Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Piece (Wan pîsu) (Seasons Eight & Nine)

When I initially decided to start grouping seasons of extremely long shows together in order to prevent an endless barrage of posts it never occurred to me that maybe some seasons shouldn't be grouped together because of their insane length. Seasons eight and nine of One Piece are long enough by themselves, but combined they clock in at 107 episodes or episodes 229-336. That's basically one-sixth of One Piece as a whole (so far) and a third of the episodes I've watched up until this point.

That's a lot. 

Reviewing these episodes took a bit of effort on my part. I went on hiatus about three times last month when it became clear to me that I wouldn't be able to binge watch these two seasons in a few days. Sure, maybe if I was jobless I could, but I don't feel like being jobless again just yet. So I took my time while trying to get a few other anime shows in, too. I swore at the beginning of the year that I wouldn't just spend my all of my time watching Naruto Shippuden and One Piece. If I did the rest of my queue wouldn't be touched for six months or more. 

Besides, watching the same stuff all the time is unhealthy. Yeah, I pretty much watch only anime these days with the odd movie or Man Vs. Wild episode thrown in, but diversity is important, too. Too much shounen anime is about as unhealthy for the brain as moose tracks ice cream on a double bacon cheeseburger is for the body. 

Anyway, enough of me yacking. I have a lot of ground to cover with this entry so let's go. 

WATER SEVEN 

If you made it past the Foxy Pirates and the deadly encounter with Aokiji then you have successfully boarded the sea train to the city on water, Water Seven. Congratulations. I hoped you packed your bags because your stay in Water Seven will last about thirty episodes.

Now in case you didn't know Water Seven is famous for it's shipwrights. Even the mayor Iceberg is a famous shipwright in his own right. Iceberg was even trained by the famous (or infamous) shipwright Tom. Tom was a large yellow-looking dude that was sentenced to death by the World Government for building Gol D. Roger's pirate ship. Still, despite his reputation in the eyes of the government, Tom and his disciples are held in high regard in Water Seven.

I say "disciples" because Iceberg wasn't the only one to learn the ways of Tom. The ruthless thug of the Water Seven underworld Franky is also a disciple of Tom although you'll first hear of him being so as Cutty Flam. Yeah, I just spoiled a big reveal from later on in the Water Seven arc, but I'm okay with that.

Anyway, Franky leads the Franky family and they prefer to destroy things and cause chaos for Iceberg's Galley-La Company whenever possible. That doesn't exactly sound like the kind of thing Tom stood for, but there's more to Franky than meets the eye.

Working for Iceberg are the pride of Galley-La: Rob Lucci, Paulie, Kaku, and Kalifa. There are others, but these are the ones you really need to be concerned with for the moment.

After going to Water Seven with the hopes of getting their ship fixed as well as finding a shipwright for their own crew, the Straw Hat gang gets informed by the Galley-La workers that their ship is beyond repair. This news is particularly devastating to Usopp, who has grown so attached to the Going Merry that you would have to wonder if the man needs psychological help.

Of course, Usopp isn't there at the time that the Straw Hats are given the bad news by the Galley-La company. No, at that time Usopp was robbed of the two million berries he carried (money to be used for fixing the Going Merry) by the Franky Family and left for dead. Ashamed of being beaten so easily, Usopp goes to the Franky Family to get revenge but things don't work out so well and Usopp ends up getting beat even worse.

This pisses the Straw Hats off so Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, and Sanji all go pay a visit to the Frank Family while boss Franky is away and they thoroughly destroy the Franky Family house.

With Usopp seemingly rescued and the Franky Family defeated the Straw Hats must now tell Usopp the news of the Going Merry.

ROBIN'S BETRAYAL AND USOPP VS. LUFFY

Shortly after arriving in Water Seven, Nico Robin goes missing. The truth (for now) is that she has become an operative for CP9 and is aiding the CP9 in their quest to assassinate Iceberg, but the Straw Hats won't discover this until later because there is currently a mutiny going on. 

Usopp refuses to accept that the Going Merry is done for and challenges Luffy to a duel over the fate of the Going Merry. Luffy is the captain, though. Going against the captain is tantamount to career suicide if you are a pirate, but if you do than you better win the duel. We all know that Usopp doesn't stand a chance, though. It's pretty sad, really. 

The fight between Luffy and Usopp is one of the darkest moments in One Piece so far and things will only get worse before they get better. 

Luffy wins the fight, but gives the Going Merry to Usopp for him to do as he wishes. The only catch is that Usopp is no longer a part of the Straw Hats crew and it really is only a matter of time before the Merry splits in half and sinks. 

Meanwhile, Robin and the CP9 attempt their assassination of Iceberg. Iceberg survives, but that isn't good for the Straw Hats because Robin's presence with a masked man during the assassination attempt leads Iceberg to believe that the Straw Hats themselves are behind the assassination attempt. 

Now the Straw Hats are forced to lay low in Water Seven while they try and figure out just what is going on with Nico Robin and why she would try and kill Iceberg. They can't escape the island because of a terrible storm called Aqua Laguna, but even if they could they wouldn't. 

The Straw Hats have come to the conclusion that Robin is either being forced to do these things or she is really a traitor. In either case the Straw Hats won't let things go like this. They decide to chase after Robin no matter what and hear what she has to say. 

Robin doesn't want to talk though and her loyalty to CP9 seems strong. Although, that isn't quite the case. It's true that she is siding with the CP9, but she is not without her reasons. Those very reasons end up playing a large part in what happens in the Water Seven and Enies Lobby arcs. Without Nico Robin and her tragic past these two arcs just can't exist as they are. 

ENIES LOBBY

I admit that I'm skipping a bit here, but I can give a very brief summary. The journey from Water Seven to Enies Lobby is done by sea train. What's that? Well, it's a train. On the sea. Makes perfect sense? Let's move right along. Robin is aboard as the prisoner of the CP9, but Sanji managed to make his way on board too after being noticeably absent for multiple episodes. I think it might have been something like ten episodes, but I'm too lazy to consult my guide to make sure.

Usopp managed to get on board, too. Yeah, Usopp is still banished from the Straw Hats, but he dons a disguise and the alter ego to Sogeking (Sniper King) in order to help rescue Robin from the clutches of the CP9. Luffy and Chopper are fooled by his disguise because they are idiots (loveable, though), but the rest of the Straw Hats know it is really him. The pointy-ass wicked witch nose sticking out of the mask is a good indication.

Now in case you don't know this, Enies Lobby is basically a giant hive of marine soldiers. It's got big ass doors to pirate hell and all kind of scary shit, too. Attacking Enies Lobby is like attacking... well, attacking a giant fucking navy base where some of the soldiers have superpowers and shit.

Luffy and co. are not about to be done in, though. With help from the Franky Family, some giants, and the remaining members of the Galley-La Company, the Straw Hats make it deep into the heart of Enies Lobby in pursuit of Robin and Franky.

Yeah, I know I lost you. That's what I get for skipping a bunch of stuff. Wait a minute, why are you reading this if you aren't familiar with One Piece? Take a week off from work and get started. For God's sake, man, get started!

Okay, I'll seriously try and explain things a bit better now.

FRANKY AND ROBIN

The CP9 is a mysterious organization made up of nine individuals: Spandam, Rob Lucci, Kaku, Kalifa, Blueno, Fukuro, Nero, Kumadori, and Jabra. Some of those names should sound familiar because I listed them earlier as members of the Galley-La Company. 

Rob Lucci, Kaku, and Kalifa were all agents of the CP9 working undercover as members of the Galley-La Company for five years in order to get closer to Iceberg and the location of a secret weapon.

I said earlier that Franky was in fact Cutty Flam, the other disciple of Tom. That's true. Initially, I hated his guts. Everything he did to Usopp and the Straw Hats pissed me off. The guy could have been killed off and it wouldn't have broken my heart one bit. 

Things change, though. There are a couple of episodes that detail Franky's younger years and how he became a cyborg and those episodes really help put Franky's character into light. They also help explain as to why Franky is now a prisoner of the CP9. 

You see, there are these things called Poneglyphs and these Poneglyphs help shed light into a forgotten era in history. The World Government doesn't want people to research this stuff because they are evil pricks. Yet somehow (yeah, I know how, but I'm not telling) Franky came into possession of plans to build a weapon of mass destruction. Unfortunately, no one can read Poneglyphs... except for Nico Robin.

Okay, flashback time. 

Robin grew up on an island famous for its archeologists and aspired to be one herself. On this island the archeologists chose to research the forgotten era of humanity despite it being forbidden to do so and Robin managed to get involved in the research, too. After a while she managed to get to where she could read Poneglyphs herself. 

Unfortunately for her and everyone else on the island a buster call happened and the island and its inhabitants were burned to the ground. 

What is a buster call, you ask? Well, that is when five vice admirals with ten ships come in and destroy everything in sight. It means you're fucked. 

Robin survives, but she must learn how to survive on the run because she now has a large bounty on her head even though she is still a child. Despite being very powerful in her own right she fears the words "buster call" intensely.

It just so happens that those are the very words that the CP9 use to bring Robin over to their side. The CP9 declare that if Robin doesn't help bring back the weapon then the Straw Hats will get attacked by a buster call. 

Naturally, Robin wants to protect the Straw Hats, but she also finds this to be a perfect opportunity for to die. Robin's entire life has seemed like a curse and by giving herself over to the CP9 her problems could be solved. It is basically a case of suicide by police. In this case the police happen to be underhanded backstabbing fudge-packers with enough superiority complexes to make to Rush Limbaugh sound humble.

With both Frank and Robin captured the CP9 (and the World Government) have the keys to destroy the world. Dun-dun-dunnnn!

That isn't going to happen, though. Luffy isn't letting Robin go. Period. Even if it means taking on the hub of the World Government single-handedly. 

STRAW HATS VS. CP9

This is what it is all about. This is the moment where the Straw Hats begin their war against the World Government. This is where shit gets real.

The main attraction is Luffy Vs. Rob Lucci. When he fought Blueno earlier in the Enies Lobby arc, Luffy showed us our first real glimpse of his new technique Second Gear. However, this time Luffy has to use both Second and Third Gears in order to take down Lucci. I thought that the fight was pretty epic, but I thought they milked Lucci's character a bit by having a few episodes dedicated to his past. I hated the guy and I didn't give a shit about his past. I suppose it was a way to make him seem even more like an asshole and if that was the case then those episodes worked.

I just wish Lucci could have gotten his ass kicked a lot sooner.

SPANDAM

The leader of the CP9 is a useless prick named Spandam and you'll hate his guts. He has no superpowers, but he has the biggest superiority complex of them all since he is the leader. Spandam had a big hand in causing the death of Tom the shipwright as well as almost causing the death of Cutty Flam back before Cutty came back as Franky. 

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise to find out that Spandam's father Spandine was just as much of a dickhead. Spandine was the one who summoned the buster call in Ohara, Robin's childhood home. Things are coming full circle are they not?

Spandam gets to make a buster call before the end of the Enies Lobby arc, too. This one was an accident, though. However, the buster call can't be canceled and soon enough Enies Lobby comes under attack in true scorched earth policy type of fashion. 

Marines attacking a navy base to take down pirates. Go figure.

POST ENIES LOBBY


I'm just going to let this picture say it all. Sure, some things happen in this arc, but I'm being lazy. It's just a couple of episodes followed by some filler, anyway. You can manage. 


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