Not a week on the Grand Line, and the Straw Hats have become enveloped in a complex political plot that’ll take them on their first truly insane adventure. This is literally the start of their time here. Only Luffy could manage something that crazy that quickly!
After picking up Vivi and Karoo and putting themselves against Sir Crocodile and his Baroque Works, the Straw Hats begin their journey back towards Alabasta. Their first destination along that journey is Little Garden, a prehistoric island inhabited by two giant warriors who have been engaged in a one-hundred year-long duel! When Baroque Works agents appear to capture Vivi and take the bounty on the two giants, it’s up to Luffy and the gang to save their new titanic friends and find a way off of Little Garden!
First off: I absolutely love Brogy and Dorry! They’re such fun characters and their friendly rivalry is a blast to watch! Not only that, but each one has such a fun dynamic with the Straw Hats that they interact with that it’s easy to get attached to them. Thus, when they’re put in danger, the stakes feel much higher and more engaging than if it were just the Straw Hats. Now you need to worry about the gang you already love and the two new guys that you’ve so quickly come to adore!
Not to mention how well they drive Usopp’s character arc. They are everything he wants to be: fearless warriors of the sea. This leads perfectly into Usopp being the primary hero of the arc, saving pretty much everyone (except Sanji) from a near-death situation. It’s a lot of fun to see the weakest member of the crew struggle to save the strongest.
Even if two of the strongest are acting like idiots and the third is off hunting.
Speaking of Sanji: I love how he’s used here. Sure, he doesn’t get in on the action. But he manages to give the crew a massive head-start on their enemies thanks to some fun and clever, not to mention lucky, misdirection. It’s refreshing to see his cool side take priority over his simp side after spending so long with the ladder in the more recent story arcs.
The villains this time around are pretty fun, too. Weight-girl and exploding booger guy are both back, which is appreciated considering how quickly they got tossed aside on Whiskey Peak. And on top of that, we get Ms. Golden Week and Mr. 3! I’m not super hot on the former, although her power is pretty fun. But I love the ladder, especially given how he comes back later on in the story!
With all that said, this arc isn’t perfect. The ending feels pretty contrived and overly-convenient for our heroes. Oh no, the Log Pose won’t reset for another hundred years, what do we do?! Oh, don’t worry! The giants just so happen to have an Eternal Pose! One that’s set for Alabasta, no less! Boy, isn’t that just convenient!
Although this scene was awesome. And the reveal on why the two giants were fighting in the first place is pretty funny.
Little Garden is a rock solid arc. It’s a wacky and fun adventure that encapsulates a lot of what I love about early One Piece. Not to mention how it sets the stage for story events to come, like a certain scene in Enies Lobby and the inevitable Elbaf arc that we’re still waiting for. It’s got plenty of funny gags and exciting action, making this one of the strongest arcs yet.
Unfortunately, now we need to talk about Drum Island.