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After a long hiatus, the Loguetown Adventure concludes. Herein we will explore the mysterious Alvida, look at the reason behind Luffy’s grin on the execution stand, dance with a Dragon, and watch a legend be born.

When we last left off in the manga, Luffy was standing on the execution scaffold and enjoying himself. A cop ordered him to get down while people laughed at his carefree nature. And then the police officer is creamed by a giant mace and enter Alvida.

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First of all, damn, what an entrance. She cuts a really nice figure standing there. Also she has a great sense of style. I’ve really gained an appreciation for her character since the first time that I’ve read. What’s interesting to me is first, how she reacts to authority. In other words she’s calm, collected and full of sass. It helps that she has backup and knows it. (quite formidable backup, too.)

Second, she’s been looking for Luffy. But where is her crew? Did she leave them to look for Luffy? Did they leave her because they saw she wasn’t as undefeatable as they thought? Some combination of the two? Did they leave her before she got the Devil Fruit? After she got the Devil Fruit? Because she got it? And where did she get it? They are pretty rare especially in the East Blue. It’s really anyone’s guess (unless there is an SBS I missed somewhere).

Whatever her past is informs her character at this point. I wanted to unpack whatever it might have been to see who she is now. To see what kind of truth she has and what she’s lying about (if anything), but unfortunately there’s just too much we don’t know. So I can’t even make an educated guess to say, for example, she values hunting down Luffy over her crew. So until/if Oda gives us more information on her (and who knows, she may come up again) much of her deeper characterization is going to remain a mystery.

What I can say with relative certainty (using the clues in Buggy’s Cover special which I’ll get to) is that she was separated from/left her crew sometime before she met/rescued Buggy. And that she has since decided to work with Buggy in this endeavor, while she is confident in her own strength, she knows the value of working with someone just as strong (or stronger) or at least them and their crew.

She says to Luffy: Surely you haven’t forgotten my face. (Which we’ll expand on just a bit) But first note the civilians above freaking out over her entrance and then the very next page?

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Darling, they’re in love! Let’s appreciate the mustachioed knit cap guy in the right. And the lady who is also heart eyeing at the gorgeousness that is Alvida. We’ll see this theme at least two more times in Boa Hancock and much later in Cavendish. But since this is the first time, what are we seeing right here? They were startled when she hit the policeman, enough to jolt away from her—but now they are caught up in gawking. It pays to be beautiful.

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This is interesting here because it’s the first time we see Luffy saying that anyone is good looking. It could be he’s acknowledging her looks, or is just going off by the crowd’s reaction. This idea is something I got from the viz translation where the crowd says she’s a vision of beauty and then Luffy says I don’t know who you are, beautiful lady. Aka giving her a nickname as he so often does. I think you can read it either way, but the important thing is, looks are not something that really matter to him. Instead he’s trying to figure out who she is, and I like his kind of intense look of concentration there, almost like he’s wracking his brain trying to remember.

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There’s something kind of flawless about Alvida’s delivery here… but what’s really interesting is the way how someone looks can change people’s perceptions of them. Here, Alvida is talking about Luffy hitting her in the face, but because of how she says it, as something almost erotic—the crowd is either even more “ooh la la” because of it, or they’re so dazed by Alvida’s beauty that they’re not even paying attention to this weird statement. Maybe they don’t even care. But also it’s interesting to look at out of context of the manga in real life. If Alvida looked like she used to and was saying this, (which is IC for her to do) it would be funny. Now because she’s changed appearance, it’s an entirely different tone. Yet whether before or after, Alvida hasn’t changed on the inside.

Also Luffy’s surprise at not remembering punching her in the face… While he doesn’t remember everyone he’s punched probably, she definitely is not just anyone. She has a presence. And he’d probably remember if he’d hit someone who made that flashy of an entrance. He probably hasn’t hit many women either. (having little cause to)

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Again, look how easy it is to be beautiful in the world. Alvida asks who is the most beautiful and they answer her because they are caught up in the moment without having to be threatened. (women, too, still XD) It’s a kind of respect, but it’s a surface respect that doesn’t go anywhere beyond skin deep.

Also for Alvida? While nothing is definite, I can kind of get behind the headcanon that she left her crew because she was bored of them. If you look back to her first appearance, she didn’t really seem to care about treasure so much as control. She wanted the ship to be clean to her standards. The men had to call her beautiful or she would make them pay. When Coby found the stray barrel of Luffy sake washed up on shore, the men were worried about what would happen if Alvida found out. It’s just sake but that suggests that Alvida wants to know everything in the inventory, perhaps to dole out as she seems fit. Point is, she had them under their thumb.

Then in comes Luffy that she can’t control with beauty or fear and who actually stands up to her. He is a strong man. Stronger than her own crew. He is interesting. I like the idea that Luffy even kind of enlightens her to do something other than bum around on the East Blue. Whether or not you submit to this idea or not, it’s clear that she wants control and moreover, she wants control of Luffy. She wants Luffy to be hers. It’s similar to Boa’s later desire to want to marry Luffy, but that is more of a partnership (comparatively speaking). This is Alvida at the helm all the way.

And Luffy? Well other translations he says: “No way” which fits better, but he’s still straining and annoyed that he can’t figure out who she is. And Alvida is pissed because he still doesn’t clue in. Why is this kind of great? Well we’ll get to in a little bit.

First this…

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I love that they don’t forget that Luffy is still on the execution stand. Alvida’s line, much as I love it, suggests the wrong nuance (at least compared with the two other sources). In Stephan’s, for example, she says: “What? You're going to arrest ME?” As if she thinks she’s too beautiful for them to bear arresting. And in a way she’s right. XD I love how the police struggle to do the right thing even though it’s tough in the face of such beauty. That’s not far from real life, though, either. In any case, insofar as these police are concerned, the mind is willing but the spirit is weak. XD

Though perhaps the police do constitute a bit of a threat. Whether they do or not, Buggy makes a flashy entrance by blowing up a bit of a building.

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I don’t think there was anything about this that wasn’t planned to the letter. Alvida has a hell of a lot of poise and Buggy has a hell of a lot of showmanship. They work really spectacularly well together, playing off each other’s strengths and giving them both a chance to shine. I just think their relationship is really fascinating given how big headed they are about themselves but are willing to work together. Alvida shows up first to charm the crowd and spin off lines and then Buggy blows up the building for his own flashy entrance, but also to show off Alvida’s capabilities. Alvida comments on Buggy’s capacity for destruction and Buggy comments on her smooth skin. Regardless of the size of their egos, they really know how to work together.

I like how Luffy is startled by what he sees, too. It’s an introduction to a new world of danger and abilities he’s never seen before.

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So let’s look at Luffy’s reaction and the juxtaposition of who Alvida was then and who she is now, specifically in how Luffy views her. At first his confusion seems to be obvious, and on the surface level, that is to say, visual, it is. Alvida looks different from how she looked before. He calls her a pretty lady (and other variations there-of) Whereas when he first met her he called her, depending on which translation you go by, A “rude woman” (scanlation), a “pudgy old broad” ( Stephen’s), and a “tough old biddy”. (Viz. And I like this one the best XD) So visually he knows the difference between conventionally pretty and not. (which, while it can be inferred that he considers Alvida not altogether good looking doesn’t necessarily mean he has an opinion on it other than her most obvious features which is she’s fat and old. Which, well she is rather rotund and Luffy is 17 so old applies to everyone over the age of 25 most like)

But I also wonder if it’s more than that. Not only has her appearance shifted, her personality has shifted, too. While Luffy may not have the words to explain this, how people are and how they act is definitely something he’s noticed. So for frame of reference, let’s look at Luffy’s first introduction to her.

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She’s blunt, hyper aggressive, determined to make a splash and have people notice her and her power. (Which is probably why she gets along so well with Buggy). In the next panel, though she is going to kill Luffy anyway, she demands him to tell her who is the most beautiful person in the sea.

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In Stephen’s translation she says: “Unfortunately, it really didn't do much to increase my ALREADY CONSIDERABLE beauty.” Which is much clearer to what she means, I feel. But it’s just pointing out that Alvida is still exceedingly arrogant about her looks, specifically her skin, drawing attention to herself. But through this encounter, while she still has the tendency to be hyper-violent (ex bashing the cop for no reason), she seems less aggressive overall and while she still asks people who is the most beautiful person on the sea, it is with a kind of joy. Like she is the most beautiful and she knows it and now so does everyone else. She’s presented as flirty, very much full of a feminine sass and even a little charm.

I feel like this is because people are finally treating her like she wants to be treated. This is Alvida getting one thing she always wanted. To be beautiful and not have to force everyone else to believe it. And why not want that kind of thing? Beauty is power as we’ve seen. Beauty is people worshipping her and hearting at her without even provocation. She also has power outside of it, too. Let’s not forget that she’s still Iron Bludgeon Alvida and fruit or not she can still knock the shit out of people.

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For the freckles comment, I tend to believe that Alvida is serious. That she doesn’t have them anymore is the biggest difference (other than the flawless skin). You could I suppose make an argument against, but either way isn’t a big deal. What’s interesting here is again Luffy’s comment. Like you can take that to mean that he’s referring directly to her looks, but is he? I mean he generally says directly what he thinks… so if that was it, wouldn’t he say it outright? Again, I think it’s just a combination of looks and personality.

The panel to the left, again Alvida’s stunning arrogance. Luffy is powerful enough to be her man and so, of course, would want to. Because they can be powerful together. But first she has to see how strong he is and I love that the base line he has to be stronger than is Buggy. Which, you know, Buggy is no slouch so if Luffy can best him (again) then he’s definitely got something going. But, you know, he’s Buggy.

(As an interesting mental exercise, though, take a look at all these panels where Alvida is full of fun and interesting. Would your perceptions change if her appearance had not? Would it take on a different connotation?)

Speaking of Buggy, he makes a suitably flashy entrance… (skipping the middle panel which we’ll get to when we look at the cover stories)

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Interestingly, we see a different power at play here. Buggy makes his presence known through flash and narrative, telling his own story (and getting a little carried away with it as we’ll look at when we come to it.) But no amount of being awesomely flashy dangerous sounding will impress Luffy. Well, at least not once he recognizes that it’s not actually someone cool. Just Buggy, who he’s already beaten. Rats.

And of course Buggy s pissed at not getting the respect due to him. XD Or Luffy not acting as terrified as he should. Also notice that while people are heart farting at Alvida? They’re just sort of line facing at Buggy. Like, you’re not that interesting.

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But what Buggy is super good at? Distraction. Diversion. That’s part of what his super flashy tactics are for after all. Luffy’s eyes were on the crowd and Cabaji got the jump on him. (with killer boots, I might add) Luffy is really startled at being caught like this. XD It doesn’t really happen to him all that often, enemies getting the drop on him, I mean. Ironically, the only other time we’ve seen this happen since he started out is when Nami tricked him and presented him to Buggy. I also love that Cabaji speaks of Zoro, and you would think that he desires, and would get, a rematch. But he doesn’t even really meet up with him again. Yet. (otoh it may be something Oda wanted to include but didn’t have the space for so who knows)

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This is really interesting because Buggy, more than anyone here perhaps, has a close personal connection with Roger and his execution. We know that he witnessed the execution and was clearly upset about it, so what is he saying here now? Basically he’s telling Luffy he’s not worthy to be the Pirate King or to fill Roger’s shoes. He’s not worthy, he’s not strong enough and that this is the closest he’ll ever come to it—being killed on the same spot. Later on, at least in the Viz and Stephen translation, (which is why it’s pointless to include a panel) he says that Luffy is accused of “Getting on his high horse” and “angering Buggy.” The high horse comment does seem indicative that he doesn’t think Luffy is worthy of even reaching for that kind of goal. For the latter reason, Buggy is just pissed that he lost. XD But he also has to get that respect back and what other way than a flashy exhibition to show who really is top dog.

After this we cut to the Marines in a scene I went through last part, and then…

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I just love the sense of growing tension here, especially when looking at Nami and Zoro. Zoro notices the crowds are thinning out showing how aware he is of the situation around him, though he thinks nothing of it. And of course Nami notices the air pressure, a storm is coming (Uhuhu) and they best be on their way. But of course the goofballs on the right are great, too. Sanji just casually making Usopp do work and Usopp crabbing about it. Or at least the unfairness of it. But what’s cute about this scene to me is Sanji sharing this weird thing he saw with Usopp. Like hey, isn’t that funny? It may seem like nothing much (and obvious foreshadowing) but the nothing much makes it unique. It’s just sort of a casual and normal thing to bring up which marks their friendship on normal terms. What I mean to say is, Sanji could tell this to Zoro and Zoro would likely not care. Luffy might care too much and go chasing the spectacle down. I’m not even sure Sanji would tell Nami such a thing unless he thought she was interested. (at least at this stage) But Usopp you can pretty much tell anything to. He makes things comfortable. (even when he is crabbing) Also in terms of Sanji’s own characterization, it’s kind of a faint reminder that he’s a dreamer. In other words he picks up on the fantastical things and the odd things and wants to share them.

Also I really dig that fringed dress in the background. The visitors to/citizens of Loguetown have some rad style, yo.

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The top panel mostly for the clothes, but I do like all the SH converging on the same spot, meeting in the middle once more, looking casually for the remaining (and most important) member of their number. (speaking of clothes I especially love beanie man with meme cat shirt)

But I love that Zoro is the one to ask where Luffy is. But mostly what I love about this is that they’re so wrapped up in looking for Luffy, they don’t see what’s going on right in front of them right away. This is because they haven’t yet realized that where the chaos is, there Luffy usually is, too. But on the other hand, perhaps the only Luffy-chaos they’ve encountered before this was the mess at Arlong Park. Nothing else was quite as attention grabbing. I suppose you could argue for the Baratie but the focus there was largely centered on Sanji and Zeff.

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First of all, I love the sniper with the ear covers and goggles. That’s just a cool look. I also love the Marine on the bottom right. I don’t know why he just has an interesting face.
So what do we see here? First on Buggy’s end, that he’s forcing people to watch means he’s definitely making a statement. Making a statement almost as bold as Luffy’s in such a place. He will definitely be a noticed pirate in the East Blue after this, and maybe even the Grand Line and he wants his reputation to carry so that people knows what it means to disrespect Buggy.

Also I love that Smoker assumes Luffy is a good fight. He doesn’t know anything about him other than the bounty, but for Smoker, right now, the system works more or less. 30 Million Beri Bounties should be as strong as they’re supposed to be. In other words, Smoker tends to have certain set expectations about things. But I think in his case, for the most part perhaps bounties being what he expects is all he’s experienced. Weirdly, too, he’s not wrong. Luffy is a tough one and probably should be that highly bountied and yet given all that he’s still nothing Smoker is going to suspect.

Finally the arrow? Well it’s somewhat of a fan theory that the top hatted man may be Sabo. He certainly could pass for him, and that Dragon is there as well lends the theory some credence. So could it be? It’s possible! Considering that we now know he was an amnesiac for all that time, it’s possible that seeing Luffy didn’t quite trigger the memory. It’s also possible it’s not him. For me, I’m still waffling on which I prefer—since it could also be that tophatted gentleman we saw earlier. Still the thought is very intriguing.

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XD Oh Luffy. The top panel just because I’ve seen it here and there about Luffy being unable to scratch his nose when he his rubber after all. Maybe he still has to fling himself at this stage, like he throws his hand out to grab something or manually stretches himself. I mean theoretically he can throw his finger in a sense to make it stretch but I’m not sure if he’d have much control over it. On the other hand it could be he also being an idiot as is his wont sometimes. Take your pick really.

At the bottom? Oh man, their faces. Usopp looks shocked of course but the real highlight here are Zoro and Sanji. Zoro just looks kind of terrified. Ugly terror. XD He’s blindsided by a complete shock. It’s not that he hasn’t seen Luffy in danger before. I mean just last arc he was chucked into the sea. But it’s one thing to be in danger in the middle of a fight and another to randomly pop up on the execution stand. Of course it doesn’t help that execution stand has the word ‘execution’ in it and he’s not ready for Luffy to die that way. In short he looks about two steps from a heart attack. Sanji is like am I seeing what I shitty think I’m seeing? My own damn heart just stopped. And Nami?

Well Nami is plenty annoyed at Luffy getting into this kind of trouble, but I think it’s the Buggy part that gets to her. I don’t think she wants to get caught by them after having neatly robbed them twice. Oops.

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This? If you ever doubted, Luffy will be pirate king. My favorite translation of this is Stephen’s: “A legend destined to recounted countless times, far into the future... A story whose roots stretch far into the past...” So it is no doubt that Luffy will be a legend. Or rather, will be part of a legend. Of course legends change and are distorted over time, embellished even, but through this story we’re able to see the truth and that just gives me happy chills.

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I love this because it’s pretty indicative of how Luffy sees the world. He’s never seen an execution before, so why would he assume it was him? I mean probably being in a stock should give him a clue… but Luffy is Luffy/ But then he’s really never been in a position to be executed, also, I suppose, doesn’t assume this is his time to die. XD and of course, Buggy can’t believe he’s so stupid to NOT believe that he’s being executed. I mean, come on, how could he make it any clearer? It’s really screwing with Buggy’s flow.

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Again, Buggy wanting it to be a spectacle for everyone to see what he’s doing. (I also sort of wonder if he’s subconsciously trying to stake a claim in the execution stand. This is government property. He isn’t allowed to be up there. But he is saying I’m a pirate and I do what I want. You think the marines are the only ones who can execute people up here? Watch what I do and fear me) I also love Luffy’s Nooo. He’s not ready to die just yet. Not when he’s just started. He doesn’t want to be executed.

Also! Just…ugh…crowd scene porn. Just everyone esp in the first three or so rows. The girl with pigtails, the woman with the chiffon, Bell10, the old dude. (and somewhere Barty and somewhere Dragon) They are all distinctive and all a part of history whether they know it or not.

(and it appears to be 3:15 if clock in the background is to be believed. Not that I think there’s any significance to that but it’s a neat detail)

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Even more ramping up of drama and tension with the thunder rumbling… As for Nami and Usopp, for context I’m pretty sure that Nami asked Usopp to come with her. This seems pretty clear. The reasons why, of course, she doesn’t want to do all the work on her own or perhaps face any encounters on her own. And she’s definitely not going to tear Sanji and Zoro away. Why? She trusts in their ability to help Luffy. She absolutely has to. Besides which, her showing up and making herself known to the Buggy pirates? Would likely only complicate the issue. So best to be getting out while the getting is good.

Usopp’s concern for Luffy is pretty endearing. He really just wants to help him out and be back up. Also I think he considers in the morally right thing to do and Usopp’s all about doing the right thing. I love how he proves his strength by saying he took down Chuu. Which is something he can say! And for it to be true! Which is pretty amazing for Usopp and he really wants people to know it. (Viz translates it as Usopp saying he killed Chu which I don’t really like)

And Nami’s more important thing?

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Is pretty damn important. It’s not that she’s running away, it’s that she’s taking Usopp and preparing everyone for a quick get away. If they don’t think ahead a little, they could be stranded in Loguetown. Say what you will about Nami. She may not want to fight just yet, but she knows how to survive and what’s more how to help everyone survive. For Usopp? I think you can read it that he is afraid of the Marines which adds to his speed, and I think that’s true. But also I think what’s most important to him is the prospect of Merry getting washed out to sea and away from him. We’ve already seen how attached the ship he is and this is very much an extension of that. I say Merry is more his concern because he doesn’t look afraid as he would if the Marines were coming, but concerned as if someone he cares for is in danger. (And that’s true on both counts)

We see Mohji riding up to the ship on his Richie bikie.

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It’s interesting that Mohji knows the ship is his. It’s possible they could have gotten that information while they were sneaking around town… though why anyone else in Loguetown would know who that ship belonged to is beyond me. Though it is perhaps possible they picked up rumors from someone that had been on the Baratie. Or maybe Buggy just took a wild guess because the Jolly Roger makes it kind of obvious. Either way, Buggy is damn competent at what he does. He has contingency plans for if something should go awry. I think it’s very much safe to say that Buggy is a survivalist and the fact that he lasts as long as he does is a testament to that. Also he’s smart and a pretty good tactician at getting what he wants. In many ways he’s definitely a seasoned pirate and you can sort of see that he was a member of Roger’s crew who knows how to get things he wants done, done.

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I love that the Marines are always watching. Unlike in Morgan’s marines or with Nezumi where the Marines were a loud and violent presence, here they are quieter but always watching. Also, Smoker’s orders. Don’t rush in. Let things play out. See what happens. Much like Buggy he has contingency plans, too, with marines stationed at the harbor and elsewhere as we’ve seen. There’s no need to move quickly and maybe make a mistake. This is very reminiscent of Aokiji’s lazy “wait and see” justice.

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The top panel seems kind of clichéd. I mean we’ve seen Marines and general antagonists before act in this sort of way. There’s no need to be cautious, of course they can’t escape us. But the difference here is? Smoker has taken precaution. He is not underestimating them. There are sufficient Marines to hinder their escape. He’s pissed at his subordinates words for a number of reasons. That the man doesn’t trust that Smoker has it well in hand when Smoker has a track record of keeping Loguetown under control. Which, his subordinate is underestimating him on one hand and on the other doesn’t have confidence. That’s a dangerous thing for subordinate to lack for everyone’s sake. Also? The subordinate is letting his anxiety over the pirates make him want to act hastily. They’ve got this. They need to trust that they’ve got this. They’re not just sitting on their hands but actively watching to see what happens and what the next move needs to be.

Also, Smoker? While he’s growly a lot of the time, it’s very controlled. He can’t help that he gets annoyed but he’s not unnecessarily so. He may glower but he says just what he needs to say without berating or cutting the man down at all, just reminding him of their competence. (well he says “I” but in Viz he says “we”, which, of course is both.) Just be quiet could also mean to stop worrying about it. And it’s true, it will be less work for them. They will also get to see what else may develop or who will emerge.

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This is pretty funny, but it also speaks to something important of Luffy’s character. While he’s not afraid of dying (as we’ll see), he really would prefer to live. This reinforces the idea that he doesn’t have a lot of personal pride (which is different from self confidence) because he apologizes and asks to be able to live… Since, right now, it’s the only thing he can do to survive. But at the same time it’s obvious his heart isn’t in it. It’s almost a lie by his expression and bland delivery.

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Oh, Alivda. Why can’t I quit you? Her line here has four different translations.
In the official version, she says: So much for the man I was going to…
In Stephen’s, it’s: So much for the man I spent all that time following...

According to Serrende, the Sweedish version has: So the man I dreamed of made it this far, but no further...

The nuance changes depending on what you read and which version you follow. There are so many questions here. How much does she really admire Luffy? How much does she feel for him? If she’s really so into him as it’s been leading up to, how is she so easily able to shrug this off? Unless she really doesn’t care? But if she really doesn’t care, why did she throw everything she had into chasing him down? Would she have followed him to the Grand Line? We know Alvida has an obsessive personality. At least in one particular (concerning her own beauty) she won’t let anyone fracture her version of reality. But where is this obsession here?

I don’t think there’s really a set answer. It’s pretty much open to interpretation and I really enjoy the ambiguity of it. (Because who can really know another person 100% anyway?) But some ideas are this…

As I’ve said throughout, she does play well off of Buggy and has a connection to him on some level. I can see her going hardcore after Luffy but finding that she works well with Buggy, it doesn’t really matter to her so much that she gets Lu in the end but, being obsessive, she can’t just let go. She has to take a shot. Another thing that Serrende brought up was that maybe those kinds of emotions just slip right off of her owing to her Devil Fruit. XD I really like that myself. I think it’s a combination of a bunch of factors, not the least of which the changing of her physical form and abilities. Who needs Luffy now that she has formidable allies, is beautiful and is also strong enough not to be easily cowed? If you have different interpretations, however, I’d love to hear them.

But moving on…

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I love that Buggy is generous just to be an asshole. Giving Luffy last words only to rub it in that no one will give a damn. Still I think there’s a kind of genuine generosity there. He doesn’t have to give Luffy last words, but he does because those things are important to a flashy presentation. However he doesn’t think Luffy will have anything worth saying. And he’s still going to kill Luffy in the end. But what is here is kind of an old world pirate’s chivalry. At least that’s how I like to think of it. I also like in the shot on the right you can clearly see that the tassels are Buggy’s hair XD It took me the longest time to realize that and seeing it now so clearly just amuses the hell out of me.

As for Luffy, I think it’s starting to sink in that he has no way out here. That he can’t wiggle out of this and will probably die. He’s not really happy with this situation, but it’s not fear (yet). He’s just sort of pouting at it—but also not going to go out without saying anything.

He shouts, in a truly epic fashion, that he’s going to become King of the Pirates!! And the reactions from the crowd are interesting…

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All variations of shock, but none of it is the same. People are surprised. The striped shirt guy looks a little afraid. The ‘outrageous’ guy looks like he’s either afraid and trying to cover it or even a little thrilled to hear those words. The lady in the striped dress looks shocked to even hear it. No matter what the reactions are, the words are powerful, the INTENT is powerful. People who come to Loguetown, or are from Loguetown know the significance of those words. And the men were probably undoubtedly alive during Roger’s time to know what he’d been up to, maybe even seen his execution in some form or another. It’s one of the first times Luffy’s words have shaken the world, but it won’t be the last.

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What’s so interesting about this? Luffy flinches. He’s afraid of death in this moment. He’s anticipating it. He’s said his piece (never giving up on his dream, by the way, saying that he would be pirate king despite the fact that he’s sure he’s going to die) and is now just bracing for the impact. This is what makes Luffy really human I think, in a lot of ways. But yet he’s faced death before this and will after and we haven’t really seen him flinch before. Why? Because this is highly personal. When he’s fighting for someone else, his focus is there, on them; on what he has to do for the people he cares about. Here he is just being executed. There is no one to fight for, no one counting on his burst of strength…
And then Zoro and Sanji bellow above the crowd. And I love Buggy actually stopping and his expression, like, “What the hell?”

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I love Luffy’s expression here. It’s a smile but at the same time there’s something very strained about it. It’s like he’s recovering from the shock and trying to switch gears, glad to see them but desperately wanting to get out of that situation, calling to his nakama for help. We’ll come back to this idea in a second. For Buggy’s part, he’s startled, but not for long.

Before we see much more of that we cut back to the Marines.

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A few things here.

First let’s touch on Smoker’s dialogue, because while it seems clear here, it’s actually a little more ambiguous if you’re reading the Viz translation. There he says: “The bounty hunter? What great timing!” and in Stephen’s it seems to collude with: “Great! A bounty hunter, at a time like this!!” Which at first seems the ideas conflict. But if you look at Smoker’s face, he doesn’t seem all that happy at a bounty hunter’s entrance into this. Though, as with anything, it’s up to interpretation, I believe that he’s annoyed because he thinks a bounty hunter will just screw with things. He wants the pirates to take care of one another, not for a bounty hunter to interfere and potentially cause chaos.

It’s interesting, too, because you see the difference between Smoker and Tashigi in the two panels. While Smoker is thinking about the entrance of a bounty hunter in the situation and what will happen as a whole, Tashigi is looking at it very minutely. Her gut reaction is what Zoro’s presence means to her, completely outside of the situation. This is understandable in a way because it’s her dream to get the swords and one of them is Zoro’s, but we see Tashigi react from the gut a lot, especially when it comes to this kind of ideal.

Finally, Smoker’s information network isn’t the best. XD Perhaps in this instance it’s because knowing Zoro was part of the Strawhat Crew wasn’t relevant so no one brought it up. (After all, Luffy only just appeared in town so there wasn’t time really to parse everything that was going on) But now it definitely screws with the situation because instead of one pirate executing another, relatively peacefully, it will become a pirate battle with civilians caught in the middle.

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And, well, he ain’t wrong. I love how the civilians are just bolting out of the way as Zoro and Sanji plow through, straight ahead for the execution stand. I love, too, how Buggy’s men are so used to following Alvida’s orders, they don’t even question it. (Also he’s got some really fun looking crew) And Zoro and Sanji just getting right in the fight, trying to clear them out of the way so they can get to what’s important.

(Also I love Tashigi seeing that it’s Zoro through the binoculars. Like, she isn’t even really looking for the fight or the outcome, but the man she has to fight)

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Luffy is just watching them, astonished. What’s really cool about this? So far, Luffy has been the one to save everyone’s butts by fighting for them. While there have been various instances of them saving him—only one of them he’s been conscious for. What I mean is, in Orange Town, Nami did save him from being blasted by the Buggy Ball and Zoro took the cage, but it was a different situation and it was less about him as they know him but as for Nami’s guilt for getting the stupid but good hearted kid into this mess (and not wanting to be a dirty pirate) and Zoro’s dedication. Sanji saving him from drowning, he was unconscious for, and he never did see Sanji kick the rock. But again, even if he had? It was a different situation. Saving him—yes, but so he could continue the fight.

Here he is completely helpless and they are coming to his rescue, as violently and as desperately as his brothers would.

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Ugh just their desperation to save Luffy, to pour all their strength into saving their captain. It’s just wonderful. But also note how they haven’t yet learned to work together quite. Though Zoro says (giving direction btw) that they need to smash down the platform. (emphasizing they) They both fight as individual units trying to get there in time. Could they work together? Sure. Sanji could kick him up there faster than Zoro could run. But that’s not something that occurs to him. Which is understandable as these things take time and experience.

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Smoker just looks annoyed as hell. XD But calm. He’s got this under control. Remember, he’s got contingencies for this situation.

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Now this is a powerful scene and easy to take for advantage that we know what’s going on, whether on first reading or second. In this smile, he mimics Roger (as we’ll see Smoker reflect on later), which draws an obvious parallel from Luffy to Roger. And it’s just badass and awesome.

But what does it mean?

Why is he smiling like this?

Is it because he’s unafraid of death?

I’m not sure if that’s the case. Yes he will risk his life and court death and accepts the fact that he might die in the process. But we’ve seen him flinch when he thought it was coming. We’ve seen him ask for his life (insincere as the attempt was). So what is going on? What has changed?

Well, simply put, Luffy realizes he’s not alone.

All up to this point, he’s been gathering people to sail with him because he found them cool or fun or wanted to save them (in the case of Zoro) or needed their services (in the case of Sanji and Nami). Of course he liked them, too. But now it’s the realization that they care for him as well. That they are with him as he is with them. That they are crew.

Even for most of Loguetown at this point, Luffy’s been alone. When he was standing on the execution scaffold, it was completely about his dream, his desire. Everyone else had gone off to do their own things, and him willingly parting from them as well to see this place.

But now Zoro and Sanji have come for him completely out of the blue for his sake. For his life.

So but in order to get the full picture, let’s back up a step and look at what he says. He calls out to them and apologizes and says that he’s dead. Why does he do this?

I think because he’s telling them that he sees/knows their concern for him and that they are doing their best for his sake and fighting their hardest. That he knows that he’s not alone because he sees them there. He’s accepting his death because it’s unavoidable and apologizing because he couldn’t take them that far.

But for Luffy? Oh, what a ride. Note, his last words were not about him being Pirate King. His last words were toward what he treasured even more than that. His nakama. For Luffy it’s knowing he has nakama. That he’s come even this far. And if that’s as far as he can go? It’s enough that he did his best. He can die without regrets. Moreover, he can die knowing that he’s loved. That people care about him. So, in that way, he’s happy.

(Also Usopp still prioritizing Merry but not wanting to fight alone. XD Granted he’s probably 150% sure that Zoro and Sanji can help Luffy, no problem)

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Annnd even tho Luffy accepts his death, Zoro and Sanji decidedly do absofuckinglutely not. In the Viz translation, Zoro says No! Which is just awesome, right from the gut. Not, I think, because Luffy is giving up but maybe because he missed his chance to save someone he’s decided to be devoted to. But Sanji flatly refuses to accept Luffy giving up like that. To say things like that even if it’s pretty evident that there’s nothing that anyone can do.

But also awesome? Their drama is not unfolding in a vacuum. The civilians are reacting, too. To the smile? To the drama? Somewhere Barty is lying in a puddle of his own snot’n’tears. Somewhere Dragon is seeing his kid grin like a loon even when facing death. Nothing happens in isolation.

But lightning strikes, Buggy is fried, rain starts to fall, everyone is wtfing.

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We, hilariously, get kind of a foreshadowing about the outcome of Luffy vs. Enel’s powers (because I’m sure he was close enough to get electrocuted, too. And I kind of wonder if, if that was Dragon, that he did it so as not to kill Luffy which meant not killing Buggy either. It’s okay to char broil your kid tho. It builds character. And, you know, considering Garp’s methods, I wouldn’t say this interpretation is too off the mark XD)

Luffy is still grinning, high off adrenaline and just being alive and giddy. I bet he’s feeling no pain. And Sanji is just…basically trying to process this. It’s a lot of shitty gears to shift I think and he has to define what just happened on some terms, but I also think he’s asking Zoro just to communicate and speak like normal people do so he can come to grips with what just happened.

But remember when Sanji was telling Usopp about Richie? This is something similar. It’s a fairly random question that Zoro has no time for. Luffy is safe, he’s relieved as hell, it’s back to the business of getting the hell out of here. Zoro knows something is going down even if he doesn’t know specifically and they’d better book it.

The Marines come into the square in order to stop all the pirates:

And this shot isn’t too important but

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What a great one! Luffy just grinning like an idiot, high on life and being saved and knowing he’s cared about. Sanji spitting his cigarette out because it’s so shitty wet that there’s no point to it. Zoro looking back to gauge the danger and making sure where it is. There’s just so much character even when they’re running. I also like people parting to get out of their way.

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And here we see an essential part of Smoker’s nature. There’s a reason he’s called the White Hunter and I think this is the foundation of it—not saying he would hunt Luffy down on this alone. (I mean, he would hunt Luffy down because he was a pirate, but there wouldn’t be the level of obsession that he gains) but here he recognizes a connection, he recognizes it’s significant. He has the instinct to know that this is really important and something big has happened. But he can’t really say what it is.

Still even though he does have an impulsive nature, his thought process is careful. He’s like that kid smiled just like Roger. And then he asks if that’s ever occurred before. Though he’s seen executions before, doubtless, he hasn’t seen all of them and figuring if anyone else had smiled it would be significant enough to mention. His subordinate confirms that it hasn’t happened before (in a roundabout way) but Smoker isn’t derailed from what it is he saw. That Luffy smiled. That it’s important.

But it’s funny because as much as Smoker wants to know, I get the feeling that he really hates a mystery— so much so that he wants to solve it. Like a dog worrying a bone he wants to get to the bottom of it and what his instinct is pointing out with blazing arrows.

Also this is a hint at Smoker’s own piratical side. That Luffy and Roger smile alike, even if it means a connection, it’s more of a philosophical or spiritual question. At the end of the day, if Luffy’s rubbery butt is in jail, that’s all that matters. But Smoker has to know. He has to understand what it means. He has to know so much that even for just a moment he completely ignores his subordinate because he’s so fixated on this question that means little to anyone else except to him. So if piracy is chasing freedom above all else, this is what Smoker’s freedom is.

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The next moment, Smoker is back on track…

Except I love this. He smells a conspiracy. And it seems that Luffy is just lucky—but IS HE? Is he really? How much of this was Dragon? We know he’s there. How much of this did he engineer? Does whatever Devil Fruit he have (if indeed he has one) something to do with wind? Pushing the clouds to where they are best suited. And if not him, can someone else in the Revolutionary Army do it? Are Smoker’s suspicions 100% right?
I like this idea because it’s not that there is no such thing as luck—but that the constant theme of One Piece is that no man is an island. In other words, that Luffy succeeds is based on people wanting him to, helping and believing in him because they choose to.

Also I love Smoker driven absolutely bonkers by this. Like, something is wrong but what the hell is it?!.

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First? Smoker. He knows something is up. He doesn’t know WHAT but damnit all, he’s going to stop it even if he has to fight the very will of heaven itself to do so. No one is above the law, even Heaven. He’d even try to arrest Enel god if he could.

Second, the trio. Like I can just imagine the context of this shot…

Luffy being excited at being chased by so many Marines! First a bounty and now this? He’s really making it as a pirate.
Sanji…well it’s hard to tell. He seems to be grinning in this shot. Perhaps because of the excitement of adventure? Or just amused at the exuberance of their crazy captain over something like this.
And Zoro’s just telling Luffy to stop screwing around and get running already

And then we come to Chapter 100.

While the significance of other chapters and their placement can be debatable, we know that Oda chose this one chapter to be the jumping off point into the Grand Line. This is where One Piece really starts. Most of this has been building up and showing us about Luffy and the others, their base characters, what they believe and fight for and the general world building. From here we take those characters, concepts and themes and expand upon them.

So, it’s fitting we open with Dragon and see a quote from Roger.
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So basically we’re getting the core philosophies of the series here (since, after all, the very idea of the One Piece is based on Roger’s will, Roger’s dreams and secrets hidden in time). What’s great is that the first two aren’t really a surprise if we’ve been paying attention. Oda has got pretty tight storytelling—So we’ve seen inherited will at least five times already as Luffy has gathered his nakama. We’ve also seen how important dreams are. Though it says man here (and in Stephen’s translation) I wouldn’t say it’s meant to mean JUST a man’s dream. After all, Oda has said that Man’s Romance is a phrase and girls can have man’s romance, too. But it’s the power of the dream itself. (and yeah, you can debate the use of the word ‘man’ and better words for it etc etc but I’m not really interested in covering that)

What’s new here is the flow of time. Now, Viz has ‘the ebb and flow of time’. While we can’t say exactly what it means, there’s the sense of history repeating itself—Though, never 100%. I think that’s a trap a lot of people fall into when they analyze. Direct symmetry is not what is meant but ideas and concepts from the past come into the present. History repeats itself, but is a little different each time. But also there’s a sense, coupled with the idea that these things can’t be stopped, that the history and histories will inevitably reveal themselves. Just like you can’t stop the tides, the government can’t cover up the past forever.

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And this line in the quote is also really interesting because I think it’s speaking of the series in general and also maybe even speaking to what kind of man Dragon is, especially since it’s superimposed next to him. It can also be Luffy, too, though I never get the sense of him seeking freedom rather than embodying it and knowing what it is intuitively. However you read the line, though, it’s definitely one of the core foundations of the series that Oda wants us to know about. This is what we will see and this is what a lot of the characters will be fighting for.

And Dragon. Oh Dragon, even now you are so mysterious. Even the line is ambiguous at best with three similar but nuanced translations.

In this one, it seems to imply that Dragon had at least one other road in mind for Luffy, or one he assumed he might take.

Viz has: Not a bad idea… Which implies that he’s mildly surprised but impressed by this choice and can see a lot of opportunities in Lu being a pirate.

Stephan’s has: Not a bad choice… Which again implies one of several options but no one directed specifically by Dragon.

This is not terribly overall important and which line is best depends on how you interpret Dragon’s character, which we know so little of. Regardless of what you choose, it’s evident that Dragon is exceedingly proud of Luffy for his choices and chasing after his dreams.

We then cut to Buggy who has survived to be thwarted another day.

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I like a few things here.

First that Alvida is sea smart. That is to say she knows what Marines are where and can gauge the amount of trouble they’re in accordingly. It’s kind of a survivalist trait, especially if you’re not particularly powerful, to know who is where and what they mean. I love, too, how Buggy is like I can beat them no problem—but let’s finish the job and get out of here. I just love his pride and how it always bites him in the ass in the end. (Though to be fair, Stephan’s translation is more like: ‘Let’s bowl them over and get out of this dump boys.’ Implying that he’s not so much running as just leaving the town behind—but he also never engages the Marines either despite not being afraid of them which is telling)

At any rate, Buggy and Alvida start to get gone after their rubber nemesis, but…

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Right away, we see though Smoker does want to chase down Luffy—and has staked his own name on not letting Luffy off the island, he stops to take care of the problem at hand, that is the Buggy Pirates. Part of his pride, too, is not letting pirates run amuck… and I’m sure he knows people will be in danger if he just lets them do what they want. That is not his style. But I love that, while he doesn’t have time for them, takes the time to make sure the Buggy pirates are restrained while also preparing to chase Luffy down in the most efficient way. Aka the Blower Bike (also he’s just…really hot here. Idek)

We have a shot of the civvies being impressed by Smoker’s ability, and all the Buggy Pirates tied up and guarded by Marines.

And then this:

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I like how the bike itself looks so badass and is actually making Smoker pretty self sufficient. He powers it. He is solely responsible for making that bike go, despite that he has others bring it to him. It’s a great testament to his character. (and in many ways is similar to another DF powered vehicle, the Striker). I love how it’s sensible, too. It’s wide and with treads and looks kind of like a tank so you can tell it can go over rough terrain. There’s nothing really frivolous about it.

Also I… I just can’t help but imagine Smoker thinking in the lower left… I really need to wear some damn goggles.

We also see the first instance of Kairoseki.

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Buggy’s dialogue is clunky here. I think Viz does it much better, but more importantly this just really shows you the world that the Strawhats are heading into. Alvida may know who to run from in terms of Marines. That’s pretty much a given. But she hasn’t been outside of the East Blue. Granted she might not have seen Kairoseki nets not having a Devil Fruit herself until recently—but I think it speaks to how relatively peaceful the East Blue really is. Like the only DF users we’ve seen in the East Blue are Buggy and Luffy. Alvida is pretty much the only DF user who came from the East Blue and got her DF there (that we’ve seen) other than Luffy. This doesn’t mean that DF users aren’t present, but it’s definitely indicative that they’re rare. I mean, if they weren’t? Morgan and Fullbody would certainly have kairoseki nets to deal with Luffy, but they were not prepared for a DF user.

Buggy, though, has been there. In the Grand Line, kairoseki is a thing that happens. He’s likely been caught by it before. Though, I do sort of wonder about the way it’s translated. It seems to me that you could perhaps read it that the kairoseki net is a relatively new invention? I mean not super new but he says… “have invented” not just something like “they use it for…”. But it could just be worldbuilding or translation. Still it’s something to think about.

Also I love how freaked out Alvida looks. But then that makes sense because she can feel that the kairoseki is doing weird things to her and making her feel super weak as it does to DF users and she has no idea what to make of it.

Then we cut to Mohji and Richie, with the former freaking out about the sudden storm.

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And Usopp is so great here. You can see his impulsive protectiveness of Merry. Did he see Mohji and guess his plans? Did he see a suspicious person loitering where he shouldn’t? Did Nami point him out?

Either way, despite the yell and being terrified of standing up to this guy, he nonetheless does… and it’s a parallel to when he saved Genzo from Arlong. In this instance though he’s a little more effective and gets Mohji right in the teeth, shocking the hell out of himself in the process. (also implementing the new goggles as we can see) As for Usopp’s surprise he’s more surprised that he hit hard enough to knock the guy over. After all, with Arlong he did nothing more to piss him off and Chu took a lot more beating to take him down. But Mohji? One.

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See? Look how proud he is. Proud and kind of shocked and of course, wanting Nami to know that he did it! That he was strong enough to knock Mohji over with a fantastic shot. Of course he meant to do that and had planned it from the start. >>; As for him missing with Richie, I kind of wonder if it’s because he turned right around and did it—or maybe it’s one thing hitting a guy in the face, but another hitting a lion XD note that he doesn’t even use something like a steel pachinko ball, but an egg star that will …maybe blind it? But not hurt it too bad perhaps unless it gets pissed. As for the missing well, no one is perfect though Usopp gets 9/10. In any case, Richie is distracted by the food and they hustle toward the ship.

Meanwhile, the Monster Trio is also hustling shipward.

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I like the cohesion that’s forming here. Luffy asking about what they should do rather than just going ahead and doing it. I get the feeling that while his instincts are telling him to fight these guys to get them out of the way, his nakama are going the opposite way without seeming to want to join him. Since the Marines aren’t directly threatening anyone he cares about (like for instance if they’d captured Usopp or something) he’s not sure what to do. But Sanji answers him, explaining why in a concise way and reminding Luffy that they have to move on Nami’s directive, which again shows Sanji’s more strategic mindset and also his focus on the current situation. They need to get to Nami and can’t stop to fight every Marine that comes at them.

As for Zoro, I love his eyebrow raise. Though mostly this is here for his saying ‘the winds getting worse’ … put a pin in that line for now, we’ll come back to it later.

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And speaking of our Sergeant-Major… I love how Sanji’s Mellorine sense is immediately tuned to her. It’s such a great expression and the little heart is excellent. I also love how her men are happy to see her there, confident that she is going to kick all sorts of ass and that these pirates will be captured.

For Tashigi, though, despite the fact that she is also facing down Luffy and Sanji—who the latter maybe a relative nobody but Luffy at least has a considerable bounty, she’s only focused on Zoro. Here it’s not a job, it’s personal.

And why?

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He bruised her pride. Which is no small thing. Especially to a swordsman. She was played for a fool and Zoro teased her on purpose. But probably not with the intention that she took it. Which, I know I said before that Zoro could kind of guess she was Navy or at least police. But now I think that he had no idea really. Of course this translation makes it seem a little evident that it’s otherwise. Others are a bit more ambiguous. Still—whatever he does or doesn’t know, I love their reactions.

Sanji is immediately on the defensive, seeing Tashigi as a lady first and pissed that Zoro insulted or did something terrible to her somehow.
Luffy has no idea what’s going on and is just curious about it
But Zoro is completely focused on Tashigi, and after she says she’ll take back the Wado Ichimonji, he treats her as a challenger. And look at how determined she is in the rain. Nn it’s such a nice shot.

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I like that Zoro just meets Tashigi head on, pretty much full force, already drawing the Wado which is the sword she wants to claim so it would make sense that he’d fight her with it.

And Luffy? Just goes on ahead without question, even dragging Sanji along with him who would love to interfere with this fight for Tashigi’s sake. Though I think in part he’s still riled up that Zoro apparently did something terrible to her. But also I think that he doesn’t quite understand Zoro or the situation yet. So it’ll be interesting to see if anything develops from that perspective. In any case, Luffy protects Zoro’s fights by keeping Sanji out of it and pulling him toward the ship.

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I really love the look Zoro gives her here. He just likes her expression, all determination and fierce pride. She probably reminds him even more of Kuina. This is definitely a nostalgic face for him. And it’s really interesting that we get to see this softer side of him. Even a kind of vulnerability. Though it does prompt a more fierce attack as he’s really testing her limits.

There is no vulnerability present in Tashigi right now, though. She is giving her all in this fight, going up against him with all she has. Which is not inconsiderable. She’s already proved herself in Loguetown and that is a tough place all things considered. And actually she’s already putting her life on the line to achieve this goal—to fulfill her dream. She’s also doing this in spite of her obligations to the Marines. For Tashigi, this goal is personal. (and makes her a good fit for Smoker in this case) Her goal and motivations are not too entirely different from Zoro’s own.

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And much like Zoro opposing Mihawk, she’s not strong enough yet to beat him. That she’s strong is evident. Her men are surprised that she lost. But just like Zoro wasn’t able to compete with the New World strength of Mihawk, Tashigi wasn’t able to compete with the Grand Line strength of Zoro.

But he lets her live. Much like Mihawk let him live. Though I’m not saying that this is on his mind at all—that’s just an interesting parallel. But why did Zoro not finish her off? Tashigi has her own ideas, as we can see, but for Zoro, well I think there are a few reasons… Most importantly, he’s just not that kind of person. It’s not to say Zoro has never killed before, because who knows? But Tashigi isn’t doing anything to prompt him to kill her. She’s not being an ass to innocent people. Nor is she trying to kill anyone he cares about and her intentions in and of themselves aren’t hateful ones. Besides which, I don’t think for Zoro, being the strongest swordsman means killing. Defeating, yes. But there’s a big difference. I mean, to take an opponent he could have killed, let’s look at Kaku. Kaku was an adversary. Zoro beat him and that was that. They had a kind of mutual respect afterwards.

You can even see some of this respect here. He’s telling her the importance of Wado Ichimonji to him, but also hinting that if she wants to try and take it from him she’ll have to get that much stronger. There’s challenge in his expression.

(And again, I know it’s probably going to be a temptation to compare Zoro’s actions toward Tashigi in Punk Hazard. But all things in good time. XD and likely before I even get to PH, there will be even more to work with )

And then, as far as he’s concerned, the fight is over. It’s interesting because it’s his view of swordsmanship in a way. He believes he’s won and so he’s going ahead…but because this was a match about swordsmanship rather than Marine interference, he seems to assume she’s just going to let him go.

(and also? I love the little detail that they’re right outside a café or restaurant of some sort. You can see the sign just outside. It’s these kinds of little things that makes the world seemed really lived in)

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And here I think it’s important to put Tashigi’s words in perspective. This? Does not come out of a vacuum. This is Tashigi’s experience trying to make it as a swordswoman. We’ve already seen that random thugs underestimate her just because she’s a woman. She feels she has to prove herself and work hard just to be taken seriously. There’s no doubt that Tashigi has struggled to get where she’s been and, moreover, views herself and her place as getting the short end of the stick.

Also, in terms of not expecting Zoro to understand? She’s absolutely right. He can’t understand what it’s like. Yes he can understand how it is to struggle and fight for perfectionism. He does that constantly. But Zoro (regardless of whether it’s a gender thing or a Zoro thing) is always taken seriously and has always been.

So while keeping that and understanding the struggles she has gone through… There are still some things to consider.

While she’s been disrespected by thugs, and who knows who before, she and her strength are very much respected by her subordinates and even the people who witness her fight. Moreover, Smoker respects her, as a Marine and as a person, I’ve no doubt he respects her skills and wishes too. If he didn’t respect them he wouldn’t work with her or treat her as pretty much an apprentice. Tashigi doesn’t seem to see that. And it’s understandable, really. I mean, if an artist posts a picture on tumblr—does it mean more that their friends like it or legions of strangers? Likewise, if the artist gets a thousand notes of praise and a handful of notes of the harshest criticism, which stays with them longer and leaves more of an impact? That of course depends on the artist and their own confidence, but you see what I mean.

(This is an interesting parallel to Kuina, who was looked up to by the kids of the dojo and probably the adults she fought against—but doubted by her own father. Yet Tashigi is looked up to/believed in by the people closest to her and disrespected by thugs who don’t know her strength. Granted we don’t know of Tashigi’s past prior to the Marines so there might be something there, but as for now, it’s still an interesting parallel.)

Also, looking at what she says, she believes that women aren’t physically as powerful as men. This is important because of a few reasons, the most obvious, of course, is that it’s an echo to Kuina… but even more than that.

What this implies is that she believes that she will always be at a disadvantage to a man with more physical strength. However, can women really be strong as a man? This is an interesting article to look at that argues that this idea of strength disparity is a myth. And to pull a quote from it…

“other studies have shown that women significantly underestimate their own strength, compared to men. Because we’re told we’re weaker, we think we have even less strength than we have to begin with.”

This definitely seems to apply to Tashigi and what she believes. (Though to her credit, her dream is strong enough within her that she keeps on going despite believing she’ll inevitably have to work harder). But if she had been born a man, she would be able to compete physically, she believes.

Here this functions almost as an excuse, or at least a way to vent her frustrations on an opponent who (she believes) isn’t taking her seriously or honorably. And she wants to make him understand. But in a way, again, it’s a serious insult to Zoro. Since, basically she’s telling him (to paraphrase a friend of mine) that no matter how hard he trains or how hard he works at becoming a swordsman, it won’t matter because he already has an unfair advantage.

However, it’s fully within her capability to work up to be as strong as Zoro. It’s hard work that begets talent 9 times out of 10, which we will see again and again in One Piece (and the same is true in real life! Even prodigies have to practice) But for Tashigi? Why isn’t she as strong (physically) as Zoro now? Because she has different priorities. She wants to be strong enough to rescue the abused katana, yes. She wants to be recognized for her skills, yes. But she also wants to continue being a Marine. Most of her energies tie into her career. She doesn’t prioritize things the way Zoro does. As far as we’ve seen she doesn’t have the desire to lift weights constantly or butt heads up against impossible challenges just because they are there. I am not trying to say that she’ll never be able to test Zoro’s mettle as a well-matched opponent, but when she does it will be on her terms and in a way that works for her, her lifestyle, and her needs—not this one size fits all ideal of swordsmanship where the best swordsmen are strong men.

(and you know, speaking of strong women, we’ve seen Alvida bash the shit out of a lot of people and is a force to be reckoned with. Yes she was beaten by Luffy but so are a lot of people. She held a bunch of men under her thumb because they were afraid of getting thrashed by her and seemed to have a moderately successful career as a pirate. It’s possible for a woman to kick ass and take names)

Secondly, let’s look at Tashigi being insulted that Zoro didn’t kill her…

It’s kind of tricky to parse this ou … I don’t know if Tashigi really believes that respect for a swordsmans skills =killing them should they lose. (at least not on terms of swordsmen she CAN respect. Like if she were to go up against Momonga, say, she wouldn’t expect to be killed by him and a defeat would be frustrating at most and something to learn from at best)

MOSTLY I think that she thinks that this is the kind of person Zoro is and that this is the kind of swordsmanship he values, because he is a brute and a liar and a pirate etc. That he went easy on her because he sees her only as a woman. That she can’t be a true swordsman to him. This stings doubly because she viewed him as a true opponent. AND her pride was on the line because he’d deceived her. (which, whether he knew she was a Marine or not, he still didn’t let on who he was). But there’s nothing about Zoro that disrespects her right now. We’ve seen him grin at her conviction and the fierceness of her fighting. But Tashigi tends to jump to conclusions with both feet.

I do love though that she is brave and strong enough to speak out. She doesn’t accept this defeat, but actively calls Zoro out on it she’s so pissed.

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And Zoro… is not really dealing with feels all that well. XD I wouldn’t say that Zoro would prefer to be stoic. We’ve seen him smiling and laughing often enough. But Tashigi saying that and looking so much like Kuina… to have to hear that again now… It obviously touches a nerve. A nerve which Zoro isn’t used to being touched. So while we’ve already seen that Zoro’s not very good at getting embarrassed (and he will rage about that too though later on) he’s not good at handling these kinds of feelings. Though he has to confront everything because he’s Zoro. Honestly, for me, I believe he believes what he’s saying in the heat of the moment even if the words popped in his head because of the urge to say something. He’s even stepping in like he’s going to spar with her again his need for confrontation is so strong and to somehow overcome those damned words again.

I love how Tashigi’s just kind of appalled at this outburst. Like it’s one thing to not take her seriously but to accuse her of something like this? I don’t even think she knows how to combat it either but she’s much much better at her words than Zoro is at times like these. Flustered and irritated as she is, she’s got some good shots in here and is actually arguing in a way that makes sense. XD great defense in other words.

And of course, while she’s arguing, the Marines are wondering how to draw her attention to the fact that there should be less arguing and more chasing down of nefarious piratical types. (Or wondering why she’s arguing with him like this. XD take your pick on how to interpret that)

Now we cut to a full page here because…

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Smoker is treating this encounter with gravitas and making a statement of his own. He’s taking seriously that Luffy’s bounty is 30 million and not underestimating his opponent. Though at the same time he’s calm as he faces him down. Smoker has got a ton of confidence and I don’t think he doubts at all in his ability to overcome Luffy. (Even if he expects more of a fight than he gets). Also I want to note this because again, his reaction is far different from the other Marines we’ve seen represented thus far who care only to flaunt their perceived strength or prevent any slight against their character. Smoker’s main concern is preventing Luffy from leaving the island. Why? Because Luffy is a pirate and a bountied pirate at that. It’s also Smoker’s job and part of his personal pride.

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I just love this—These guys already looking out for each other this way. In terms of Sanji and Luffy, this is a marked difference between this and the Baratie where they each had their own fights. Even in a sense different from Arlong Park where they each took on Arlong on their own (however briefly) Here, Sanji is already charging in in order to save Luffy’s butt.

He kicks Smoker in the face, which of course is completely ineffective, and Smoker says he has no time for small fry.

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And of course, Luffy naturally has the same feelings as Sanji. Smoker hurt his nakama so Luffy wants to retaliate. And man, considering we don’t really see Sanji for the rest of this incident, Smoker must have smacked him hard into that wall. I mean obviously I don’t think that the following takes all too long but that Sanji isn’t immediately rushing back into help—it must have knocked the wind out of him at any rate.

But why do I bring up these panels? Other than showing their bond strengthening? This is almost early shades of Kuma right here. Luffy and Sanji’s physical power is pretty strong, but even if they can bench press young whales, it’s not going to be strong enough to even start taking down Smoker. What they need is knowledge, which they don’t have and really have no way of obtaining for a long time. And I really like this. Even though we’ve seen that they are strong, there is still so much that they are completely unprepared for and that will only increase as they go into the Grand Line.

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For Smoker, on the other hand, this is just adding to the mystery that is Luffy, more specifically the reason for Luffy’s bounty. 30M is really freakydeaking high for a first time bounty. I mean it’s higher than Buggy’s and Alvida’s combined. (Which according to the wiki are at 15M and 5M respectively.) And Buggy at least we can say for sure is a long time veteran of pirating. Hell even Don Krieg who was known for being notorious in those waters sits at 17M and it’s even higher than Arlong’s (which is 20M).

So, understandably, Smoker is expecting someone a little more badass

But Luffy is

A) Very much a kid. Especially from Smoker’s POV.
B) Was caught and very nearly executed by pirates who were worth substantially less than him.
And perhaps even…

So, as my friend and resident Smoker expert suggests, Smoker very much suspects something fishy is going on here even if he can’t guess at what.

However, what really drives Smoker crazy in regards to the Luffy mystery?

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Dragon (once again?) coming to the rescue of his little rubber babbu. Though you could perhaps tease out of this that it was Dragon who saved Luffy via lightning strike (or however he procured that) since Smoker is saying Luffy’s luck ran out, Dragon saying perhaps not… implying Dragon is Luffy’s luck. At least in this case.

I love Smoker’s expressions throughout these panels though. He’s a little bit puzzled as he looks down at Luffy, probably again wondering how the hell this runt got that bounty. And then I just—I love the way he looks back like that idek it’s such a nice expression and a good pose. /coff/ And then Smoker’s confusion grows as he sees who it is…

And also? Dragon’s got to have a pretty strong grip. I mean we can’t say for sure that he has the dragon claw ability to crush steel and such like Sabo does, but I like to imagine it’s so. In other words, that jitte ain’t moving until Dragon decides to let it go.

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And I just… really love this shot. So much. There’s such a great feel to it. Also just the little details. I love Smoker’s belt and the laces of his boots. I love the way he’s turned like that just staring up at Dragon while just casually sitting on Luffy’s back. I love how you can see the length of the jitte… And that you really can’t make out Dragon’s face. I love the architecture and the crates and stuff in the background and Luffy’s face mushed into the ground. (and even though his face is mushed into the ground he’s still an active part of what’s going on, question marking at the new voice) And I love the rain and wind. There’s just so much to this picture that’s just so much about what I love of Oda’s style.

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We finally see his face and—well it’s no one we know! (at least if we were first reading) and moreover, Luffy would have no idea who it is either.

But on the other hand, would he? Does he have any memories of Dragon from when he’s really little? I mean he hasn’t actually seen Dragon in canon and though he’s not aware he has a father- that doesn’t mean he hadn’t seen or heard him at least once. Is it possible Dragon’s voice is a little familiar to Luffy? Which—I’m not implying is why he says “who’s there” because Luffy is naturally curious. But it’s an interesting thought.

Also… Man this opens up a bunch of questions, too. No matter what translation you use, that’s a weird statement from Smoker. While we know he knows of Dragon, right here it seems to suggest that he knows Dragon, perhaps even before he was a Revolutionary. You can take it however way you want… But telling Dragon the world is after his head seems to be something Dragon would already know. Even if Smoker knows he knows, it could also be a comment on a change. In other words, you didn’t used to have the World Government after your head but now you do.

And that’s really interesting. How does Smoker know him? Are the theories about Dragon being a Marine once upon a time correct?

OR could it be that Smoker is just wondering what the hell the Most Wanted Man in the World is doing here in Loguetown. What business does he have here? Dragon hasn’t actually done anything (that Smoker knows of) so it would make sense to find out what, if anything, Dragon has planned before Smoker goes rushing in to stop him. Smoker is known, for the most part, to keep a calm head. (except in the face of one rubber brat but we’ll get into that) And then“The world awaits our answer”

What does that mean exactly? Why is Dragon saying it?

It could be indicative of Dragon having faith in Luffy’s ability to shake up the world… even though it’s debatable how much he knows about who Luffy is. You could make an argument for various levels of Dragon following Luffy’s progress. But what we know for now is that he acts that he just found out that Luffy is a pirate and that in all probability he heard Luffy call out that he wants to be King of the Pirates in such a portentous place. So it could be Dragon is excited about Luffy’s potential. Though is it because of that? Because Luffy is a D?

But on the other hand, that has to be only part of it. Because the answer is to the question either: “Whose luck has run out?” or “Has his luck really run out? Which is kind of more complicated to parse, because most of Luffy’s luck in Loguetown seems to be directly created by Dragon. So maybe it’s a kind of subtle question of, do you think he’s really that alone? Or he has more on his side than you can think of?

But on the third hand, what does the ‘our’ mean? Why is Dragon including himself in this question? The “Our” is in all the translations I use so it’s definitely significant... I couldn’t really figure out the answer on my own, so I crowdsourced a bit and I really liked Caps’ take on it.

“I always took "our" to mean both their personal answers (Dragon's and Smoker's) as well as the answers of the organizations they represent - the Revolution and the Marines as in, what choices we make here will influence the world to a massive degree. [In other words] After I do what I want here, how are you going to move?”

I like this idea, even taking it to a more meta textual level of Dragon talking about “our” in terms of the Government and the Revolution. How will our decisions reflect the shaking up of the world? What ripples will we cause?

There’s another avenue to consider that Toralind bought up…

“for some reason in the Spanish version I remember those lines of Dragon actually being more towards Luffy? even the answer part says "tu" aka "your" rather than our”

And while I think it’s possible and certainly worth thinking about, he seems to be talking more to Smoker than Luffy. Also of course, in this case, Luffy doesn’t have an answer to whether his luck has run out because it’s all dependent on Smoker and Dragon right now. If Smoker is right and wins, he’s arrested. If Dragon is right and wins, he goes free. But he can’t make anything happen in this state because fighting Smoker is impossible for him.

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SO—this is interesting. Remember where I said luck was people? I still think 99% of the time that that is true. However, where the hell did the wind come from? Is it luck? Is it fate? Is it someone/something we don’t know about? All of the above? None of the above? I have no idea. Just when you think you can reasonably explain everything a gust of wind blows everything right out the window. The anime shows the sky suddenly becoming green and then blasting everyone to hell for a second before disappearing again but what does that mean? Is that Oda endorsed? Is it natural? Supernatural? Do we need to call in the Winchesters?


Well the point is wind happened and we have no idea why or if there is a why. And it doesn’t really need one. It kind of reminds me of a kamikaze, or divine wind. http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia-history-important-events/kamikaze-divine-winds-saved-japan-001995>storm) It frees Luffy for his nakama to save so that they can continue with their plans and dreams.

Fnally, only with this huge ass wind does Zoro realize a huge storm is coming. You think? But also it’s cool that he realizes it and realizes the consequences of it. Even if he is a little slow on the uptake of it all.

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I love Zoro picking up the still clueless Luffy like so much luggage—a Luffy who has still no idea what’s happening. Which is understandable. He got smushed by Smoker and barely recovered from having Smoker blown off of him and mopping the road with his face before Zoro picked him up mid-haul. (Which I half wonder if that’s where Luffy’s trend of picking up nakama/allies to get them to places quickly stemmed from. XD)

Also Sanji heart farting at Nami’s brilliance. XD U dork.

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Ugh, Dragon is so proud and happy for Luffy here—I can’t /lies on side/

Aside from that, we have Smoker speaking to Dragon again. Now if you’re looking at it from the “he knew Dragon before” angle, is he saying this because it’s something he didn’t expect Dragon to do? I don’t know. It’s possible but the more that I look at it from that angle it seems I’m creating narrative and character motivation where there is no hint one way or the other.

Honestly, I think Smoker is asking Dragon this because he wants to find out what the hell Dragon is up to and what connection he has with Luffy who—even though he has a high starting bounty—is just a kid who is not even all that strong (comparatively speaking) so what is Dragon’s connection to him? What is Dragon’s interest in him? Smoker has to know. It’s bad enough that Luffy smiled on the execution stand but this mysterious connection is what really drives him crazy.

As for Dragon’s reply… it’s a little weird here… and Stephen’s has the same one. Like… I mean…why is he asking Smoker? Smoker would have a dozen reasons for not letting Luffy to set sail.

In this case I prefer the Viz translation which makes a lot more sense… which basically says : What reason would I have for preventing a man from setting sail. (Paraphrasing a little but it’s essentially the same)

Dragon, of course, is wiley. He gives Smoker no more explanation than he wants to…. But it’s an explanation that sounds really plausible. He could just be doing it because, well, he wants to. Which, of course, Smoker doesn’t buy that at all but that doesn’t really matter.

Now we come to a part I really like…

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Just, Usopp’s utter happiness at seeing Luffy again and, moreover, seeing Luffy safe and not executed. Usopp has his Merry, he has his bff/captain, and, for the moment at least, is a happy Usopp. Also Luffy calling to Usopp look at all this rain! Like Usopp can’t see it and it’s just so cute. (I also like it better than the anime where, I can’t remember if they left on purpose or accidentally but Luffy had to rocket them all to the ship. It was more drama, but I like the moment better where Nami and Usopp actually wait, holding on the best they can.) Also Sanji trying to get Nami’s attention. U dork.

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Loguetown is a town where conviction is born.

For Smoker, too much has happened to let it die. Strawhat has a huge bounty for a first timer and smiled knowing he was going to die and escaped execution/capture and has a mysterious connection with Dragon? No. This is too much. A conspiracy is afoot of some kind and Smoker is determined to get to the bottom of it. He is a Hunter with the scent of his quarry and is determined to track it down. Loguetown has ceased to become his priority, which is a little selfish, but there’s something much bigger bubbling up in the wide world beyond.

Tashigi is coming along with him and not because of loyalty, but her own burning conviction to show Roronoa Zoro once and for all how strong she is and assuage her pride at having lost and (in her mind at least) been treated so shamefully. (also I loved the shocked Marine like… what the hell just happened?)

But also? Okay so the legend begins… Luffy’s legend begins yes. We’ve seen that. But Smoker’s legend is beginning here. Tashigi’s legend is beginning here.

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And Smoker, oh Smoker, you’re a frog’s hair from being more pirate than Marine. But I think the reason for this is simple—Luffy is not just any pirate and Smoker doesn’t just think on simple terms of this pirate or that pirate. It’s what Luffy has capability to do. It’s the luck he has. The friends he has. But also I think? The smile. That Smoker can’t just let anyone so much like Roger wander the seas uninhibited. Roger caused a lot of chaos after all, and Luffy with all the weirdness that surrounds him might just do the same.

Also, of course, Smoker does what he wants.

But Smoker has leeway to do what he wants, to an extent. He does have a leash but it’s a long one. Why? Because he’s good at it. He’s not called the White Hunter arbitrarily. (Plus, like, you get the sense that he’ll do it anyway so might as well let him go do it)

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And even Buggy gets a surge of conviction, a jolt of passion to go back to the Grand Line instead of bumming around the East Blue where it’s safe. I love this line of his, but also the line in Viz where he says: “How Nostalgic”. It’s one of the moments where you can really see Buggy as a ruthless pirate of the old school, where there is danger but there is also adventure. Of course we know that he’ll have an interesting time of it but nevertheless he does return to the Grand Line and starts on his trend of falling up, whether or not he wishes to or not. XD (also it kept striking me as weird why his hat abruptly had fuzzy pom poms for tassles but then I realized his hair is frizzy because of electrocution. XD O, Oda)

So but Loguetown is the place where conviction is born, but it’s not a conviction that comes out of nowhere. Right now, of course, all of their conviction to go head out to the Grand Line (or return) is centered around Luffy (or Zoro)—In other words not only does he act like a catalyst for change for his nakama, but for his antagonists as well. This of course puts him again on a parallel to Roger who influenced the conviction of an entire age and is still influencing it, because the strength of his will is not forgotten.

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I like that there’s a lighthouse there for a lot of reasons. Firstly it adds a sense of no one is going in this alone. There are markers to guide the way. But the only thing they can do is get you there…

But the lighthouse also presents a lot of interesting questions. How long has it been standing there? Since Roger’s day? Before? Was it built around the same time as Crocus’ home? Are there lighthouses in all the Blues at this spot? Are the Lighthouses a beacon—or the Guiding Light as Nami says? Or a warning? Regardless, no one wants to enter into the Grand Line unprepared, and even as lackadaisical as the SH crew can be, even they get and need a warning that soon the real test of their mettle will begin.

I also love how Luffy, though aware of the danger in a sense, is still enjoying the ride. XD

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I also like how they look at the light itself… even Usopp who is clinging to the mast because the seas are so dang rough. Sanji just casually sitting on the railing (though it’s difficult to tell if he’s looking at Nami or the light), Nami, just as causally watching it. I love how her pose is kind of relaxed but also eager in a sense. For me at least there is a kind of electrified waiting in that panel that’s just great.

And Nami’s question? That’s also awesome. Even now they have a choice. Though it’s their last choice. Either they go or stay. Granted, I mean, they can also weigh anchor somewhere. Since going in the middle of a storm is kind of crazy. Of course if they had, they’d likely be caught by Smoker and the others because so far consequences have not quite caught up with them. But they will. For now, though, they are still riding high on adrenaline and reaching the first of their great goals.

Also Sanji bringing out the barrel. I don’t think anyone else would have thought of making that kind of symbolic gesture in that way. It seems (and I’ve read somewhere) that it was kind of a sailor tradition, and no one really but Sanji would know about it. But this is another thing Sanji brings, symbolism and celebration—this occasion is a huge accomplishment and so they’re going to mark it and it’s really important that they do.

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Further than that, Sanji brings in context. It’s not just about breaking the barrel but sharing their convictions with pride. And it’s also really cool that Sanji says his dream first without fear that he’s going to be laughed at or teased—because this is not the sort of crew that does that in the face of dreams and convictions. He’s definitely found a home here.

Also Luffy’s growl of determination. XD Like he knows how hard a road he’s set for himself but he’s going to do it, damnit, come hell or high water. It kind of shows that he knows what he’s up against, at least to me, that he isn’t grinning and happy—because he’s not just saying it right here but stating his conviction as hard as he can.

Zoro has easy confidence about his, but I like his grin which is an interesting balance to Luffy’s… this is something he’s going to enjoy every step of the way and there’s no doubt in his mind that he’s going to reach that goal.

Nami’s grinning and open confidence. It’s kind of rare here to see her with such an open expression at this point, but this is her conviction and she isn’t holding back anything. Much like Zoro she’s super excited about this prospect.

Usopp XD it seems he’s a bit fangy there but it’s difficult to tell. Still I love how he has to shout it, because if he doesn’t shout it he won’t get it out even if he does stutter. But much like Nami’s confidence mirrors Zoro’s, Usopp’s statement mirrors Luffy’s. They both know how hard it’s going to be for them (Luffy externally and Usopp internally…well and externally too, those creeps are scary out there) but yet they’re determined to do it.

I even love the way they are standing in the bottom middle panel. It’s such great attention to detail! Sanji is straight up and down (Ha! /coff/) Zoro’s knees are kind of bent but he’s nevertheless got a casual steady posture like balancing on the waves ain’t no big deal. Usopp compensating all over with his leg looped kind of weird and his arms thrown out for balance (but his fists clenched) He’s not quite as used to balancing on the waves as they are. Nami and Luffy in the same pose practically, hands on their hips and all confidence. (and of course, Nami not flashing anyone because it’s the pride of herself as a woman that prevents that from happening)

And then…?

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Off to the Grand Line they go!

And off to the Grand Line we go also, though hopefully in a much shorter time than it took us to get here. XD

But yes, this marks the end of the East Blue Saga. Coming up? We’re going to look at Buggy’s cover story, Coby and Helmeppo’s cover story and then do a brief overview of the East Blue Saga before heading into the Grand Line.

But for now?


Little Frog in A Big Well: We see this theme a lot through the Loguetown Adventure, but it works on so many different levels. Yes, the Strawhats don’t know how unprepared they are for the life that awaits them in the Grand Line. That Loguetown is a Grand Line lite is a taste of what it is they’re going to get/encounter. This is essentially riding the bike for the first time with the training wheels off. Because the thing about the Grand Line? Oh it will present challenges, but not necessarily in their strength. (though it will do that to) but in the ways they think about the world and their place and others place in it. They will get to test their limits physically and mentally and encounter challenges that they can’t just bully their way through. But that is for later.

But also? Tashigi and Smoker are also little frogs in a big well, though for Smoker he’s a much bigger frog. Still, what is a frog compared to a Dragon? There is so much even Smoker doesn’t know despite his age, position and experience. In his case the Grand Line will definitely prove a challenge to him as he peeks under rocks and sees what vermin scurries out of it. For Tashigi, she has more of a Strawhat style trial ahead of her. She thinks she knows what she’s getting into by going up against Zoro but what she will face will test her mettle in more ways that she could have imagined.

I think the only one who isn’t a little frog in a big well insofar as the concept is Buggy. He’s definitely a little frog and the well is definitely huge. But he knows what he’s getting into, more or less. He knows what to expect, more or less. And we’ll see what happens to him and his choices as we encounter him.

And Dragon? Dragon is one of the few who sit at the lip of the well and reach in to stir the water.

Beauty is Power:

Mostly we see that with Alvida here, but it’s true throughout. If you look good, there’s a lot you can get away with. This is true despite gender (and we’ll have other male examples of this down the line) Though beauty is only powerful insofar as people are affected by it. Smoker himself and his marines certainly aren’t heart farting over her, but they have a lot more discipline than that. Luffy isn’t either but he is Luffy and likely wouldn’t heart fart over any beauty unless she was also holding a massive drumstick of meat. Who also isn’t effected? Buggy and his subordinates. Though he works with her well enough it’s obvious that she doesn’t control him by her looks. Neither do their subordinates hearteyes at her… but you can get used to beauty (unless you’re Boa but that’s something completely different) For Alvida , at least, her looks serve as a distraction, though she does also have a physical power all her own.

Birth of Legends

A legend has been born… But note that the legend being born, while all surrounding Luffy, is not due entirely to his conviction. In other words, unlike Roger’s legend which began and ended and is tied up in his immortal last words—Luffy’s may have began with his words and conviction—but that didn’t take him very far. He said he was going to become King of the Pirates and then was still primed to be executed. When did his legend begin? When he was saved by Dragon. When he was pulled away by his nakama. His legend is beginning based around the actions and choices of other people as well as himself and because of who he is as a person.

Likewise, the legend is made up of more than one person. It is not just the Strawhats that contribute (or will contribute) to the legend, but Buggy (and Alvida?) Smoker and Tashigi and Dragon and even those we DIDN’T see, like Barty (and Sabo?). Further his legend has already been set in motion by the ridiculous bounty set by Nezumi.

Though legends are often tied into one person as the dominant figure, there is so much going on behind and around them.

And, you know, it bears taking another look at the legend that is Roger. Yes he’s a forceful personality—but he would have gotten no where if not for others. I say that it’s to the same extent as the involvement of others that Luffy has (though I can’t say that it isn’t either) but without Ray’s boat, he wouldn’t have gotten off the island. Without his crew, he wouldn’t have been as formidable. Even his legend is made up of allies and enemies.


Luffy: Here we see an aspect of Luffy’s character that we don’t see often—but it’s important. Thus far, all we’ve seen him do is win and largely under his own power. All you have to do is free Luffy/wake him up and he will save the day. Here though he failed twice. He couldn’t save himself or do anything to defeat Smoker… potentially unable to save Sanji from being imprisoned. When he gets stuck? He gets really stuck. He’s pretty much helpless without someone to interject for him and save his butt. Of course this is what he has nakama for…. But it’s important to note now how much he relies on them and others to get him out of these rare situations where he can’t free himself. Importantly, too? Once it’s over, he doesn’t think back on it or the implications of it. Luffy, at this stage, always looks forward. Who cares if he was stuck? He’s free now and that’s all that matters.

Also, briefly? Nearly everyone was distracted by something in this adventure that lead to slip-ups and/or fundamentally changed their course. For Luffy, he was distracted by Roger, the story of Roger, the adventure—he was so wrapped up in the feelings of being there where his hero stood that he got caught unawares. This didn’t really alter his course, though—if anything it enhanced it—but it’s worth pointing out how much he was distracted by this, what a story does to him, especially if it’s a strong one. Though it’s not so much the story, of course, as the person who lead it. Because, in a very great way, people effect Luffy as much as he does them—and here is the place where we really start to see it.

Zoro: We see a ton of Zoro’s vulnerability here.

First in his desperation to save Luffy, the person who means the most to him right now. (Which is not to say that if it had been any other of his nakama in that situation, he wouldn’t have been just as desperate) Because right away? After he looks like he’s going to have a heartattack? He’s straight into serious mode, wearing the bandanna and everything. Luffy’s death is a very real concept to him. In other words, he’s not just afraid Luffy’s going to die, he knows Luffy will if he doesn’t get there in time…and I think that’s a testament to how close Zoro lives with death generally speaking… though I think this is also something tied into his fight with Mihawk. Already he knows he’s not as strong as he thinks he is. Already he knows he’s got a long way to go. Essentially, he’s kind of already had his Loguetown.

So while we know Zoro’s vulnerable in regards to worry…. We also see his vulnerability in terms of softer emotions. The nostalgia he feels when looking at Tashigi. It’s debatable whether he sees her and is reacting to her fierceness or because of the nostalgia, though I think it’s a combination of both. It’s rare we see Zoro with an expression like he has – and when something touches him like that? He can’t help but show it.

Finally, how Zoro deals with feels. It’s kind of a silly term—but what I mean is something deep… something that hits so close to home anyone would have trouble dealing with it. In fact, we see throughout the course of the manga, everyone dealing, or trying to deal, or failing to deal with these deep and shifting emotions. But for Zoro, if he can’t physically fight it or get stronger than it, he’s all argleblargle about it and doesn’t know what to do—and it’s just amusing that his first instinct is to fight the hell out of it anyway. (though we’ll definitely see how and if that changes when he sees Tashigi again)

Zoro’s distraction? Swordsmen and swordsmanship. But it’s more than just matching blades. He is distracted by who Tashigi is both as a swordsman and a person. He stopped at a very dangerous time (as they were on the run) in order to fight her. Why? Because he respected her. He didn’t have to fight her as he did. I don’t think he held back much, but he could have certainly blown through her if he chose to. He could have even tatsu maki’d her out of the way. Instead he chooses to fight because she challenges him. Because it’s her pride on the line and so he takes her on because he respects that… So there we have the idea and ideals of swordsmanship and how they are important to ZOro.

But he’s also distracted by Tashgi herself and arguing with her over stupid things because he can’t word what he means to say in a way that she’ll understand. If the wind hadn’t blown everyone down, he probably still would have been arguing with her. Interestingly with her, he’s distracted by her because of who she represents and what she’s not. But we’ll cover that complicated relationship in just a bit.

Sanji: He really doesn’t get much here other than what we’ve seen before and I’ve discussed in the relevant sections… but to sum up, in this Adventure we see him both as a tactician and a romantic (in both senses of the word XD) By which I mean to say, we get to see that he’s a dreamer still, that he likes interesting and unique things that pique his imagination—like a guy riding a lion as a bike. This part of his romanticism puts him in place as one of the hearts of the crew in terms of the spirit and in terms of the dream. He is the one who takes an already significant occasion (heading to the Grand Line finally) and jam packs it with meaning. Not only does the barrel scene give them a sense of ceremony and celebration, but also reinforces their goals, dreams and their bonds as a crew. They are individual, but they are also together, and this cements that idea.

We also see his distraction in the form of his other kind of romance. XD That is to say his women. Women are his distraction and often his downfall. We can see him go from 0 to mellorine in the space of a second, first determined to herd everyone back to the ship as a good tactician does and then ready to wiggle at Tashigi and to the point where he’s ready to interrupt Zoro’s fight. While, like I said, he was likely caught up in the bluster of the moment and the knee-jerk reaction to anyone hurting a woman—there’s also the sense of how Sanji feels about women generally speaking (though mostly here meaning attractive ones within a particular age range), which is to say they are on a pedestal, that he will always be their knight and ready to leap to their defense—whether or not they should wish it. Not that I’m saying he’d go against what they’d wish, but just that he doesn’t really get them individually. Because of his dreamer nature, he sees Tashigi and her gorgeousness and immediately goes to defending her without even knowing who she is. This is even true with Nami in a sense still, though he has a better understanding of who she is as a person and we’ll see him gain the ability to treat women on a more individual level as time passes.

Usopp: I really love what we see of Usopp here. We get to see all kinds of shades of his character and even how he’s grown, but also what parts of his personality he still retains. I love that even though he follows Nami away from the Buggy Pirates, he’s still concerned over saving Luffy. Though he’s not overly concerned even there which shows the amount of trust he puts in Zoro and Sanji’s strength. (and too much trust at this stage, overestimating them in a sense and underestimating himself. Zoro and Sanji couldn’t even get to the stand—but if Buggy had been shot in the nose or eyes by a well placed Pachinko Ball? Who would have saved the day then?) I also love seeing his aggressive relief at Luffy’s return. Showing how much he cares about him as a person. I love how he was really terrified at the prospect of going to the Grand Line in a storm, but rallied himself to join the others around the barrel and to shout his convictions alongside them. Still kind of terrified, yes, but very much part of the group.

As for Usopp’s distraction? Merry. In a sense he fights harder for Merry and quicker for Merry than he does almost anyone else. Merry means that much to him as a part of home, yes, but I don’t think his motivations are entirely due to that. I think even now Usopp views Merry as something special. Not just a ship but their ship. Their home. Also a part of Kaya’s will entrusted to them. I’m not sure if he sees Merry in the sense of nakama just yet—but importantly? He definitely sees Merry as vulnerable. Merry as something that can’t fight back or hide or even defend itself—and in defense of the weakest, that’s where Usopp always shoots first and asks questions later.

Nami: Much like Sanji, Nami is pretty much a continuation of what she has been—Except that she’s much more relaxed and able to relax. What we get to see here is a Nami that is completely free. She can try on fancy clothes and decide not to buy any of them and one way or the other that won’t matter. She can buy all the clothes she wants in fact. She can wear whatever she wants. She doesn’t have to worry about looking over her shoulder or Cocoyashi depending on every last Beri she has. She can afford to splurge and have fun and be herself completely. She can use her skills and knowledge of navigating, not to figure out who to rob or for Arlong’s benefit, but to help the people she cares for her and also continue her own adventure. Nami doesn’t change much here, but she also doesn’t really need to. She’s also not really distracted by anything, because other than shopping, there’s nothing much in Loguetown that holds her interest.

Smoker: Throughout Loguetown, we get basically all about Smoker that we need to know. Because of his looks and his gruff nature, it’s easy to assume he’s going to be an asshole—but he’s not. He is the first Marine we see outside of Morgan’s subordinates who is on the side of justice rather than his own personal gain… at least in terms of glorification/money. Smoker is generally just not someone who is good at being anyone other than he is or speaking any way other than he does. He looks fierce at the little girl who ran into him (because he has a hell of a resting bitch face) but he treats her kindly and gives her money, fully taking the blame for the incident. Though he roars at his subordinates when they annoy him, he respects them and their capabilities. The only people he is really inordinately rude to are pirates (not surprisingly) and his superiors… at least the ones who threaten to curtail his freedom.

Smoker is also very good and efficient at what he does—and I love that it’s a talent that seems to rely on experience and learning rather than a natural gift. He knows the nature of pirates and knows when it’s best to proceed or to let things progress as they are. He knows the nature and layout of Loguetown so he can send his men in advance to guard key areas (and also to intercept Luffy). He knows what a 30 M bounty should be like and he even has a sense of the much broader world with Dragon being the most wanted man in it. (Though we’ve never really seen anyone else react to Dragon so there’s no sense of how much anyone other than Smoker knows about him). But at the same time, while Smoker knows his strengths—he doesn’t take them for granted. He has contingencies in place. “A” will probably work out, but if not, we’ll set up “B”. This shows what’s most important to him more than being right is getting the job done and the goal accomplished—and in the way that causes as little damage as possible.

And still? Despite all his knowledge and skill, there are things even he can’t predict which throws a wrench into his plans. He either didn’t see the storm coming soon enough or it didn’t occur to him what the rain would do to the gunpowder (being otherwise distracted with what was going on). He didn’t know Zoro was part of the Strawhats. He didn’t know Dragon was on the island at all, and definitely didn’t know he would come to save Luffy’s butt…. And he definitely couldn’t predict the freaky wind that loosed all his quarry. Of course, who could? That’s kind of the point of Loguetown being the Grand Line lite. There are so many things you can’t predict no matter how good you are and even the strongest get blown over by things coming out of left field. Also, Smoker’s greatest weakness is the gaps in his knowledge. He knows plenty. You get the sense that he generally has an idea what’s going on—but he only really knows so much as he’s allowed to know—at least here… and he’s missing a few crucial things that so few people know but keep him from solving or understanding the mystery.

As for Smoker’s distraction… well he’s not distracted by much – and we don’t see it much here… but he actually is starting to feel the effects of the push and pull of his ideals. There’s the mystery of Luffy and what the hell that is all about which is a personal Justice, and taking care of the people/island etc which is the professional Justice that he became a Marine for. Even now, as comfortable with himself and his own ideals as he is, he still has to weigh and balance what is more important to him. Here we see it take the form in Loguetown vs. Luffy. He does take the time to make sure Loguetown is secure at first, by netting the Buggy pirates before going after Luffy (though that all goes to hell), but he ultimately does choose Luffy in the end. Why? I think partly because, yes, he doesn’t want to let another Roger run around—but also selfishness. Because he wants to know. He wants to understand. And I think in many ways Loguetown is too small for him and presents no challenge. All he’s doing is picking off innocuous pirates who couldn’t even make it to the Grand Line to begin with. But now he has a reason to go and do what he’s best at. That is, Hunt.

Tashigi: We’ve talked a lot about Tashigi since her arrival. In fact she’s probably got the most word count out of all of them. So there’s not much more here to discuss because what we’re seeing is her very basic character, which even still has been changed by encounters with Zoro. But what is good to discuss in this section is her distraction… Much like Smoker, Tashigi feels the push and pull of duty vs. conviction. Though she’s less able to identify it or think about it rationally than Smoker is. While Smoker can take the time to evaluate and take care of both. (take care of the Buggy pirates first, then Luffy) Tashigi has tunnel vision and once she claps eyes on Zoro and knowing who she is, it’s 100% about him. She’s not there at the capture of the Buggy pirates, she’s waiting for Zoro to fight with him. Her entire life at that moment is centered on fighting him and winning or to literally die trying. She is almost completely consumed by this distraction and obsession. So much so that not even her subordinates can get her attention away. (Though this is just an assumption since we don’t know what happened between their arguing and the wind) This is because she’s myopic, yes, but also because she’s young and inexperienced. She doesn’t really know how to temper herself, nor does she have a great reason to temper herself. She doesn’t know yet what her priorities are. Yes, her men believe in her, but they are competent enough so that she doesn’t have to worry about them. Tashigi needs a challenge, too, but a challenge to her ideals in a way so that she can figure out what they are… and we’ll definitely see that in the future.

Dragon: Who is this guy? Who is he really? What are his goals? Dragon is almost a complete mystery—but I think it’s safe to say that he loves Luffy in his own way. In a way actually Dragon’s actions are very similar to Yasopp’s… as far as we know from what we have here. Yasopp didn’t stay as a father because the pirate flag was calling to him. (+ perhaps other reasons?) Dragon didn’t stay as a father because the world was calling to him for change (+ other reasons?) But that doesn’t mean that he loves Luffy any less. I’m willing to bet, too, that him being at Loguetown was in no way a coincidence. That he was even tracking Luffy’s progress a little. At least since his Wanted Poster, I’d imagine, considering (it seems) that Dragon had no idea he’d be a pirate. He also gives Luffy the freedom to be a pirate. In a way his role here is shoving Luffy further from the nest that is the East Blue out into the wilds of the Grand Line where there will be no stronger power to hold his hand and help him through the tight spots. It’s altogether pretty damn awesome.


Zoro + Tashigi: This is kind of a complicated knot to unpick. Especially on Zoro’s end. I think Tashigi is a lot more straightforward. Though she was able to communicate with him in a friendly way before she knew who he was—once she does know that he was Zoro? Everything he did falls under the assumption that he is a no good very bad person and a pirate at that. So nothing he can say or do afterwards will really convince her otherwise. She’s determined that he’ll disrespect her even as he’s showing her respect—though not respect on her terms. For her, she must take her pride back even though he never really took it to begin with (except in the case of tricking her at the beginning. But he never mocked her for it)

As for Zoro, he has complicated Tashigi feels. I think that he does see her as Kuina, especially when he first meets her and their first fight before she loses. I think that while he did stop to fight her out of respect for her own abilities as Tashigi (because I think he respected her when he first saw her fight those thugs, yet didn’t see her face) that during the fight, he began to see her as Kuina. I can even believe that he was thinking along the lines of this is what Kuina would be if she had grown up and it’s actually like he’s fighting her again after all this time. Like, I’m not saying he ever actually forgot who Tashigi was or replaced her, but that he kind of slipped into that fantasy, and it was kind of all about him.

I think that’s part of why he stepped away after he won. Like, it’s over. I have sparred with Kuina for the last time.

But then Tashigi spoke up and basically, by using Kuina’s line, + more than that, shattered the illusion for him and resolutely became her own person. Because Tashigi and Kuina are much different. Kuina let her insecurities build up and when she spoke of her thoughts, it was out of grief of not being enough, never being enough. Tashigi speaks out of anger and resoluteness and power. She speaks and she speaks and makes damn well sure he knows why and how he insulted her. Tashigi makes her voice heard no matter what. (which is not to say one or the other is better, just that they are who they are) and Zoro doesn’t know how to deal with that. He can’t process Tashigi not Kuina but like Kuina enough so that she says the same things. I mean who could really? I think it was fine so long as they were at a distance. That Zoro could interact with her without really knowing her all that well… but it got unexpectedly personal in a lot of ways and Zoro has never been really good at shifting gears from expected paths, as we’ll see.

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We Are One Piece

February 2017

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