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Welcome to the second half of the Twin Capes Adventure! Here we look at Laboon's past, the connection to the Strawhats and story, Zoro's growing arrogance and we face the chaos of the Grand Line.


Let's start!

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Okay so first of all, though it’s pretty unclear who is asking Crocus about why he built the waterway inside Laboon in the top panel, Stephen’s at least, says it’s Luffy. I’m inclined to agree if only because there are only two potential speakers present, Luffy and Nami, and while it’s not that Nami wouldn’t ask, translation wise, Luffy’d have a much different speaking pattern. (also they normally say “crew” if they can’t guess the speaker)

Why is this important? Well maybe it’s not so much. But it amuses the hell out of me that Luffy is so blasé about Crocus doing this sort of thing as a hobby. I mean, why not? Anything is possible right?
What’s really cool here is Crocus. He’s a man of many talents—because, I mean, he built this thing inside Laboon and Laboon is still alive. He may have had help but for all we know he constructed this himself. But that’s only part of what’s interesting about him. What kind of person goes to the Grand Line, or braves the tempestuous waters of the Reverse Mountain area (if he were from the Grand Line. I’m inclined to think he’s from one of the Blues though), to set up a clinic? What can he hope to accomplish at that clinic and why stay there?

I also love that from the back, Crocus looks like he’s wearing a straw hat. XD It’s really nifty foreshadowing to his eventual reveal as being part of Roger’s crew. (whether intentional or no)
And then Luffy asking him to join up. But it’s not that easy. Not on the Grand Line. Crocus says no in any case and that he’s not interested in gallivanting about the seas with a bunch of reckless kids.

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Another interesting case of who is saying what. I don’t really have any answers for this –except I don’t think it’s Sanji who made the suggestion they throw the guys overboard—since Vivi is among them. And I doubt it was Luffy since it’s not Luffy’s character. Zoro or Nami I can see saying it. Maybe Usopp too but he’s usually not quite that cold after the heat of the moment has passed. (it could be Crocus giving the suggestion as well) I can see Luffy or Usopp asking the question though. Regardless of who asked and who responded, it’s worth noting that Sanji doesn’t have an objection to Vivi being tossed ass over ankles off the ship. Though to be fair it’s not as if it’s hurting her.

I also think it’s kind of funny (and realistic) that Vivi’s first thought is that this is gastric acid. It would make sense given what they’d just experienced.

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This is kind of interesting, too. First of all it introduces the idea of the Baroque Works being a secretive organization. Even innocuous questions cannot be allowed.

As for the second panel, I also find it interesting in that it gives Vivi and Mr. 9 a kind of complexity. What they are doing is not anyone’s business unless they’re pirates. What this is implying is that if they weren’t pirates, this would be the end of it. Which is pretty good considering they just got knocked out and chucked over the side. Vivi also goes on to warn them to prepare themselves. Which, yes, is typical grandstanding in this kind of genre, but also in a way treating them like equals or at least worthy opponents.

What I mean to say is this, the Baroque Works people are our antagonists in this arc—but at this level, are they truly villainous? Yes, they went after Laboon by attacking his weak spot inside him. And did so purposefully. And yes it was because they were ordered to do so. But it wasn't just out of spite, but rather to feed their village (likely so it can be self sustaining). That Crocus is taking care of Laboon is not their problem. Kind of the ends justifies the means sort of group. But only when it comes to A) survival and B) taking care of pirates. So I think this puts them in a morally grey area. (Mind I’m only talking about this level of BW agents right now) We’ll explore this idea further.

Aside from that, I love how curious Luffy is about them. Yeah he punched them but he’s still pretty open to get to know them.

At any rate, Mr. 9 and Vivi swim off saying they’ll get Laboon next time, Crocus! Next time! (merower) And it’s interesting in that end that they know his name (across all three translations). I mean it’s kind of evident this is not their first go round against Laboon—but it also strikes me as them having done their research. They’ve found a target, found a weak spot,—and that they were able to sneak under Crocus’ nose to get in the whale to begin with speaks to them either very well versed or very well studied in whale spelunking.

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First, Sanji’s line. Or rather… his probably NOT line. XD With the way the cloud is drawn, it makes it seem like it’s a line leading to him saying ‘bye-bye, babe’ or, in Viz’s has the line ‘see you around, sweetheart’. Now, I don’t know about you, but I read that as Sanji’s line when it’s more than likely Vivi (and Mr. 9’s) with their bye bye baby. And I’m not saying it isn’t their line. But I really just like the idea of Sanji watching her go and just wistfully saying to himself ‘see you around, sweetheart’

Also Crocus’ line here makes me inclined to think that he was the one who suggested they toss Vivi and 9 overboard. He’s so used to dealing with them and putting up with their shit. (also his head looks like a fish in that angle with the beard as a tail and the petals as fins. O Crocus why you so interesting) I also like Nami being concerned about it – and in a way sharing her wisdom. I mean they literally just said they’d be back, but she’s sort of reinforcing this idea of ‘hey, take them at their word.’ Because I think it comes from the place of mistrusting others for so long.

Other things here? Even a second of carelessness can cost you on the Grand Line, which we will see.
At any rate, after Vivi and Mr. 9 swim away, the story switches back to Laboon and that he’s been waiting 50 years for his nakama to return.

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I think it’s really interesting how realistic Sanji is about this. He’s a dreamer, an idealist, but he really understands the cruel realities of the sea. That they die in the process makes sense to him. But at the same time, he suggests they didn’t make it home because they died—He doesn’t suggest it was because Laboon was abandoned. So in that way, when it comes to people, he’s still something of an an idealist or at least willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. His expression is also interesting. It’s annoyed but also almost in a way disgusted. Like saying: “this is the way of the sea. This is how shitty hard it is. Can’t you understand that?”

I also like how it doesn’t really occur to Luffy that Laboon's crew are dead or have abandoned him.
He doesn’t make assumptions, but states what is he knows for sure—that is that they’ve taken a long time.

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And, of course, Usopp takes this story very personally. Obviously he would because if anyone can relate to the desperate need for someone to come home, it’s Usopp. But of course, the way he speaks about it is the interesting part of Usopp’s nature. He can’t help but feel the pain (sympathetic to Laboon’s case, even if it’s related to his own as well) and react to it, and yet puts it in terms of a story. It’s like he can handle this better as a tale rather than reality. Perhaps because tales and stories, at least the ones Usopp tells, always have a happy ending. Sanji seems a little surprised by Usopp’s vehemence on this (if the attention lines are anything to go by). I also like how Usopp hits the table and narrowly avoids hitting Sanji. I don’t really think it means anything other than proximity (or the way it’s drawn) But I still think it’s interesting.

Also Zoro’s expression is difficult to read. He could just be there for reasons or to fill out the scene—but I think if nothing else he’s definitely noticing Usopp’s reaction, though perhaps doesn’t quite know what to make of it.

Let’s continue with the Usopp train a little bit, though, shall we? Crocus continues that the truth is much more cruel than that.

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That’s a really interesting face there, Usopp. He looks like he’s stuck in between the anger (of Sanji dissing the story) and the kind of shock of the reality that didn’t end as neatly as he might have hoped. But part of it too, after Crocus explains that due to the cruel nature of the Grand Line, they will likely never return…

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Is that he really is pissed. Angrier at the truth even. I think it’s interesting that he completely takes Crocus’ word for it (and granted, why shouldn’t he?) and is mad at the Rhumbar Pirates without even knowing the circumstances. Note how, Usopp always a master of excuses and hedging and outright lying about his fathers’ return (even if he never quite believes it near the end), is so quick to slam these strangers for their betrayal. It shows that he cares definitely, cares for Laboon’s lonely spirit and also can really deeply empathize with him—but I also wonder if, on some level, Usopp understands this kind of abandonment as his own truth, too, but is not brave enough to touch it. (and, honestly? If that’s true? Who would! Realizing your own loneliness and abandonment is not something anyone wants to touch. We know Luffy certainly can’t handle it and there are other characters throughout that struggle with this concept)

Let’s back up and look at Nami.

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First, though Usopp realizes the truth, chronologically, Nami is the first one to state it. Her line would have come in before Usopp’s at the end up there, so it could be she even influenced that line of thought. (Though again I think it was pretty much on the forefront of Usopp’s mind to begin with). It’s also interesting Nami’s comment on the calm belt. Is she saying this because she believes perhaps Laboon's crew wouldn’t’ve left because of the dangers of the calm belt? Or because she’s beginning to get the idea that they might all be dead?

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And interesting here, too. Rather than just reacting to the pain as Usopp does, Nami suggests a course of action. It’s as if she wants to make things better somehow—Also interesting that Nami suggests going for the hard truth rather than a cushioning lie. It’s almost as if, for her, a hard truth is easier to handle. (Though note that I am not saying that her way is better or that Usopp’s way is worse. Just that they are)

Let’s skip back once more to look at Sanji. (and somewhat Zoro)

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Where before, Sanji was giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they died—Here he is coming to the conclusion based on what evidence that Crocus has. It’s really speaking to Sanji’s own conviction—that is, upholding a promise. Though it’s in a way similar to Zoro’s, I think that Sanji’s conviction is more upholding a promise for the sake of the spiritual well-being of the person you promised. Whereas for Zoro it’s more self-motivated. Yes to protect, but more to prove that he is strong enough to do so. In other words, Sanji’s idea of a promise/gratitude is somewhat more externally focused than Zoro’s. (at least at this point) Either way we see he puts a great stock in this sort of thing. Also Sanji understands that these kinds of people are also part of the contribution of the cruelty of the sea.

Zoro for his own part is definitely engaged in the conversation, enough to be thinking about it or at least processing what’s going on. I think that while the story impacts him definitely, and promises are also important to him, he doesn’t have a horse in this race. So while the story is a rough one and a sad one and an unfair one, he’s not really inclined to engage beyond this. Nor does he have any solutions to offer. (and to that end, neither does Sanji)

But again we see a mirror of the two halves of the crew, Usopp and Nami reacting emotionally to the tragic tale and Sanji and Zoro hardly reacting at all—though in Sanji’s case, I always find it interesting how he contextualizes the situation to himself and others. It’s not just a reaction but almost shaping a communication. Whereas Zoro is pulled all the way back, with nothing to say and nothing to offer, though still present.

Speaking of hard truths, let’s look at Crocus as he talks about the flashback

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Much like Nami and Sanji, Crocus understands the hard truths and thinks it’s better that the other has to understand them, too. That this is reality. And it hurts. And it sucks. But living in denial isn’t going to solve anything. (though perhaps Usopp would argue that denial suits him just fine thank you!) In their eyes, or at least specifically here in Crocus’ as it’s represented, a hard truth is better than an endless hope—especially when that hope never has a way of resolving itself. This may not be the best way to even help Laboon cope, but it’s the only way Crocus knows and he’s doing his best. (it’s also worthy of note that sometime before or after this, Crocus joined up with Roger to look for the Rhumbar. So he did actively try to reunite Laboon with his crew)

So but let’s look about what this says about Crocus… we’ve seen before and here that he definitely understands the cruelty of the sea, particularly the Grand Line. So why is he here? What keeps him tied to the Twin Capes? What sort of man stays there? Even if he does stay there to run a clinic and patch up those who come over the Reverse Mountain, he’s sending them into an unknowable future which will in all probability, lead them to death.

I think we’ll have that answer soon.

But first, let’s look at the impact this explanation has….

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Nami has nothing to say. This is a terrible story and it makes her sad to hear it, but there’s absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it. The truth won’t work. A lie won’t work. She accepts it for what it is even if she doesn’t like it.

In the bottom panel the general attitude is of acceptance or at least contemplating Laboon’s fate and his sad future. And what’s most interesting is that Crocus, after having lived with this for years, can’t face Laboon as he tells it. He has to look away. He lives with it and accepts it… but living and accepting doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

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I love how both Sanji and Usopp are impressed with Laboon’s tenacity. They can actually both connect with this story on a deep level, the endless waiting and never giving up hope. For Usopp, of course, it’s sort of Yasopp but I can see as he grew older, waiting for the right time to set out to sea. And for Sanji, it’s waiting on that rock for months. But still they understand the hopelessness of Laboon’s story. Usopp’s line is especially poignant, because throughout the anger and denial he’s settled on the truth (at least insofar as they know it) that Laboon is going to be waiting forever. Zoro is unknowable still but I love how Nami turns away, looking out over the ocean with Crocus. Laboon is still in her periphery but it’s almost like she’s decided that it’s a hard truth but life goes on.

It’s also pretty cool how hope can be just as much a terrible thing as it is a good one. Hope is literally the only thing holding Laboon together even if it’s killing him at the same time. But it’s also really interesting that we’re seeing a whale whose been striving off a complete emotional breakdown for about fifty years.

This very situation (which we have seen before here and there, but mostly with Sanji’s and even Nami’s backstories) is the status quo of living on the seas. Even moreso, of living on the Grand Line. Crocus goes on to explain that Island Whales travel in pods and Laboon can’t go home again. He’s sailed his course, however young and ignorant he was when he did it, and now he’s stuck in the consequences of that. This is the fate they all accept for him, too, largely because they have no choice. They can’t see another option. Especially for a whale.

Most importantly, Laboon serves as a warning. Right now they are able to witness his story while being detached from it, because it is a story and he is just a whale, however sad he may be. But none of them take it to heart that it could be them one day if they’re not strong enough... We’ll definitely see that come to a head (you know, when I get to it in a few years)

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And this is an interesting note for Sanji. His concern is more toward Crocus than Laboon. Sanji has more empathy and sympathy for—well I don’t want to say human but beings with the certain level of sentience… you know what I mean regardless. It’s not that he doesn’t care about animals, but people will trump. That is part of the hardassery of being a cook of the sea, though, and accepting food where it comes.
It’s also just a really great complex expression. Like what even is it? What is he even feeling right now? I would hazard he feels a rough sympathy for Crocus’ plight, but since Crocus is a man, Sanji portrays this sympathy in a kind of held back way—wondering if he’s alright, but at the same time being somewhat stoic about it.

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And here we get just what kind of person Crocus is now. (and we can almost extrapolate from this what kind of person Crocus was then) He can’t help Laboon. He doesn’t have the capacity to heal Laboon. What he can do and what he has dedicated his life to doing is to making Laboon comfortable as best he can and keeping him company. (And god, that last pic on the right where Laboon has the sad eye and almost looks like he’s biting his lip T_T Odacchi pls) He is doing this out of a doctor’s whim, yes, but also doing it out of a great sense of love and connection.

And in a way, Laboon rounds out the theme of Crocus’ life. We know (or will come to know) that he sailed with Roger, partly in order to search for the Rhumbar, but also partly to help ease Roger’s pain and keep him going. He couldn’t cure him, but he could keep Roger sailing until he couldn’t. Earlier than that even, he ran a clinic on the Twin Capes, and sent people into the wild dangerous waters of the Grand Line, no doubt not even expecting to see them again. In this way, sort of like Shanks and actually many of the adult/mentor characters we’ve met thus far, he straddles the line between idealism and pragmatism. In other words he likes the idea and ideal of setting off to sea and having a wild adventure, but he knows what comes of it.

That last part was just conjecture however. What we know of Crocus and what is even stronger than any ideal, is that he knows that success is impossible… and yet he doesn’t stop doing what he can… All that he can. Much like Laboon, it’s almost as if he’s beating his head against a wall, but that is all he can do.
So in the face of all this despair, let’s look at Luffy.

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It can be somewhat difficult to tell what is going on in Luffy’s head on occasion. But here at least he seems more or less engaged with the story, commenting on it at the beginning—but otherwise, keeping his gaze fixed on Laboon, seeming to contemplate it. Laboon is a very lonely whale. What can he do about it? Well he can’t bring the guy’s nakama back or even guarantee they are alive, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do anything. However, the only thing he does have to offer…

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Is himself.

And I love how he startles the hell out of everyone else. What I love most of all is Zoro and Usopp’s kind of world weariness about it. Though Zoro’s comes from a place of Luffy disappearing and then getting into trouble (the bird carrying Luffy to Orangetown and winding up on the execution stand are two of the most egregious I think) and Usopp just not getting Luffy’s incredible energetic seeming randomness. Sanji is completely clueless here and almost blasé about it. It’s clear that while he knows Luffy better than he did, he still doesn’t get him. Luffy is still kind of a stranger to him in a lot of ways.

And of course another aspect of Luffy’s intelligence, which is not random at all. He wants to fight Laboon to show how strong he is. But first he has to get Laboon’s full attention in something that’s a lot worse than the equivalent of poking him in the eye. He needs something big to do it and needs a fresh wound because it’d probably hurt a lot more (and break the mast a lot less) than if he had to go through the thick flesh.

Also it strikes me that this compulsion to beat the crap out of someone to show how strong you are so they can rely on you and not worry is something he learned from Ace. XD I mean I don’t think I can prove that definitively or point to any one circumstance but I also think it’s very likely—and I’ll discuss it as we go. (Though we won’t meet Ace for a while, sadly)

And yet as smart as Luffy is…
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Foresight is not something he’s incredibly good at. XD He needs something big and pointy? Grab a mast! This is something that’s definitely going to come back and bite him in the ass. I do like the comedic threebeat here, though. Both internally in the panel and across the three panels. And I love how everyone was so caught up in the bizarreness of Luffy’s Luffyness that it takes them this long to catch on. [donk!]
Poor Merry, though. They haven’t even really entered the Grand Line proper and already she’s headless and mastless. XD

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XD Also the different reactions here! For Sanji, Nami and Zoro. They have just survived the Sea Kings and Laboon twice now and already Luffy is picking a fight with him. They are really tired of being terrified of and fighting these damn things so if Luffy can stop being incomprehensible and causing them mental anguish for two damn seconds that’d be great!

Whereas Crocus is gobsmacked by what all just happened, and also, I think (and we’ll see later) terrified for Luffy’s safety.

And Usopp? Once again concerned about Merry. (other translations have him say: “Don’t destroy our ship!” Which I like better.) This says that he’s more than confident in Luffy’s capability even here. (and all his nakama are… to a point). But we also reinforce this idea how attached he is to Merry already.

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I love how legit terrified Crocus is of Luffy’s safety and, indeed, continued existence on the planet. Even though he has no idea why Luffy attacked the hell out of Laboon who is his friend— Which is partly because he knows Laboon can crush Luffy with no effort.

But I especially love Nami hauling him to safety. Like she’s terrified, too, but her main priority is hauling the squishy and non rubbery Crocus out of the splash zone.

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Another reason I say that Luffy is getting this from Ace’s influence. Mostly because we’ve never seen him act this way around his nakama or to his nakama. Though we have seen him act this way to Coby. Looking back on his past—There’s the instance with Shanks, where Luffy was genuinely mad at him but didn’t try to hit him—Only with his brothers do we see the rough and tumble fighting kind of affection – because again, he’s not mad here but enjoying this in a way.

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And also, I love that, after the initial shock of what the everloving hell, Luffy… Usopp knows that Luffy is not just randomly picking a fight with Laboon. That Luffy is working with an intent. It’s not an intent that Usopp can figure out, but it’s so important that he’s trying to and not just dismissing it out of hand. He’s trying to really make an effort to get where Luffy is coming from. This mostly because he believes in Luffy and Luffy’s desire to help.

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Whereas Zoro is more direct and point blank asks him what the hell he’s up to. He sincerely doesn’t get it either. But I think, like Usopp, he really wants to figure it the hell out. This isn’t like Luffy and he knows it. So what the hell? What is his goal or intent? And Sanji just looks pissed. XD Like he doesn’t know either but, damnit Luffy, way to give him a shitty heart attack. I also love how Crocus is super concerned, like, is he dead? Did Laboon kill him?

But then, Luffy says it’s a tie, says to Laboon:

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[chinhands] over Luffy's expression here. Just the sudden change-- enough to get Laboon to realize there's something more going on. And Laboon does get it, saying he's actually pretty intelligent.

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And Luffy explains this to Laboon. It’s big because Luffy’s not really one for explaining anything. He didn’t tell the others what he was up to. In fact he pretty much ignored the others and talked to the only one that was important. But he makes sure Laboon knows and can understand exactly what Luffy is talking about. And more to the point what he means. Luffy is strong. Luffy is coming back. Luffy is going to fight Laboon again so Laboon better be stronger, too.

Once again, Luffy is the bringer of hope… but once again it’s a hope that empowers the one that receives it. Laboon is not just passively waiting and hoping and calling, but actively waiting and, moreover, he has someone to believe in again. But what’s also important? Is that it doesn’t change the past. The truth is still the truth. Laboon was still left behind. His crew may still all be dead. Luffy acknowledges this. Nothing can change the hardness of the truth. But he makes the truth so much more bearable. Easier to move beyond. Gives Laboon something to move to.

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Crocus looks like he’s about to cry but is holding it back. Also I love (and I think it’s telling) that he also understands what Luffy is saying, despite not knowing Luffy. He understands the words of Luffy’s heart and intent.

And the others… ugh can we just? Zoro’s face. His just, radiating fondness for his dumb rubber captain. He just loves Luffy so damn much. (and again, I’m not talking about anything shippy, but just the pervading nature of that emotion. but on the other hand if you wanna ship it I sure as hell ain’t gonna stop you) And his openness is reflected in the others too. Nami’s smile. Just flat out smiling at Luffy being Luffy. At changing a bleak and hopeless situation around. And Usopp, ahh that’s just so beautiful. I can see him laughing. (I think he does in the anime) He’s just so happy that everything ended so well and is being carried along by the buoyant mood.

Meanwhile…. Sanji is kind of the odd duck (rofl) out. Which usually this kind of happy ending seems his bag. And, granted his expression is hard to read, but I think that the others are so obviously joyus and he’s so obviously, at the least ‘meh’ is important even in a small way. I wonder if it’s just mostly he can’t connect or empathize with the story of Laboon. Like even though Luffy fixed the problem, Sanji was never really worried about it to begin with. I really think it ties back with the idea that Laboon is an animal and, as a chef, Sanji developed a certain hard heartedness toward them. It’s not that he minds what Luffy did, but he can’t really get into it either.

But I could be wrong. If you have any thoughts, feel free to share.

Anyway, ofc, Luffy doesn’t just stop there. He paints the symbol on Laboon’s head…

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I think he does this because he knows how hard it is waiting and how easy it is to forget—because he doesn’t know how long he’s gonna be. So he gave Laboon something to hold on to. A physical representation of the promise, just like the hat is to him. I love Luffy’s smile and joy lines of course, and how Crocus has the same joy lines and not going to cry damnit face… while at the same time I think he thinks that’s the most noble and ridiculous thing he’s ever seen.

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And… I just like the industry here.

But also interesting things… Nami charting their course. Taking control. An effort which will prove almost completely meaningless because she has no idea what she’s getting into or how the Grand Line works…
The Elephant Tuna (not trout damnit) and Sanji’s happiness at working on it. Here he is in his element and even though I don’t get the appeal of being a chef, I love the joy he has in just preparing it.

Usopp working feverishly to restore Merry and doing not a bad job of it for all that he’s not a shipwright. It doesn’t look pretty but Merry can still sail. Also interesting is I wonder if Zoro already has helped Usopp. I mean,I cannot see Usopp hefting that mast into an upright position and Luffy was busy painting Laboon, so Zoro must have held it for him—and then was like okay that’s enough, sleep time. Also worthy of note: here and in Stephen’s translation, Usopp appears to be referring to Luffy when he’s speaking of “that idiot”. Though in the Viz he’s talking about “that darn whale”. But I think it’s more accurate to say he is speaking of Luffy—since he is working on the mast which Luffy deliberately broke. If he’d been working on the figurehead I would have given that comment more leeway.

At any rate, Nami screams, Laboon dives, Luffy asks her why she’s being so noisy (Luffy pls) and Nami is freaking out over the compass freaking out.

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This I’ve said before of course, but it bears repeating that they are totally unprepared for sailing the Grand Line. I just really like how much emphasis is on this and how careless they were. And right now it’s a carelessness they can get away with because there are people helping them—but it is also a carelessness that will come back to bite them in the end. But on the other hand, while this carelessness is kind of a bad thing, it very much matches the spirit of adventure and those that came before. Like, how much did Roger really know of the Grand Line before he came? Probably next to nothing and yet he was the one to ‘tame’ it. But to that end he probably had a much rougher time.

Meanwhile Crocus is just like children pls.

Also a translation note… Sanji telling Luffy it’s feeding time here while in the Viz he says: You can eat hay. Which… I guess fits if you think about it obliquely but… wtf Viz XD

Crocus explains that the weird minerals found in various islands on the Grand Line give it a wonky magnetic field and, not only that but the winds and currents and such are unpredictable. Crocus reinforces the idea that if they head out onto this sea they will die for sure. Nami agrees that, without a direction, they are hopeless.

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Nami is not afraid to admit when she's wrong. Or clueless in any case. It says to me she has pride but at the same time isn't stupid about it. To add complexity to that though, it feels like she tries to reassure them (or herself) under her breath. Here it says “oh well” but I prefer the Viz “we're okay. We're okay.”
Also Usopp and Sanji's differing reactions to this news. I wonder if Usopp is reacting primarily to Nami's kind of 'whoopsie daisy' attitude about this. Like my bad my bad it'll be alright. But he's not really sure it can be, though he really wouldn't mind being reassured about now, thanks!

This is also a great setup for Luffy's joke about the fish that is made (meta-textually). But textually it's just funny that of course Usopp was talking about the fish being bad because there is food and that's literally the only thing Luffy can focus on right now. (Which, I mean given the day he's had so far, is understandable). Meanwhile, Sanji's cooing over Nami is a great way to break the tension. Like this is bad and they're in dire straits but she's just so adorable it doesn't matter!

And then the right image where Usopp is protecting himself from Nami's wrath by putting on his goggles and Sanji is cupping his ears to hear more of her sonorus shrieking. Ah, sweet mellorine bliss~~!
As far as Nami yelling at them is concerned, though (and given what we're going to see later) I think she's actually a lot more worried than she lets on though she's definitely trying to be the strong and reliant one here.

Crocus explains about the log pose and its importance and...

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First of all, Sanji, Sanji pls. Luffy is literally devouring the entire damn tuna right in front of you! Pay a little attention! Why is he not? Well he may be so wrapped up in this important explanation that he's not even really paying attention. Or he doesn't mind if Luffy eats some of it but doesn't really expect him to eat the whole damn thing. Nami, of course, always has an eye out for what is important XDD

I love that her answer to why she hit Luffy basically amounts to she felt like it. It's a very shonen thing to do and goes with the flow of her just being annoyed and on the verge of a freakout where Luffy had the thing the whole time. Also, he can take a punch. I like too that Luffy just kinda picked the log pose up. Why? Because it was shiny most likely.

Crocus explains about how the Log Pose works and that once you set a course you're basically stuck with it and that at the end of the Grand Line lies Raftel, which is so difficult to get to only Roger has the only one who has ever been confirmed to get to it. Also worth noting is that Crocus says that it's difficult to find a log pose outside of the Grand Line. Or at least his is what is written in Stephen's translations and the Mangapanda one; while the Viz just says it's difficult enough getting into the Grand Line. I'm not sure which one is more accurate... Perhaps the anime sheds more light on it, but I think the first two translations make sense.

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This is primarily interesting because it's paralleled again at Sabody. Only this time Usopp is only asking for conformation rather than specifics. But it also shows the difference between Usopp and Luffy. Both with adventurous spirits. But Usopp is a story teller, and moreover, he enjoys a definite assured goal. He's excited about this but knowing for sure that the one piece is there makes it all the more better. For Luffy, even here we see it's all about the adventure. The “enough thinking” line is lame. Though the exact tone of the scene depends on which translation you like.

In Viz's when Crocus says: “Perhaps but no one has ever got there” Luffy says: “Until we get there”
And in Stephen's is: “Well if we go there, we'll find out!”

I much prefer Stephens to Viz's in this one. Yeah the first one has a lot of confidence but the second is more Luffy to me. He doesn't know for sure it is there. He doesn't know for sure it isn't. He just knows that he wants to go there and see what awaits.

Also I love that Crocus says perhaps it's there. And my first inclination was like: pls, you know it's there.

But then I wondered, does he? Was he with Roger long enough? Did Roger actually put the one piece on raftel?
If he does know, I like the fact that he doesn't dissuade them nor tell them if it is. He merely says it's the prevailing theory. Which makes sense as it seems he's trying to keep his own attachment to Roger's crew, if not secret, at least out of the the open.

At any rate, Luffy says he's done eating so they can go. Sanji f i n a l l y cottons on to the fact that Luffy ate the entire thing. (including the bones) Sanji kicks him because he wanted Nami to have the best of it --- annd kicks Luffy right into the log pose that Nami was holding. Shattering it.

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That is the look of a man who is not sure what just happened but knows somehow he done fucked up , knows Nami-swan is pissed, and is a little sheepish (and slightly turned on) by the punishment that is about to follow. Also I really like the appearance of Nami's scar from where the old tattoo was. (though it doesn't bother me at all that it's no longer drawn)

Nami boots them both into the water than asks Crocus what to do now that it's broken while Usopp freaks out about it.

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Now first, I want to address that there is a popular fan theory (that I really enjoy and agree with) that this log pose was the same one Roger used. The reason why is a big noodly mess that has little bearing on the situation here but I may get into when we reach the 30th century and I finally get to Sabody.

Second, an interesting point. They are given something they need because they helped. In other words it's not necessarily a reward. He didn't just offer it to them because they were good to him or out of obligation to repay them. If they hadn't needed it, he wouldn't have handed it over and doubtless they would have left with nothing... and the Strawhats were perfectly fine with that. Why? They did it because they wanted to do it and that was reward enough for them. (Though this is not always exactly the case XD)

We cut back to Vivi and Mr. 9 who are on a raft nearby. They see that Nami has the log pose, though not that it's broken, and it's revealed that it was Mr. 9 who dropped it.

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And here we get the hints of what working for Baroque Works is like. The trouble is dire. Enough so that they have to risk attacking without their weapons; though they much prefer to wait for the perfect opportunity. In other words, fighting smart rather than hard against a superior opponent. Though this just makes me wonder if, instead of going back and forth like I originally assumed, they'd just been sitting out here attacking at random intervals and trying to catch Crocus or Laboon off guard.

But as it happens they have run out of time and so, enter the Unluckies.

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This is just really interesting to me. Mr. 9 assumes that the Unluckies are coming after them because they screwed up. (Here it says late, but other translations have him state it wasn't their fault) In other words, it is assumed they have failed and these are the consequences thereof. Vivi assumes that the Unluckies are coming after them because they have betrayed the organization.

First let's look at this idea that both assumptions are correct... and if they are, what does that say? If people are late/incompetent have they betrayed the organization? Well maybe not. Maybe they are just late/incompetent and Crocodile really doesn't want anyone like that in his stable of bounty hunters. But deeper than that, it's possible that they are late because they are consorting with the enemy. It's possible they are incompetent because they are aiding the enemy. Crocodile has such a huge organization that he can never be sure of anyone's intentions and so the policy he (seems to have) created is to whack anyone who screws up.

(That being said I don't think Crocodile is attacking Vivi directly at this point. If he were, he wouldn't have left such a wide margin of error for her to escape.)

The second idea is more conjecture, but also interesting to me.

Mr. 9's words are focused on being late, or in other words the incompetence angle. He doesn't say anything about betrayal. I really think that the understood culture of Baroque Works is that; you mess up, you die. In other words, there is not generally a fear of being thought of as a traitor. Now, of course we'll examine it more when we look at Whiskey Peak, and I could be wrong... But when Mr. 3 failed his mission, he returned to Crocodile and didn't fear being thought of as a traitor. And even looking back to what Vivi stated before: We need to report to the boss or he'll have their heads. Not: We need to report back to the boss or he'll think we've betrayed them. Naturally this could also be more psychological. In other words, they don't think they are traitors and so it never occurs to them.

Even if the latter is true, though, it makes what Vivi says more interesting. She knows she's a traitor. She knows it's imperative that she have all the trust she can or will lose everything. In the heat of the moment she is desperate to reassure the uncaring Unluckies that they really were going to do the thing and had no traitorous thoughts on their mind.

At any rate, they are blown into the water and then they surface along with Luffy and Sanji. Sanji helps Vivi out of the water and escorts her to where the others are waiting. Mr. 9 says he has a request and asks the Strawhats to bring them back to Whiskey Peak

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I super love this expression of Nami's. It's one she cultivated after working with Arlong. A light smile, a direct gaze, you can almost hear her light tone as she speaks. She has the upper hand and she knows it and she's employing it to her own ends. Specifically, I think because she's not outright saying no. More seeing how Mr. 9 will react and what he will do or say. It might prove to their advantage after all. Or maybe she just likes screwing with them.

I like, too, that Usopp is once again expressing interest. Not perhaps because he feels sympathetic to their plight. But because he's curious and likes to know the stories of people.

But then Nami immediately loses her cool as Mr. 9 lies. XD I mean not badly but enough to pull at his cheek and call him a liar. Why? Well maybe because she doesn't want the idiots on her crew to believe him and get carried away. Or maybe because he was going to attempt to fool them and act imperious and order them around. (not that that would have worked)

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And, once again, I just really arklefarking love the body language here and expressions.

Nami is looking a little concerned that they went as far as that. Not that I think she entirely trusts them, but people don't act this desperate for no reason. Especially if they have so much pride.

Composition wise, I really love Luffy as the central figure here. They are asking him and he is just watching them, perched on the table and in a relaxed pose but nevertheless there's no doubt he's in charge. And Usopp looks particularly good standing beside him, confident in his belonging there and listening to their plea with as utmost seriousness as Luffy is. And Sanji just kind of detached from it. Like it's not his decision and he doesn't much care the outcome of it. He's good either way. (though perhaps slightly better if they have another pretty woman on board.)

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Man, though Vivi is a wreck. She is half slumped over, shivering. I think this is pretty cool because we know how much she seriously needs to get back. She is so close to completing her goal and she can't get trapped here. So it seems to me she's throwing out her last desperate bid for help without jeopardizing her mission. But-- what's really interesting here?

Crocus is not wrong. Vivi asks for help. Mr. 9 promises they will repay them (note that Vivi didn't promise that.). But when we come to Whiskey Peak, the two will leave the Strawhats to their fates, helpful or not. Vivi can be pretty ruthless in pursuit of her goal. On the other hand, she didn't give them a promise she didn't intend to keep.

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That she is toying with them like that amuses me. Though again I think that this is kind of a reflection of her time with Arlong. Yes, Nami showed the propensity of manipulation before she met him, but this is deliberately screwing with their emotions which is similar to what Arlong did to her. I think Nami does this for two reasons though, partly because it's kind of fun and they are jerks anyway but also I wonder if it's to make them expose their true colors as not quite the humble people they pretend to be.

I love that Mr. 9 is just worried about the destruction of his property while Vivi is mad that they essentially kowtowed for no reason, all those dramatics gone to waste. I also think that this kind of thing is difficult for Vivi. Not necessarily prostrating herself, but prostrating herself to pirates who could be scum of the earth seas for all she knows. I mean she can do it and has no doubt had to pay respect to lots of people she doesn't like. But that doesn't make it easier for her.

Anyway, immediately after that:

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First of all it's worth noting that Nami didn't say yes or no to their request. She was just straight up messing with them.

It's Luffy, of course, who makes the decision. Though the wording is a bit wonky. So to get a better picture of something more exact let's look at Stephen's translation. (which mirror's Viz but a little clearer in intent)

Mr. 9: We tearfully beg your forgiveness and humbly await your kindness and gentility...
Luffy: It's okay. You can come.

In other words, as fakey as their apology is, Luffy is fine with them coming along. Why? Well... why not? They need the ride and it's not as if they're really a danger. Also yeah they hurt Laboon but now can't not so what's the worry.

So the log pose sets Crocus makes sure that Nami has the right alignment and then …

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I really like this for a number of reasons, but the two most primary ones are:

1) It reinforces the ideas I've said from the beginning. To use Viz's translation: Once you've chosen your course, there's no changing it.
You sail the course you set. And moreover the course they have set now is for the benefit of people who will likely not even appreciate it. And yet, that's a choice Luffy makes.

2) He doesn't confine himself to that course. He takes the responsibility of it but at the same time sees beyond it and is just like: We'll pick another one if we don't like it. For good or ill he'll go through what he's decided, but he's always going to keep searching for the best adventure.
Crocus says “I see” looking all nostalgic and happy and stuff and Vivi and Mr. 9 chortle at the dreams of pirates who think they are going to go around the Grand Line again much less survive the first time. They say goodbye to Laboon and then sail off toward Whiskey Peak, leaving us with this tidbit.

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Of course we know now the connection between Roger and Crocus but this must have been amazeballs back in the day. (or to new readers who are super into it). But I think what's worth pointing out is first, how much Luffy has impressed Crocus. Enough for Crocus to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, he'll be able to make it to the end. I am not entirely sure what to make of the mysterious aura line, other than he's not met someone quite like Luffy before.

But what also strikes me here is that Roger did not just say what he did about the one piece to stir up trouble. It seems he was waiting for someone else to find it and perhaps do what he couldn't.
Chapter 106 opens with the ship heading Whiskey Peak bound.

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And let's just take a minute to admire Usopp's artistic skills here because, damn.

Boy's got talent! But beauty will not save Usopp's beloved (and somewhat Kaya resembling) Snow Queen from a snowman punch. Things to love? She's a snow queen but almost a summer queen with her bare feet and almost flower crown. Luffy's Mr. Snowman is wearing a barrel hat and a cape because it probably is, after all, a hero. Though that doesn't stop it from getting its head kicked off by a well placed kick of vengeance. But in the end I just love their friendship. Luffy can goof off with Usopp in a way he can't with Sanji or Zoro or Nami. They are the same age and, when it comes to fun, the same mentality. And I really just love to see them enjoying each others company.
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Also amusing? I love the detail of Nami shivering and being annoyed at them for not even seeming to notice as they fight on the deck. (also the knowledge that Zoro is buried somewhere under all that snow and oblivious rofl)

But I also like the idea that Sanji is enthusiastic about following Nami's orders-- but probably really doesn't want to do it. He most likely prefers to be in the galley with the beautiful ladies or at least where it's warm, and yet he does it because he's an absolute slave to Nami's love. As for why she's making him shovel? (Aside from the fact that Luffy and Usopp would get horribly distracted, Zoro's asleep and she's not going to do it) Your guess is as good as mine. Though I wonder if it has something to do with her wanting him to blow off some steam and stop being an annoying mellorining mess. Why do I say that? Because the damn fool is practically shouting at her. He's like a tom cat on a fence shrieking his love and I can imagine her being like: For God's sake chill out already.

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It speaks to Nami's kindness, though, that they are not out shoveling snow already . But also that they were given blankets. They could very well have gone without. XD Not that they seem to appreciate this much.
Thunder rumbles and Nami wonders at the weird weather patterns and then:

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It's interesting the interplay between Mr. 9 and Vivi. 9 seems to criticize while Vivi is ultimately helpful-- though I wonder if this is a hint of Vivi saying things a little too late in the day. Then again, it seems that they had some confidence in Nami's ability to navigate the Grand Line. After all no one would go in to this dangerous ocean completely blind right? Right?>

Anyway, Nami realizes that they've managed to turn 180 degrees.

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Rofl, A++ for Nami's pissed face. It's hard and stressful enough without them mocking her.
Again Mr. 9 is exceedingly unhelpful, just being snarky about the whole thing even though it's in their best interests to get back to Whiskey Peak ASAP. On the other hand he doesn't have to be helpful because Vivi takes over.

And Vivi is lightly mocking here, but I feel like that's a front to keep up her persona. She can't just give advice directly. But she does give advice. Of course it's in her best interest to do so, but I feel like here she's being genuinely helpful in the only way she can. She doesn't say just follow your log pose, but explains why she should.

As for the log pose being the only thing you can trust on the Grand Line? That becomes hugely significant later on. So let's just put a pin in it for the moment and remember it's there.

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First? I love those two dorks covered in snow in the top panel. They really know how to have fun.
Usopp and Luffy's reaction to this news is also great. Usopp seems to be shouting it. Like he can't believe they would actually turn around, not when they're right in the middle of an adventure! Or maybe something terrible happened. Or maybe Nami's running away. (And though it isn't really clear that Usopp is saying it, we can guess by process of elimination it is. Vivi and Mr. 9 know why, Zoro is asleep, Luffy is calm and Sanji wouldn't yell like that.) Adding to this that Usopp knows his numbers. I mean it's a small thing, I think most people would have the spatial sense of understanding 180 degrees. Though probably not Luffy (or Zoro)

And I love that Luffy asks if she forgot something because that seems like a kind of Luffy thing to do.
Finally, Nami for Quartermaster. She has no compunctions about putting the two “guests” to work and then immediately gets on the ball, telling everyone what to do. And they rush to obey as soon as she gives orders. Even Mr. 9 albeit grumpily. But as for her own nakama, they don't even question. Which is great.

Also another example of Sanji being super pumped with energy. He's not just saying yes or aye! He's bellowing that she can leave it to him and even “Uoooo!” ing in excitement. Why is he so excited? I think partly because he has the vivacious Vivi in his galley, but also because they are on an adventure! In an unknown sea! And anything can happen! It's similar to Usopp and Luffy's need to gallavant in the snow and build snowmen and have snowball fights. It's just so exciting! But Sanji is too dignified to mess in the snow with them so he needs to redirect his energy into shoveling or lovingly obeying the orders of his beauteous Nami-swan~~~! You magnificent dork.

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Meanwhile Usopp is fuh-reaking out. He's like oh shit we're all going to die what is going on~! He can feel the impending danger like a second sense. XD And it's hilarious that his first impulse is to yell at Zoro to wake the hell up. Of course Zoro doesn't. Though as for why I figure he's had a pretty long ass day already, and is not altogether as excitable about adventure as Sanji, Luffy and Usopp are. Also they're sailing around. What's to stay awake for?

How much do I love Mr. 9 and Vivi kind of dicking Nami around. Of course you could say that they're just reacting to the temperature change and that's a valid interpretation. But my semi-headcanon is that they're just being like SEE? WE ENJOY THIS! HAHA U LOSER WE ARE USED TO THIS WEATHER!

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And even though things are going to hell in a handbasket, Luffy is like something shiny and super cool at 8'clock! But what's really awesome is that he's been on the sea for a while now and this can't be his first dolphin siting anyway, but the natural world will always be thrilling to him and he really wants to go see it!

After that absolute chaos starts to come raining (and fogging and waving) down as the Strawhats struggle to stay afloat in the batshit seas that mark the entry of the Grand Line

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And Sanji takes the time out to quickly whip up some onigiri. Though I love that Usopp is so in his element here. He knows what he's doing and he's capabable of doing it. He's also prepared, with the goggles to shield from rain and inclement weather and I wonder if they also help him feel braver somehow. Reading this segment through, though, you can also see how competent he is at quick patch work as Merry hits an iceberg and leaks twice. Also Sanji whacking Luffy for eating too much XD as if he's kind of realized if he doesn't Luffy is going to suck down the whole damn thing like some rubbery (but well tempered) anaconda.
And then on the blissful calm on the other side that is somehow not death... This pushy idiot wakes up.

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It's a strange thing. Zoro's always been in a place of protecting the crew, even at the expense of himself. We've seen this already in Syrup and in Arlong Park to a great extent. And this is another aspect of protecting the crew in a sense. Here, though, while Zoro may trust them instinctively-- enough to soundly sleep through a raging storm or five, cognizantly, he's doesn't quite trust them to be aware of the dangers or to do things as simple as making sure that they are still going in the right direction. (irony thy name is Roronoa) Note too how everyone else trusted Nami but Zoro is sure she's slacking off.

Zoro lives very much in his own skin. He was asleep and now he is awake so they should be awake as he is at that moment. Because otherwise everyone is just sprawled out on deck looking like their taking a nap. (Also I just for some reason love Sanji flat on his back like that XD)

(also, damnit Zoro, how can you make an eyebrow raise look hot? orz orz)

He notices Vivi and Mr. 9 on their ship and casually asks what they're doing there.

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It tickles me that even though everyone else is passed out; Luffy is at most mellow; just kind of enjoying the day. Him tapping his feet together is such a cute detail.

And here it's like Zoro is both wondering why Luffy did it and reminding them that they don't really have to. I think because he thinks Luffy is pretty naive and trusting at the end of the day. I mean, yeah, these guys are easily beaten; and Zoro knows that Luffy should at least realize they're sketchy (of course Luffy has a bad habit of trusting sketchy people, for instance, Nami) but Luffy doesn't know what Zoro knows that they're some part of a larger organization. Not that I'm saying Zoro is even the least bit intimidated by them being on the ship, but that they're there just 'cuz shows kind of a lack of knowing what's going on in the larger picture.

Of course Luffy is not naive. Or at least not in the way that Zoro thinks. I mean he obviously knows they're shady at least a little but he doesn't much care because he agreed to take them (likely because they asked) and whatever happens after that happens; whether good or bad.

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And Zoro, in a parallel to Nami, straight up fucks with them. And he enjoys it too. Look at his cunning evil face. He knows just who they are and who they work for and probably knows that secrecy is a big deal so he shouldn't know what they are. He is more than prepared to dangle them over the snake pit.

Why, though, is another thing altogether. Part of it is for the pleasure, yes. But another part is Zoro working to protect Luffy's desire to carry them back to Whiskey Peak. Zoro doesn't let Luffy know that they belong to Baroque Works or how dangerous Baroque Works can be. (Though I wonder if Zoro really knows that himself. He can be pretty cocky.) He doesn't tell Luffy, no we shouldn't take them. Instead he lets them know that he knows just what they are. That he's in control of this situation no matter what they try to hide.

In a way, he's trying to be the bad cop to Luffy's good cop.

Of course, as they say, behind every bad cop is a worse cop.

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Zoro is used to being the biggest badass on the block and being attacked from behind like that; and right in the middle of when he had a thing going (and potentially embarrassing him) puts him right in fight mode. As it is his trust in Nami is not quite as secure as it will come to be but really I don't think it's entirely her, and more a reaction to someone hit him and that makes him dangerous.

Of course Nami is pissed (and rightfully so) that he slept rather than helping out with the crises (and probably for suggesting she wasn't alert as she could have been)

And the best thing about all this is?

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This goes right from Zoro's moment to Nami's moment. She takes Zoro down several pegs because as badass as he may be, she's been in charge of equally rock headed fishmen and knows just where to hit. She doesn't let Zoro intimidate her and cracks him a few more times for being such an ass. Then, with Whiskey Peak in sight, has a badass moment of her own where she proclaims how much she doesn't know what the hell she's doing in this sea.

This is definitely a call back to earlier where she was surprised at how much she apparently didn't know-- but was sheepishly saying it's okay it's okay. Here, she's come to realize what she's up against. Which is to say the unexpected. She's learned that you can't take your guard down even for a moment and informs the others of this fact. She understands. If not what to do yet, at least what not to do. And she gets to do it in a shoneny way.

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Again, Usopp is not at all reassured by this and asks pretty much the same question he did at the Twin Capes. But to show that she has learned and that she is confident now, Nami doesn't get mad at him, but calmly reassures him it will work out. Why? Because it has worked out. Despite the chaos and doubt and uncertainty, she neve-the-less lead them through to their destination. Whiskey Peak is just on the horizon.

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Rofl, Mr. 9. Yeah it was kind of worrying for a while, wasn't it? Vivi looks kind of like she's going to cry. XD

But I love their expressions. This is their first Grand Line island filled with unknown adventure! They are all excited to see it. Even Sanji is grinning despite the fact that I get the impression that he's trying to maintain his cool and be suave about it. We don't see Zoro's reaction but probably because he likely doesn't care all that much.

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And we'll leave this here. Seems like a great spot to do so. I love how Vivi is the one to thank them, even if it's kind of lightly sarcastic and just for effect. (she also calls them darlings in Viz which I kind of like better just for aesthetic reasons). Of interest here? Well just the expressions for one. I like them that's all. The Strawhats having no idea what these two are doing.


The Grand Line is Not Your Playground: If you don't know what you're doing, this sea will kill you. Hell, even if you do know what you're doing it's no walk in the park. In the Grand Line you have to expect the unexpected and always keep on your guard unless you want to get creamed. It's no wonder that this place beat Kreig's fleet all to hell before Mihawk even arrived. I think in a lot of ways there really are no guarantees in the very first part of the Grand Line. You need skill, you need knowledge, you need to keep on your toes, you need luck. All of that combined and you may make it through.

The World is A Cold Place: It will eat up your nakama without a trace of them left, as what happened to Laboon. Nothing can bring them back. Not hoping. Not waiting. It happened and it was terrible and you'd have to be able to do the impossible to return what was lost. (/cough)

The Sun will Surely Rise: Yet despite the sea being hard and terrible, there is still hope there. The storm may be horrible but if you can survive it you can go into the clear calm waters on the other side and continue on your way. It's not a guarantee. But if you can just hold on you might see a better tomorrow.

As Goes the Captain, As Goes the Crew: I think we've pretty much discussed and learned all about Crocus as we can, given what information we have. But what about who Crocus is can tell us who Roger was? I think that, like Luffy, there was a theme of hope running through it all. But where Luffy is going against a stacked deck, Roger was throwing his hope at near insurmountable odds. He hoped with a fierceness that was all he had in him, while at the same time understanding the true nature of the world. Atlso, there is a definite fatalistic streak. Roger had hope because he knew he was going to die. Because he was already dying. So it's do or not do with the time he had left. And for that kind of thing there is no hope for recovery.

Same for Crocus and Laboon. There is no hope for Crocus that Laboon will recover. Much like he did with Roger, he can only numb the pain and try to accept it for what it is. Crocus had the nigh insurmountable hope of finding Laboon's crew, but in the end was completely unable to. And yet Crocus keeps living on. Keeps Laboon living on. Surviving as best he can just as I imagined Roger survived the best he could. (Before marking his own death in his own way as D's do)

But at the same time in all this hopelessness and knowledge of the cold harsh sea and world they were facing, both of them hold onto a single hope that someday someone would come and... do what? Find the one piece and do what? I don't know. Change the world maybe. But despite everything, that's something they didn't give up on. And, in a very real way, they created their own hope. Roger influenced Shanks who influenced Luffy who inspires Crocus to hope again. And if that doesn't give you the happy tingles I don't know what will.

The Stone Cold Truth: So the ideas running throughout this segment all come back to this idea. The truth is not always easy to accept. In fact it can be almost impossible, especially when you're hoping for a happy ending; or at least not a completely miserable one. Yet, everyone either already accepts the truth (Crocus, Zoro, Sanji, Luffy) or comes to accept it (Usopp, Nami, Laboon).

But accepting the truth doesn't mean the end of it. What Luffy does; what he is skilled at doing, is making his own truth. He can't change the past, but he can change the present. In other words, whereas everyone else just let the truth be what it was, he kept moving forward creating a better future.

The Truth is Unknowable: And yet, even if accepting the truth as you know it is considered a good thing-- it's not the complete truth, because the complete truth is unknowable. In other words, it's impossible to assume you know the full story. There is always potential for change or some other element.
Because yes, while it is technically true that all of Laboon's crew are dead. Death is not so final as it usually is.


(Since we've just about exhausted Crocus he won't be included here. Also I don't think we'll get the true measure of 9 and Vivi until Whiskey Peak so we'll wait on them, too)

Usopp: I feel like we learned another aspect of Usopp here. That is, his attachment to story. This comes in three forms. The first, he wants to learn about other people and listens to what they have to say and their narrative. More than just enjoying stories and wanting to hear them, he wants them to exist. He wants the world to fall into narrative lines. He wants happy endings for the good guys and hapless whales. And he at least listens to what the bad guys of the moment say.

But the second way he uses story is tied into this. He wants the world to follow narrative lines because he wants his own story to follow those lines. So that he can dictate or see every road block in the road to his dream of becoming a hero and surmount them. (Because if you can see them they are easier to avoid) But also the idea that, if the story goes as the story should, they will find what they are looking for and it will all be worth it it in the end. Even though, ironically, his own story, his own dream, has little whatever to do with finding the One Piece. Yeah he could be a great warrior of the sea by the time they find it; or he can still have a long way to go. The story he wants most for himself is not one with a definite ending at all-- or maybe even more ironically, it's one only he can decide and define. So instead he attaches himself to Luffy's dream (and to be fair their overall goal) to live vicariously through that.

The third way he uses it is the typical way we've seen him use it before and (not so much here but) will see him use it again. Which is to reshape the world in his own way. At least the inner one. (Much like Luffy shapes the exterior one) But we'll look into that again a little later.

Finally, it's just worth reiterating that while Usopp in a way prefers the world of story, when the truth is staring him in the face he has no choice but to (eventually) come back to it.

Sanji: Sanji I feel also likes stories, or at least the ones tied to people. Unlike Usopp who wants to reshape them, Sanji just kind of accepts them (and their truths) as they are; though to that end he's an active listener, always engaging with the conversation.

We also get to see how stunningly cold he is to Laboon's fate. It's a really interesting side to him and again, I feel like this is something he does on purpose. Like he's a normally passionate and caring individual; but he holds himself back here. Partly, I think because as I said as a cook, he needs to be able to butcher animals. But also, here, there's absolutely nothing he can do to change Laboon's story even if he wanted to.

But we also see this sort of standoffish nature in regards to Vivi as a BW agent. Speaking specifically of course when they are begging and he is just standing off to the side, seemingly disengaged from the conversation. If it was up to him, of course, he'd her in a heart beat. Mr. 9 might have a bit more of a problem. XD But it's not. He's aware of and respects Luffy's position as captain and ultimate decision maker and I feel pulls himself back purposefully. (Also, tied to this, they're not exactly innocent bystanders)
Nami: I feel like in terms of story telling Nami falls into the camp of caring more about the individual. It's not that she doesn't care about the story that's being told but contextualizes it on who it's being told about. But she also sits in the same place with Sanji in that there's nothing she can do about it. Unlike Sanji she does seek a solution. (Why not tell Laboon the truth?!)

We also see Nami shine here, both as a quartermaster and a navigator. Though she was completely unprepared for the Grand Line, she is prepared in no time. And, what's more, she knows how to handle a crises-- actively instructing the others what to do in order to get them to the other side.

I really love the manipulative side of Nami, too. The vindictiveness of her nature as well. She's going to screw with them simply because they annoyed her. But at the same token, we get to see her compassion. Though these guys did annoy her, and attacked Laboon, she looks slightly concerned when they prostrate themselves to her and moreover, didn't object to them being wrapped in blankets and sitting in the galley. (Just them bitching about it)

Luffy: Is not only into the story, he's into finding solutions. But interestingly he's kind of least effected by the story (aside from Zoro). I think it's partly because he's not too interested in the past-- but also there's no point in being sad about something that can't be changed. Instead he's most interested in what he can do. And then does it.

We also see his compassion for other people. Because I think he let Mr. 9 and Vivi on board simply because they asked him to and they needed to get back-- Needed to get back enough to prostrate themselves even. Despite the sincerity of it being kind of an act. (And I think Luffy would have let them come even if they hadn't)

Zoro: The least interested in story over all. He is interested to an extent that it's happening but only up to a point. Unlike the three above, he really doesn't care too much about Crocus or Laboon. What he does care about is his own crew. In this case Luffy's desire to do what he wants in terms of bringing Vivi and Mr. 9 along. Though in this case he's almost big brothering Luffy in the sense that he doesn't tell Luffy what's up with these guys, rather keeps it to himself.( This will come to a head in Whiskey Peak.) In a very real way, though, he's big brothering them all. When he wakes up he chides them for not being on guard as they should. For the moment I feel like in a way, Zoro thinks he's superior to them, at least in terms of knowledge and maturity. Because if Zoro has one outstanding flaw, it's this tendency toward massive arrogance (occasionally leading to control).


Luffy<->Usopp: Just a great example of what fun they can have together and their kind of equal but opposite personalities. Also I think it's really key that—this early on, while everyone (including Usopp) wonders what the hell Luffy is up to-- it's Usopp that actively tries to figure it out. He knows Luffy has a goal and a purpose, even if he can't piece it together.

Strawhats->Luffy: For me there's kind of an overall sense that they don't really know Luffy that well yet. I mean they do know him fairly well , at least the important aspects of him, but he still has the capacity to surprise them. Like Luffy eating way too much and Sanji not paying attention to his gluttony. Though he learns that quick. To none of them getting what the hell Luffy is up to, to Zoro being surprised Luffy let Vivi and Mr. 9 come along even though he doesn't owe them anything.

Adventure End

Overall, the Twin Capes adventure was an introduction to the mechanics of the Grand Line; while also setting in place a deeper history (that of Crocus and also of Laboon) In terms of story it's kind of a twin to Loguetown, sitting more or less on its own but with connections heading outward.
Next time, however, we'll be talking about Whiskey Peak and the start of the Alabasta Mega Arc.
Until then~!


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We Are One Piece

February 2017

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