It’s time to enter one of the more controversial stories of One Piece: the Sky Island saga.
After escaping from the navy and leaving Alabasta behind, the Straw Hats find a stowaway on their ship: Nico Robin, who demands to be allowed a spot on the crew. Shortly after, a few remarkable events happen in quick succession. A giant ship falls from the sky, massive shadows appear in the distance and suddenly vanish, and the crew’s Log Pose suddenly points straight up! Excited by the prospect of a sky island, Luffy and the gang begin to investigate whether or not it exists and try to find a way to get there!
Most of this chunk of the arc is pretty forgettable, if you ask me. It definitely has some highlights, but this saga only really starts to shine once they get to the sky island itself. This part of the story is almost entirely build up to that event.
But it does introduce us to the biggest bad of the entire series: Blackbeard!
I love the introductory scene of this character! Given that he’s the primary antagonist from this point forward, you’d think that he’d have some dramatic and ominous reveal! Instead, he and Luffy disagree over everything in a bar and nearly get into a fight. Then later, he praises their spirits and encourages them forward! Not exactly what you’d expect the introduction of the main villain to look like. But it’s hilarious and absolutely One Piece!
It also paints a clear picture of just how different yet similar he and Luffy are. They disagree about literally everything, big and small. But both have the same unflinching spirit, the same blind determination that leads them forward at all times. Both are chasing their dreams and refuse to let anything or anyone get in their way.
Also, am I the only one who wants his teeth to fit together like a puzzle when he closes his jaw?
Jaya itself isn’t all that memorable a location. Mostly because we don’t get to see a lot of it. The most time we spend there is in a bar with a bunch of assholes who bully Luffy and Zoro. Granted, one of those characters is Belamy, who goes on to play a big role in Dressrosa. But aside from him, the rest of the town just feels like a generic island.
And… honestly, that’s about all I have to say about this arc. It serves as a good setup for Skypiea itself and it introduces Blackbeard! But none of the other new characters are especially memorable and the whole plot is just “Oh, will they get to the sky island? Yes they will!” It’s fun and satisfying, but not especially memorable.
Skypiea itself, on the other hand…