Yo, You Have a Moment?: A One-Off of Nondescript Ramblings – Kaizoku Ou ni, ore wa naru!

Everyone welcome the future King of the Pirates, please;

Hello all and welcome to my first post here outside of one of our article events. I know I have two times as many shoes to fill this week to satiate the temporary gap in writing from Joel and Jonah this time around, but hey maybe if I pour my heart out a little then I can stand a chance to surpass them and become King of the Blog Post-ers.
Just wanna throw in here as well that if you know me and you’re reading this, I’m sorry I can’t shut up about this series. I’m sure it gets overwhelming but man I’m dying here, I can only hold my tongue for so long when it comes to peak fiction. Cowboy Bebop has been my favorite anime for years- not a decade at this point but it’s almost been- and One Piece swooped in and knocked it clean out of first place. Really it’s a miracle I’ve held back as much as I have, so I rescind my apology at the start of this paragraph. I hereby change it to a “you’re welcome I’ve shut up about it whenever I can”.

Also here’s the ol’ spoiler warning for you. I’ll be gushing about episode 1015, the anime adaptation of chapter 1000 from the manga. While I will be staying away from major story spoilers, there will still definitely be spoilers in general in this article so beware…

There are not enough episodes of One Piece.
Yeah I know, you tell someone that a series has 1000+ episodes, the default response is “that’s too many”. The length of it is even most peoples’ reasoning for not diving in and that’s okay. The length of it is deterring for sure. But man, I was one of those people who had a vicious distaste for this franchise before this decade hit. And then I actually tried it.

Depiction of straight facts being dropped on Squidward circa 2001, colorized

Thank you, Spongebob, for being applicable to literally anything.
Anyway, yeah man there was a point when I was sitting there watching the show and I realized that something written with this level of finesse and expertise just cannot have enough content, even with 1000 episodes. That I was eventually going to reach the end of this journey and it will leave a bigger hole in my soul than any piece of media has when I finished it.
This realization doesn’t necessarily hit everyone at the same point in the series, but it WILL come and you will NOT be ready for that thought to run across your mind.
But I digress. The point isn’t for me to have an existential crisis while writing, it’s to talk about how killer this episode is. It’s not to say that other manga don’t have the same level of love and thought put into their adaptations, but this one is real special. This episode features a good chunk of anime-only details and scenes, stuff that radiates the essence of art. Sure, I could go on about the incredible expression of emotion and character done through body language, the likes of which is only made more difficult to do by the fact that this is an animated medium, and I could certainly just say that there is an abundance of movement in general. Those are impressive things to accomplish in animation.
But there is a specific segment of a flashback in this episode that is just so damn beautiful for more than just the physical motion happening on-screen. And that is the realization of what Luffy’s dream is.
For context, in this 1000+ episode and chapter series, there are still a LOT of questions left unanswered. Before the story hits its timeskip, there is a moment we get to see a young Luffy tell his brothers his dream. We, the audience, do not get to see or hear what this dream is, we just see his brothers laugh at him for having a dream so crazy. Yes, Luffy does have an unbreakable determination to become the King of the Pirates, but that is not the DREAM. That’s a goalpost on the way.
Gol D. Roger, the world’s first King of the Pirates, eventually is given a flashback scene that plays out almost exactly the same as young Luffy’s. Roger is speaking with two of his companions, Whitebeard and Kozuki Oden, and he tells them what his absurd dream is, the audience again not being allowed to know what that dream could be.
What we get in the anime is as follows:

Luffy’s smile is legitimately heartwarming every damn time I see it dude it’s not fair

The character with the horns, Yamato, upon hearing Luffy’s dream from his brother, Ace, is taken aback. In possession of Kozuki Oden’s journal from his travels around the world, Yamato knows what Roger’s exact dream was, and has a pre-established view of the world during his era. The original Pirate King’s era is coated with that red hue reminiscent of a setting sun, akin to the approaching end of Roger’s era. As Ace recounts his memory to Yamato, depicting himself and his brother at such a young age and marking it as a different time with the soft greens and blues of his flashback, the similarities align for Yamato, merging Whitebeard and Oden into the scene alongside the two brothers as if these two pairs are halves of the same whole.
With all of this, the two memories lack certain details. They lack defined eyes for those involved, casting shadows over their faces in their place. The pieces have not yet aligned, but we are still given the understanding that these two instances mirror each other.
And with Roger’s words breaking into the scene, the pages of Oden’s journal flip all the way to the end, the same place where Oden would have written Roger’s conversation of this memory.
And that’s when Luffy finally steps in.
Luffy, with the inherited will of Gol D. Roger, runs past the two pairs of characters with a confident smile and laugh. Luffy, excited for the path he knows he will carve for himself, is dragging the soft greens and blues of Ace’s memory into the red of Oden’s memory, and these two colors stand side by side before finally coming together. This merging not only splashes all the true colors of the world back into Yamato’s mind, giving a clear understanding of what Luffy can and will accomplish and do for the world, but also causes Yamato’s rather tunnel-vision view to expand, revealing an open sky behind them. The colors of this open sky, by the way, imply that of a rising sun and not a setting one, as the rising sun symbolism actually plays a LOT into Luffy’s character throughout the whole series in ways that I will not spoil. Young Luffy is the only one in this depiction clearly defined to Yamato. He is not just an open book, but all of the information that Yamato has at this point makes it clear as to who he is and what kind of person he will show the world that he can be.
And then, finally, as Luffy’s brothers playfully mock him for whatever his dream may be, he just laughs with them. Roger’s will lives on.

So yeah. That was just one scene. The art direction, the cinematography, the imagery, it’s so damn good dude. This whole episode is full of content like that, it feels criminal. They use a different character as dramatic lighting (no I will not explain), they use vibrant colors in a montage to relay the stakes and what everyone has been through leading up to this. They use Luffy’s Strawhat as a tool to transition into flashbacks from his own point of view. THEY USE THE ORIGINAL OPENING THEME OF THE SERIES. It’s incredible. Something like this is one in a thousand and fifteen million. I legitimately restarted the episode and watched it a second time immediately after I saw it for the first time, and have continued to watch that episode another two times since then. Goosebumps, man, every time.
This arc. The current arc as of writing this, to anyone who may not know, is Wano. If you are reading this and have not gotten to this point yet, then I hope the spoilers were worth it. Like I said, I’m straying from mentioning anything major just in case. The biggest talking point for me was hands down the dream scene. But for real this series is an 11/10 and Wano has not been pulling punches, this arc has been HUGE. So thank you for reading, and if you’re not caught up yet…

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