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.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One Piece (Wan pîsu) (Seasons Five & Six)

Even though One Piece is about 630+ episodes and going, I don't think I really thought things through when I set a goal of six months to catch up. Yes, I'm on pace to meet my goal because I'm just that kind of dedicated, but averaging five to six episodes a day isn't as easy as it sounds. Some days I find myself watching two episodes a day and others ten or twenty. I know it sounds silly saying watching anime all day (when not working) takes effort, but it does for me. It's certainly unhealthy and it hasn't helped my precious tanning situation, either. 

Not too mention that I'm watching only two other anime at the moment with one of those being Naruto Shippuden. So I'll be doing some month by month goal setting for quite a while. If I can keep about a 5 to 4 ratio of One Piece to Naruto Shippuden each month I'll be on easy street and be caught up on both at about the same time. Then I can watch other shit while I wait for new episodes to premiere each week.

I'm committed. Or maybe I should be committed. I'm not quite sure which fits more at the moment.

Anyway, I'm totally rambling. Let's get to season five. Brace yourself for some disappointment, too. The entirety of season five is filler. Now it's only episodes 131-143 so it's not like it is a very long season or anything, but it is still a bit of an annoyance. It's filler. Duh. Coming off the rather good (if not bloated a bit by early and near pace-killing filler) Alabasta arc, it's a bit disappointing for Nico Robin's first adventure as a member of the Straw Hats to be filler stuff. 

To be more specific, season five is comprised of three smaller and independent story arcs. The first few episodes are basically recap stuff of how the Straw Hats came together. Then we have the Goat Island arc and you might as well skip that. The final bit of filler in season five is the Rainbow Mist arc and that isn't too bad. The only real decent filler in One Piece yet. 

That's really all I feel like talking about season five since it's filler. If you are the type to collect the show on DVD then be careful. I'm not quite sure how it's all divided up on DVD, but you might end up with all filler episodes on a DVD set that costs about twenty or thirty bucks and that's not cool. Beware.

Season six...

Ah, the Skypiea arc. At 51 episodes, this is the longest arc I've encountered so far. The first season of the show was 62 episodes, but it contained multiple story arcs. Season six is just one long story arc. 

Things start out innocently enough with the Straw Hats encountering a group of odd salvagers after an old ship seemingly falls out of the sky. Yup, nothing strange here. To make things more odd Nami's log pose is pointing at the sky, too. So somehow the Straw Hats must journey to the sky if they wish to maintain their current heading in the Grand Line. But... how the hell are they going to do that? Ships don't exactly fly, right?

The Straw Hats decide to journey to nearby island Jaya to see if they can uncover more information about this supposed island in the sky. Once there they discover a few unruly pirates, Blackbeard, and a man named Montblanc Cricket. Cricket lives in an odd-looking house by the coast and is friends with the odd salvagers that the Straw Hats ran into earlier. 

Cricket is looking for gold on the seafloor in order to clear the name of an ancestor who claimed to a king to have seen a city of gold in Jaya. This ancestor was named Montblanc Noland and he was called a liar by everyone in the town before being publicly executed by the king for his lies. Parents of snobby bastard children who make a lot of noise in the movie theater should make use of this punishment. 

From Cricket the Straw Hats learn of an infamous current called the knock-up stream (I can think of a few Hollywood actresses that rode that stream) that might take them to this island in the sky. If said island really even exists.

After escaping from Blackbeard, the Straw Hats ride the knock-up stream and reach the land of Skypiea where the seas are actually "sea clouds" where large creatures swim. There's also cloud hard enough for people to live on. Only in this case the people are angels and their leader is actually an unseen but all-powerful God. 

The Straw Hats quickly become wanted in this cloud Heaven because of their refusal to pay an entrance fee with a currency they had never even heard of. I mean, seriously, who down here uses cloud money? 

Things only get more complicated when they are attacked by an army of guerilla warriors who claim a birthright to the "Vearth" that was stolen from them by sky people. 

It turns out this "Vearth" is actually a piece of solid land, not made of clouds but actual dirt and grass and all that good earth shit. This "Vearth" is considered holy land by both the guerillas revolting against God and the sky people as well as God himself. The holy land is where God actually lives people are forbidden from setting foot on it. 

Of course, Monkey D. Luffy can't resist the thought of setting foot on this holy land since he was told not to by everyone. This leads to even more trouble as everyone in the group soon finds themselves split up and caught in a 400 year old civil war with almost no allies in sight. And this God sees everything and strikes with deadly lightning, too. He's even more dangerous than the killer bunny from Monty Python.

Fights ensue, multiple characters almost die, and Luffy ends up trapped in a snake's stomach for ten episodes before escaping and beginning a desperate fight against a homicidal God that wishes to send all of Skypiea to the earth far below. 

Yeah, my day is typically that interesting, too. 

There's a lot more to season six and it's tough to articulate it all, but that's a rough summary. I really liked the arc even though I felt it did start a little slow. Still, at 51 episodes, this arc could afford to take its time to set the story up because the payoff is pretty big. The ending justifies the build-up. Luffy's fight against God and the ringing of the Golden Bell is a pretty epic moment. 

I rather like the allusions to the English settlers of America stealing the land from the Natives. Since the guerillas in Skypiea lived in teepees and had feathers in their hair I figured it's safe to make the assumption that that was indeed the allusion intended. Either that or.. Well, fuck, teepees and feathers are cool, right? So it's just natural that guerrillas would use them, right? 

That's what I thought.

The fact that Skypiea (wow, that term is in my autocorrect) was in the sky above everyone else and its leader was called God (who wasn't technically even God but a superpowered person called God) and most of its people were white and considered themselves entitled to a piece of land... Well, I mean, tell me that ain't a piece of American roasting Oda Eiichirou style. Sure, there are other countries this may apply to, but America is the first one that popped into my mind. The people who save this land of Skypiea aren't even from it and are the down to earth (literally) and largely misunderstood by society kind who really only want money. Yeah, I keep seeing the allusions. 

Political (and religious) interpretations aside for the moment, the Skypiea arc is a really good piece of entertainment. Ultimately, the arc is about Luffy and the gang exploring a new place, trying to look for some gold, and fighting for the underdog if they can find the time. Of course, that's what every arc is about, but there's nothing wrong with that. If it ain't broke don't fix it. 

If there is one thing that felt a bit out of place at first then it was the flashback to the relationship between Noland and Calgary the Warrior. It's a two (maybe three) episode segment that is wedged right in the middle of Luffy's pursuit of the God Eneru. Don't get me wrong, the story totally makes sense in context once all of the episodes are watched and I wouldn't change a thing about the episode order; it's just that the transition between the present to 400 years ago seems odd at first since the current story seems to be approaching its climax.

That's about all I have to say. Now onto season seven. 

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