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Ah Whiskey Peak, the beginning mini-arc of the Alabasta Arc. What happens here will feed into the ideas, themes and concepts of the arc as a whole and so we have a lot to cover. In this part though, we explore subterfuge, diversion, the power of information and take a really good multifacted look at Zoro, who he is, who he has become and how much further he has to go.

Last part we ended with them arriving at Whiskey Peak and Vivi and Mr. 9 saying their goodbyes before leaping off ship and swimming to shore.

Now that we know that? We open.

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Time once more for our favorite game of: Who the hell said that?! There are five balloons and five (suggested) speakers. I'm not sure if I can pick them all out but let's see what we can do. To make this easier, let's go by character.

Luffy: I am 99% sure that Luffy is the one bellowing to forget about 'em. Because Luffy.

Usopp: I think he's saying the “what's up with those two” line, though I think it's better translated (in the other two versions) as “Who were those guys?” Because Usopp speaks to be heard and doesn't necessarily expect an answer. (Also Zoro already knows, and Nami and Sanji have already heard what they're willing to say. Usopp has too, of course-- but he'd be the most likely to say it out loud)

From here on out it gets a little more vague but...

Nami: I think she is thinking the line “They're gone”. Because it's not something Zoro would think and we rarely get Sanji's internals. Granted it could be Usopp, but I'm still pretty sure it's Nami.

It's a little vaguer and more headcanony here but...

Zoro: Giving him the river up ahead line because he can see it. Though it's about a 50/50 with Sanji here...

Sanji: Would be left with the docking line, merely because it sounds more technical.

It's a lot of guesswork but I like it. If you have any differing thoughts feel free to share. And you may wonder at the point of this exercise but the point is I like to do it =D so that's all you need!

Before we move along though, I have to stop and address the common idea that all is not as it seems. Because, from the distance, we see cactus spines, but we know they are actually graves.

We'll come back to that.

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And here Usopp brings up a legitimate fear. Though built out of nothing more than a kind of general fear of the dangers of the Grand Line. But also fears of the unknown. He wasn't afraid of going into Loguetown after all, or on the Baratie. True he has encountered the monsters of the calm belt but he wasn't initially afraid of that either. So he builds this idea (and in his head: reality) of monsters based on the reputation of the Grand Line itself. And here, he's not entirely unjustified in his fear-- but he's not completely justified either.

I feel like what Usopp is really trying to do is to be reassured. For someone to tell him there are no monsters here. Of course not we'll be fine. Which naturally is not something he gets XD For Sanji's place, I can't tell if he's just being practical or borderline trolling him. Either way he's not going to let Usopp off the hook by saying there are no monsters. Though he doesn't necessarily say there are either. Just the possibility.

Luffy's reply is really interesting on two levels:

First the idea of, If there are monsters, we'll run away. This feels strange, especially since we haven't seen Luffy really run from anything-- except Smoker and the Marines-- and the Sea Kings. What it implies, of course, is that Luffy will run from monsters. But the trick here is the definition of monster since Usopp's and Luffy's definition wildly differ in that area. Also of course in the question of when to run. When would Luffy run vs. when would Usopp? I feel like for Luffy the monster would have to actively be trying to attack them and Luffy feels he's not strong enough to take it on or there's no explicit purpose to take it on if they can outrun it. For Usopp I feel like a monster would just have to exist for him to (temporarily) run. Because you can never be too careful.

Second, it almost feels like to me he's trying to convince Usopp (and the rest of them) to go. He's less of a captain here and more trying to convince friends that this is a great idea, yo! And it's interesting because this is the first island they've ever really had a disagreement about whether to go in or not.

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And of course Nami advises caution. If they really want to do this thing, they might be stuck doing this thing for x amount of time so they really need to consider if they want to spend that time on an island of monsters or not. I have the feeling she doesn't particularly want to go either. But for her end, I think she's less afraid of monsters and more the idea that they dropped two suspicious characters off at their home island where there could be more suspicious characters.

Also how much do I love serious!Sopp and Luffy twisted around like that with his legs over the figurehead. XD

Nami explains about how the log pose needs time to record and then:

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Here, in the top right panel, I feel like Nami is wary of the island and would rather not go... But whether they go or not, she's trying to convince them of the seriousness of this situation. I'm sort of hedging for she almost wants to try to talk them out of it but the threat isn't so big that she's completely against it (Because we've seen and will see Nami completely against things) but at the same time she doesn't express her wariness other than a general way. We have to be careful, but not why we have to be careful.

Also once again Luffy is trying to convince them, make this appeal to them and almost get a consensus. First by telling Usopp that they'll just run away, and then saying not to worry about it but belying impatience and then just throwing out his trump card which ANYONE can see that following rivers that are in front of them are essential!!

Viz's translation is a little weird here. Nami says, in the Viz: “it looks that way” which...what? But both this one and Stephen's say: “For you maybe”, which makes more sense. In any case, she's definitely still holding back from actually agreeing to go. Though isn't outright saying no.

And for Zoro he's kind of taking charge in a sense, reinforcing Luffy's will to go. There's no point in worrying about what's there. Though where Luffy was saying it because he has the mindset of they'll figure it out on the fly, Zoro's is more along the lines of he'll be there to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Meanwhile Usopp is still not sold on this idea at all – though rather than trying to convince the others this is a bad idea he's using one of his diseases as a kind of last ditch attempt, and hoping that they have enough compassion to maybe listen to him and indulge his disease – and who knows, hopefully it'll be catching /sweat

Finally, again, Sanji doesn't have a particular need to go or to stay. He's fine with one way or the other. Though he does use it as a chance to say he will protect Nami. I'm not sure whether he considers those guys a threat or not or actually even believes there are monsters on the island. I'm kind of betting not though.

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And of course it's hard to say for sure who exactly is saying this, but it can be inferred to be Nami. Essentially, she's the one who makes the final assent, almost (to her mind perhaps) the final decision to go in—even overriding Usopp who tries to get in a say. I can see her saying the final lines, too, preparing them for anything that happens- acting once again as a quartermaster but also as someone very much in charge.

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Once again, we have a thematic obfuscation going on. The fog makes it impossible for the Strawhats to see just what is going on, though they are not completely unaware-- Meanwhile the BW agents have time to set up their subterfuge out of sight. This in a way represents their respective groups-- The Strawhats straightforward and blatant for anyone to see, Baroque Works sneaky and using cover to their advantage. It's also possible I think to read into this that the Merry doesn't really look like your typical pirate ship so they sort of have to double check.

At any rate the arriving Strawhats are greeted merrily by the town.

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Luffy is always going to be suckered in by a party and a celebration, lbh. But I love their differing reactions. Usopp surprised at just how wrong he was and just how unscary the place is. But maybe he was right the first time about them being monsters. Or maybe he wasn't. Or maybe the truth is a bit more complicated than that. Uhuhu

Nami, too, is shocked. I think even though she was suspicious of the place, not even she expected this kind of welcome. And Sanji is just suspicious as all hell. He probably has enough experience to know this is at the most unusual, if a little sketch.

But man I just love the happiness of the town and just how hard they celebrate. And why wouldn't they? Pirates mean pay day and pay day means food! Who wouldn't be happy? But they are pretty clever, too. Immediately by cheering pirates as heroes, they can (and most likely have!) put many pirates off guard. We'll go more into it later but suffice to say, their plan, on the whole, is a good one.

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Atthe sight of cute girls, Sanji's suspicions are dropped. XD And they are pretty cute, ngl! I love the one in the background myself with the tuft of hair sticking up . She's adorable.

As for Usopp, well what he says is slightly different across three translations. You have

Viz: Pirates are heroes to these people!
Scanlation: Looks like pirates really are the people's heroes!
Stephens: So pirates really are everyone's heroes, right?

The nuance isn't really a big deal except if you want to look at how Usopp perceives a pirate groups place in the world. Does he think...

A: Pirates are heroes to these people specifically though not generally elsewhere?
B: Pirates are the people's heroes like he always suspected! (or heard or imagined)
C: Pirates are everyone's heroes like he always suspected (etc) aren't they?

Because Stephen's and the scanlations match more, I'm more inclined to go with those. Specifically Stephen's because the “aren't they” speaks to a more Japanese line of thinking in terms of dialogue. But generally speaking I like this idea of Usopp believing that while pirates can be terrible people, they can also be really great people and are probably more often great than terrible. Whether he heard it this way or not (and I can see him hearing from Yasopp) it's something he most wants to believe-- for himself (because I think ultimately Usopp wants to be a good person) and for Yasopp. (Both so he can be proud of his father and think his father is going off to do great things rather than worrying about him being a bad guy)

Also I love Luffy's Yahooo! (which I prefer to Viz's “Wow”)

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Nice to see you, Igaram! =D

Here I'm just wondering at the connection between Igaram and saxaphones. Does he really know how to play? Is it just a prop for a weapon? Is he musically inclined at all or did he just pick it at random to give himself a clever undercover theme? I'm not sure which idea I like more-- Igaram being a consummate jazz artist, Igaram only really knowing which end of the horn to blow from,or Igaram slowly learning how to play to look more proficient in the eyes of others...

Aside from that, looking at this from a world building perspective, I don't doubt that Whiskey Peak has a lot of liquor and a lot of hospitality. Of course the hospitality is debatable depending on who you are but I can see liquor exports getting them through the times when there are no pirates. Unless of course they just invest it all into bounty hunting, which I can see too given how we'll see Whiskey Peak operates.

At any rate, Igaram invites them to a banquet and:

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Okay, first? I just have to point out that Viz's translation of Luffy's line never fails to crack me up: “Mister, you have curled your hair way too much”.

Also note Sanji and Usopp's kind of dynamic poses there. Sanji's is a bit closed off as he's folding his arms but I don't think he's really too suspicious-- mostly it seems like him and Usopp just acting like cool guys~
Though Nami and Zoro are definitely uncertain about this situation. Nami's arms are crossed and Zoro's arm looks kind of tense and near his swords. Though, in a study of contrasts, Luffy's posture is completely open-- astonished as he is by Igarams coiffure.

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Of course XD the seriousness doesn't last for long with those three as they are overcome with the idea of a party, celebrating with the nakama kick dance of happiness! Usopp's and Luffy's expressions are just a joy to behold while Sanji seems to be imagining somewhat different pursuits. Ur hur hur hur

Also in the background, the birth of the 'idiot trio'. XD tho Viz just says 'those idiots'. I like how done Nami is with this. And Zoro, too! You can't really see his expression too clearly here, but in the printed volume it's extra hilarious. He's just like Are you guys seriously doing this right now? Or much the same line as Nami in 'those idiots'. XD Though I wonder if Nami is reacting more to their carefree attitude despite the suspicious situation and Zoro is reacting more to them being goofballs-- Either way, it's obvious they share the same concerns of their nakama not taking this seriously enough.

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And Igaram is good at what he does-- of engaging hospitality. Brushing off her concerns with thoughts to a party. Not that it works because Nami is more canny than Igaram gives her credit for. Either way he makes it sound really good, and if Nami wasn't the highly suspicious sort she might be more inclined to go with it. But then he sort of cements this direction, but holding her companionably though at the same time away from the sea and in the direction he wants her to go.

Also Zoro being super suspicious in the background, looking around at all the people here and not happy.

And so the sun sets...

and in chapter 107 the moon rises...on a blowout!

Or well, actually on a really fantastic color spread.

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I won't talk about it here (much), but I love that Sanji has his foot on the sleeping Zoro, completely disrespecting him. His sunglasses. His proudly holding up the Goal sign going off in all directions that Usopp undoubtedly made. I love Zoro snoozing peacefully. and Luffy seemingly getting schnockered? It's hard to tell. Nami being suspicious. But also the general... detritus. It looks kind of almost like somewhere long abandoned. The castoffs of whoever left. It's such a strange place. XD Almost reminds me of a lite Gray Terminal. Also Usopp without his bandanna (having given it to the owl I just realize) and his Don't Funk [chinhands]

SPEAKING of Usopp and being schnockered

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Here Usopp is doing his best at being both. I wonder if this is the first time he's ever been plastered.

Aside from that, (but tying into it) let's look at the BW agent's strategy here to get Usopp's guard down, which basically amounts to letting Usopp do all the work. Which is kind of ingenious because they don't know what will turn Usopp on (metaphorically speaking) and so they let him show them and react accordingly. Though also I think with some suspicion of what he might like. The women all swoon and the men are all popeyed saluting amazement. (I love the nun in particular, clutching her rosary as if to say she is, indeed, a nun.) And... XD it seems to me though that there is a little bit of strain in swallowing these lies. Like the women's eyebrows and the men's eyes. Wide but at the same time...you seriously want us to believe this?

In contrast:

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Sanji's group seems to be having a much better time. Though in this case they are not just passive listeners but active participants and HAVE to look joyous as they flirt with him. I love how Mr. Suave and cool is an utter goof nut. He's not even holding his own beer. Rofl. I love his arms around them and I super love the short haired girl who is grinning at him. She is so cute. They all are so cute. Gosh. [chinahnds] AND OF COURSE MY FAVORITE

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THIS guy. The most scrubbiest of manly men. He cracks me up. XD Why the hell is he here in this group?! What about this gaggle of adoring women says that having Roughhewn Workingman Sam is also welcome. I mean you can possibly say he wanted to be where the women are too but he's not engaging with any of them though he does seem to be looking toward the floppy haired girl whose mouth is obscured? Could it be her father? Could this be a forbidden romance? Is it possible he's also a cook? (given we see one of the cooks passed out by Luffy has a similar look) I think you could make a lot of theories just on those thoughts. XD From a purely textual perspective it's impossible to say, but I think if we're looking thematically...

Like, for Usopp, he needs someone to listen to his stories. It doesn't matter who. I don't think he's particularly even phased by the women heart-farting over him.

And for Sanji, he loves women. He's an ultimate goober in this situation with all this attention showered on him. But I sort of feel like a man is an anchoring presence for him. Because even tho Sanji loves women, he's more used to and comfortable with the life/attitudes of someone like Roughewn Workingman Sam. I also think it suggests that Sanji likes men, too. (not even necessarily in shippy terms-- though not necessarily not either) and of course we know he does because we've seen it with Gin and others... but it's not easy for him to so easily admit. (And as a reminder I'm not saying that this is why that particular BW agent placed himself there, but just overall) On the other hand it could also just because he's hilarious sitting there. Or also because Sanji is too drunk to notice.

For myself I prefer a mixture of all those ideas.

(Also I wouldn't call this flirting, more having fun and trying not to die from it)

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But let's look at these guys for a second, too. They are playing along and ostensibly having fun. (Though Zoro and a drinking challenge seems to be his natural habitat) But why are they playing along? I feel like a lot of the reason again is because Luffy wants to be here and party. So they are protecting that idea and creating a space for him to do as he likes. I say this because, again, they don't share their suspicions as we'll see. Not even with each other. And not telling Luffy means he can enjoy himself to his fullest. (And Usopp too, I think. Tho I wonder if there's this idea that Sanji knows what he's getting into or should know but he's also an idiot)

It's time for another round of Background character appreciation!

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This woman looks utterly enthusiastic about cheering on Nami. XD I kind of love her.
Also, since we're here, let's look at how canon Nami being able to out -drink Zoro is:

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Firstly, I think it's funny that while we can tell Nami is super good at faking it, we can't tell with Zoro because we never see his face throughout the entire sequence. Here he gives up. Why does he give up? (and man how hard is it for him to give up on anything?) Well I think he was reaching his limit from tipsy to drunk and didn't want to cross it. And though of course they're both faking how drunk they are and we never see Nami technically out drink Zoro I think it's pretty significant that she keeps going and is still as clear-headed.

Secondly, while the Twin Capes adventure played the dynamics and similarities between Zoro and Sanji, this plays the dynamics and similarities between Zoro and Nami. Why I think is all related to this idea of control. With Zoro and Sanji they're the most alike and different when it comes to fighting. For Zoro and Nami they're the most alike and different in situations of protection and subterfuge. We'll see more of that later. But for right now it's good to keep in mind.

Also, why are there so many nuns? Even fake nuns? The answer is simple. Because nuns= a sense of safety and a sense of good or holy people. This is almost a sanctuary. Nothing to worry about here.

So, but looking at from the BW agents' perspective, this is a pretty ingenious set up, right? You can take down pirates en masse and never get your hands too dirty and without much threat to yourself.


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Luffy had eaten enough for twenty people and was still asking for more. This is after that mark. He wiped out three chefs in doing so. And yes, of course, Luffy is Luffy and eats a lot... But also the Strawhats are a likely a very small crew. If you look at the other pirates we've seen, Alvida, Buggy, Kuro etc, they have maybe at least twenty people on board. So Whiskey Peak's idea is to welcome these twenty man crews and wine and dine them until they are stuffed and passed out--

Which is probably why they have a food shortage and why they had to go after Laboon.

Think about it, in a town packed with bounty hunters, who is going to farm? Is there anywhere TO farm? With their kind of approach they are basically shooting themselves in the feet in the long term.

Though I think the idea overall is very sound. I mean it's easy to say that more pirates would be suspicious of these kind of welcomes-- but consider what a beast it is getting into the Grand Line to begin with and not all of them had guides like Crocus and Vivi. So these pirates come in, are hammered by the freaky weather, and if they survive, bedraggled and weary, they have a town celebrating their arrival. It seems portentous! And as we can see the BW agents here know what they are doing. (that being said there's only a 1 in 7 chance they'll get any visitors anyway so what do they do between times? I wonder if they have advertisements in places like Loguetown. Come to Whiskey Peak for fun! Third island on the Log Pose! You won't regret it!)

Also see Nami losing her shit at Luffy falling over. A++

and let's just take a minute to enjoy their repose...

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Things to love here? Usopp's blissful puff of air drunk on booze and attention... Sanji snuggling into the lady's laps drunk on booze and love (and his squishy faced sleeping after), Luffy snoozing away, Nami's squishy faced happy sleeping I'm not as drunk or as asleep as you think I am face and Zoro's just clonk of a head on the table as if “this is the only sign of pretend comfort you're getting from me now go away so I can kick your asses”

An important thing before we leave? The adventurers line is (most likely given the context) something that Igaram says... but the line reads so differently across three translations it's difficult to make out an exact characterization:

In Stephen's he says: my little adventurers
Scanlation: My fellow adventurers
Viz: brave adventurers

Of course there's no way to know how he said it, whether his tone was sarcastic or cold or what. And it might very well be those things. But I have to wonder how exactly Igaram feels about this. True he probably has no love for pirates, but he probably doesn't have a particular hatred for them either. Also I wonder if Luffy and Usopp looking and acting like such kids has an effect on him, even a little. Not that it's going to stop him from whatever he has to do but... we'll look more into that as we go on.

While the Strawhats were partying hard, however, Mr. 9 and Vivi were writing a report to “the boss” …ostensibly Crocodile but perhaps Robin. Still I think that Crocodile takes a look at all the reports and so must have a gargantuan amount of paperwork to sift through. But we'll discuss that much later...

For now it's worthy to note that they are writing the letter...

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Of course it is Mr. 9 saying that if they write to the boss, everything will work out-- but again I don't think it's going to be that easy. Nor does Vivi seem to think so. I wonder if they haven't really failed before,or maybe haven't failed enough for Crocodile to take notice... Since, considering what happens to Mr. 3, and their own encounter with the Unluckies earlier, Crocodile is not all that forgiving.

In fact I think Vivi is pretty sure that she is in up to her neck now because she tries to hightail it later on.

(though to Mr. 9's credit he at least says to make up for our mistake we've captured the pirates that got in our way. So he's not completely naive)

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So let's take a look at the Jolly Roger...

Before we get into it, however, two asides:

A) It is kind of strange for Bounty Hunters to have a jolly roger. Almost a hint of the true nature of Baroque Works. Or the true nature at the head of it.

B) I had an initial thought that it might come from Crocodile's old jolly roger (which we've not seen to my knowledge) but then I doubt he'd be so stupid. Still I think the fact that is modeled after any jolly roger is a gesture to Crocodiles arrogance. He is so clever no one can see what is right in front of them. And for the most part they can't.

As for the design itself, the crossed swords is very similar to Shanks' jolly roger.

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And I kind of wonder if it's because it's a of common symbol of pirate groups of that generation. (meaning, I wonder if they used this symbol commonly, not stating that it was). But also it indicates that Baroque Works, like the Redhair pirates, are dangerous and will fight.

A big difference, of course, between Crocodiles' and Shanks' and most other jolly rogers we see, is that the skull itself lacks presence. Shanks' has scars, Luffy's has a hat, Buggy's has a nose and so on. Baroque Works is just a blank skull.

But it's what's around the skull that speaks fully of Crocodile's personality. Instead of a piratical and slashing cutlass, these are rapiers, elegant and refined and commonly used for cutting straight to the point or 'thrusting' at the desired spot.

The wings also make it somewhat unusual. Though it's somewhat resembling Roger's own jolly roger.

At least in terms of something sweeping out. But rather than rolling like the sea, the wings reach out and up, though still coming from the central base of the skull. Almost like reaching for some higher purpose. For me it represents this idea and dream of utopia. But since the skull is blank, it serves a double purpose of being able to hide himself, but also allowing the other members of BW to, in a way, take it as theirs. They are following a central figure, yes, but also their own dreams.

Moving on, outside the tavern,

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It's an interesting moment in terms of Igaram's character.

Like going on what we know of him, he's a pretty good natured guy, though dedicated to his cause... or rather Vivi's cause. I also do think he's a bit of a poet or is at least fond of the arts... but here I wonder if he's reminding himself to be Igrappoi. Or maybe the price of being Igrappoi. Because yeah the cacti are pretty but only really cacti because they are covered in headstones as he knows. More to the point he's alone at this moment so if he's speaking, who is he speaking to but himself?

Vivi and Mr. 9 show up, the latter claiming Igrappoi is quite the poet-- and then they ask how the SH's are with Igaram telling them they've fallen deeply ...to hell that is.

Miss Monday comes out of the tavern, pulling off her wimple and complaining at how much SH can eat and drink....

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I find it interesting that there's this repeated emphasis on how young they are or at least how young they look. Here she says brats, but both viz and Stephen's call them “kids”. This leads me to think that most pirates that pop into their port are older or at least older looking. They are used to pirates who seem more serious business than the SHs are.

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So...firstly...if they could have crushed them in the harbor...why didn't they?

Maybe they were given no time to prepare; but they could have still gotten on with the crushing when the SH disembarked. Igaram later says that the gvt would want them alive, however at that point they didn't know that yet. What we do know for sure is that it was Igaram who got the idea of the party going and so maybe he wanted a chance to capture them perhaps without hurting them. Though in the end he still would have had to give them over to the government, so who really knows? Though, personally, I am a fan of Igaram's compassion.

Miss Monday doesn't have a whole lot of it though XD Though what she says does indicate parties aren't necessarily their go-to which makes me wonder if they only go all out for the more nefarious or dangerous looking pirates who sail up their river.

As for her dialogue and Vivi's reaction... it seems a bit of a weird translation, even in Viz... Though Stephan's makes it clearer having Miss Monday say: It's not like we were expecting any whale meat. Implying, of course, that the pair of them are incompetent. Which Vivi is pissed at—which is kind of funny. I actually think she has a lot of pride. And of course Mr. 9 is just whiny. Thinking once again that doing their best was enough.

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I feel Igaram's line is somewhat typically said and so easily overlooked. But how often is that line said by someone marked as an antagonist? Especially so far in this journey. Igaram knows what he is about, knows how sensitive and precarious his position is. He didn't just underestimate the strawhats because they looked like kids but actually did research on them to find out who they were. Of course this fits his position as Captain of the Royal Guard to treat everyone suspiciously-- but I also think it's due in no small part to Crocodile's own deception. He was the hero of Alabasta but yet it turns out he is actively against Alabasta and so Igaram knows not to take anyone at face value.

Vivi and Mr. 9 are still astonished though. XD mostly due to the fact that they spent time with them. Also I think it's a mark of Miss Monday's character that she realizes and owns up to her mistake and is ashamed of having made it. Although she will make it again fairly soon.

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Now again this is interesting. How much of this is Baroque Works sensibility and how much of it is Igaram going easy on them? It's difficult to say. We know that the denizens of Whiskey Peak have no compunction in killing pirates. In fact, it's likely the safest way to go. You don't have to pay for food/transportation/etc or worry about the pirate escaping/taking revenge/encountering the pirate's friends.

And as an aside to put this in perspective... it's not just a simple case of killing a pirate and sending their corpse. We can tell they don't because there are so many graves. What likely happened was that the pirates were killed and then their heads were sent on so those in Whiskey Peak could collect the bounty. There is some precedent for this

It could be that Igaram is giving them a fighting chance due to their youth. Or perhaps he is giving them a fighting chance because of their safe return of Vivi when they could have done anything but-- especially as Vivi met the others on quite antagonistic terms. Of course he says it in terms of their value, but it could still be for both reasons. Both things are true. I also find it interesting that he says the government wants to execute them publicly. If he's telling the truth about that-- you have to wonder why. I think it's because Luffy has such a stupidly high bounty for the East Blue that the government wants to save face. They could also believe he's capable of causing such disaster but-- also it will look good on record to execute such a notorious pirate for all others to see—regardless if his deeds actually merit a bounty that high.

Oh yeah and then there's this guy

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Thus begins hands down one of my most favorite Zoro scenes ever. And for everyone who says that Zoro is stern and non-smiling, they need to go back and reread this scene. But he is having fun in SPADES and it's wonderful to see. How and why he is having fun we'll get into it, but for the moment let's look at how it's framed here and what it says about Zoro-- in fact the two most important things, (and a third interconnected thing)

His first thought is to his nakama. Granted he is doing this to tease the BW and to showcase his power, but he frames it in a super confident way. Not, you'll have to go through me, but; let them rest because they've had a long day. Zoro knows he can protect his nakama and, moreover, that they don't have a snowball's chance in hell. But, too, he's taking the role of protecting them completely on himself. To explore more of that idea...

His second statement is in regards to his pride as a swordsman. What does this reflect? A swordsman is always in control he believes, a swordsman doesn't lower his guard. This is what he believes a swordsman is and what he values in himself. It also shows aside from that his general feelings. He is not going to be tricked so easily into drinking. He is aware of his surroundings and the dangers within it so they can't catch him off guard.

But keep the last line in mind and let's go on to this:

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First of all, if you'll allow me... Iyaan /fans self/ you can take me on any time <3<3


That out of the way, Zoro knows they are bounty hunters. He knew they were before. He knew what they were getting into the moment he knew they were taking Vivi and 9 along for the ride. He knew and yet he didn't tell anyone about it. Didn't tell them that they were sailing into a nest of bounty hunters. Let the others party themselves into a stupor just thinking they had found a really great place...

And why? Because he also was super confident that he could protect his nakama without help. The fact that he can is irrelevant. In doing it this way he is essentially taking power and agency away from Luffy-- and the others too –but Luffy most significantly. Luffy can't make an informed decision about whether he wants to help or not, or drink with bounty hunters or not. Granted it's Luffy so he probably wouldn't care about stuff like that and would want to go-- but the fact that he doesn't even know takes a lot away from him. Moreover, though Zoro's motives are good ones, he's still the one carrying the most control over the situation. He is acting like a big brother would act-- like I can even see Ace in this position, protecting Luffy's fun and his rest. But it is not Zoro's place to protect Luffy from himself—which will come to a head soon.

Also again? Take Zoro's last line and transfer it down

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Right away we see the biggest problem with BW as a system. Yes Crocodile protects himself but it's already shaking itself apart from the base. If BW hadn't been so committed to secrecy within its own ranks and could actually trust one another, they would have known about Zoro's rejection. They would have known about Zoro's strength, too. Because we find out that BW kills those who learn the secret of their organization. Zoro knew, refused and was probably attacked. He likely either killed or beat up whomever had tried to kill him (based on your interpretation of Zoro and how dark you want OP to be. For me I say he killed them but that is just me) They might have even been able to get the jump on Zoro the moment the Merry was in the harbor. But since there is so little information sharing among the different branches of BW, they are completely blindsided.

Also man he is just lording it over them. Zoro is the champion of being smug sometimes. Basically what he's saying here is I know your secret but there ain't shit you can do about it since I'll kick your ass anyway so suck it.

Also naturally turned you down. BW is so beneath his notice that he doesn't even consider joining them. Of course we'll learn more of who offered him this position and why he declined and so on a little later, but suffice to say for the moment he's mocking them.

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Once again, I wonder about Igaram. What is he feeling right now? For me, I feel like he didn't want to kill them initially but now he has to kill Zoro. His back is to the wall and he has no other choice. But he is resigned to it and will do his best to bring him down. I think it's quite possible he doesn't want to. But he is willing to for the sake of Vivi and Alabasta. I wondered if he has killed pirates before for the sake of Vivi and Alabasta. But for him I think that he believes that it is always worth it.

And now I'm going to go on a journey that shamelessly indulges in Zoro's expressiveness in this chapter. Care to join me?

So the set up for this is that they see Zoro on the roof, he disappears from the roof and appears in their midst looking up at the roof like the cocky bastard he is

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Which of course shows how out of their league he is. I love their shocked faces but I love most of all that grin that he has. He is all set to enjoy the hell out of this and you can really tell he is in every sense of the word. Here is Zoro at 100% confidence and 110% cocky smugness. King of Smug. Bow down before his shit eating grin.

At any rate they try to shoot at him and he disappears so they shoot at one another. Igaram says he's just one swordsman so find him and kill him and then:

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In which of course Zoro is saying I can kill the shit out of all of you. Will I? Maybe. Maybe not. Bwaha

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Maybe there's something to the 1 vs 100 thing. Yes, Zoro is outnumbered. But he's also faster and stronger and they can shoot themselves easier than they can him. I mean granted it won't quite work this way in real life but here you can see why it's a problem.

It doesn't help that Whiskey Peak is disorganized as hell. But on the other hand it reminds me of Princess Bride and the fight between Fezzik and the “masked man” aka Wesley where he says something to the effect of he's used to fighting off a dozen guys at once and it's much different from only fighting one.

What's most interesting to me here though is that Igaram either knows that they will shoot at him (either carelessly in the heat of battle or intentionally to take the risk... or even more insidious because Igaram is the mayor and promotion is by assassination in the BW) or doesn't trust them not to. Either way he has to turn around and shoot Zoro first, though Zoro disappears and he ends up shooting a lot of the guys behind him. I think he knows that some of them will get shot because I don't think he has the greatest control where the bullets go. I think that he is also not happy about shooting them, but will do so in order to prevent himself from suffering that fate. And it's not so much that I think he doesn't want to get shot but knows he needs to preserve and protect himself for Vivi's sake.

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I love this expression ah. It's just so cool and unique. I think he was really surprised and almost barely got out of the way of it but isn't intimidated in the least by it, judging how he's still being cocky.

9, Vivi and Igaram realize that they're really going to have to take him seriously and we go into chapter 108.

BW wonders where Zoro has gone off to and wondering why he showed his hand while Zoro listens to them hidden behind a wall.

And we cut to the other SH sleeping it off in the tavern.

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Look at all those damn plates XD and Sanji lying blissed out on the floor, still in the mad wild dreams of lady loving. But may I point your attention to Usopp.


Usopp why.

Usopp how

Usopp you are gonna bust your head open if you fall.

But back to Zoro:

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I love that he's always working on his swordsmanship. Always keeping it in mind. It's more of a hobby and a dream it's a profession for him. He could trash them all with the Wado of course but he wants to see how the others work, respond to him

And naturally his first pick is the Yubashiri. Why? Maybe just because. But maybe also it's a good sword for setting a baseline. It's not a problem child like Kitetsu after all.

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Of course even though he's cocky and can beat them to pieces, a moment of letting his guard down is all that it takes for someone to sneak up on him. And the expression on his face means he knows he's in deep shit and could very likely get killed if he's not quick.

He rolls into the house. BW line up at the windows to shoot at him. He throws up a table to block their bullets and then decides to attack, cutting through the table and coming straight for them . I won't show the sequence itself but I think it's interesting how his expression changes:

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From tension as he frantically tries to find a way to protect himself, and the smugness returning as he gets an idea of how to get out of it. (here saying he's choosing Yubashiri)

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I love his pride and pleasure at finding Yubashiri to be a good sword and his almost fond expression as he looks at it. Also to the right him being the king of messing with people again as he realizes with a laugh (and a slight sweatdrop) that they found him. (and did he kill those guys? Or just bloody them? Hm)

After some more shenanigans, Ms. Monday hucks a barrel at him.

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For the second time we see Baroque Works shooting itself in the foot because it's got too many people. Moreover, they don't know how to work together. They are all just swarming after Zoro and trying to take him down as individuals wanting to make the kill.

I also find it interesting that Zoro, upon realizing someone is coming behind him, takes the Kitetsu. When he took the Yubashiri, he stated he would try it out. Here, not so much. But on the other hand when he first said he was going to test out his swords he took the Yubashiri without comment so perhaps there's nothing to this other than wanting to test it out.

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His last line here is also interesting. Did he mean to not cut it? Did he mean to only deflect it? Or stop it? Clearly he didn't expect Kitetsu to cut it at all. I don't think he was completely prepared for the stone mallet either. Either way I think it's pretty clear that Kitetsu slipped out of his control.

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Now consider this kid. He's an indication of how dark the OP world can get. He's maybe at most ten and really going to stab Zoro. Why is a kid in a bounty hunting organization? Was he born there? Did he wind up there intentionally or otherwise? Has he killed people or seen them killed? It's hard to say for sure... I do like though that Zoro basically knocks the dagger out of the kid's hands and the kid looks terrified. Again it's hard to tell if it's legit fear or not but I can see a reason for it to be. After all this kid has faced down pirates probably-- or if he hasn't knows the dangers it entails and that they won't always hesitate to do more.

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But this is not this kid's first rodeo with a pirate clearly. Nor hers. This tactic clearly buys some extra time. I wonder if either of these two have skills other than this. If the boy was recruited for the nun's deception or that they just decided to work together. I think it's clear the boy doesn't really have any training since he was going to stab then shoot Zoro. I also get the sense that though they work together it's more of a neccessity thing as, fitting the rest of the BW in this part, they seem to both want the kill themselves.

As for Zoro, though, it's interesting that at first he's startled by this display of vulnerability if the !! is any indication. But then sees right through it or at least suspects right through it. He doesn't buy their bullshit for a second and that he is hard hearted enough to hit a kid and a presumable nun. ...Yet at the same time he is not so heard hearted that he would kill a kid. But he will keep them from going after his crew.

And yet curiously, he says: I used the back of my sword, forgive me.

Now this is verbatim across all three translations. But he's clearly not apologizing for hitting them. Or if he is, it's because he's hitting them with the back of his swords. I mean from the context of the narrative and overall characterization-- it's saying there's some lines he won't cross.

He's not saying it sarcastically either and seems somber or at least serious throughout this encounter... like knowing he is going to do something he knows is hard hearted because that's just who he is and what he has to do.

Another problem too is the line: “Use that sorry trick on someone with a kinder heart” which is echoed in Viz, but Stephen's is “Try that against someone a little more gullible and soft hearted.” Which changes the nuance since he doesn't mention the nature of the trick ie “sorry”, just that he's not gullible enough to fall for it. When it's two against one I usually go for the more popular translation. But on the other hand bounty hunters aren't required to be honorable to secure their prey. On the other hand he does mention that they lure people in at the start though what he thinks of that is ambiguous at best.

I think ultimately he has some compassion for the kid, and I say it's toward the kid more than the nun because the kid has less of a choice and is more vulnerable. After all it could be the only way the kid can fight against pirates and maybe he has his reasons to do so. But he has no time to give the kid a proper fight or any inclination to give him his head. So he pops the kid and the nun with the back of the sword and is apologizing for taking that chance away as he's currently being pursued and has to race up a ladder.

While I'm not 100% about this it's my best guess at present, but feel free to add your own thoughts.

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Also these

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Anyone who thinks Zoro is a complete numbnuts can get out of my face. Here he is fighting cleverly. He may be dumb but he's not stupid. I also like the ladies' style. They're really well put together and the ax lady is shades of Bellemere. Also I want to point out an overall trend...other than Zoro being a snarky mofo. He doesn't kill when he doesn't have to.

Yeah he may have bloodied the guys that trapped him in the house but that was when his back was to the wall. Hell he barely even attacks when he doesn't have to, largely using Baroque Works against Baroque Works. This is the main difference between Zoro and some antagonist. Yes he's cocky and arrogant and such, but he doesn't go out of his way or do more than he needs to.

Ms Monday attacks him from behind with a ladder which he seems to sense and only just avoids getting hit though, but she gets the jump on him anyway.

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Zoro knows this is going to hurt like a bitch and you can really see that she's pretty strong by the fact that she cracks the roof. What I like about this and all the fighting that has happened thus far is that it doesn't downplay their level of threat. Yes, they have a hard time getting Zoro but the fact that they nearly did get him more than once shows that they're not so much incompetent so much as Zoro a few levels above.

Also again showcasing their inability to work together. Here, too, with Monday, she is strong in her own right and it's no small hit she plants against Zoro's face. That afterwards Igaram assumes it is over and that she has one is a further testament to her strength.

Unfortunately for her...

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Zoro is stronger. Again appearances can be deceiving. Zoro doesn't visually look stronger than Monday, but he is. Enough perhaps to crack her skull or crush her nose or both. It's also interesting that he takes her one on one; strength against strength. This is probably because she is the only of the 100 left that is still fighting him and that she was strong enough to get the drop on him. But Zoro is also proud of his strength and since she is, too, is defintely invested in showing who is the stronger one here.

Though adding to that... Zoro's strength is only one part of the equation. Monday passes out frothing from his grip and then this:

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Other than being badass and lord have mercy hot, I like this shot because it shows that Monday did have a solid hit. But also shows that Zoro's strength is one thing but his durability is also crazy high. Also it's reinforcing Zoro's fighting style. He is plenty skilled, yes, but most of his skill at the moment comes from brute force and his ability to take a hit and keep on going. He takes pride in his ability to just not die, I think. But this will come back and bite him in the end, eventually.

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Again we reinforce the idea of being deceived by appearances. Also the power of assumption. Though in this case it feels telling that the assumption seems to be based on what they know of pirates rather than what they know of Luffy.

In short, much like Usopp at the beginning of this part, they are being mislead by expectation. To them, based probably on experience as well, a pirates' bounty is equal to that of his ruthlessness, strength and danger. So while at first, they were boggled by the bounty-- the moment they found a more logical explanation that fit with their expectation they went with it. (Though unlike Usopp, as I said, they have experience with pirates whereas Usopp has expectations based on imagined dangers. Also they expect terribleness so they change their perception of who is the terrible one-- whereas Usopp expects terribleness but gets welcome and suckered into it)

We also see why they prefer to think of Zoro as the captain. Luffy's too good-natured to deserve that bounty. (Or too goofy and lame-brained to use Stephen's translation. Which I almost prefer? I mean we know Luffy is good-natured but wouldn't they be more inclined to think less of him?)

The irony comes two fold

Firstly, in a way they are right. Luffy doesn't exactly deserve his bounty because the reason it was given was more out of petulance and revenge. He got that bounty by saving the day. But in a way they are wrong because if a bounty is just based on a pirate's capacity to fuck shit up Luffy definitely deserves all 30 Million as they will come to find out.

The second part is that underestimating Luffy by how they perceive him is very similar to how Crocodile was/is perceived in Alabasta. Yes he has a high bounty but he is known as a hero and endorsed by the government.

So to sum up, they see what they want to believe rather than what is.

Aside from that, I like how Vivi is the one who gives the order/suggestion and says what they should do. But here we see the difference between Whiskey Peak scrubs and Numbered Field Agents. We've seen it a bit before too, but here it's shown again that numbered agents tend to work together/have teamwork. The one blip in this is that Monday didn't seem a partner to Igaram so much as someone slightly inferior. I am pretty sure she was on the same level as him officially, but Igaram has age and experience over her youth. Also of course Igaram cares for and respects Vivi more.

As we head into 109, Igaram says it's disgraceful...

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First to note, Zoro's smirk has faded a little as he looks down at them (and all the carnage he's produced) Though he still looks proud and his expression is like: 'well? Your move!' but I also think he's a little tired.

Also randomly I wonder how long ago Whiskey Peak was left in their care. As we'll see later on the timeline gets a bit strange; but I won't touch on that here.

Igaram shoots at Zoro with his saxaphone which Zoro dodges. 9 and Vivi go into the fight with Vivi calling on Karoo.

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XD It's pretty funny and this is obviously a gag, but I think considering how obedient and intelligent Karoo is after this point (except when he's panicked) It's also very much an act because we know he's not as dumb a duck as he looks. Also the translation here is wonky. Stephen's is more along the lines of: I said “come” not “shake”. Which makes a lot more sense.

Also another reason why I say this is a trick?

Vivi gets on Karoo, telling him to show the speed which would put panthers to shame and:

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He sits. XDD getting smacked for his trouble. But again this serves to distract the hell out of Zoro and allow 9 to sneak up behind him. Not that it does 9 much good but it further highlights the use of diversonary tactics that is favored throughout Baroque Works. Very effective tactics, too. Zoro is distracted. 9 gets the jump on him. Though admittedly he'd have more of a 'jump' if he hadn't announced himself beforehand.

Now, here's an interesting sequence. 9 asks if Zoro can keep up with his acrobatics while flipping down the belltower.

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And here he lands a hit which Zoro blocks... but it seems to me that Kitetsu (and you can clearly see that's the sword it is in the larger picture) is even cutting into the metal bat. I think you can also tell by Zoro's expression that it's sort of a hard hit, probably due to 9 building up momentum in his fall.

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It's funny because even with those metal bats, unless he can land a hit on Zoro or break his swords, they're not a really effective weapon. It's funny because firstly, it seems that his weapon was the one that got nicked...

But the best part here is that he lands behind Zoro and Zoro has an odd expression. What is it? He's thinking. Wondering if he can bank on 9's perception fail. Because the thing is, Zoro turned to meet 9, meaning 9 is now behind Zoro and closer to the edge of the roof.

There's a really fluid little two beat panel where 9 is being cocky and Zoro turns and points Kitetsu at him with all of the doom he's got, freaking 9 out a bit and showing his cockiness for what it is.

And then this... This is where most of all, Zoro is a massive troll:

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First of all he shows 9 just how good he isn't, then taunts him about his acrobatics which 9 has some pride in. Then again uses 9's own arrogance against himself as he flips himself off the roof. He knows what he's doing and that he's going to make 9 make an idiot of himself. He does it on 100% purpose. And it's hilarious. I love that he actually finds it kind of funny-- but at the same time there's... I don't know I wouldn't say fondness but something like seeing a puppy tumble down the stairs or run into a door.

Though almost immediately after as 9 crashes into a house he's annoed at there not being anyone decent to fight around here.

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I love that even though he doesn't look particularly impressed with the thought of fighting her. He doesn't discount her out of hand either. Instead he looks as directed, maybe wondering how the outfit is going to work in her attack or if there's a secret.

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I like that this works, but I wish I knew how it worked. XD Is it just the pattern? She hasn't used it before and she doesn't use it again so I think it's very much dependent on people actually concentrating on the dance. But I don't think it works because Zoro finds her attractive... Which is not to say that he doesn't (or that he does) but that's not the specific reason he falls for it in this case. It just seems to be the way she moves and the pattern is enough to cause vertigo. Why? I wish I knew. But as I said I do wonder if it's dependent on the opponent's full concentration on the spiral pattern and I can see Zoro focusing on it that hard wondering what the hell is going on.

In any case Vivi pulls out a Peacock Slasher and:

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Zoro knows he's in trouble-- but I also think it's fairly evident that he's already pulling himself out of it. I don't think that he'd be able to counter it but at least he can endure it or move out of the way so that it has less of an impact.... Except of course Karoo moves out of the way for him. Again seeming to be an incompetent duck. But is he really?

You can call his expression sweatdropping because he messed up but I think it's more determined than that. We'll see why in a second. But for this particular set of panels, I wonder if Karoo is dodging because while Vivi has to attack in order for her plans to come to fruition, if her attack lands and its not fatal Zoro might be more inclined to return the favor and Vivi can't risk being hurt.

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Another thing Karoo's silliness does is completely distract Zoro, leaving him almost completely vulnerable to Igaram's attack; only saving himself by falling into the hole he made earlier. Zoro is also clearly embarrassed by fighting such idiots. He says so and you can see it in his face. I think part of it was because he fell for her dance; but also he expects Baroque Works to put up some challenge – and that this is almost so far beneath him it isn't funny. I also wonder if there's second hand embarrassment at play here as well.

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And also it's interesting how the strongest opponent that Zoro faces is Igaram... and it has nothing to do with physical strength, but the ability to shoot more bullets than Zoro can deal with. I like this because it really shows the effectiveness of different kinds of strengths. Zoro can slash him if he can reach him and possibly do a special move if he can do it before he can get sho--(which is more evident in Stephen's translation where he says: How can I get within striking distance?)

Before he can figure that out, 9 bursts through the rubble.

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And, well, this is true. Zoro didn't make 9 fall after all. He just let his own arrogance carry him over the edge. I think it's interesting that while Zoro was amused at the time, he looks kind of pissy about it now. Like, don't make excuses for your own stupidity. You fell because you were an idiot. But also I don't think Zoro likes to be thought of as tricky.

9 certainly doesn't mind as he he turns one of his bats into a chain link bat thing which wraps an iron chain around Zoro's wrist. And meanwhile Vivi?

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Is playing it smart. I fully believe that Karoo missed Zoro in order for her to get Luffy to hold as a hostage. She knows that they can't beat Zoro in a one on one battle or even a three on one battle and so has something to use as leverage. Or perhaps, because she needs to get out of there quickly, she doesn't have the time to engage in a lengthy battle. As for why Luffy getting kidnapped over the others I think it's simply because he has a bounty.

Zoro's reaction, too. I feel like as much as Zoro's confident in defending Luffy, in this kind of situation he would rather Luffy be awake to defend himself. Because now things have gotten a bit complicated for him.

But also what I love about this most of all? Is that Zoro is strong and can beat up a hundred guys and numbered officers of the BW; and yet he is still on the verge of losing. If Luffy dies it will be all over for everyone before it's even begun. It really adds to the sense for me that life can end in an instant if you're not careful, especially on the Grand Line. Of course this is only compacted on the idea that if Zoro had told them it might not have happened in the first place. Oh Luffy may still have fallen asleep and gotten kidnapped, but maybe Sanji or Usopp would have been around to prevent it or help...

Weirdly enough, Nami didn't seem to prevent it though we know she's not quite as asleep as she pretends to be. I think that she wasn't going to try to prevent it because Vivi meant business but perhaps was watching to see if Zoro would be able to take care of it.

Also? Zoro is distracted yet again because that sound is Igaram preparing his hair cannons

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What I love most about this? Zoro who just plowed through 100 BW, knows he is in some deep shit because he can't run; he can't hide and he can't get shot by that thing because he's toast. This is one of the things that really separates OP from other shonen for me because it's not the big overpowered moves that are a problem; but the small ones too. The tricks. The subterfuge. Even the strongest can get trapped if they are not paying attention, unfortunate or unlucky. The Grand Line is not to be taken for granted and neither are Baroque Works.

Fortunately Zoro can think on his feet and uses the chain 9 wrapped around his arm to send 9 into the path of the bullets and then into Vivi; killing two birds (and one duck) with one...one of their own birds. Okay the metaphor worked better in my head.


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This because Zoro is thinking with his feet, using Luffy as a way to bounce up to where Igaram is... And I really love to see them play off each other in this way, using one another to help push themselves forward. Of course this isn't a conscious decision of Luffy's XD But also I like how he says Luffy lend me your belly. It's almost respectful in a way like hes' not just going to do it without warning and also putting his boots on him.

And we end on this:

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Because it's just funny how despite Zoro being brash and cocky and King of Smug on the outset, he's grumpy and exhausted by the end of it. (and it's not even the real end of it) In the end he's kind of done what he set out to do (ie let them sleep) although it's only sheer Luffy that Luffy is still asleep. The Grand Line is not to be underestimated. Baroque Works isn't to be underestimate. Zoro will continue to try to carry the burden beyond this-- but that burden will only get heavier as the series progresses.

But this particular incident will come back to bite him in the ass in a big way.


Nothing Is As it Seems: This is basically THE theme of the overarching Alabasta Arc. It's everywhere and a little bit in everything. Subterfuge, secrets, lies, expectations being created, altered. We see all sorts of hints of what's to come in the beginning of Whiskey Peak. The cheerful townsfolk are bounty hunters. Are they good? Are they bad? It largely depends on if you're a pirate or not. If something is too good to be true, is it? If someone seems utterly stupid, foolish or reckless... or even evil... are they? Are those cactus spines? Or graves? What is a diversion and what is a consequence of that? We'll see these questions and answers come up throughout so it's good to keep in mind...

Information is Power: We see this here mostly by Zoro not telling anyone anything. If he had things might have gone much differently. Whether the end result is good or bad is hard to say, but it is true he's bloodied and exhausted by the end of it and still has more fighting to do. But also we see it subtly with the residents of Whiskey Peak. As stated, had they known Zoro was recruited and turned down the offer, they might not have taken him so lightly to begin with. If you don't have information? You can be easily manipulated (by thinking the town was welcoming) or have false expectations (by thinking Zoro was nothing to worry about...and then perhaps conversely that he was the only thing to worry about)

The Power of Teamwork: Almost every singly bounty hunter is after their own kill of Zoro... and yet when they banded together to throw the party, they got four of the SH down. Likewise in the fight, Zoro was more or less fine until Vivi, Igaram, 9 and Karoo worked together to try and take him down. Even the sister and the kid had a shot if Zoro would have fallen for it. We'll definitely see more of this concept later. But also? We see the SH separated very cleverly. They are all in the same room but other than Nami laughing at Luffy passing out, they're not very aware of each other. It's an insidious kind of party where they can't check on one another or make sure there's nothing suspicious going on. Of course Zoro and Nami were always watching but even then they were watching separately with no idea of one another. We'll have to see how this plays out.

Sacrifices Must be Made: Igaram is an antagonist. As compassionate as he might be toward those young and foolish; I have no doubt he would hand them over to the Marines to whatever fate awaited them. Vivi and Alabasta are more important and so these pirates are sacrificed. The denizens of Whiskey Peak would rather sacrifice their precious food stock then attack the pirates head on. But in the end, even in the fight, they are more than willing to risk sacrificing Igaram to get Zoro-- and he them. Though they both have to dirty their hands in order for them to attain their goal of freeing Alabasta. This is just my own headcanon/musings... but I wonder if Vivi knew somewhere that it would be more than likely that 9 would be sacrificed once the secret got out. I wonder if that ever ate at her.


Zoro: The beginning of Whiskey Peak, here and later on is almost another story of Zoro. It's not so much that he's developed, though he has a little, but we finally see what he's like facing a challenge without being horribly wounded or under undue stress of saving everyone. We also really highlight his positive and negative sides and how they interrelate with another.

It's really fun to see how expressive he can be and how arrogant and how much of a troll. He really does love pushing people's buttons-- especially here. I feel like basically he's showing them up. Because Baroque Works is such a big deal and they treat themselves like a big deal he's like, nah, you're small fry. I'm the big deal. And he enjoys putting them in their place. This is a fight he knows he can win with utmost confidence. Even though it's that same confidence that nearly gets him shot a fair number of times because he doesn't always pay the best attention to his surroundings.

I also think he looks down on BW because of the nature of their organization and really the way those of Whiskey Peak tried to sucker them in. He seems to dislike secrets and subterfuge; preferring a straight forward fight. He does show a sort of fighter's respect to Monday. Even if he almost hypocritically criticizes her for her own arrogance to think she is stronger than him. But on the other hand if you're going to go against a pirate with the intent to kill, you'd better be prepared to win. Likewise though he knocks the kid and the nun flat, he has a rough sympathy for them; both it seems for being so rough for them and for not giving them time to fight him properly. He also doesn't tend to go in for overkill.

We even see the weaknesses and strengths of his fighting style. He's got a lot of brute force, raw power and durability.... and even some finesse. He can think on his feet pretty well in a fight, using his surroundings to his advantage and people's disadvantages against them. It makes me wonder if he has fought people before. But at the same time he can be easily diverted since something strange or weird seems to pull him completely out of it and his focus is fairly minimal, focusing on whomever is right in front of him or attacking him at the moment. He doesn't even have full control over Kitetsu yet... and his durability comes with a cost. Though not a high one yet.

But overall I think most of what we learn from Zoro in this part is that he is arrogant... in a way we haven't seen since Mihawk, but doesn't try to devastate people completely-- perhaps because they are so much weaker. He will not hesitate to consequence the shit out of people who have taken actions against his nakama, but he knows how and when to hold back. And yet through his compassion and protective nature-- we see his arrogance coming back and becoming the crux of the problem of this particular segment; and later on, too. It's almost a Zoro knows best. Though he still has aspects of that even in his current characterization, it'll be interesting to see how it shifts over the course of the series.


Strawhat Crew: Though they've been together a little while now, they're still figuring out how to crew and work with one another. It's a little lopsided still with Luffy not being too strong a captain quite yet-- or only seems to be a captain insomuch as everyone allows him to. Zoro says that they should go to this place, enforcing the captain's whim. Nami agrees that they should go to this place. But they are treating him as less a captain and more of a younger brother; certain that they can handle it. (though I doubt Nami would have been quite so certain if she knew what Zoro knew.) In order for them to be a stronger more cohesive crew, Luffy still has to step up.

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