As the devastating affects of a Great War between the World Government, the Shichibukai, and the Whitebeard Pirates comes to a bitter end, Straw Hat Captain Monkey D. Luffy realizes that he and his crew are not yet ready to face the enemies that will be waiting for them in the second half of the Grand Line, better known as the New World. Therefore, the young captain sends a message to his shipmates that they will halt their adventure for two whole years and use that time to each get stronger, both as fighters and in their associated fields.
And thus the series enters its first official time skip.
It took twelve years and 516 episodes, but it finally happened. Toei Animation has animated and aired the entire first half of the world’s most popular manga series of all time. Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece has reached a landmark in ongoing quality continuity, and the animation team at Toei has brought his series to life with flying colors, literally. While the first arc of the New World era is already hitting its climax in the Manga World, the Anime is just beginning, and in the last two weeks we got to see our first [animated]look at the new and improved Straw Hat Pirates, reuniting for the first time after two years of strenuous training. Here’s a look.
Psyche! Just kidding. Actually this is some artwork by zefranium of the Fake Straw Hat Gang, the series’ first official unofficial antagonists into the New World. Yeah, that’s right. Luffy and his crew have become so infamous, that now other pirates are posing as them to scare the locals of Sabaody Archipelago into thinking they’re hot stuff. Though I’m not exactly sure why Brook looks perfectly normal in the image above, but now that I mention him, we might as well start there.
90 years old and still rocking his brains out…except he doesn’t have anymore brains because he’s a skeleton. “SKULL JOOOOOOOOOKE!!!” (I know. I deserve to be slapped after that. I couldn’t resist.) In all seriousness though, the big change here is obviously crossing from classical music to modern rock, which is what I’ve been waiting to hear come out of Brook’s musical talent since we met him back in Thriller Bark. While those silly heart glasses might take some getting use to for me, I’m generally liking this outfit. Before, he just wore suits, which was kind of already Sanji’s deal. This is more his own thing, and I’m loving it. It makes me wonder if his sword, instead of coming out of a cane, now comes out of his guitar (FTR: I am not fully caught up with the manga yet. If you know, don’t tell me), or maybe his cane will be far more groovy and fancy looking. Though I will say this: now that Brook is a famous rock star, known worldwide as the “Soul King,” fresh off of world tour, he should theoretically be getting more panties than he could ever possibly ask for.
Of course, that won’t stop him from asking Nami and Robin when he sees them again, but it’s a start.
While our musician was busy becoming a famous rock star (which I’m sure takes plenty of physical strain. Hell, I could never do it), our ladies man cook here was stuck on a Kingdom of queens running for his li—I mean “manhood,” for two whole years, and what does he have to show for it? A couple recipes and a manly goatee to manly express just how manly he is. Oh yeah, and his hair is parted to the other side of his face, concluding once and for all that he does in fact have a left eye. (There were people who actually thought he didn’t? Seriously?) This is very nit picky, but I just don’t think having the curl on the inside of his eyebrow looks right. That means if you saw both his eyes, both his eyebrows curl to the right and they are not symmetrical. Just a little weird. I’m sure he’s a lot stronger now, but in all honesty Sanji looks like he’s aged seven years instead of two, but hey, smoking will do that too you.
And at least it’s not like Luffy giving up ten years of his lifespan in the war.
Aesthetically all that’s changed for our Navigator is two things: she’s grown her hair out, and this is the first time I can account for her wearing jeans. Yet little things like those say a lot about how she’s changed on the inside. Before the time skip, too often did she use her young feminine qualities to play the naïve helpless little girl card to deceive people. Now, she has a formal education, and what essentially amounts to an Associates Degree in Abnormal Weather Patterns of the New World. She is far more mature and confident in herself and I can see it. Just look at her. Nami is totally pulling off the tough-girl-at-the-bar-no-one’s-suppose-to-mess-with-but-idiots-always-will…look. Which is pretty much exactly what happens when the Fake Straw Hat Gang cluelessly goads her into joining them.
And like clockwork, one of Nami’s real friends gets the drop on them. Not that she needed rescuing this time, but she gets it anyway, and from just about the most unlikely of sorts.
Damn Bro. What has become of our scrawny, cowardly, comic relief marksmen. Not only has he taken a page from Sanji’s makeover with the goatee, he lost like 500 pounds, gained at least 50% muscle, and has a whole new bag of goodies up his arsenal. (Get your head out of the gutter! You know what I’m talking about!) I’m also digging his new outfit, though I am a little curious as to what exactly those earmuffs are suppose to be or if they do anything special. Usopp is probably the one Straw Hat who has changed the most on the outside, yet still makes it feel believable that it’s him, unlike someone else, but I will get to that in due time. I guess you have to be this cool looking if you want to escape an island that is basically a huge ass Venus fly trap, home to millions of other carnivorous plants all on the top of the food chain.
All we need now is a Sogeking Makeover.
Let’s be perfectly clear: Straw Hat Doctor Tony Tony Chopper is probably the one character NO ONE wants to change. We want him to stay as cute, fluffy, and adorable as he has always been. And for the most part, he pretty much is. But the hat? That’s new. There was such a touching story and an emotional attachment behind his original top hat. If someday we get to hear stories of their two-year training that would explain this new development during some down time, that would be wonderful. Though one theory of mine is that it IS the original hat, just modified to act as additional comfort or for storage space for medical supplies. After all, it is the same color on the inside and has the same insignia. I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking too much about it.
And with that, I believe I am reaching my limit as far as rambling goes. When we return, we will finish our review with the four remaining Straw Hat Pirates. The historian, the shipwright, the swordsman, and the captain all next week. Until then stay tuned, and catch the latest episode of One Piece at
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve seen all 516 episodes before. Ep. 517 onward is a fresh start. A new beginning. You’ll catch on.