God damn, dude, this arc is so much fun! It’s a fantasy adventure through-and-through and it’s an absolute delight to read!
After many struggles, the Straw Hats have managed to make their way to the sky island: Skypiea! But not long after their arrival, things take a turn for the worse! The island’s tyrannical ruler, Kami Eneru, turns his ire towards the crew. All the while, a war wages between two clans on the island! Caught in the middle of it all is Luffy and the gang, seeking out Noland the Liar’s legendary city of gold!
This arc gets off to a very slow start. The first few chapters are almost entirely dedicated to fleshing out Skypiea’s technology and culture. We learn about Varse, which is what they call land from below, Dials, and just about everything else that’s important to the sky islanders. While it is fun to see just how different the White Sea is from the Blue Sea we’ve spent so long exploring, having this information shoved down our throat while being drip-fed actual plot progression is a bit annoying.
When it gets going, though? Hoo boy, it’s a ton of fun! We get some incredibly fun battles, wild and explosive set pieces, and some of the funniest gags in One Piece to date!
Although I’m not a huge fan of the villains. All the side villains are either forgettable or annoying. And Eneru himself is annoying too; he just talks and talks and what he’s got to say isn’t especially memorable. His powers are menacing and his design is great. Not to mention that his battle with Luffy is one of the best in the whole series. Still, I wasn’t all that sad to see him go.
However, I do love how his story ends. He just fucks off to the moon and that may be the funniest god damn thing I have ever seen.
I legitimately cannot get over how funny this arc is! I swear to god, there were so many times where I had to stop reading because I was laughing too hard to even breath! Eneru’s first encounter with Luffy! Zoro’s escapades with the South Bird! Chopper immediately blowing the whistle after psyching himself up! The Straw Hats stealing the gold even though the islanders were going to give it to them anyways! This arc had me wheezing time and time again!
This comedy is masterfully balanced with emotional moments! This arc’s got some tear-jerking stuff in it! Luffy ringing the bell and bringing an end to the war is one of the most masterfully done finales of the whole series. Especially since we got that long flashback revealing the truth about Noland and the history of Skypiea.
On the subject of which: the Noland flashback is one of the best in the whole show. Which is surprising, considering that it has absolutely nothing to do with any of the Straw Hats! It’s focused exclusively on the history of Skypiea and its people. It’s not just packed with answers to the various mysteries set up in the Jaya half of the saga. It adds tons of emotional weight to the finale. Plus, it’s a really good story even on its own!
It takes a lot of confidence as a writer to tell a story completely separate from your established characters. And I couldn’t be happier that Oda has that confidence.
This arc is also jam-packed with future mysteries to be solved! Who was the mysterious figure that fixed Merry? How did the former Pirate King reach Skypiea and how did he write a message into the bell in the language of the ponygliphs? What was the mysterious power Eneru and his goons used to predict Luffy’s moves? This arc sets up just as much as it pays off, if not more!
Even the post-arc is insane! We meet Doflamingo for the first time, we setup the events of Water 7 with the crew looking for a carpenter (excitement rising, overflowing!!!) and even get a mysterious figure commenting on Luffy’s wanted poster! Skypiea may not start off strong, but it ends on one of the biggest bangs of the whole series!
I understand why some people may not like this arc. But holy shit dude, it’s just so much god damn fun! It’s the perfect encapsulation of everything that I love about One Piece. Fantasy adventure, lovable characters, exciting battles, and genuinely funny comedy! This is in my top five arcs, without a doubt!
And we’re fast approaching my favorite arc in the whole series!