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The Diary of CobyMeppo, like the Buggy Cover Story, also works as a bridge, moving and explaining Coby and Helmeppo’s move from point A to a very very distant and a few hundred chapters point B. But as the bridge aspect isn’t as important, we’ll forgo discussing it for now. What is important, however, is the exploration of Coby’s character, Helmeppo’s character, and understanding a little more about the Marines internally and externally.

Again, if you want to see all the pages without the hassle, get thee hence to the wiki.

It starts off with Coby diligently sweeping and Helmeppo slacking off a bit, getting caught smoking on the job. But we’ll skip that one and go to the second part.

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Coby is working diligently on what must truly be disgusting and smelly underwear judging by Helmeppo’s expression—and Helmeppo looks less than pleased (as some Marines seem to tease them in the background—but in a friendly way) These are not only chores but menial ones. Here it’s easy to say that Coby is diligent while Helmeppo is a lazy ass, or at least a sullen one—and maybe that’s true. But it’s also true that Coby has more motivation for being here. Coby’s dream is to be a Marine and to help people. This is his one shot and he’s happy to work as hard as he can.

Helmeppo went from a life of having anything he wanted to being reduced to this. To actually have to work at being a Marine (that he probably only became due to Morgan’s influence—both as a Marine and as a father) He’s kind of trapped in this life after all. Where else can he go? There’s no evidence of a mother and if Helmeppo know of a better place you can bet he’d be there. But right now he just seems stuck and unhappy.

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Really unhappy. XD And he has no outlet other than to try to practice voodoo on the person he feels is responsible for taking his life away, which in many senses of the word, Luffy has. Did Helmeppo have it coming? Well yes he did. I mean granted a lot of his personality was due to be being spoiled by Morgan’s influence, but he’s at the age where he knows right from wrong and choices matter. Setting a dog on a little girl? Not a good choice. But also much of his predicament is due to the choices and actions of his father. Not even a minor character’s decisions rest in a vacuum and here Helmeppo is suffering for it. (Or at least Helmeppo considers it suffering… since, actually he probably got off pretty lightly all things considered)

Interestingly, too, he’s hanging out with Coby. Why? Well I think pretty much Coby is the only one he can hang out with. I don’t think any of the Marines of his age would want to, let alone the townspeople that he helped terrorize. Though hanging out because of a lack of anyone else to hang out with mixed with the need not to be lonely is in and of itself a great basis for the beginning of a friendship. Right?

Also important? Rika is there. With onigiri and cups for both of them. Though it has to be said that Coby’s basket is much bigger. XD Still she’s a forgiving sort and doesn’t let Helmeppo go hungry despite the fact that he set a dog on her.

And it’s just a really peaceful scene, man on doll violence notwithstanding. It really has an aura of peace around it.

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Another peaceful scene. I like how even though they are choreboys they aren’t kept isolated from the others. Though whether they actually have beds is another question—But I don’t think the Marines would be cruel even to Helmeppo. Here of course we see Coby’s dedication as he studies well into the night in order to keep up. But he looks pretty happy and content to do so. There’s really no struggle in him. Again this is what he’s wanted to do all his life. For Helmeppo on the other hand? Not so much. He’d rather sleep, thank you. Though that he sleeps close to where Coby is working is kind of cute. Of course it can be a set up of this is just where Helmeppo sleeps, but I can also see him sticking close to Coby because of not wanting to stick close to the other Marines.

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This is pretty sad really and super tense. I think everyone is a little afraid of Morgan still—but I also wonder if there is a little guilt there. After all, bad captain or not, they still followed his orders. Is there anyone thinking that maybe he shouldn’t be the only one in chains? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way it’s worth thinking about.
It’s obvious though that they are terrified of him and his strength, as well or unearned as that might be. Not only is he barefoot but he is weighted down. He is not running anywhere anytime soon and they’re going to make certain of it.

Sadly, though Helmeppo is terrified of him. This is his father and yet Helmeppo is sure the man’s going to hurt him or worse. This really kind of introduces the idea that even if someone has parents that doesn’t make them good parents. Or make their kids much better off than orphans.

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But even though Helmeppo is terrified of Morgan, he doesn’t want him to die. He looks legitimately broken up over the idea that Morgan may just be executed. Some part of him still loves Morgan... which I think is sad but also shows the gentler side to Helmeppo’s nature, but more importantly humanizes him. He seems like just a kid struggling with the thought of his Father dying… and the thing is? He’s kind of powerless to do anything about it. Nor does he try to do anything about it. I think that’s pretty realistic. There is a lot against him and Helmeppo has no power of his own.

Also Coby… Coby is less sympathetic and more empathetic to Helmeppo’s situation. He’s not just feeling sorry for him, in other words, but in tune with Helmeppo’s emotions of fear and worry and grief and seems to feel them right alongside him. This is kind of great foreshadowing to Coby’s future haki—but also tells us more about him. That he can and does feel these things. That he knows how to listen to people outside of himself and be concerned with problems that don’t affect him personally.

On a worldbuilding side of things—it almost seems that Helmeppo isn’t sure if Morgan will be executed or not. Though it’s interesting that that is the conclusion he jumps to. Is it true? I don’t know. Certainly the Marines don’t fail to execute prisoners when they feel they need to. Morgan’s execution, since he’s a Marine himself, could prove advantageous or disadvantageous for HQ depending on how it’s received. I wonder, though, if Helmeppo is guessing that not so much of his knowledge of Marine practice, but Morgan’s own tendencies to execute those who betray him. (Or order them to kill themselves at any rate) And Morgan really did betray the Marine ideal.

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This, too, is interesting. Everyone is kind of nervous about Garp’s arrival. But Helmeppo seems super nervous about it. I wonder if this is because he’s afraid of him and what Garp means for Morgan. Or because he’s meeting someone who outranks his father and if his father is terrifying, how much more will a Vice Admiral be?

Now, as for Garp himself, we can see his personality in his ship. Marines sail under one flag. The unified flag of the Marines. But the figurehead, at least, provides individuality. To use a concept from Fullmetal Alchemist, this can be implied that Garp is a dog of the military. From what we’ve seen of him I’d say this was true. He is loyal to the Marines even when it’s supremely difficult for him to be so. We’ll get into that as we come to it—but for right now, we can take that as true. But, and here’s a key point. He’s a dog of the military—but he’s a sated dog of the military. The ship has a bone in its mouth. It’s not revealing teeth or snarling. It’s just nomming on a bone with its tongue hanging out. It’s silly and almost approachable. But sated or not, the designs around the dog’s head and the spiked collar says that it is still not a dog to be messed with. It might be a contented guard dog for now but will protect what is important to it.

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Again, all the sads. Helmeppo is reaching for Morgan and crying. I don’t know what he ultimately intends to do, but he’s being held back by Coby who doesn’t want Helmeppo to get hurt or otherwise throw his life away by messing with Garp (or Morgan). I also like the other Marine holding him back. He doesn’t look too happy about it. Like they both get why Helmeppo’s upset but they can’t allow him to be stupid.

Meanwhile Garp seems to be observing Morgan… but is most likely asleep. Which is why I think Morgan takes advantage of the situation and attacks him in the next page. Also why were they dumb enough to chain Morgan’s AX HAND in front of him? Unless they didn’t think he’d even have the audacity to attack a Vice Admiral of Garp’s caliber.

(Also Garp cuts a nice figure in that uniform but I will forever hate that stupid hat. XD)
Anyway, Morgan does attack Garp and Bogart (the one in the hat) grabs his katana preparing to fight but…

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Morgan takes Helmeppo hostage. Even though it doesn’t seem as if he actually intends to kill him (which means in a way he’s not completely irredeemable) Helmeppo is still terrified of him and probably believing he does. Which is, again, super sad if you think about it. Helmeppo cares enough about Morgan to not want him to die and actually to be upset at the thought of him being executed—but doesn’t believe that Morgan cares enough about him not to kill him.

(Though I do wonder how many of these Marines are from the base. The new commander and maybe his subordinate it seems, but are the others manning that particular ship?)

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And this little cover story gets even more depressing. XD Helmeppo has no desire to be here at all. It’s also kind of awful that Morgan is preventing him from leaving—which is smart… but at the same time appears to be gloating. It really looks like he’s saying the equivalent of “so long, suckers”… When really there was nothing clever about what he did. But that is part of Morgan’s character in a way. Rather than truly earning anything with his own greatness, he’s given advantage of certain situations. Since, remember, the only reason he became Captain of the base was because Kuro allowed him to believe that he was the one that captured him. Likewise with Helmeppo—granted with anyone it would be a struggle—but Helmeppo is already predisposed to be afraid of him. More than that, he is more likely to come in handy in the future for Morgan.

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And yet, as much as they gave Morgan food and supplies and a ship—Morgan is not entirely in the clear. So why did they give it to him if they were only going to blast him out of the water? Well, I think it represents a kind of dynamic in the Marine forces at present. They feel they have to get Morgan. They can’t allow a traitor or someone that needs to be punished escape. That will be bad for the world view and perhaps internally as well. Yet, I feel like—this way at least Helmeppo has a chance of survival. Like they’re not going to let him get his throat cut which would mean certain death (since I don’t know if Bogart even knows Morgan’s and Helmeppo’s relationship) instead they’re going to give him a fifty-fifty shot of surviving the blast.

Though the sad part? Helmeppo is calling for help. But the Marines have no more help to give him.

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And Coby takes a stand in a move just as ballsy as confronting Akainu. Here it’s even moreso because he’s barely in the Marines as it is. But he’s putting his life and his dream on the line to save Helmeppo. He’s terrified and shaking but damn well doing it anyway. All for the sake of his friend. It’s a testament to Coby’s character, too, because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. While he might be hesitant to stand up for and believe in himself, he will stand up for, believe in, and protect others. And if you further consider that Helmeppo almost shot him once upon a time (though you can debate on whether or not he’d’ve followed through with it) and afterwards was only reluctantly a choreboy and probably not a huge help to Coby (or at least someone that complained a lot) it really says a lot about Coby’s patience and understanding.

But on a deeper level here, we see a peek at the injustice of the Marines. They’re willing to risk an innocent life to kill a not so innocent one. And what would Morgan really do to them? What could Morgan really do to them? I don’t think much. But perhaps it’s more of a pride thing. Whatever it really is—this is the same group of people who would level an island in responding to a Buster Call, even if it is against fellow Marines. Even if the call itself is because of someone’s absolute stupidity.

We’ll get into that more as it comes—but what is Coby’s role? The same it becomes later. He’s standing up not only for the sake of Helmeppo, but for the sake of justice. As he told Zoro, there is a certain kind of Marine he wants to be… or rather, he knows who he doesn’t want to be. He is not going to be the kind of Marine to stand idly by when the life of someone innocent is on the line, or the life of a friend. Additionally he is not going to risk their life in order to get at whatever miscreant endangered them in the first place. That is Coby’s justice.

As for Helmeppo, it’s difficult to say whether or not he can hear what Coby is saying… (though people can hear over incredible distances in OP XD) But he can definitely see this and realizes what Coby is doing. Moreover I think it’s safe to say that Helmeppo knows what it means to Coby. This is actually a really similar parallel to Zoro and Luffy. Luffy did something for Zoro just because he was mad for Zoro’s sake, without (really) asking for a return. Here, Coby is sacrificing a lot for Helmeppo’s sake just because Helmeppo is a friend. Just because he cares. And there is nothing Helmeppo has done to deserve it and nothing that he has to repay. Coby does it because they are friends—and in a way become I think a sort of family.

Unfortunately, Coby is not near strong enough to get his way. Just firing pistols into the air is not going to do enough. Bogart cuts his pistols to pieces and Coby can do nothing to stop him.

Then Garp wakes up.

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I love his punch of love to the cannon. XD and damn if he doesn’t have a punch like a pistol himself! More like an elephant gun, really, and he doesn’t even have a DF. Way to go, jiijii. Though that was probably a fairly expensive cannon so I can’t imagine anyone too happy with him denting it. But Garp does. Why? Well we know he was asleep…. And it’s hard to know just what of the situation he managed to put together upon waking—But I think he at least saw Coby trying to stop something by standing in front of the cannon and acting out of desperation. Maybe Garp knew what was going on, maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just punched the cannon to figure out what was going on so to buy a little more time and not allow a hasty decision.

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And here we have Helmeppo’s turning point. We don’t know what he’s saying to Morgan but we can definitely tell he’s taking a stand. And it’s a really hard stand to take. Not only is he terrified of Morgan, he also cares for him. He’s standing up to his only (that we’ve seen) legitimate family and that is hard for anyone. But Helmeppo isn’t going to just go along with him. He is going to make his own decisions and not be intimidated into them. Though I do kind of wonder what he’s saying here exactly. Is he telling Morgan how he feels? What he’s going to do? I feel like the anime expanded on this nicely and I might come back to it at a later date, but I can’t really look to it for canon… so for now it’s just kind of guess work.

Ultimately what he says doesn’t matter. It’s what he does. Because when you think about it, Helmeppo is one of the first reformed antagonists that we’ve come across. When we first met him, he could barely stand up to Morgan—and yet now he is. Why? For two reasons primarily.

1) This is one of the first times where you see this theme of, in order to change you must be broken first. In other words, Helmeppo has had everything taken away from him. His position and sense of entitlement that Luffy (and in a sense Morgan) took from him, the idea that his father cared for him—and even now he’s having this life taken from him. He doesn’t really like it and yet he endures because it offers scant protection and it isn’t lonely. He’s had everything removed and he has had enough. He finds the courage to stand up for his conviction even in the face of Morgan who is probably even more dangerous than when he was under the leash of the Marines (flimsy though that was)

2) Because he’s not alone. Because Coby is standing up for him. Because Coby cares enough for him that he be safe – even to the extent of throwing away his own dreams. Helmeppo’s not going to throw away any dream he might have and serve his father who doesn’t even care for him—who even deemed him not worth caring about. But Coby thinks he is worth caring about and so Helmeppo will take some initiative and care about himself.
It’s interesting too that Morgan is pissed—but isn’t going after him. He’s threatened if not outright hurt people who said less. But I think Morgan ultimately doesn’t want to kill Helmeppo or even hurt him very much. I think in some small way Morgan cares about him, too. Because, though we don’t know how Helmeppo got off the ship (whether Morgan let him go or he escaped) you could make an argument that Morgan let him have his way by letting him go. Though that is entirely up to the realm of headcanon (or anime canon if you prefer)

At any rate, Helmeppo swims back to the ship...

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First of all, I love that it’s evident how freaking hard a swim it was. Helmeppo had to work to get back to the ship. He’s emotionally and physically exhausted. More to the point, he worked hard to get back to a life that was at least physically exhausting that, prior to this, he wanted no part in. But he did it.

I also love the tension. No one is happy with this situation, but they’re not necessarily angry either. There are consequences to be paid and they are unsure of what they are. Nevertheless they let Helmeppo onto the ship. Coby wants to go toward him but at the same time is being held back… or is he just being restrained because of his foolish actions.
Also Garp and Bogart standing there judgemental… Of course you can only see Bogart’s expression which seems fierce—and given that it was him that gave the order to fire, as well as cut the pistols into ribbons—you get the feeling he’s a little more hardassed than Garp.

As for Garp—it’s difficult to say what he’s feeling now—though possibly, much like Luffy, is watching the situation unfold until he’s sure what part he wants to take in it.

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This apology, I think, is a very Japanese thing. But it’s interesting when you think about what everyone is apologizing for. I mean it’s hard to tell for certain obviously. But I am inclined to think that the Marines are apologizing for Coby’s actions (because he was under their care) but also the actions of Morgan, their one time commander. They were the ones who followed his orders and almost allowed him to do as he pleased which lead to this mess. It’s mostly headcanon, of course, but the way they are standing seems almost shamed.

Coby is probably apologizing for what he did. Though I don’t think he regrets a second of it, he still realizes and recognizes it as the wrong thing to do. Though it’s a little more complex than that, I think. Also tied perhaps into the same reason that Helmeppo is apologizing. After all, what did he do but get captured?

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But I think that’s the point. Here, the caption is… “We Are Worthless”. But who is worthless? Who is “we”? I think all of them feel this way really but let’s focus on Coby and Helmeppo.
Coby is worthless as a Marine, he thinks, because he chose to help a friend. He directly interfered. Even though he does not want to be that kind of Marine, he also doesn’t want to be the one who disobeys and lets prisoners escape to run amuck. But at that time he had no power to stop it other than to do what he did. In essence, he wasn’t strong enough to act otherwise. And I think we’re really starting to see Coby’s own push and pull of Justice. What is Justice? What is right?

For Helmeppo it’s a bit more nebulous and there is more guesswork involved. For me, I think he’s also feeling worthless because he wasn’t strong enough to keep himself from being kidnapped. For putting Coby’s dream on the line. For putting himself on the line. I don’t think he’s reached the point of wanting any particular Justice just yet, only starting, I think, to reach out to others and realize there are others to reach out to! But I think what is born in him is a desire to be a Marine. Why? Well I can’t say for sure. But for right now my theory is because he wants to be with Coby. Friends are a powerful influence.

Following this is a really great moment of tension while they wait for Garp to speak…and then, the verdict.

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So why does Garp take them under his wing?

Well I think he certainly admires their courage and Coby’s persistence to do the right thing in following his convictions, even if it meant getting into serious trouble.

I also wonder if he’s taking responsibility for their welfare because he believes that he’s partly at fault for their trouble to begin with. The cover story page for chapter 104 is even titled Vice Admiral Garp’s negligence. Though I personally headcanon that he’s narcoleptic to a degree (because he couldn’t really help falling asleep), because he was the one in charge, it’s still his responsibility. Not that he’s required or even expected to do anything for them…

…but tied into this I wonder if he didn’t step up… would they even have a future? Helmeppo might be able to squeak by, though having a father like Morgan would certainly put a stain on his career and I don’t think he’d have the wherewithal to rise above it. (Esp considering he doesn’t seem to have a well developed sense of justice outside of himself yet). As for Coby, I don’t think he’d recover. If he wasn’t drummed out of the Marines, he would at least suffer a stiff penalty which might make promotion difficult. (Not to mention on top of this difficulty, Coby is already known to associate with Luffy and if his association with Alvida came out he might suffer even greater. )

Regardless of Garp’s reasons why—he’s granting them a great privilege and a chance to become something much more (and much quicker) than they could hope to achieve where they are.
So they go to Garp’s headquarters and we see a turnaround of Helmeppo’s nature. Not only is he willingly doing chores…

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He’s throwing himself into this, giving up sleeping to train and work hard to be a Marine. Is he doing it to take every advantage of this opportunity? Maybe. But it’s my personal headcanon that he’s working to keep up with Coby. Not that he doesn’t want to be a Marine because I believe he does and he has his own pride in it—but also so he won’t lag behind and be able to stay beside his friend.

I love that we’re already starting to see a different side to Coby. He’s not just the nervous boy with glasses who is doing his best, the image we’re shown here is that he’s beginning to transition into manhood. Though that could just be because he looks a little badass here. But even still that’s a step for Coby. And yet? Badass or not, the glasses are still there. He’s not wearing them now but it’s part of Coby that will never change.

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To briefly touch on Garp for a moment, I think that he’s already proud that they’re trying so hard despite being repeatedly hammered by Bogart. They are simply not giving up. But I sort of wonder if it reminds him of Luffy and Ace. Helmeppo and Coby aren’t as strong but they’re still damn persistent… And I kind of wonder if this is kind of like a second chance for Garp in a way. Like I don’t ever think he’d ever have the same amount of feeling for Coby and Helmeppo as he does for his grandsons… but here he is giving two kids (roughly their age) a chance to become the kind of Marines he’d always envisioned. I can’t say that that’s true or not because we see remarkably little of Garp’s interaction with them… but I sort of headcanon that anyway.

Now before we leave, two more scenes worth thinking about.

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I enjoy this panel because it contextualizes Coby and Helmeppo as people as well as Marines. In other words they left an impact. Coby’s friendship left an impact on Rika who doesn’t care that they will be fancy Marines (as her mother seems to be saying) she just wants her friends back! But this follows in the tradition that most of the Strawhats have people that they leave behind to follow their journey. Even Zoro has Koshiro and the swordshop owner. I think this is an important idea—that nearly everyone has another life outside of what their label is. (Pirate, Marine etc) and as we come across others we’ll see what those lives are and who or what they leave behind.

Naturally I also love the tiny plants symbolizing Coby and Helmeppo. XD They are small still and fragile but they are still growing.

Finally I want to leave with this…

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Morgan alone… it’s very interesting considering how ‘being alone’ is generally portrayed in One Piece. It’s a hard thing to be – though not unbearable depending on who you are. Mihawk seems to fare well for example, but even he needs to stop and visit Shanks once in a while. As for Morgan… well he’s completely alone. So far we’ve seen him in the company of people who look out for his welfare (however reluctantly) but now there is no one…

Combine the words with the picture itself and we seem to get an even fuller idea of Morgan’s character. His body is facing forward, but his head is facing toward the gulls. We’ve seen gulls represent people before, and I think here that they are representing Morgan and Helmeppo, parting ways and flying off in different directions. Yet, even as Morgan is facing the gulls, he seems to be looking away from them at the same time. Like some part of this is painful for him but he is GREAT and is strong enough to overcome this and so he shall. No weak sentiments here.

But also? There’s another symbol here which I love. Morgan essentially has nothing now. He doesn’t have his position (neither the one he might have earned nor the one that Kuro ‘gave him’), he doesn’t have subordinates—and he doesn’t even have family. What does he have? A ship and a barrel. Freedom. Potential. What will he make of it? Whatever he can. He has a fresh new start. Though one that’s inherently more dangerous than the one he left.

So now let’s look at what we’ve learned and seen from this cover story.

We actually have a new theme here, which is Fresh Beginnings. But since it’s all tied in together, we’re going to interweave the theme through discussion of character.
So while the Cover Story is titled The Diary of CobyMeppo, it’s Helmeppo who undergoes the most significant character change. He is the one that gets the most significant “Fresh Beginning”, and, in fact, gets two.

But it’s important to note that the first “Fresh Beginning” was not given to him. He was not handed a new start on life. Rather, he was given the space to breathe to make a choice. So he makes the choice, going toward a friendship that was created rather than staying with his father who is supposed to love him out of familial obligation if nothing else. He might be a spoiled apple from a rotten tree but he doesn’t have to stay that way and chooses to change. But what’s interesting, too, is that his choice is not to go back to a necessarily better life. Yes, Coby might be a better friend than Morgan, but Coby is in deep shit and as far as Helmeppo knows he is also in deep shit. But he would rather stay by Coby’s side and face the music than to go freely with Morgan.

Speaking from a character standpoint. Helmeppo was a bit of a rotten fruit, but even from the beginning you could see that he had some empathy for people even if it was very small. He doesn’t agree that Morgan has to go to such brutal lengths. (Even though he was a huge ass himself). But even after he is concerned for Morgan’s wellbeing and upset about his potential fate—even though Helmeppo has nothing to lose by his possible execution. He has a seed of compassion in him, even if it’s small. I believe it’s because he’s so spoiled he doesn’t know how to look outside of himself yet. (Though he’s starting to learn how)

Coby changes the least here. What we really see is an extension of his personality. Essentially he’s getting more hardcore. He was dedicated to his studies before Garp gave him the opportunity, then becomes super dedicated in mental and physical spheres. (since Coby is certainly lacking in physical). He’s always been protective, standing up for what’s right. (Even with Alvida he tried to warn Luffy off rather than letting him fall victim to her) Now he’s really putting his life on the line. (Taking influence from Luffy no doubt) for what matters to him even more than being a Marine—which in this case is friendship—but broadly speaking protecting the innocent, the weak, the ones who just happen to be in the way. Coby cares about justice for the people first and his own precious ambition second.

And though Coby may be weak in terms of physical strength, his sense of compassion is very strong. He cares for Helmeppo’s well being even when Helmeppo was being a bit of an asscake. Note, that doesn’t mean that Coby let Helmeppo walk all over him or drag him down… but he treated him with friendliness and understanding. He didn’t force Helmeppo to do chores, but let him do as he wanted. He didn’t judge Helmeppo as someone who would never care about anyone but himself—but understood Helmeppo’s fear about Morgan’s fate. In a way he’s a lot like a much softer Luffy, more pillow than muscle. (for the time being) . Why is this important? Because it’s this compassion and friendship that nudges Helmeppo into taking the chance for a Fresh Beginning. Coby is already a change maker in how he stands up for people, but he’s also a change maker in how he nurtures people without even necessarily intending to.

Also speaking of Coby, his story really mimics Luffy’s at Loguetown. Coby wasn’t strong enough to get his way. Wasn’t strong enough on his own to continue. In Coby’s case, all he could do was sacrifice his treasure (while Luffy held onto it until the end. Which doesn’t make Luffy’s dream better than Coby’s, but that Coby’s is a lot harder to hold on to) In both cases they are helped by an outside force who had seen the world. (And XD well are father and son which is also pretty neat.)

So now we come to Garp. But before we get to Garp the man, let’s look at the Marines in general. We have had a plethora of ill-intentioned and/or incompetent Marines.
We have Smoker, who is competent and, it’s hinted, well intentioned but we can’t say for sure yet what his goals are. (At least at Loguetown).

We have the Marines from Shells Town (or Morgan’s town) these are well intentioned Marines but weak. They want to do good but couldn’t stand up to Morgan who was their commander but also known as a hero for defeating Kuro. Much like Coby, they weren’t strong enough to have their own way and their own way was to look after the people in the town.

For the upper echelons we have Bogart who serves as Garp’s subordinate but either doesn’t quite follow his principles or can’t. What I mean to say is, Bogart can’t act on his own to say “no we’re not going to fire on that guy” because he has to stick to the handbook. He can’t be like Garp and do things outside the framework of procedure. Because for one thing, Garp can get away with it and he can’t. And for another if he acts outside the framework and Garp happens to disapprove then he’s going to be in trouble. While it’s impossible for the moment to tell his inner motivations, he very much represents the side of the Marines who have to do the hard thing for the sake of Justice—though they don’t necessarily enjoy it. They don’t get to define what Justice is. They just see their job and they do it.

Garp is a well intentioned Marine who is strong and competent and able to work outside of the framework (though only so far). He is not only a Vice Admiral but he is a world renowned hero and so has that leeway to do as he wishes with semi-inconsequential matters (who really cares about one pissant loose on the East Blue?) and implement change without getting his wrist slapped for bending the rules. (And well technically he didn’t bend them. If he was asleep he didn’t see what happened, did he?) We also know enough about him to say that he wants to be a Marine and believes in what he does. (otherwise he wouldn’t do it)

This is important because even here we get the hint that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Could Garp have done anything about Bogart firing on Helmeppo and Morgan? Was it possible he was just asleep until after Morgan axed him and then woke up but feigned still being asleep/dead? (I suppose you could take it one step further to wonder if he feigned sleep to give Morgan a chance, but frankly Garp isn’t that nice and Morgan hasn’t shown that he deserves one) It’s difficult to say… But what do we take away from this? The Marines do things like this and yet Garp is a part of it? Intentionally? Why? Well the answer is he must believe in the Marine force as a whole.

So to boil it down—I think what we’re seeing here is that the Marines, though they can be corrupt and can do terrible things, are ideally a force for protection and peace. Ideals don’t always make it into reality, however. But much like Luffy is an ideal pirate, Garp is an ideal Marine (with Coby fast on his heels of becoming one as well). I don’t want to touch on this too much yet but it’s important to keep in mind. An ideal Marine is someone who has justice that is tempered with understanding, yet is still bound by the rules. (though this definition may change as I get deeper into the series. XD as it do)

Pulling back further to Garp as a person, I think Garp believes in the Marines and the Marine potential to do good with all his heart. He knows what hideous things the Marines are ordered to do. I mean Helmeppo is one thing but the capturing/killing or even potential capture/killing of infants of a certain age range just to rub out Roger’s blood? That is probably the most horrific thing he’s ever been through.

But Garp is also an agent of change. While Luffy and Coby give Fresh Beginnings, Garp gives Beginnings. In other words, Luffy gives Fresh Beginnings much in the way of resetting a broken bone which has healed crooked. He smashes people down to their basics so that they can have a chance to start anew. (Coby is not strong enough to smash anyone yet and can only risk smashing himself) Garp on the other hand takes the seeds of potential and plants them in safe ground. He did so with Ace, giving Ace a chance to be whatever he wanted. He did so with Luffy, too. And he’s also doing so with Coby and Helmeppo, giving them a place where they can train securely and as hard as they wish toward a chance at being fantastic Marines yes, but also for being an agent of change for good in the world.

In this way, Garp is proactive for the future. He recognizes what is bad in the Marines. Isn’t strong enough to change it himself. But can nurture enough seeds that can change it for the better, a person at a time.

And so to sum up? The Marines are as complex as pirates but in a different way and this world is more complex than that. (and will probably only grow in complexity as we go on)

But for now, all that awaits is a little sum up of the East Blue Saga before we can finally wrap up and go careening into the Grand Line.

Also this entry is dedicated to my beloved CC on her birthday. Keep on keeping on CC. I love you to bits.

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February 2017

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