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So the Buggy Cover story is the first cover story of One Piece—but before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about what a cover story actually does.

Oda uses cover stories in a variety of ways. Sometimes to give us a kind of foreshadowing, in the case of CobyMeppo, sometimes to give us a post script about what the characters (usually antagonists but not always) are up to after the encounter with Luffy. Buggy’s in particular serves as a kind of bridging effect, reminding us that he’s still around and making it so it’s not really a shock that he shows up in Loguetown.

We’ll talk about the kinds of cover stories as we encounter them.

So for this bridging story, we see how Buggy survives the trip from Orange Town, how he encounters Alvida and returns to his crew… We’ll discuss the implications of that at the end.
First, though, since of course I’m not going to be using all the pictures, you’ll find them grouped in a handy spot here
Before we get to Buggy, however, let’s take one last look at Orange Town.

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Simply titled Mohji and Cabaji… The title itself is not as important as the fact that we see Orange Town rally to protect the town—because they’ve had it up to here. A town which they can fight for now that there is no longer quite the same threat from the Buggy Ball and the crew is disorganized.

I love how fiercely they’re being chased down and even how you can see the character in Mohji and Cabaji’s faces.

Mohji is just trying to get away as fast as he can. I also love that he’s lugging Richie along. It would be easy to abandon the lion, but they are crew and Richie is partly his pet (and partly an aspect of his identity… it would be hard to be a beast tamer without a beast) so Mohji isn’t going to leave him behind. It shows that he’s an antagonist and an asshole yes but not as bad as you can get and certainly not as villainous as someone like Kuro.

Meanwhile, Cabaji looks freaking resentful at being chased and is still bleeding profusely from Zoro’s cut… Yet he is diligently carrying Buggy’s parts with him. He doesn’t even know if Buggy is alive or not but he doesn’t carelessly leave those parts behind. Of course it could mean that he is afraid of retribution should know one show up with those parts provided Buggy is alive… But I tend to believe it is out of pride of his captain to not want to leave parts of him behind but also a genuine like of him. Buggy, remember, does at least get along with these two and treats them a little better than just peons.

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Now, I don’t want to say here that Oda had any deeper meaning than just something silly happening. An amusing image to start of “Buggy’s Adventure” as this is called…
But I find this very interesting anyway. (Because of course I do)

Firstly, that it is an adventure! It’s very hard to have an adventure if you’re comfortable. After all, what kind of adventure could actually meet Buggy in the East Blue? He was one of the stronger ones (and smart enough not to challenge anyone out of his league) and it’s doubtful the sea held any real surprises for him. But now he is on his own without his crew, and most of his limbs—almost starting afresh—which is a great time to have an adventure of hardships and friendship (and life changings, but we'll get to that)

Here, though, I want to point out something. So he’s chasing a baby bird and it’s really easy to find this villainous behavior—after all, he is coded as an antagonist… But in this situation, marooned as he is, he is hungry and a guy has got to eat something. It could be cruel yes, but also survival.

That being said, let’s look at it from another perspective… If Luffy were in the same situation, he would undoubtedly hunt something down. But here? It’s a baby bird. It’s a testament to Buggy’s character (or at least his character in the East Blue) that he chases after something soft and vulnerable that he’s (marginally) bigger than. Something he can defeat and consume easily.

I love the detail of the chick watching annoyed and disturbed around the edge of the cliff, likely the one who runs off and informs the parental bird. I also love how Buggy just has utensils on them. To quote from El Dorado… Where was he keeping them? Did he find them? Does he have a special knife and fork pocket in his cape? Who knows!

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I love how the bird has a BIGGER knife and fork. Also evidence that Buggy is not the first person this bird has eaten and will not be the last. Also I love the grumpy chicks. There’s such personality in them. The one that is relieved at not being eaten and the one who is still pissed (and a little worried) that Buggy was hunting down their nestmate. But of course Buggy runs from a bigger challenge, fleeing for his life, with no confidence he can actually stand up to the thing. (and it’s quite possible he can’t and would die in the attempt so it’s probably a good decision all around)

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But another thing about Buggy? He may not be a powerhouse like Luffy is, but he’s damn smart and sneaky and he knows it. What are the Buggy Balls after all but great engineering in order to get the upper hand? But one of his biggest downfalls is gloating entirely too early. We saw it in Orange Town, we see it in Loguetown… He is convinced he’s the cleverest there is and so the bird will obviously fall for the trap…

And, mind you, it’s not a bad trap. I mean it’s a little sloppy around the edges perhaps… But the bird is a smart one and knows the terrain and I love its expression… The bird is like really? I’m supposed to fall for this?

Alas for Buggy, the big bird is not fooled.

Buggy is trapped and eaten and immediately spit out at great velocity because there is nothing more disgusting than an unwashed pirate. I don’t really have anything to say about the panel itself so I’ll leave it out, but the expression on the chick’s faces continue to be hilarious and adorable.

Anyway Buggy faceplants hard on Gaimon’s island… and immediately after?

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What happened? I have no idea. Did Buggy threaten to eat one of the animals? Did Gaimon get trigger happy? It’s hard to say but I love the detail of Buggy pulling on Gaimon’s afro to try to get him to stop while at the same time desperately trying to avoid the bullets… But the most important thing to come out of this fight?

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They become friends and have a party and get drunk. There are all sorts of vegetables and fruit here. No meat. Of course there wouldn’t be because all the animals are under Gaimon’s protection… But importantly, Buggy is having a good time. He’s made a connection. A connection he wouldn’t have made if he wasn’t reduced to his current size and vulnerability. Likewise a connection he wouldn’t have made if he’d had his crew with him. But right now? Buggy isn’t so much a pirate or a captain as just Buggy, having a good time and getting sloshed and relating tales most likely.

But we also know that Gaimon, too, is happy. More than that, he’s content. He can sit and make friends with Buggy without worrying about his treasure being stolen. Likewise Buggy doesn’t have to be concerned about any treasure to steal—because there is none… just the treasure of friendship. /dodges hails of bullets/ Though I am completely serious on this point. Had there been money of any kind (or even the dream of it involved) they would never have been able to settle down and have a party.

And that is awesome because it’s not just that Luffy’s decisions leave an impact, but that the impact lingers…

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But this is also really really awesome. The translation is Parting with a Formidable Friend. (or Enemy or Friend/foe depending on which translation you use) It’s a very kind of man’s romance ideal of becoming friends after a well fought fight while respecting the others prowess. But also parting in this case carries the connotation of farewell. Gaimon’s heart is on the island, Buggy’s heart is in the sea, and so they must part—

And Buggy is touched by this. It’s a little silly, yes, but it’s also a bitter sweet moment. Buggy is happy to go but sad to leave. But I think this shows the side of Buggy that we haven’t really seen from other antagonists save Arlong so far, which is this need and appreciation for connection, for friendships—caring about others and being touched by them. We’ve already seen this kind of connection, too, in Mohji and Cabaji carrying Richie and Buggy’s parts respectively. They are bastards and hardcore pirates and selfish but some part of them cares for others— mind you it’s a very narrow band of “others”—but it’s more capacity for caring than Kuro or Morgan or Krieg had. (and even then, it’s not that they don’t have the capacity. We’ll look at Morgan in CobyMeppo… but as for Kuro and Krieg, we’ve already looked at Kuro’s struggles not to care unexpectedly due to his own need for selfishness—And Krieg being absolutely terrified to let anyone see a moment of weakness and yet his crew still caring for him anyway. )

But back to Buggy? I think it’s important to see that he does return to the ocean. He’s after his body parts perhaps, or his crew, but he doesn’t just stay in comfort on the island. Though the raft is practically nothing, he embarks anyway because he want for that life is so strong. He may be a coward in some aspects but he’s remarkably brave in others.

…Even as he is attacked by a giant crab…

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But saved by a passing Alvida who slipped in (ha) and kicked the crab’s carapace. Saved it with a well placed shot, I might add. And obviously plucked Buggy from the sea. The caption calls her a mysterious pirate woman and she really is. What was she doing out here? Was it a coincidence? Where are her crew? Who are you Alvida? Or rather, what have you become? But also note that she saved him. Why did she save him? She looks proud of it… Was it just because she could? Is she confident in her new strength? Is it because she wants information on Luffy and thinks Buggy might be able to provide it? (Does she somehow know they are connected? It has been a little time between her arc and Orange Town after all) Who knows why she saved him but she did take considerable risk going up against the crab and potentially falling in the water herself. Especially as she has no visible crew.

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What I love about this? It’s heavily implied that Alvida drew this picture. This is how she views Luffy. Or at least how she presents him. But I like to think this is how she views him, too. There’s no grinning here. He looks kind of annoyed and could be interpreted as him being a brat or him being that solemn badassness. I think for Alvida, perhaps, it’s a little bit of both. She views him as an upstart, but at the same time he beat her so her pride won’t allow her to have him anywhere below a certain level….

Either way you interpret her art, it’s clear that she’s been looking for him.

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And obviously wanting some kind of revenge on him. Also? This marks our first pirate alliance. XD

But more to the point, I love their expressions here. They are so interesting. Buggy looks relieved that things are finally on the right track. He’s no longer consigned to a raft. He looks happy to be eating a cooked fish and enjoying a Novel rum. Alvida’s expression is a little difficult to parse. Is she looking fond? Slightly annoyed? How does she feel about Buggy exactly? Clearly she didn’t have to enter in this pirate alliance so why did she do it? Does she not trust her own strength against Luffy in her ultimate goal of revenge or marriage? Would she rather stack the deck? Is she just lonely and glad for company? All of the above? None of the above? Who knows.

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And of course here is: As goes the captain, as goes the crew. Buggy’s genuinely seem to be mourning him. Are they? It’s possible, especially from his weaker subordinates (and Pandaman for some reason. He was so upset over Buggy he went to join Krieg. Thus his voyage of sorrow continues). But it’s also possible they are crying for themselves. What are they going to do without a strong Captain? Emphasis on strong? Even Mohji and Cabaji seem to be mourning him…though there seems to be a lot of face hiding from them and a curious lack of visible tears. Though with Mohji, it’s difficult to tell if the wet is coming partly from him or only from Richie… (Who also seems to be genuinely mourning. There’s not even a little food bubble to say otherwise)

The point is that Buggy has been known to be sentimental (crying at Roger’s execution) and has been known even more so to fake it in order to convince others. The latter mostly applies to Richie and Mohji. If they don’t fake mourning (if they are indeed, faking) would Buggy’s subordinates so easily follow them? Is it possible, even, that they’d become suspicious? Who can say. It’s certainly possible that these two are hedging their bets.

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But here we see the chief difference between the Strawhats and the Buggy Pirates… And the difference is pretty obvious, really. We wouldn’t be seeing this if the same thing happened with Luffy. (which we won’t dwell on) But the Buggy Pirates are at their core, career pirates and self serving. Buggy is gone and they pay him respect (or make a show of it) but then get right down to the business of next in line.

And even though this seems pretty callus, it’s still a testament to them being—well, not as bad as they could have been. Yes, they are fighting over who gets to lead but there isn’t a sense that there’s going to be cheating or foul play or anything like that. It’s basically an honest fight with the winner being who knocks out the loser basically… or the strongest.
Also I kind of wonder what is up with Richie? Why is he hiding half behind a tree and looking kind of anxious? He’s the only one with sweat drops. Hmm. I don’t know if there’s really a reason or an important reason but it’s a nice bit of characterization. I like how everyone is a shade different, too as they cheer on the fight.

Unfortunately, Cabaji and Mohji are so evenly matched that many hours later they are still duking it out, nearing the point of exhaustion. And then?

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Whacked by a sleep-walking Richie who doesn’t even know what he’s doing. I love how the owl looks so done with this shit. XD and their stalwart crew has given up watching the fight too and has just camped out around them. I wonder who the tent is for. The winner? Is anyone in it? I’m pretty sure it’s Buggy’s and the rest of them usually sleep outside. But who knows… In any case, Richie ultimately wins because strongest mean knocking out the opponent.

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Again, Richie what he’s doing, nor had any real intention of becoming captain in the first place (though he seems to be willing to give it go). Which…yeah, it’s pretty damn silly, but also kind of indicative of strength not being everything and that there’s more to any situation than meets the eye. I don’t think it was intentional really like, Oda’s not sitting down and being like, I’mna make this a theme! But it’s really interesting.

Also really interesting is how easily lead Buggy’s crew is to even the hint of strength. All they know is Richie appeared to have beaten the crap out of Cabaji and Mohji and nothing else—Though nothing else matters. They are willing to follow a freaking lion whole heartedly. (and end up getting almost eaten for their troubles.) It really mimics Buggy’s later crew consisting of Impel Down criminals, except in this case he’s definitely vastly stronger than his subordinates and in that case he has to pretend to be for his life.

(and I do think it’s kind of cute that Richie dreams of being a hero. I mean he has a cape, after all, what else could he be?)

But the short lived Richie Pirates are trounced by some hungry natives and they are in a bit of a sticky situation until Buggy comes to the rescue. It’s pretty straightforward, though, so not much to cover. There’s not much to discuss in it that we haven’t already talked about. Though it’s great to watch Buggy kicking butt and it’s pretty funny all told.

But I will include Buggy’s triumphant return! Because this is One Piece!

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I love how he’s smashing his own grave—I bet it probably gives him the willies. XD Also kind of getting rid of bad luck in a way? Because who wants your own grave around if you’re still alive. I love how the crew is legitimately celebrating his return.

…Though Mohji and Cabaji seem a little less than enthusiastic… It really seems to be the case that they’re pretty not happy at Buggy being alive (and relimbed) but inasmuch as Buggy doesn’t directly attack them, they don’t want to get on his bad side either. (nor the bad side of the crew who seem happy about his return)

So ultimately, what does this cover story tell us about Buggy? In and of itself, not too much. In order to get a fuller picture we have to pull a bit from the past and from the future…which I will cover as I go along. But a little bit here as well to frame this cover story a little bit better.


Is a selfserving Bully: He will freely go after things that he thinks are weaker than he is and almost always has selfish motives. (interestingly this kind of mirrors Usopp who would also gladly fight opponents he thinks are weaker than he is, but his motivations, of course, are completely different) Sometimes this self-serving bullying is understandable—going after the bird for sustenance, for instance. But then sometimes he shows up and destroys a small town just for the hell of it and to prove that he can.

has a tendency to underestimate his opponents especially if he thinks they are weaker than him physically or mentally. He assumes their weakness based on various factors, being from the East Blue or young, in Luffy’s case—(though he didn’t say as much really. I’m just extrapolating and, as always, open for debate) or a bird. This usually always gets his ass kicked in the end…that is until he starts falling up, but we’ll certainly get there when we get there.

Does have the capacity to be friends/friendly He certainly is with Alvida upon first meeting. She did save him after all. And eventually he is with Gaimon. So why is this? Well I have a theory which we will look at as we go on—Buggy is increasingly friendly/good natured toward people who are on par with him or stronger. Naturally, Alvida is an ally. But she has just as much fortitude, confidence and strength as he does. So they get along—rather well it seems! Having a common enemy that they both want to destroy for pricking their pride doesn’t hurt either.

(I’m not entirely sure if this would be the case before she got the Slip Slip fruit because she would demand respect from him in terms of telling her she’s beautiful and he wouldn’t stand for that. Also a lot harder to dodge daggers when they don’t just slip off your flesh. In any case, Buggy wouldn’t appreciate being told what to do.)

So if that’s the case, why is he friends with Gaimon? Well they fought in a sense and came to a draw. At least we can assume such as they are rivals. At the time they were on par with strength, Buggy being a lot shorter than he was used to probably helping matters. Also I think it’s kind of a pirate’s hospitality. How can you not be friends (or at least have a sentimental parting) with someone who shares their food?

is very damn brave when it comes to it. Buggy may not be about to put his life on the line or be as hardcore as most of the others major players we meet in the series, but he’s still a pirate at heart and will follow his conviction—even if that means setting out on a raft all by himself. We see that even that was a poor decision that he was fortunately saved from. And what was his conviction?

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Luffy. XD or wishing to kill Luffy anyway. I just love this because he’s talking about his adventure like a fantastic thing in a way. Like it’s kind of a man’s romance and touching on the spirit of pirates in One Piece. Honestly I don’t have too much to say about it except for appreciating his flair and it’s an excellent culmination of his cover story.

And speaking of Cover Stories, what did this particular one do aside from explaining Buggy’s move from point A to point B, and giving him a little silly characterization along the way?
Well for one thing it really humanizes him. In Orange Town, really all we could see was Buggy’s personality in the context of the antagonist and the enemy of the town and Luffy. And he’s no great shakes outside of it, but we see (and reinforce the idea) that he has the capacity to be. That he’s not just a simple one bit villain but someone just a little more complex. We’ll definitely see this concept explored deeper with other cover stories and groups, but for now, Buggy’s Cover Story comes to an end.
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