectiveness. Perhaps hearing swords crying is what spurred her into this ambition, but whatever the case may be, she wants to protect them from being misused because they cannot protect themselves. Also she has no interest in disarming civilians no matter which swords they carry. (Because again all civilians are just honest people going about their day).

For bounty hunters, it does seem a little selfish of her, but when you really look at Tashigi’s character—it is, perhaps, but not in the way you’d think. She’s a Marine after all and the Bounty Hunters are legal, so I can’t imagine she would do anything to force them to part from their swords illegally. I can see her challenging them to a duel, though, with the price of the loss a sword…therefore putting Shigure (the blade that she protects) on the line as she tests her own strength.

And as she says, she’s not a collector or anything of that nature. If she did obtain the swords I can see her giving them to people that she trusts. Swords are still a tool, after all, but they should be used for idealistic good rather than for evil or for something so crass as money.

I love, too, how Zoro is outright challenging her with that smirk. He loves to this, though. To challenge people, especially strong ones, and test their mettle. He also is a sword fighting!nerd and wouldn’t say no to a bout with Tashigi.

Anyway, as they continue to loo, Tashigi spots a sword she knows from her guidebook.

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I love how Tashigi is actively trying to help Zoro out. Like, he must be a good guy and a sword nut like me! So I’ll help him get the best. But even if she does have some latent ability to read swords, she certainly can’t read the energy that Kitetsu is giving off (as we’ll see). It’s possible that it’s because it’s sheathed, but honestly I think it’s because she’s not in the position to be looking for it. In other words, Zoro is not an enemy at this point so she’s not focusing on the state of his weapons.

Also I like Ippon’s reaction , mostly because it’s part of the idea that everyone has a backstory, even minor characters though they are. You can tell he’s like ‘oh shit she found it’ and feeling guilty that that sword might be brought and wondering if he should say anything despite him really needing to get it out of the store.

Tashigi asks Ippon if these swords are really 50,000 beri and then reads out information about the Sandai Kitetsu and its predecessors from her guidebook as Zoro draws the blade.

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Ippon has a change of heart (through not entirely altruistic reasons but we’ll get to that)
And here we see the main difference between Zoro and Tashigi. Tashigi may know swords, but Zoro has a greater attunement to them. He can feel a cursed sword without being told.

(Tashigi can’t even feel it when it’s drawn) But I think the reason for that is, partly perhaps a natural aptitude… but mostly because Zoro has more experience with using swords and devoting his life to them. I mean it’s difficult to say how much training Tashigi has had, but Zoro has been devoting himself 110% since we first see him as a kid. Even if they trained the same amount, Zoro has also lived by his swords as a bounty hunter. He has fought in probably more life and death battles than she has to boot. What Zoro has on Tashigi?


Ippon also has his own kind of experience. While it’s doubtful he’s a swordsman himself, he is the inbetween of Zoro and Tashigi. He knows the good points of a sword (their value etc) but he also knows about them. The rumors that surround them. What makes a good sale or not. But it again highlights that what Tashigi lacks most is a certain amount of experience.

Ipoon explains how many swordsmen fell to tragic deaths while using Kitetsu and even not knowing the curse would keep a swordsman safe from it.

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We see that Ippon is still kind of greedy in the end. He doesn’t want Zoro’s death to be on his hands (and perhaps incur the curse of a wronged ghost) which is the main reason he spoke up… And though he blames Tashigi, it’s on him more than anything because no matter what she said or recommended, he’s the one that put it out there.

As for Tashigi, it does kind of represent her flaw. She sees the baseline, what is already written down by someone else, without knowing the information that surrounds it in rumor and context. She doesn’t expect a curse (or a sword just lying around to be evil) and so doesn’t see it. But I also like how she apologizes for her (perceived) carelessness. It’s like speaking with a role of authority without having all the information can lead to trouble. (But it’s not as if she could know)

And Zoro? Loves a challenge.

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I love how he’s basically putting his life and future on the line to take this risk. But of course he would. To be the strongest swordsman means being able to rise to any challenge, swordsman to swords, and more than just a promise or something Zoro wants to do to get stronger, this is what he loves. This kind of challenge and dangerous game is his passion and what he craves. But also he’s taking responsibility for his own fate. In other words, whatever happens after won’t be Ippon’s fault, but to see if his luck is strong or not.

Also Mrs. Ippon is clearly of a more sensible bent and doesn’t really get the whole swordsman/heart of the cards weapon thing. And that’s okay, too. But honestly I think she’s mostly just annoyed at Ippon’s wishy-washyness.

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Just…appreciation here, mostly. I like Tashigi freaking out (a mark of how deeply she feels and how intense her emotions are) and just, Zoro’s calm. He’s confident enough in himself that he’s not going to lose, but at the same time he’s accepting this challenge with calm determination. I love how the back of Kitetsu just kind of glides over his arm before sinking into the floor. ..showing that it is really damn sharp and the danger was real. Zoro could have lost a lot of his luck hadn’t held out! Later on, Ippon says that the sword chooses the wielder and I like to believe that, too. That Kitetsu chose Zoro.

Though Zoro chose Wado which is interesting in and of itself. In a way, of course, he also chose Kitetsu—bringing it a challenge and refusing to be intimidated by the mere rumor of its bloodthirstiness. Kitetsu itself, of course, is the other part of Zoro, the demon, the one that will cut through anything standing in his way.

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That smirk that he knows he’s won? Mercy. /fans self/ But it’s also representing Zoro’s cockiness. XD It was a challenge and he won it and if he’s not going to gloat about it he’s at least going to smirk (which is in and of itself a form of gloating. Like “heh. I really am that strong”) I also like at he values Tashigi’s skill at picking out swords.

Also, as Tashigi has an effect on people? So does Zoro. Though he’s seen as an idiot at first (though not by Tashigi) when he really is in his element he inspires awe. People cannot believe he does this crazy shit and that he gets away with it—showing only confidence and cockiness once he succeeds. It’s this kind of effect that helped inspire Sanji to fight for his own dream, no matter how hard or impossible it might have seemed. But so people are awed by him. So what? What does that mean.

Well, this, after Ippon offers Zoro Yubashiri (snow chaser) which is the best the store has, even if it isn’t the greatest.
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Here, Zoro has proved himself as the real deal, without even trying to do so. Just being himself. He awakens the swordsman’s spirit (or perhaps bushido spirit) in Ippon as well. Ippon has moved past pure greed and even apologized to Zoro for trying to trick him. Is giving him Yubashiri and Kitetsu solely due to his spirit, pride and courage… but it’s not free…

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Whether Zoro knows it or not, he is also carrying the weight of Ippon’s dream. Ippon believes that Zoro is strong enough to carry it. It gives Ippon something to look forward to as he tracks Zoro’s progress and eases the mundanity of his life. It also gives a sense of confidence and gravitas to Ippon who doesn’t have much of either.

People are people, of course, but Ippon is kind of a small, stingy man who talks big but in the end is just a shopkeeper who cleans the bathroom when his wife asks. He’s enough of a dreamer to want more, but not enough to actually go for it, or even state his dream. (and that’s okay really) But even as he goes to clean the bathroom, a part of himself and his family goes on to have an adventure with an astonishing swordsman.

And for Tashigi…

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Zoro gives her a taste of what she’s up against, the kind of strength that she’ll have to fight. She doesn’t know it right now. But I think that this is probably the first really strong swordsman outside of the training dojo she’s come up against. So of course she’s astounded by such a display of courage and daring. But I think it’s something she wants to aspire to as well—just that attitude. No hesitation. All confidence. Being kind of clumsy as she is I can’t imagine it was easy for her to become as good a swordsman as she has become and now it’s like seeing what a swordsman can really be.

We’ll definitely keep track of how this affects her.

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Also, just, Zoro with three swords again. Three katana of his own. He hasn’t had that since the Baratie arc and I just love how confident he feels. As if everything is right with the world. I also love the lady selling turnips it must be Sunday and the pompadored guy helping her out. Must be a Thatch fan I imagine their conversation like

Man: Hey, good lookin’, need some help with those turnips?
Woman: Oh you, go on with your ridiculous self. Fufu
Man: I’m not ridiculous! I’m cool. Let me show you and I’ll rock your world.

Also the guy just behind Zoro who looks like Mr. 1 if he packed on some weight.

And I really live foreground left guy’s jacket and watch.

Oda does the best crowd scenes is what I’m saying.

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And then we have this guy. Loguetown is Smoker’s hometown and this place serves his introduction. We’ve already seen what he’s like through the eyes of the thugs (as a monster) and even via a shopkeep (also a monster) Tashigi respects and admires him and this Marine? Well, he seems pretty nervous.

Probably because Smoker just bellowed out the doorway without even getting up from his desk to whomever would listen. So why does he want Tashigi? Essentially he doesn’t really want to make a move without her. This for a few reasons…

First of all, Smoker is not really a people person like Tashigi is. He tends to rub people the wrong way just by existing. But he can’t change himself so Tashigi acts as a buffer between him and the rest of the world.

Secondly as we’ll see throughout and as we see now, Tashigi is not the best at what she does. Yes she’s there for the protection of others, but she’s naïve, sees in black and white and doesn’t understand the larger context of things. Whoever these pirates are, Smoker wants her to see them too and to witness what happens, to make of it what she will.

For me, I wonder if they didn’t end up working this way. Smoker is a competent Marine and a fighter. He gets the job done. But he is abrasive as hell and just this side of mutinous in terms of doing what he wants. Also he doesn’t really subscribe to the absolute justice ideal, as we’ve seen. So they dump him in Lougetown since likely no one wants that mess anyway and at least he can’t do too much damage there. Then there’s Tashigi who has a lot of guts and determination but maybe just squeaks by into her rank by the skin of her teeth. A klutz does not really engender trust, nor does it look good for the Marines, so they stick her with their problem child Smoker.

But instead, despite Smoker thinking how bad she is at being a Marine …and she is kind of bad… he works with her. He helps her along the way and teaches her what she needs to know to be the best. And in turn she is a buffer, as I said, so he can do his job with the least amount of turnover.

We have a break for Sanji and Alvida stuff with Luffy on the scaffold, but we’ll save that for the next part and just keep our focus on the Marines for now. Suffice to say that time passes. Long enough for Sanji to spot Alvida. Lose Alivda. Alivda and Buggy to show up and for the Cabaji to get Luffy in a stockade on the execution platform. In all that time, Tashigi still hasn’t shown up…and what is Smoker doing?

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Stacking rocks.

Why is Smoker stacking rocks? Because he damn well wants to. And Tashigi is not here yet. And while he can make a move without her, it’s more of a pain in the ass.

I think it’s calming for him, too. I also think it requires an exorbitant amount of focus. Look at how much he is sweating. But why does he need that much focus anyway? I believe it’s because he’s a logia. He basically is smoke. We’ve seen how hard it is for first time logia users to not, say, catch things on fire by accident. Smoker needs focus to keep himself together. I don’t think he needs it right at this very moment but it’s a process that keeps him calm and collected.

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Until some idiot just barges in bellowing about an emergency.

I don’t even think Smoker is annoyed all that much so much as pulled out of his intense focus and wondering what the hell this guy is screaming about. And his subordinate is quite obviously nervous about that look. Which does look like Smoker’s about to knock his block off. On the other hand he probably doesn’t want to be yelled at either.

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But if Smoker were annoyed he would have yelled. Here it’s just like, I was doing a thing and you interrupted the thing. You’re probably going to keep interrupting the thing until the situation is satisfied so I might as well put on my coat and get the other thing taken care of. Even though I can do the other thing in my sleep without you badgering me about it. But since you’re so worried about the other thing, might as well tell me about it so I can take care of it and get back to the first thing I was doing. And also where the hell is Tashigi?

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But Smoker does pay attention to what is being said to him. And before the guy can even repeat himself is giving out orders to control the situation. With Smoker I think when he’s surprised it takes his time to catch up. But once he’s in Marine mode he is on point, knowing exactly what he wants to do. So while his subordinates may be nervous around him, there’s no doubt that Smoker is hugely competent. Also note that what he’s doing is putting pieces in play. He’s not saying ‘go attack’. He’s:

A) Preventing quick escape by blocking off the harbor and/or to take care of any crew still hanging in the area.

B) Preventing the pirates running amok in the square from running amok outside of the square and preparing to close in once it can be best determined how to succeed.

C) Setting up a blockade of shooters in case it all goes pear-shaped and there are escapees so that the Marines in the harbor won’t be caught in a pincer move with pirates on both sides.

All this within seconds. I think it’s born out of experience and knowledge more than any genius, but he’s definitely a specialist in his field.

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This is another example of Smoker being focused on one thing that he’s kind of oblivious to the things going on around him that are beneath his attention (and by that I don’t mean “lesser” so much as “not dangerous”) I mean, yes, they collided but he could have easily avoided her had he been paying attention.

This is also Smoker without Tashigi. Everyone is sure he’s going to go off and do something violent (and given what we’ve seen of Marines before, it wouldn’t be surprising.) Even his subordinate seems about to appease him or tell him to calm down as the father freaks out. But you have to remember that this is how other people see him. Smoker doesn’t see himself as scary because he doesn’t go out of his way to make himself seem less so.

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So here I think it’s a sincere apology and that he doesn’t blame her for what happened in the slightest. You definitely get the feeling that he likes kids, just from how he’s gently touching her head and then giving her more beri. But it’s just he has a horrible resting face, not helped by the fact that he’s eternally chewing on cigars.

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But it also has to be said that he’s perceived as scary because he’s a 6’2” muscle bound Marine who yells a lot. So his reputation as slightly terrifying isn’t unearned. Just as Tashigi’s of being klutzy and kind of a ditz isn’t unearned either.

However the men like Tashigi and look after her. Look at how he’s already there with her jacket, probably kept with him because he knew she’d be running up sooner or later.

As for what Tashigi says… the three different translations I use say three different but similar things... but essentially it all boils down to she’s still kind of reeling from the situation at the Arms shop. One translation even says: I can’t stop my knees from shaking! (though not out of fear I don’t think, more excitement or awe)

And Smoker is essentially yelling at her to get stronger and to stop being surprised by shocking things. Especially when they make her late.

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But once Smoker has blustered, he’s done and it’s back to the situation at hand. While he can be tunnel visioned to the extreme, he’s not generally one to stay angry or hold a grudge. Mind that doesn’t mean he’s not angry a lot, but it’s more grumbly thundercloud with occasional lightening than sustained heat.

This is going to be a short one this time as I have something special I want to do, but let’s pull back to the Straw Hats for just a little more.

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A testament to Sanji’s true love really. He spots a sexy woman in the crowd…and is immediately distracted by the humongous elephant blue fin tuna. I love the translation of “funky fish”. In Stephen’s it’s: “What in the world is going ON with this funky fish.” Sanji, you are a man of many parts and 98% of them are hilarious. The point here being is, as much as he’s all for the ladies, cooking has his heart and soul.

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Added to that, his ridiculous shock! Face when it’s revealed that the guy caught it with a fishing pole. As suave as he wants to be, he is a huge dork and it’s fantastic. Also I love how Sanji is just going to take the whole thing and he’s so happy that there’s this happy little note by him. Also hilarious? The onomatopoeia is “uzu uzu” which translates to aching or throbbing. He’s really into preparing this tuna, guys. It’s an even better face than in love.

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But as I said? Sanji so distracted he loses sight of the hot lady.

But mostly what I love at this moment is Sanji just watching Usopp in an unguarded moment. They probably haven’t spent too much time together. A day or two at most. And Usopp is not a cook and probably hasn’t fiddled in the galley since Sanji’s been here so he just can’t guess what Usopp could be up to. I especially love the look on the last panel as Usopp says something in a kind of unmanly way and Sanji just can’t figure it out. Like, who the hell even are you?

As for Usopp, what is he doing in the marketplace? Just exploring, most likely. Seeing what’s there. I can kind of see Usopp drawn to marketplaces because of the friendly atmosphere and the chatter and the food. I imagine he probably did that a lot back in Syrup where he could just buy his own stuff and talk and brag to people. Also likely living on a slim budget he’s aware of food prices and what good deals are—it’s the simple things that excite him. Also, too, you can’t shoot tamago boshi (or egg stars) without tamago.

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And, gosh, Nami just looking so happy with her pile of clothes that she can pay for freely. Screw any dress that Arlong might but her. She has the freedom to get whatever she wants. I also love that she chooses to shop at such a funky place. But also? I love that she changes clothes. I love that they all do, some more than others. It really makes things seem alive when they’re not wearing the same outfit all the time. The shop keep is pretty rude here. XD But I imagine they get a lot of drifters and no accounts. In fact the general attitude of Lougetown seems to be rudeness.

Anyway, Nami leaves, and notices something odd.

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It’s so cool to me (and a hint to her other talent) that she is so sensitive that she can tell the air is different, even if she doesn’t know how. But she just doesn’t let it go, rather checks to make sure she’s accurate. I also love that she was having as much fun there as they were just strolling around and having fun.

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And we end with Luffy geeking out ontop of the platform, and gosh, what a sense of scale Loguetown has! It’s huge! And somewhere in that crowd, perhaps, is Barty. Also while we’re talking about impressions? The biggest one Luffy is having right now is just people laughing at him causing trouble up there and making the cop annoyed. He just seems so exuberant that people can’t help but react that way. Well some of them.


Ripples in a Pond: It’s here we get our first full sense of the world outside the Straw Hats. What Luffy and the others do don’t just impact the people they know, but have ripples elsewhere, too, like in the Marines for instance. But this even applies on a less global scale, from person to person. Zoro being Zoro changes Tashigi’s world view and also touches the life of Ippon, who maybe Zoro won’t see again—but Ippon will be seeing him. Even the act of Luffy standing up there on the scaffold with no regard to social norms (and not even knowing them) changes the lives of the people around him even if nothing is happening. Just the act of taking a stand up there is enough to get them laughing and even if nothing had happened, they’d likely still remember him.

Likewise, the Straw Hats are not unaffected by the people they meet… we’ll see more of that later on, but right now we have Zoro who has discovered that there are female swordsmen after all—even though he wasn’t changed too much by the encounter. (We nevertheless got to see an interesting new side to him) But the greatest ripple of all? Roger. He still has an impact on this place and what that execution stand means. He still has a huge impact on people 20 years after his death. Luffy is the biggest example of this as he’s nerding out over where Roger must have walked and what he must have seen before he died.

The Art of Nerding Out: This is the place where we see that nearly everyone is a huge gigantic nerd for their own thing and in their own way. Nerding out is pretty essential for a pirate because what’s the point of being free if you don’t have passions to follow? I love that each of the Straw Hats (and at least one of the Marines) have their own thing that they are complete dorks about. (Except for Nami. We haven’t quite seen her dorky side yet) Yet there’s a difference between dorks and professional passion—which is just nerds with skill.

Like for instance, Luffy and Sanji are dorks about Roger/women respectively. But though they love to see/experience all there is to offer on the subject, it’s nothing they have any skill in (or need to have)

Tashigi and Usopp are working on turning their nerdery into a profession. Tashigi already has the first part down with the booklet she carries around—but now she needs the skill to back it up. Usopp, of course, has always been making his own projectiles, but now he can actually modify them based on what happened in battles rather than just at hitting cans.

Zoro and Sanji are professionals. They have the love for what they do and the skill to do it and the burning passion to do it. I love, too, how Zoro’s is just so purely physical. He doesn’t know much about names or prices but what he does know is the way a sword should work (in his own style that is).

Sanji has names of course but what we saw is the budding of ideas. Different ways he could prepare it. He doesn’t even know what it tastes like so there’s this whole new world of mixing and matching side dishes opening up for him.

I don’t know if I have anything profound to say about this I just think it’s awesome.

Life and Death and Life: One of the biggest driving forces of all, of course, is Roger’s death. Without Roger dying and saying what he did there would be no new age of the pirates. It’s somewhat strange to think that death is such a big inspiration. But it is not that he died. It is how he died. It is that he died smiling. It is what he chose to say. Though at the same time Loguetown is the beginning and the end because this is where he started. And Roger would not made such a huge impact on others if he also hadn’t lived the way he had, either. He lived, he died, he inspired new life… And Luffy is inspired by both, as well as many many others who heard those words. (Even Smoker to some extent, but we’ll get to that later)

All About Marines: This is the first time we really get a glimpse of the Marine ideology and what they are about. That is to say protecting civilians, not looking down on them because they can’t fight back, and they shouldn’t have to. Also to eradicate all evil in the name of Absolute Justice.

Though naturally, the ideology doesn’t always match the reality, so far most of what we’ve seen of the East Blue Marines is men either abusing their power (Morgan, Fullbody, Nezumi) or completely arrogant. (The one idiot who challenged Arlong.) Though each was corrupt in their own different way—Like Morgan was just all about himself. Fullbody was competent but an asshole. Nezumi was competent but a raging asshole. And that one ididot is dead. Still for the most part their men either did their jobs or were too intimidated to step on their commanding officer’s toes. Still since the very beginning there has been a root of good in the Marines. (Which is why Coby wants to join after all) but also plenty of horribleness to it, too.

I wonder if it’s because East Blue Marines, generally speaking, are allowed to be softer. There’s less going on in the East Blue or it’s considered less important. But when they do become corrupt, problems become exacerbated. I can even see the Absolute Justice line almost in a response to that kind of thing. Not specifically in the East Blue but—the idea that we’ve been too soft on these pirates and now we must remedy that by pulling them up like weeds.

So there’s hard division between ideology and how that ideology plays out, which is to say it doesn’t unless it’s self-serving (at least to the commanders highlighted so far) and somewhere in between there is Smoker. Smoker is definitely not without his faults. But he’s fairly unique in that he does his job. He’s somewhat like Fullbody but not as much of an asshole. Perhaps it’s because the idea of crushing Absolute Justice and no mercy comes with this concept of, if you’re a pirate you deserve to be treated badly. Which Fullbody took to if you piss me off you deserve to be treated badly. (which didn’t end so well for him) Whereas Smoker has the capacity for mercy if he wants. (Though really, as we’ll see, he’s not much of a Marine either)


Luffy: This arc brings out Luffy’s inner nerd. It’s really the first time we’ve seen him so very much into something that isn’t involving his nakama. Roger is very much Luffy’s thing that the others aren’t really connected to. I mean, he heard stories of Roger from Shanks likely, or even just stories of what he was like and grew up wanting that kind of freedom that Roger had. But wanting to be that big of a person, too. He wants to be Pirate King because the Pirate King is the freest, yes, but he also wants people to notice how far he’s come.

Nami: We are finally seeing Nami free. There is no tension in her and she’s just happy to be relaxing around the ship and buying things. Though we also see that she’s still a sneaky little cat burglar in the end where she more or less swindles Zoro (kind of he agreed to it) and that she’s still the kind of person who would rather flee from consequences than face them. On the other hand, she can do things for others now. If they want to go to Loguetown and have fun? That’s something she can have a part in. She is no longer bound by the needs of her village.

Usopp: While this part doesn’t focus on him too much, we do see him in more natural!Usopp moments. That is, when he’s not neck deep in danger. A happy Usopp is one that doesn’t really care that he is on a wanted poster, because there are no Marines in sight, and it’s even something to brag about. A happy Usopp is a shopping Usopp and one that ambles around supermarkets looking at eggs, just carefree and kind of sweet.

Sanji: Sanji is a huge dork all over the place in this part and it’s really refreshing to see. The Baratie, I think, was holding him back in more ways than one. He couldn’t be himself if he always had to try to prove himself. Here? There’s no proving needed and he can be whatever he wants. It helps, I think, too, that Usopp is a little younger than him and softer as well. Not to mention Luffy’s cheer. He can be goofy with them. Be free to chase women. And even has the luxury and money to spend on giant elephant blue fin tuna. This is basically Sanji’s core. Not that his badass overlay is him betraying himself at all, that is also a part of him. But this is him at his most relaxed… and he’ll become even moreso the future.

Zoro: In as much as a bulk of this part had Zoro in it, it wasn’t really about him and more about the impression he made on Tashigi. (and she on him, but that’s coming later) Though we’re definitely seeing a softer more playful side of him—but mostly I think what we get here is just how hardcore he is into this and how much he loves a challenge. It isn’t about just being the strongest, but it’s the journey to get there—it’s all the ways he can test himself and test his luck and test the strength of others. If he didn’t love it so much he wouldn’t do it. Also we see that though he can be a dumbass, he knows how to make his way in the world. In other words, he’s not foolish enough to just give out his identity so readily. (and I say that it’s more than just joking around because he generally likes his name to be known—but there’s no cause yet to stir up unnecessary trouble) .

Tashigi: Tashigi is one of the more controversial characters in my experience. People just do not tend to like her. It took me a long time to warm up to her myself. In our first introduction of her, we see that she’s klutzy, ditsy, naïve, has a black and white world view and so in awe of Zoro’s badassery that it affects her for some time after. Moreover, she would want Zoro’s swords just because she does not approve of the way she suspects they’re being used.

To all that I say, so what? Yes she is all those things, but she’s also still learning. In terms of her own abilities, skill and confidence, if we’re basing it on the Straw Hats with Usopp being the least confident and Sanji being the next step up (in terms of fighting ability. And also Sanji because he is less inclined to crazy Zoro tendencies) Tashigi would be right in between. She’s still on this road to discovering the shape of the world and her place in it and how she feels about it. She’s still about discovering what Justice is and what it means to her. She’s still on the path to get stronger. And all those flaws she has? Those are what make her human and relatable. Like all the other Straw Hats have huge flaws as well and that’s what we love about them. Tashigi is no different.

She also has good qualities. She is loyal to Smoker. She isn’t angered easily even by people calling her names or yelling at her. She automatically assumes the best in people (when she doesn’t know who they are.) In other words, it would be easy to assume Zoro was a bad guy looking for that many swords. But instead she assumes that he’s a good guy. I mean, yes, granted, he did help her by giving her her glasses but it’s still a positive assumption. She is also chasing after her ambition. But as I said I don’t think she’d just up and steal the swords of Bounty Hunters. Also, it’s not as if she’s divesting them of swords completely. A Bounty Hunter can make his living from a sword that isn’t grand, great or skilled. It would be harder but not impossible. Even in that, Tashigi strikes a balance.

Finally, Tashigi inspires people to want to look after her and be impressed by her successes, hard as they may come. If she can fight so hard, perhaps, so can they. And of course, her own men look after her, too. They respect her enough to have her jacket and gloves ready so that she looks presentable as a Marine as they start the mission. They are her support willingly. So in as much as she does have flaws, she’s a good sergeant major. (or certainly isn’t a terrible one!)

Also it’s interesting because the Marine ideology emphasizes no weakness. In this case, Tashigi might be seen to be weak in a plethora of ways. But if you further into the ideology, it’s being weak in running away—this is something Tashigi doesn’t do. In this, she is stronger than Nezumi.

Smoker: Interestingly, unlike pirates, we can’t really look at Marines in the sense of as goes the captain as goes the crew. However, we can see as goes the Commander as goes the Town. In other words, to best look at the effectiveness of the Marine Captain, you look at the flavor of the town surrounding him. Loguetown is a rough place, bordering on criminal. And there are plenty of criminals in it. Yet it is also a town of second chances. Of beginnings and endings, and moreover, being able to be yourself without fear of retribution.

Point of fact, Smoker doesn’t care who you are so long as you don’t break the law. He’s definitely gruff and intensely focused and yells a lot when he gets annoyed, which is often. But he doesn’t hold onto petty grudges and isn’t arrogant. He can also be really gentle towards kids, not even assuming it was her fault that she ran into him.

But I think there are two things important to keep in mind about Smoker. The first we don’t see as much here , though he says he has to go at his own pace, aka His own way. In other words he’s more like a pirate than a Marine.

Secondly, he does his job and helps others to do theirs. He is basically teaching Tashigi everything she needs to know, both to make her a better Marine and a better subordinate because a better subordinate makes a better unit.


Smoker & Tashigi: Nothing is achieved alone. Smoker and Tashigi, flawed as they both are, and as we’ll see later, act as checks and balances for one another. Smoker is competent, intelligent and powerful, but he seriously lacks in people skills that doesn’t involve volume or looming. Whether he wants that outcome or not, civilians are afraid of him and his own men are nervous. But Smoker does things at his own pace and is not about to change who he is.

Tashigi is clumsy, and near sighted, she can be competent but she too easily falls for things without looking deeper. Still she inspires caring in people and knows how to look after them. She’s the buffer between Smoker and his men and Smoker and the people that he aims to protect. So while Smoker is a Monster who people are afraid of, Tashigi is the one that they cheer for.

On a more personal level, Tashigi learns from Smoker and Smoker gets someone to teach. They will in time start to learn from one another and act as a microcosm to how the Straw Hats will later function and are starting to now. Flaws and strengths and all.

Date: 2015-04-04 11:19 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] viridiansoul
I really must mention Mihawk, since it will be a long time before we see him again. To imagine someone like him going through the hassle of locating Shanks just to inform him about Luffy's bounty poster... He must've been quite curious of Shanks(his only friend..?)' reaction and if you think about it that's rather cute of him! Mihawk's not cold-hearted and inhumane as he seems— in fact he's a huge troll and tsun-tsun. I've grown to like him, especially after Zoro's recent flashback(just imagine Mihawk contemplating the most efficient way to train his pupil and the idea of banning booze hitting him...XD).

I liked how you touched on Zoro's feels for Kuina and resulting respect for Wado. I wish we got to see more of Kuina's character in Zoro's back story though. It's a pity his story was so brief that too little of her character was fleshed out(which is why I adore the anime version of Zoro's past). Speaking of Wado, I think it's interesting that Zoro never learned the name or the true value of his beloved sword until he met Tashigi. Maybe Koshiro thought it didn't matter, since Wado already meant so much to Zoro?

As for Tashigi's striking resemblance to Kuina... I doubt that she's Kuina herself, but I do wonder sometimes about Oda's purpose for making her look so much like Kuina and what he has in store for her.

A very insightful take on what each of Zoro's swords imply! If Wado means 'protector' and Kitetsu 'demon', I wonder what Yubashiri or Shusui means.

Nitpick: Loguetown, not Lougetown! :)


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