This is an odd arc. Of the East Blue arcs, this one is easily the worst. Not to say it’s bad, it just doesn’t compare as well to the others. But it does introduce a fan favorite character and has massive repercussions later on in the story. It somehow doesn’t hold up and holds up really well at the same time.
Luffy, Zoro, and Nami continue their travels together. After a brief stop where we learn about how the world is structured, they make their way to Syrup Village in the hopes of getting a ship. Here, they meet Usopp, a young liar with a heart of gold. When his friend, a rich girl named Kaya, is attacked by her butler, who turns out to be the infamous Captain Kuro, the Straw Hats rush to the rescue!
Let’s start with Usopp. At this point in the story, he’s easily the best character. He’s not some monstrous badass. He’s a coward. One that always musters his courage when he needs to. Watching him fight off people way stronger than him despite how scared he is is equal parts admirable and entertaining!
The Kuro Pirates are pretty fun villains, too. Django doesn’t get much time to shine, but his fight with Usopp is fun and his hypnosis makes for a fun challenge. Kuro himself makes for a fun enemy, even if his fight with Puffy isn’t that memorable. He has an air of menace to him that no other villain so far has managed to display.
Though he does seem pretty harmless when you compare him to… well, basically every villain on the Grand Line.
The action is pretty forgettable, but decently fun. Watching Zoro fight against two cat dudes at once is pretty exciting. Django chasing Kaya and the kids while Usopp and Zoro pursue him is really tense. Honestly, the only fight I don’t really care for is Luffy VS Kuro.
The story itself is also pretty… stiff, I guess. How do we communicate the bad guy’s plan? Kuro and Django meet on the beach and exposit information at each other. Information that they both already know. Why does this conversation exist? Because the audience needs to know!
And then Usopp repeats the whole thing because Luffy is stupid and he didn’t get it. Thank you, Oda. I couldn’t possibly have gotten it by now.
Honestly, that’s about all I have to say about this arc. It’s a simple story, fairly enjoyable. But it pales in comparison to most other One Piece arcs.
It does give us the Merry Go, though. And I love that ship to death.
Hoo boy, Enies Lobby is gonna hurt like a motherfuc