Manga, One Piece, Review

The Great One Piece Journey (Part 10): Alabasta

After three arcs of buildup, it’s finally time for the grand finale of the Alabasta saga. It’s time for Alabasta itself!

With Nami at full health and Chopper on the crew, the Straw Hats finally make their way to Alabasta! And things are heating up too quickly to contain! The rebellion against Vivi’s father is ready to attack, the royal army is poised to do the same, and Sir Crocodile and the remaining agents of Baroque Works are ready to push them both off the edge! Can Luffy and the gang defeat one of the Seven Warlords and save Alabasta in time?

This arc has some of the greatest moments of early One Piece. The fights, the villains, the ending, they’re all so much damn fun! To this day, this is still one of my favorite arcs in the entire series!

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Let’s start with our main bad guy: Crocodile. This dude is easily the best villain in the series up to this point. He feels like a James Bond villain in all the best ways! His confidence falls well into cockiness, his presence is intimidating, and he’ll fight with brains over power. Not to say that he can’t wreck house; his Sand-Sand Fruit makes him nigh untouchable, making him the greatest challenge Luffy has faced yet.

And you can really feel that, even before he puts a hook through our young captain’s gut and leaves him to die.

Speaking of which, Luffy’s battles with Crocodile are all absolutely incredible! Easily one of my top three fights! Watching Luffy make creative use of his rubber powers and water to make Crocodile vulnerable is so much damn fun! And nothing, and I do mean nothing, is more exciting to me than when he runs out of water and decides to deck Crocodile’s ass with his fucking blood!! That’s the coolest shit ever and you cannot convince me otherwise!

While the other villains aren’t the most memorable, they’re all fun in their own ways. They each have fun designs and equally entertaining powers. Their battles with the Straw Hats are short and mostly goofy, they’re an absolute delight to watch!

Plus, they give us some of the coolest moments in early One Piece! The introduction of Ace! The return of Smoker and Tashigi! Zoro learning to cut steel! Nami’s first use of the Climate Baton! Usopp and Chopper teaming up! Bon Clay’s existence, which would become the best thing ever later on in Impel Down! The crew working together to stop the bomb! Vivi’s childhood flashback! This arc is packed to the brim with plenty of fun and memorable moments!

Alabasta itself, as a setting, is… well, it’s okay. It’s got plenty of fun wildlife and the architecture is interesting. But we don’t learn a whole lot about the actual culture. The whole war thing takes up all the screen time, leaving us with practically no time to explore what kind of place this country is. It doesn’t feel as fleshed out as later settings, such as Water Seven, Sabaody Archipelago, or Wano.

But that’s okay! Because that ending is perfect!

The parting with Vivi is one of the most genuinely tear-jerking scenes in the series. She’s been so much a part of the crew ever since Whiskey Peak. All that time, we knew she wouldn’t stick around; a princess can’t just go off and become a pirate. But that doesn’t make her parting with the Straw Hats any easier on us.

Especially not when they do this shit!

I’m not crying, you’re crying! We’re both crying!

I love Alabasta so damn much. It’s a wildly fun and satisfying arc that brings the first massive saga of One Piece to an end. It’s a classic story, one of the best chapters in this twenty-year-long epic. It’s an absolute gem that is always a good time, no matter how many times you revisit it.

And now we sail onwards. It’s time to go to the sky!

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