One Piece Retrospective Pt.1: The Rubberman, Swordsman, Thief, and Liar

Why, hello there, folks! Welcome back to this long ongoing project of mine here on Infinite Rainy Day! In the first article, I gave an introduction into the original manga author, Eiichiro Oda, talked about the rather extensive production history here in North America, and gave a quick run down of the voices behind the Straw Hat Pirates. Today, I’ll be talking about the first 19 or so episodes that cover, at least to me, the first three arcs of the show. Along the way, we’ll meet the most odd pirate captain that’ll lead us, a rather noble and tough swordsman, a woman with a personal agenda, and the scaredy cat who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. There’s quite a bit of ground to cover here, so let’s get started!

Wealth, fame, power. Gold Roger, the king of the pirates obtained this and everything else the world had to offer. And his dying words drove countless souls to the seas. “You want my treasure? You can have it! I left everything I gathered together in one place. Now you just have to find it.” These words lured men to the Grand Line in pursuit of dreams greater than they’d ever dared to imagine. This is the time known as the Great Pirate Era.

The Odd Couple: Monkey D. Luffy 
and Roronoa Zoro (ep. 1-4)

One day in the calm East Blue, a passenger ship sails along as it normally does. However it’s not calm for long as a band of pirates soon raids the ship. These pirates are led by Iron Clad Alvida as her and her men begin to take all the treasure for themselves.
Introducing Coby, a young cabin boy for the Alvida pirates. He’s a bit of a coward though. While the rest of the crew round up all the money they can, Coby makes a break for the kitchen in search of anything other than attacking the passengers. There he stumbles across a barrel, he believes, to be filled with beer and begins to roll it out of the kitchen. However, three other pirates come in and decide to open the barrel and drink the beer for themselves. But, as you can probably guess, this isn’t any ordinary barrel of beer, because as one of the pirates throws a punch to open it, out pops a young man who had been taking a nap inside the barrel. Why was he in the barrel? Well, he explains that as he was sailing the ocean, he jumped into the barrel after his small ship got sucked into a whirlpool nearby. From there he was hauled onto the passenger ship thanks to some of it's crew shortly before the pirate attack (the latter part we actually see occur at the top of the episode).
After knocking one pirate out cold while waking and scaring off the other two, Coby is left behind to talk to this mysterious guy. His name is Monkey D. Luffy and he is rather hungry after his long nap. As he begins to raid the pantry, Luffy asks Coby about what’s going on and he gets answers. This leads into a short backstory for Coby with us learning that he was forced to join the Alvida pirates two years prior after accidentally getting on a small boat that was meant to head for her pirate ship.
After a few snarky remarks from Luffy about Coby’s cowardice, he is asked what drove him out to sea in the first place. His answer? Oh, ya know, just to become the King of the Pirates is all. After a slight freak out session from Coby, Luffy tells him that it’s always been his dream to become the Pirate King and if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen, but he won’t know unless he tries for it. 

Coby: "Hey, Luffy. Do you think I could ever join the Marines?"
This leads Coby to reveal his dream of becoming a Marine to Luffy and his promise to catch Alvida. And then, in pops Alvida all pissy and stuff. After getting a glance at Luffy she comments saying, “I guess you’re not Zoro the Pirate Hunter” which peaks Luffy’s interest. When Alvida asks Coby who the prettiest lady of the seas is, Luffy decides to obliviously insult her, resulting in a fight between Luffy and the entirety of Alvida’s crew. From this fight, the unspeakable happens.
"I'm a rubberman!"
It’s revealed that Luffy is a rubber man after eating one of the mythical Devil Fruits. Coby finally stops being a little coward and insults Alvida for the first time since being forced into becoming a cabin boy, and Luffy then takes down the Iron Clad Pirate with one punch, sending her across the sea. After asking for a boat, Luffy and Coby escape the passenger ship before the Marines board (Coby is scared they won’t let him join because he might be mistaken as a pirate raiding the ship, in case you're wondering why he didn't join then and there) and the pair begin their journey.
Nope. Not ever again.
Meanwhile, throughout the entire first episode, we get glimpses of a young woman stealing Alvida’s treasure. Because there is no way she is relevant and will ever appear again.
After discussing how Luffy still needs a crew before he can even think about entering the Grand Line, he asks Coby about the infamous Zoro, that Alvida mentioned, and what kind of person he’s like. Coby tells him of the rumors he’s heard and that Roronoa Zoro is currently being held prisoner at a nearby Marine Base. Coby describes him as a “living, breathing demon in human form,” something that really intrigues Luffy.
When the pair arrive at the Marine Base city, they learn that Zoro isn’t the only one that the people are scared of, but also Marine Captain Morgan. When they reach the gate at the base, Luffy takes a gander over the stone walls and sees a tied up Roronoa Zoro in the courtyard. After some loud noises from Coby, Zoro calls out to them and tells them to get lost.

Before even considering leaving and running for their lives, a little girl appears and climbs over the wall into the courtyard in order to deliver a couple of homemade rice balls to the tied up swordsman. When Zoro tries to tell the little girl to leave, the son of Captain Morgan appears. Helmeppo takes one of the rice balls to try, but finds it disgusting and stomps it into the dirt. Ordering another Marine to throw the girl out for helping a criminal, Luffy manages to catch her before any damage is done. Zoro mentions to Helmeppo that he will survive the month with no problem, with ten days left to go, and the bratty son walks away.

Luffy: "Huh, what a werido."
Luffy comes face to face with the Pirate Hunter in order to evaluate him ever so slightly as to his character. After doing so, Luffy is asked, by Zoro, to give the dirty rice ball to him to eat; giving the little girl his thanks. Once Luffy, Coby, and the little girl, Rika, leave the base, we find out how Zoro was imprisoned in the first place. While Helmeppo had his run of the town with his pet dog, Zoro punches the dog, in defense of Rika and her mother, so he could eat in peace. Helmeppo then threatens the lives of Rika and her mother, but, in order to let them live, Helmeppo makes a trade with Zoro agreeing to be imprisoned for one month. This gives both Luffy and the viewer a chance to see the kind hearted Zoro. Then, almost like clockwork, Helmeppo shows up to Rika’s mother’s restaurant and, because he is terribly bored, decides that he’s going to execute Zoro the next day. This, of course, sends Luffy into a temper tantrum and he punches Helmeppo out right. From there, he makes the decision to make Zoro join his crew.
"You're weak, Zoro. Nothing ever changes."
Meanwhile, in the courtyard, Zoro has a memory of the past and of a little girl, but then only to wake up and see Luffy once again standing before him. Luffy offers Zoro the chance to become a member of his crew, which is refused almost immediately; Zoro stating that he would never join a criminal and that he will accomplish his dream no matter what. So, instead, in order to force him to join, Luffy decides to take back Zoro’s sword in exchange for his joining; something that kinda makes Zoro even more pissed off. Luffy decides to find Helmeppo in order to retrieve the confiscated sword.

Morgan: "The only great one around here is the man you call your father!"
As for Helmeppo, he’s currently on the roof of the base with daddy dearest, demanding that Luffy be executed for punching him. Morgan refuses and then asks about Rika’s trespassing and whether or not she was killed for doing so. Once he hears that it wasn’t done, he demands one of the officers to find and kill Rika. After killing the officer that refused (because apparently having a heart and not killing children makes you a traitor), the group works to erect a statue to Morgan’s greatness when suddenly….

TA DA!! IN COMES LUFFY TO RUIN YOUR DAY!! The statue breaks into two and, before he could be killed, Luffy takes Helmeppo and runs off to find the sword. But before they could give chase, Morgan discovers that Coby has made his way to the courtyard in an attempt to free Zoro. 

Despite Zoro’s efforts at trying to convince him to leave, Coby remains while dropping the bomb that Helmeppo never intended to keep his end of the bargain and planned for Zoro’s execution. Captain Morgan arrives and, after a quick exchange between Coby and Zoro, plans to kill them both by way of a firing squad.

Once Luffy retrieves three swords from Helmeppo's room he, and just so you know this is going to happen rather frequently, jumps into the line of fire to protect both Coby and Zoro. This, of course, causes Zoro to ask who in the hell he is and we get a repeat of, “My name is Monkey D. Luffy and I am going to be the King of the Pirates.”

After being called crazy by Zoro, Luffy shows him three swords and asks which one belongs to him. Zoro responds saying, "All of them belong to me. I use Santoryu, the three sword style." After a little warning from Luffy, Zoro agrees to work with him because it's either that or he ends up dead. Not much of a choice really.

In the meantime, Morgan and his men are still in awe over Luffy's power, which gives us a little more information into what exactly a Devil Fruit is. According to speculation, there are many different kinds of Devil Fruit that give the bearer abnormal powers. However, not much else is know except that you can find out more by going to the Grand Line. This doesn't deter Morgan one bit as he prepares another attack on our, now, three law breakers, but those lawbreakers now have a little problem....

Luffy: "They've got these things on here tight!"
Yeah, did I mention that Luffy isn't the brightest crayon in the box? As the Marines begin to charge them, Zoro demands Luffy for one of his swords which he uses to free himself and then fend off the Marines. While doing so, he tells Luffy that, even though he's becoming a pirate, he won't let anything stand in his way of becoming the world's greatest swordsman and, if he has to abandon it at any point then Luffy will have to apologize. Of course, this doesn't both Luffy in the slightest and he welcomes it, saying, "The King of the Pirates shouldn't have anything less then the best on his crew!"

After the outburst of Marines cry in fear over this strange and powerful pair, Morgan orders them to kill themselves for their insolence. This upsets the Marines greatly, but before they do anything else, Luffy jumps in and attacks Morgan. After a mix of fighting, a hostage situation where Coby is Helmeppo's captive, and some brave and bold words from said hostage; Luffy and Zoro take Morgan and Helmeppo down. This not only saves their own behinds, but saves the Marine base as well as the local islanders from Morgan's tyrannical rule.

While all the commotion is going on outside, our friendly neighborhood mystery thief is rummaging through Captain Morgan's office in search of a maritime chart. When she finds what she's looking for, she is upset to discover that it was already stolen by another pirate known as Buggy the Immortal.

Coby: "I think Luffy was born without that part of the brain that
allows the rest of us to plan out what we have to do."
Zoro: "I can't believe I let myself get suckered into having him as my captain."
After a much needed meal at Rika and her mother's restaurant, Zoro asks about the other members of the pirate crew he'll be working with... Which, of course, leads to a face palm moment as he learns it's just him and Luffy on a small dinky boat. Luffy assures him they'll find more crew members and a bigger ship in no time so that they can go to the Grand Line. Then it's exposition time as Coby explains what the Grand Line is and about the story of Gold Roger and the Pirate Graveyard. Once he gets his worries out on the table, Coby talks about his dream to join the Marines once more, but this time there's a possibility of it not ever coming true as Zoro informs him that if they find out about his time spent on Alvida's ship, Coby won't be allowed to join.

Suddenly, a group of Marines enter the restaurant after learning Luffy and Zoro are pirates and asks them to leave, however they won't be reported to headquarters out of gratitude for taking Morgan down. As the two begin to leave, one of the officers turns to Coby and asks if he is a pirate as well to which Luffy starts telling Coby's story of his days with Alvida. In order to get him to shut up, Coby punches Luffy, and, in return, Luffy fights Coby causing the Marines to believe that Coby isn't associated with them and our captain and first mate leave for their boat.

"Permission to join, granted."
After realizing the kindness Luffy showed to him, Coby begs the Marine officer to let him enlist. The other marines are wary, at first, but once Coby shows his determination to become a marine, he is allowed to join. Before our new duo set off on their journey, Coby as well as the other marines on the island see them off with a salute and the feeling that they will meet again some day.

But Luffy and Zoro aren't the only ones shipping off as our mysterious woman sets off as well with the fake map from Buggy in her hands. And we never saw her ag- Oh who am I kidding... Keep reading.

So what, exactly, made Luffy choose a pirate's life anyway? Clearly there's some kind of past that we don't really know about with some kind of influence as to the path Luffy has chosen. Who is that person, then? Maybe this exposition filled fourth episode will tell us! But before we get to that....

Three pirates of Buggy's are currently on their way back to their comrades when they find a young woman stranded on a small boat. In exchange for water, the woman offers to the three men a chest full of treasure. HOWEVER, you probably know where this is going because, the woman has tricked the men and has taken their boat and treasure.

I probably should have mentioned this before, but the young woman is also our mysterious little lady that we've been seeing.  She informs them that a cold front is coming and that they run the risk of capsizing, which they do, and she sails away.

As for our wonderful pair, Luffy and Zoro are currently drifting in the middle of the ocean. After coming to the realization that they both are terrible at navigation and Zoro gets upset at a "got lost" comment, Luffy's hat starts flying off. Before it gets too far, Zoro catches it, leading us into our wonderful episode of exposition.

Introducing Pirate Captain Red Haired Shanks, Luffy's idol and inspiration. We start this piece with Luffy as a child, in a bar, while Shanks and his men are enjoying their time. Luffy asks to be taken with them on their next adventure, which Shanks refuses. He as well as his men then tease little Luffy about how much of a man he is, giving him some juice to calm him down.... Of course that was another way of teasing.

Shanks: "I don't know one pirate who drinks juice!"
Things aren't that happy and cheerful for long as a group of mountain bandits walk into the bar looking to purchase some sake. However, Shanks and his men had just had the last of it. As a peace offering, Shanks tries to give an unopened bottle to the bandit leader, however the man has none of it and breaks the bottle. As the kind hearted Shanks starts to clean the mess, the bandit leader breaks even more glasses, creating an even bigger mess. A couple insults are thrown at Shanks and then the bandits leave, with Luffy rather agitated. But it's alright, cause Shanks just went with it and now has the last laugh.

Ok, maybe not, cause Luffy yells at Shanks asking why he didn't fight and that it made him look like less of a man. However, Shanks tells him that it wasn't worth it if all that happened was some spilt booze. This still irritated Luffy a tiny bit and he sits down to eat some fruit from a nearby chest.

And now we know how Luffy got his powers. After a failed attempt in getting Luffy to spit out the fruit, Shanks informs him, hastily, of what exactly it is: a Devil Fruit. Now, this wouldn't be anything new to the viewer except for one new little detail: if you eat a Devil Fruit, you lose your ability to swim for the rest of you life.

A few days pass, and Luffy has gotten into some trouble after picking a fight with the mountain bandits. Before anything bad happens, Shanks steps in to help Luffy. Once Shanks displays how much he and his crew are badasses, the bandit leader drops a smoke bomb to escape with Luffy in tow, and sending Shanks into a little bit of a panic. The bandit has taken a boat out to sea in order to dispose of Luffy. Once our little rubberman is tossed out, a giant sea monster appears and eats the bandit. Before the monster succeeds in making Luffy an extra snack, Shanks appears and saves him; staring down the monster and scaring it off. However, although he managed to save Luffy, he did have to pay a price.

Shanks: "Luffy, it's just an arm. I've got another one. I'm just glad you're alright."
After some time, Shanks and his men are ready to set out to sea once again. Before they leave, Luffy tells Shanks that he won't ask to let him join, because he'll become a pirate on his own. Shanks teases Luffy once again, and the boy suddenly has an outburst saying that he'll be a better pirate than Shanks.

Shanks: "Is that so? In that case, I'll leave this hat to you. It means more to me than
anything in the world, so you better take good care of it, you hear me?...."
"...I want you to bring this hat back to me some day, in good condition.
And only once you've become a great pirate. That's our promise, Luffy."
And with that, Shanks and his men sail off and we return to present day with Luffy, Zoro, and their hunger pains. When they spot a bird in the sky, Luffy gets the idea to catch it and eat it. Instead the opposite happens.

Did I happen to mention that Luffy isn't the brightest crayon in the box?
As Zoro rows to try and catch Luffy, the three Buggy pirates from before are still stranded in the water when they spot Zoro and ask to be saved, but Zoro can't stop so he tells them to try and jump in. When the three make it onto the ship, they begin to threaten Zoro and demand to be given the boat.

Yeah.... They up and failed. And also, because of them, Zoro lost sight of Luffy. As the three new passengers begin to discuss what they will do about Buggy and the girl that stole their boat, Zoro asks them who this Buggy person is. They tell him about how terrifying he is and also that he has eaten one of the Devil Fruits. We then cut to a village that Buggy and his men have invaded as our lovely orange haired girl is running through the deserted streets with the real map in hand, and being chased by a few of Buggy's men. At the same time, another member of Buggy's crew informs him that he's spotted something in the sky and is ordered to shoot it down. The result of this is Luffy landing right in front of the girl and the few pirates.

Luffy: "Damnit, why were there cannonballs flying at me? At least I'm safe now.
AND, what just happened to me was awesome."
Thoughts Thus Far:

Ok, so long winded explanation of these four episodes aside, you get the basic sense of what the series entails from these first few episodes. We understand that there's a legendary treasure called the One Piece that everyone wants, including our leading character Luffy thanks to a promise he made as a child to his inspiration, Shanks. When he sets out, he gains one crew member in the notorious pirate bounty hunter Roronoa Zoro and the two continue on their way until they are throw into whatever mess this mystery girl has somehow gotten them in to. Right away, you can tell this series is absolutely crazy and, in no way, does it take itself seriously thanks to the look of some characters like Captain Axe Hand Morgan and the strange powers from the Devil Fruits like Luffy's Gum Gum powers and Buggy's soon to be discussed powers.

You can also already see how mature the series actually is, while it still maintains some amount of innocence and childlikeness to it. While the humor, so far, may be silly and altogether corny at times, you still see your fair share of people getting shot or their arms ripped off a la Shanks. Now, as I mentioned in the introduction article prior to this, 4Kids aimed to water it down for children through heavy censoring. Because the original material was meant for people of all ages, this caused problems for the company not too long afterwards.

Another thing you'll notice for a good long while is the animation and design. Everyone knows that the series goes through a drastic change after the two year time skip in the story line, creating a major change in animation as well. What we get here, for the time being, is good old hand drawn animation at it's finest! It's bright and bold in color, giving this world even more lightheartedness rather than the darker and somber tones that most other pirate series have.

As for characters, we already have a good amount of backstory into Luffy. For Zoro, we have something there, but we'll see his little dream come up again later in this article. Then, and I'll mention voice acting credits now, there's Coby [Mika Doi (J), Kayzie Rogers (4Kids), Leah Clark (FUNi)] whom we will see pop up throughout the series as well as Helmeppo [Koichi Nagano (J), Sean Schemmel (4Kids), Troy Baker (FUNi)] giving us a chance to see them grow and develop on their own as the episodes pass by. As for Shanks [Shuichi Ikeda (J), Tom Souhrada (4Kids), Brandon Potter (FUNi)], it's safe to say that he is one kind hearted badass and it's no wonder that Luffy sees him as a mentor of sorts. As for our little mystery girl, well let's keep going, shall we?

The Greedy Navigator 
and the Clown Pirate (ep. 5-8)

Ok, five second recap! Luffy was a dumb dumb and tried to get lunch for him and Zoro, instead, getting flown away by the giant bird. Zoro gives chase but, because of some of Buggy's men, he ends up sidetracked. Luffy is shot down from the bird by Buggy and he lands right in front of mystery girl and more of Buggy's men while the girl was running off with the real maritime charter that Buggy had stolen from Captain Morgan. We all good? Perfect! Let's continue!

Question time! How do you get yourself out of trouble when a band of pirates are chasing you for a map and some random guy falls from the sky and lands in front of you?

EASY! YOU PRETEND HE'S YOUR BOSS AND RUN AWAY SO HE GETS HIS BUTT KICKED INSTEAD! Way to go, girly. So after she runs off, Buggy's men pick a fight with Luffy in which they, obviously, lose. When the girl appears on the roof as the fight ends to see if he's still alive, Luffy asks who she is.

"I'm a talented thief who steals strictly from pirates. The name's Nami! Hey! Wanna team up with me?"
TA DA MYSTERY SOLVED!! Say hello to Nami everyone! After offering to team up with Luffy, and being denied, Nami notices Luffy's hunger getting to him and offers to get some food for him. Meanwhile, we finally get to see what in the hell Buggy looks like as he grills a crewman as to why and how the map managed to be stolen.

Quick word to the wise... Don't make fun of his nose. He decides to intimidate his men, after taking a statement the wrong way, and we see his Devil Fruit powers used. However, we do not know what those powers are quite yet. He releases the man he was making crap his pants and tells his men that they better not fail him again.

Luffy is finally enjoying some lunch in an abandoned house while Nami is hanging out. We learn that the town had been abandoned since Buggy decided to show up, leaving empty homes for which to hide out in. The two have a small debate over Nami and her ethics, and she reveals she just wants 100,000,000 berries for a secret reason and now she can manage it thanks to the chart of the Grand Line she had stolen. Luffy asks the question as to whether or not she was a navigator and Nami kinda just brags that she's the best there is. Bet you can't guess where this leads...

"Oh wow! That's perfect! How bout you join my crew! I've been looking to recruit a navigator!"
"There's nothing I despise more in this world than pirates. I only love money and tangerines!"
Yup. He asked, and she said no. Go figure! Instead, Nami decides to hatch a plan. She tells Luffy she may consider it if the two of them go and visit Buggy. She ties him up and off they go!

When the two arrive, Nami quickly hands Luffy over to them claiming that she had a fight with her boss and couldn't deal with it anymore, asking to be a part of Buggy's crew. Buggy, apparently, finds it amusing and agrees to let her join, with a welcome party to boot! Though not everyone is having a good time...

...because Luffy is stuck in a cage. Anyways, Buggy is having so much fun that he decides that it's time to make the party even more flashy and has his men prepare one of his Buggy Balls (insert sex joke here). With the canon aimed at a part of the town, it fires, destroying a whole street of houses. It's at this time that we see Zoro finally arriving on the island with the three Buggy stowaways as well.

After a successful display of flashy, Buggy begins to brag about how he will conquer the Grand Line. Of course, Luffy doesn't like that and tells him that he's going to conquer the Grand Line and be King of the Pirates. Nami tells Luffy to shut up, and Buggy, suddenly, has a wonderful idea! Why not let Nami blow her old boss up with a Buggy Ball?! It'll also give her the chance to prove her loyalty to the Buggy Pirates! Nami tries to calmly talk Buggy out of it, but he'd rather have fun blowing people up. Now comes Nami's first big dilemma since first appearing.

"If I don't shoot, then I'll be killed! But if I do, then I'll be no better than these pirates!"
Luffy: "What's the matter? Your hands are shaking. That's what
happens when you take on pirates with half assed resolve."
Nami: "Resolve? To do what? To kill someone like it's nothing?
It that a pirates's resolve?"
Luffy: "No..."
"...You gotta be willing to risk your own life."
One of the pirates notices Nami wavering and takes the matches to light the fuse. Before he gets to, though, Nami unfurls her long staff and knocks the guy out. Her reason? She didn't want to stoop to their level, revealing that pirates took the life of someone dear to her so she promised herself that she wouldn't be like them. This gives Luffy a sense as to her reasoning, but he doesn't have a lot of time to really think about it because....

Buggy sends his men in to attack, and Nami manages to evade them. Her real goal is to reach the lit fuse, and, when she does, she puts it out by using her bare hands and burning herself. As Buggy's men are about to attack her from behind...

Zoro: "Hey now. It's not very nice of you guys to gang up on the poor girl."
Zoro pops in to say hello and grab his captain. Of course, this makes for some confusion as Zoro is only currently well known as the notorious Pirate Hunter, with Nami as one of the confused parties. Buggy decides to challenge Zoro in order to boost his reputation regardless of whether or not he gave up pirate hunting. At first the fight seems to be over quickly, with Zoro as the winner. However...

Remember when I mentioned over and over again that Buggy had Devil Fruit powers? Well, now we get to see what they are. Buggy ate the Chop Chop fruit, allowing his limbs to detach and reattach at will. And he uses this power to stab Zoro in the back. You know... As you do.

Way to be, Luffy...
*sigh* Once again, don't ever make fun of Buggy's nose. Buggy decides to do away with all three troublemakers, but not before Luffy and Zoro hatch a plan to escape through similar thought process. After deflecting more of Buggy's attacks, Zoro makes a break for the canon that was poised to fire at Luffy and then flips the canon and aims it at Buggy. Zoro tells Nami to light the fuse and the canon fires a Buggy Ball directly at the clown pirate.

I don't think I've said this yet, but..... Zoro is a badass. Just saying.
Before they could even think about seeing if Buggy and his men were dead, Zoro grabs the cage Luffy is in and starts to get him out of there despite being badly injured. Nami is still stunned at what happened and is trying to wrap her head around who these two are, however she decides to distance herself from them.

Of course Buggy is alive, you silly goofs. That'd be too quick of an arc. One of his men, Mohji offers to find and kill Zoro, to which Buggy agrees whole heartedly.

Luffy: "Doggy!"
Once Zoro manages to put some distance between them and Buggy, he passes out on the street and we get to meet a random dog outside of a house. Luffy gets excited to meet the dog and tries to befriend it....

Once again, Luffy isn't the brightest cry... Oh just forget it, this is gonna happen a lot...
AND ends up bitten in the face. Before Zoro could do anything to stop it, he lays back down on the street because blood loss is a mother f**ker, and now appears Nami. She tries to give the key to the cage to Luffy to call it even, but the dog goes and eats the key. As Luffy tries to get the dog to cough it up, a older man appears, telling them to leave the dog alone. The town Mayor, that's who this man is, takes Zoro to a nearby house after noticing his injuries and then returns to Luffy and Nami saying that Zoro didn't want to see a doctor and, instead, opting to sleep it off.

You know... As you do.
The two ask the Mayor about why Shu-Shu, the dog, seems to stay right in front of that one building. He tells them about his former owner and how he passed away from illness. And, although he's passed, Shu-Shu still guards the pet food shop. All seems to be nice and calm until Beast Tamer Mohji shows up looking for Zoro, with Nami and the Mayor running away and leaving Luffy in the cage. After refusing to tell him where Zoro is, Luffy is attacked by Mohji and his pet lion Richy; freeing our captive captain from his cage and being blasted off into a nearby house. Before Mohji continues his hunt for Zoro, Richy is getting hungry and the pair decide to raid the pet shop that Shu-Shu is guarding.

Little Shu-Shu tries his best to fight off Mohji and Richy, but to no avail. Richy hurts the little pup badly, and the pet shop is burned down in the process. Seeing Shu-Shu's treasure burned down to the ground, Luffy watches on now infuriated. He hunts down Mohji and fights him, winning easily.

"There's no reason for you to apologize to me. Because of you that
dog will never get his treasure back. And now, because of that, I'm gonna kick your ass."
"You fought well. Course I didn't actually see you defend the store, but I can tell you gave it your all."
As Nami and the Mayor join Shu-Shu and the burned down shop, Luffy appears. Nami takes her hatred for pirates out on Luffy, but Luffy isn't phased and gives Shu-Shu the last remaining box of food that Richy had taken. Shu-Shu takes the box and leaves, thanking Luffy along the way. Nami then realizes that Luffy had fought Mohji for the sake of Shu-Shu.

Mohji refers to his ears as manly hair, by the way... Yeah, all these characters are weird.
Mohji reports his failure to Buggy and tries to inform him that Luffy also ate a Devil Fruit, however passes out before he can get the words out. Buggy then decides to blow the entire town up in order to find Luffy and Zoro.

Back to Luffy and Nami, she apologizes for what she said and Luffy accepts it. The Mayor, feeling inspired by Shu-Shu and Luffy both, decides to fight Buggy. After another Buggy Ball is launched in their vicinity, the house Zoro was sleeping in is crushed from the cannonball's power. But Zoro is perfectly fine.

"That's one hell of a way to wake a guy up. I could have used a few more Z's."
The Mayor runs off to try and fight Buggy after seeing the damage done. Luffy and Zoro decide to go after him so they can make sure he doesn't die as well as steal back the chart of the Grand Line. But before he does, Luffy asks Nami, again, to join their crew.

"I'll never sink so low as to become a pirate. But I suppose we
could team up in order to achieve our common goal."
With that, Nami has, kinda, joined our motley crew! Meanwhile, before Buggy fires off another Buggy Ball, the Mayor pops in to try and stop him. With an attempt to end the Mayor's life, Luffy steps in and saves him.

"I'm here to kick your ass just like I promised I would, Buggy"
The Mayor tries to keep our, now, trio from his fight and Luffy decides to knock him out so he wouldn't get killed in the process. After getting yelled at by Nami, Luffy decides to do the one thing in order to piss Buggy off.

"BIG NOSE!!!!"
You guessed it! He called him Big Nose, again. At least it was on purpose, this time. Buggy takes aim with the cannon towards Luffy, but the straw hat uses his rubber powers to deflect it right back at them, freaking out everyone, minus Zoro, in the process. Buggy appears from the rubble after using two of his men as a shield, and Mohji finally wakes up from his nap in order to tell Buggy that Luffy ate a Devil Fruit. Next to appear from the rubble, after using Richy as a shield, is another member of Buggy's crew known as Cabaji. He asks to teach the three a lesson, and Buggy accepts. Before the first hit is landed on Luffy, Zoro steps in to take Cabaji on.

"I'll clash swords with you."
Cabaji: "It's an honor, Roronoa Zoro."
 The downside is that Zoro is still injured and is, now, being taken advantaged of by Cabaji; as the more he attacks Zoro, the more he aims for his injury. This doesn't phase Zoro in the slightest (outside of immense pain) and takes a direct attack from Cabaji to his wound.

"Are you having fun, poking at my wound?"
"To hell with that. If I lose to someone like you, even with these minimal injuries,
then I don't have a very bright future ahead of me, do I?
Nami has had enough of the fight and decides to run off and steal Buggy's treasure, wishing Luffy good luck and hoping that they team up again some time. Though, once she's left, she decides that nothing good could ever come from teaming up with them. She enters the basement of the building Buggy was hiding out in to find their stash. When she does, she runs into a drunk pirate guard and knocks him out cold. Taking the keys the pirate had, she opens one of the chests and finds the chart of the Grand Line. As Nami starts to haul her treasure off, she starts wondering how the boys are doing and decides to check up on them.

"Yes! The chart of the Grand Line!"
Meanwhile, Zoro and Cabaji's fight grows in intensity. Buggy decides to, literally, give Cabaji a hand in order to defeat Zoro. However, Luffy stops this from happening, letting Zoro dodge Cabaji's attack. In a final attempt to defeat our friendly neighborhood swordsman, Zoro uses his Onigiri attack (the first time we get to see it, by the way) and finishes off Cabaji. Once he wins, he passes out from exhaustion, leaving Luffy to take on Buggy.

Zoro: "Lu..ffy.. I'm going to sleep."
Luffy: "Good. I'm looking forward to this!"
Once the two establish themselves as rivals after the same goal, Buggy makes a comment about Luffy's hat and how it reminds him of "him." Luffy, a little surprised, realizes that Buggy is talking about Shanks, and the clown confesses to once knowing him. And, with that, the fight between the two begins.

In the process of their fight, one of Buggy's attack puts a small tear in Luffy's hat, angering our rubberman because of the promise he had made to Shanks; remembering that he was to return it to him in good condition. Seeing this, Buggy becomes even more annoyed and attacks Luffy once again, however, he instead takes his hat and damages it further. Luffy gets flashbacks of his childhood and days with Shanks, including a repeat of their promise, and Buggy can't seem to understand how the hat is a treasure and throws insults at Luffy. When Luffy demands for his Shanks hat back, Buggy then realizes that the hat he is holding is actually Shanks's old hat.

"So you're telling me that this used to be Shanks's old hat? No wonder it
looked so familiar. He always wore it when I knew him."
Buggy reveals that when the two were pirates-in-training, they were comrades. Throwing in more insults about Shanks, Luffy jumps in and knocks Buggy to the ground demanding that he never speak of Shanks in that manner again, and then asks what he knows about him. Buggy decides to tell Luffy (and the, now, nearby Nami) of his past with our red haired captain.

Shanks: "SOUTH POLE!"
Crewmate: "Knock it off. Nobody, but you two, cares about
which is colder: the North Pole or the South Pole."
A long time ago as apprentice pirates, during a raid, Buggy takes a treasure map off of another pirate with the treasure at the bottom of the ocean. During their crew's celebrations that night, Shanks and Buggy have a discussion as to their future plans and their different outlooks on life, agreeing that they wouldn't ever work well together. Buggy is then informed by Shanks about a Devil Fruit that they found and stole, mentioning that it could be worth a lot of money.

Of course Buggy wants the money so, the next day he stages a display in front of his crew mates and eats the fruit and tells them that he doesn't feel any differently. This manages to convince the others that the fruit wasn't real after all, however Buggy is ready to jump ship later that night with the treasure map and the real Devil Fruit in tow. But before that happens...

Shanks pops in, scaring the clown into accidentally eating the fruit. Before punching the living daylights out of Shanks, he notices that something has fallen overboard. It's the treasure map. Buggy dives right on it after it, however, now that he's eaten the fruit he can no longer swim. Shanks dives right into the water and rescues him. Flashback over.

So because he ate the fruit and lost the map, thanks to Shanks, Buggy is now salty as hell. But that's perfectly ok, because Buggy now only cares about treasure that's on land and then tries to make an attack, not on Luffy but, on Nami as she is trying to walk away with her loot. But Luffy figures out that his body, despite detaching his limbs, can still be affected by pain regardless thanks to a kick to the balls. Buggy makes another attempt on Nami, but is stopped again, this time, through some tickling and smashing of the feet from Luffy.

Oh the irony... He's gets shot at by his own Buggy Ball and now this!
Nami tries to fight back by hitting Buggy with her loot, but Buggy merely thanks her for giving it back and holds on tight to it. Before another attack can land on Nami, Luffy jumps in, again, and kicks Buggy in the face. While Buggy is out cold, Nami takes the opportunity to thank Luffy for saving her. But, it's not over yet cause Buggy quickly recovers and looks to reassemble himself to fight the straw hat. Unfortunately....

"Looking for these, Buggy?"
Nami took the chance to tie up most of his detached limbs, leaving only his head, feet, and hands left to create a very tiny Buggy. Luffy sends Buggy off in one final move and that ends that. And we never saw Buggy again! ......Yeah, I'm not even going to try that joke again right now.

Now that everything is done, Luffy takes a look at the damage Buggy caused to his hat, and Nami, a little shyly, offers to fix it for him later on. When Luffy doesn't catch what she said, she, instead, asks him to help carry the loot she stolen. Nami then gives Luffy the chart of the Grand Line as thanks for saving her. Luffy asks her one more time to be a part of his crew and she finally, and fully, agrees.

"Hanging around with you seems profitable enough. Just remember this:
I'm only joining you, cause it's in my interest."
Luffy waltzes over to Zoro to wake him up and tell him they're leaving, then looks to wake the Mayor up from his nap as well. But before he does, the rest of the villagers appear asking what's going on (we saw them a tiny bit earlier, but I didn't feel it needed mentioning). On discovering the Mayor unconscious, Luffy mentions that he was the one who did it and the townspeople get a little bit angry. Luffy quickly grabs Zoro and the trio make their way to their ships while the townspeople give chase.

Along the way, they run down an alley only to find Shu-Shu there. The three jump over the pup in order to keep running, and Shu-Shu then keeps the citizens from going any further. Because of Shu-Shu's interference, the three are able to out run the townsfolk and arrive at their ships. There they run into a slight problem.

Bet cha been wondering where these three have been this entire time. Well, they were waiting here for Nami to return so they can get some payback. However, they don't really get it because...

Yeah.... Cause Zoro is a person who exists. Anyways, the Mayor wakes up to see the result of Luffy's fight against Buggy and then runs off to the harbor in order to thank them for what they've done at the confusion of the townsfolk while the trio sail off on their two dinky boats. But, the Mayor discovers something left at the harbor.

One of the bags of treasure Nami stole was left out thanks to Luffy. Nami, of course is raging mad cause she wanted that treasure, but Luffy tells them that the village will need something in order to rebuild. After threatening to let him drown, Nami accepts it and the, now, three pirates continue on their journey.

"Well, looks like, for better or worse, we finally have a navigator in our crew."
But before we finish the episode we catch a glimpse some long nosed guy among the shadows on another island. Oh boy!

Thoughts Thus Far:

With this arc, what we get from it is, not only another crew member, but the first real rivalry as Buggy [Shigeru Chiba (J), David Wills (4Kids), Mike McFarland (FUNi)] appears rather frequently throughout the entire story. Because both him and Luffy share the same goal and have different views on a single person, that being Shanks, it's easy to see why this becomes a rather classic rivalry. Through this arc we also have the added benefit to see much more of Luffy and Zoro's strength and determination in battle with Zoro being the bigger interest of the two. Even though he just joined in, he's already facing much more hardship than he had had before thanks to his fight with Cabaji and the injury he has sustained prior to that, overcoming the obstacle in front of him and winning. Some people may say that he's just an idiot for fighting while injured, but, remember, this is anime and, especially with One Piece, you should never take it seriously.

As for our latest addition, like Zoro, we can already tell Nami has some kind of hidden past because of a couple of comments she has throughout this arc. Unlike Zoro, her past seems to be much more mysterious than his because there's no flashback or nothing, just those comments. Nami, personally, is one of my favorite characters because she goes through some of the biggest development that I have seen in the show, thus far (prior to this retrospective, I got myself stuck in the Skypia arc so I haven't seen much else). As we keep going, we'll soon see what those secrets are and how they will make a major impact on not only herself, but on the rest of her shipmates. NEXT!

The Man Who Cried “Pirates” 
and the Cunning Cat 
(ep. 9-17, 9-16 [4Kids])

Another five second recap!! Luffy fights against his first pirate foe in Buggy the Clown, winning and liberating a local village. He also gained a new crew member, the thief and navigator named Nami as well as a chart of the Grand Line.

We begin our arc in a quiet and peaceful island village in the East Blue during the morning sunrise. All is well for this sleepy little town, until....

Some weird guy goes running through the town screaming about pirates attacking the village. After our episode title appears, we now see our trio of straw hat pirates on the open ocean and in their two dinky boats. Nami brings up the fact that they can't go into the Grand Line in their current state. Luffy mentions the need for more meat while Zoro has beer on the brain. Yeah, they have some one track minds...

"That's not what I mean!"
What Nami actually means is that they will need a bigger ship and better equipment in order to even think about entering the Grand Line. After looking at the map, she notices a nearby island where they may be able to get all the things they need, including a better ship and the three head in that direction. Now, how is our town cryer doing?

Yup. He's still at it. Until he becomes exhausted and announces to the town that it was just a lie. Gee... I wonder how the villagers will take that... Screw it. Of course they'd be mad. But, apparently, this isn't the first time this has happened as they grab their brooms and such and give chase to our odd long nosed friend. Eventually, they lose sight of him and head back to their homes while our friend does some relaxing in the trees.

"I bid you good morning, Captain Usopp!"
When two young boys appear under the tree and call up to him, Usopp jumps down and bids them good morning. However, there's one other person missing and just as Usopp asks Pepper and Carrot about it, Onion (a third little boy) runs to them in a panic, and he tells his friends about a band of pirates that are on their way to the island. At first, the others don't believe him, but when Onion tells them that he isn't lying...

Usopp: "AHH! GOTTA GO!! Uhh... Time for me to have my snack!!"
Usopp is a tiny bit of a coward, just so we're clear. The boys prevent him from running off by mentioning to him that he'd always wanted to be a pirate anyway so why be scared of them. Onion mentions that there are three people on only two tiny boats with Buggy's mark on one of them. Pretty sure it was the tiny boats and three people part that caused this, but Usopp gains some energy all of a sudden and decides to take on these pirates in order to protect the village.

Oh yeah, in case you quickly forgot, the boat Nami stole used to be Buggy's.
She just hadn't changed the sail yet....
When Luffy, Zoro, and Nami arrive on the island, Zoro senses that the three of them are being watched. Luffy's feet are suddenly shot at as dozens of pirate flags are raised with one man at it's center.

"I am Usopp, leader of the invincible nation of pirates who reign over this island!"
Usopp keeps bragging and bragging about how strong and how many men he has until Nami calls his bluff and the idiot just crumbles down ever so quickly. Trying to save his behind, Usopp tells more lies about how many men he has and then Nami just ruins that again.

Nami: "My guess is three."
As Pepper, Carrot, and Onion run off to leave Usopp to fend for himself, Nami picks up a marble; one of the many that were shot at Luffy's feet.

"A pirate using a slingshot, huh. Well, now I've seen it all."
Usopp decides to take aim at the straw hat with his slingshot and readies to fire, claiming to be an excellent shot. But Luffy then asks him if he's willing to actually fire it. Zoro warns him that they are real pirates and to consider his next move carefully. After an intense stare down, Usopp backs down a little upset. More because of how cool actual pirates are and how they can back up what they say.

"I stole those words from Red Haired Shanks, a pirate I know."
"What? You really know Red Haired Shanks?! You really are a real pirate!
Wait! You gotta be lying. Do you really know him?"
"Yup! I know you dad, too! His name's Yasopp, right?"
Stunned, Usopp asks how Luffy knew about his father and the four of them discuss it over a nice lunch. Luffy tells Usopp how he met his father as a kid while Yasopp was a member of Shanks's crew. We get a little flashback showing Yasopp's skills with a pistol and then he proceeds to drink and tell little Luffy about Usopp.

Luffy (to Usopp): I think I heard enough about you to make my ears bleed."
Nami decides to ask Usopp if he knew of a way they could get a ship as well as someone to help sail it and Usopp tells them no. However, Zoro spots a mansion on the top of a distant hill and asks Usopp about it's residents. He tells the three of them to stay away from there and then runs off in a hurry to get something done.

Cut to the mansion in question as we meet little Miss Kaya, the owner. She tells her butler that she wishes to see Usopp, and he refuses; telling her that he is a chronic liar and hearing his crazy stories while in her weak condition would be bad for her. After being called a killjoy, the butler leaves. Almost as soon as he is gone, Usopp appears in the tree outside of Kaya's window and begins to tell her some stories.

Meanwhile, the three boys from Usopp's crew are under the impression that the three pirates kidnapped their captain, so they sneak into the restaurant they are still eating at. Noticing that Usopp is missing, the boys demand to know where he is. And Zoro decides to play a stupid joke on them.

"We ate him."
After calming down, the three boys take Luffy and the others to Kaya's mansion to find Usopp. They explain to our trio that he comes to visit her ever day in order to tell made up stories and cheer her up from her depression after the death of her parents over a year ago. Luffy decides that they should ask Kaya for a ship because, apparently, Usopp is a nice guy... So that gives him a good reason to ask. I don't know... Anyways, in order to get past the gate, Luffy decides to put his gum gum powers to work, launching everyone in and also scaring the crap out of the three kids. They all land on the ground right in front of Usopp and Kaya, with Luffy getting up and asking for a ship.

Or, at least he was going to when the butler shows up again. The butler, Klahadore, tells them all to leave due to their trespassing. Oh! And, at the same time, some weird guy just arrived into the village walking backwards. Yeah!

Oh hi, Mr. Weirdo!
Anyways... Klahadore wants Luffy and the others gone, and begins to make with the insults against Usopp. Particularly that his father is a filthy pirate who up and abandoned his family for the lust of treasure. Usopp, because he admires his father, gets rather angry and punches Klahadore.

"My father listened to his heart and chose a life of risk and adventure. I am proud to say that my old man is a brave warrior of the sea. You're right, I have been known to exaggerate from time to time, but I will never lie about who my father is. I refuse to be ashamed of my heritage. I am the son of a pirate!"

Klahadore, however, sees this outburst as a product of his blood line, also stating that Usopp is only cozying up to his lady just to take her fortune; adding even more insult to injury. Before Usopp can get another hit in, Kaya begs him to stop; saying that Klahadore is just looking out for her best interests, and Usopp lets him go. The butler tells him to leave and never come back, to which Usopp agrees.

Carrot: "HEY! You butler jerk! Our captain's not that kinda guy!"
Pepper: "Yeah! You stupid jerk face!"
Onion: "Jerk face!"
Luffy: "JERK FACE!!!"
*punch* Zoro: "Shut up. You don't have a bone to pick with him."
After Klahadore scares the pants off the kids, and pisses Luffy off, he tells them to leave and they do. Once they do, Klahadore goes to serve Kaya her lunch, which she refuses; asking as to why he was so cruel to Usopp. Klahadore tells of how he owes his life to Kaya's father and to her since her parents had passed. Almost three years ago, he came to this island after being thrown off the ship he was working for and almost died as a beggar. Instead, Kaya's father took him in and he's served Kaya's family ever since. He says that he normally wouldn't get involved in her friendships, but Usopp's character raises a red flag to him. Despite what he thinks, Kaya still sees Usopp as a kind person, and Klahadore tells her he still isn't welcomed.

Meanwhile, Zoro, Nami, Pepper, and Carrot are hanging out near some fences when Nami notices that Luffy has gone missing. Assuming he went after Usopp, Pepper and Carrot mention they probably went to Usopp's secret spot so he can think things over. Suddenly in comes Onion freaking out over our mysterious backwards walking weirdo. After Onion proves he isn't a liar again, the weirdo comes strolling by.

The mysterious man tries to figure out who was calling him weird, at first, but, instead we find out that he's a hypnotist. He puts his work on display for the three kids and....

"Who is this freaky weirdo?!"
In the meantime, Usopp is sitting on a cliff and looking out into the ocean when Luffy pops in from a tree. They discuss their frustration of Klahadore's words together when Luffy notices said butler walking on the rocks below them, and with him the weird hypnotist from before. He asks Jango, our weirdo friend, if all the preparations are set.

"But of course. We can start any time on the rich girl murder plan!"
Oh wait, it's not murder! It's an accident... That was planned out. Yup. Totally not murder. Ok, so the idea here is that Jango and his men storm the village and "accidentally" kill Kaya in the process, but not before Jango uses hypnosis to make Kaya write her will and leaving everything to Klahadore.

Yeah. Totally not murder.
Klahadore explains that he spent three years gaining the trust of the people, so they wouldn't be surprised if he was to gain Kaya's fortune. Although... Maybe Klahadore isn't the right name to use here anymore, because Jango reveals that he is actually Captain Kuro, a man believed to be dead at the hands of the Marines but it was just a clever ruse to get himself out of the life of piracy. Kuro tells Jango to not call him that, saying he abandoned that name years ago; and Jango tells him to let him know when to strike because the men have been growing rather anxious.

Luffy: "What are they talking about? Is it bad guy stuff?"
Still not getting it, Luffy asks Usopp what Kuro and Jango are talking about. Usopp tells him about the murder plot, but also that Kuro is a well known pirate thanks to his smarts and his brutality. But, of course, Luffy is having none of that murder stuff.

Of course Kuro and Jango notice this outburst and, as he tries to get Luffy to stop, Usopp becomes spotted as well. Kuro tells Jango to do away with them and the man prepares to use his hypnosis on them. However, because Usopp didn't know what was going on, he ducked leaving Luffy.... Well...

He feel asleep from it and fell from the cliff and into the rocks below. Believing Luffy to be dead (because, let's face it, the show would be over too quickly if he actually was), Jango asks Kuro about what to do with Usopp, but the cunning man tells him there's no need to do anything because no one would believe a thing he says regardless. Kuro proceeds to give Jango his orders to attack the village at daybreak, while Usopp is still on the cliff listening.

In a desperate attempt to save them, Usopp quickly heads for the village to warn it's people of a real oncoming pirate attack. However, because of the many times he's played this little game, none of the villagers believe him. Usopp now completely understands why Kuro ignored him before, and he runs off before the villagers could do anything else.

Before he had reached the village, just now, Usopp ran past Zoro, Nami, and his crew mates causing some confusion as to the whereabouts of Luffy seeing as how they believed him to be with Usopp. They realized something must have happened at the shore and they go to have a look. When they do, Nami spots Luffy at the bottom of the cliff and the group rush over to see if he's ok. Nami and the boys think Luffy to be dead, however, one poke in the butt from Zoro's scabbard and Luffy wakes up from his nap.

"Lazy bum."
"Good morning, guys!"
Luffy explains to Zoro and the others Kuro's plans to attack the village and our trio of little ones decides to run and prepare to hide from the pirates.

Usopp tries one more place in order to tell of Kuro's plot: Kaya's mansion. When he tries to tell Kaya, even she doesn't believe him. Instead, she's under the impression that Usopp is trying to get back at Klahadore for what he had said earlier. When another one of Kaya's servants, Merry, checks up on her, Usopp grabs the girl and tries to run away with her. He doesn't get very far, however, because Kaya refuses to go and slaps him in the face.

Merry appears, again, demanding that Usopp leave Kaya alone. When trying to escape, on his own, Merry shoots Usopp. Minimal damage was done, though, and only Usopp's arm was shot because Kaya stepped in the way. As the rest of the villagers pass by the mansion, Merry flags them down and tells them the direction which Usopp is headed. Meanwhile, Kuro makes a quick stop at his old pirate ship and his former crew, telling them that their loyalty will be justly rewarded.

As the sun sets, Usopp has managed to get away from the angry villagers, but is left very troubled. Looking at the village, from a distance, the three boys as well as Luffy and the others spot him. Usopp quickly hides his gunshot wound and address them cheerfully.... But kinda freaks out when he eyes Luffy, cause, ya know, he thought he was dead. The trio of young boys tell Usopp that they know what's going on and they have to warn the people quickly. However...

"Well, obviously, I'm lying like usual!"
He tells the little ones that he was just lying as he always is. This disappoints the boys as they have been looking up to Usopp for a long time now, and the three just head back home.

Luffy: "Why did you lie to them?"
Usopp: "Because all I do is lie. Nobody was going to
believe what I had to say. Why should they?"
Not long afterwards, Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and Usopp stand together at the shore, Nami tending to Usopp's wound. Despite lying to the three boys and being unable to get the villagers to believe him, Usopp has run out of options and decides to take the oncoming pirate attack himself so the people fully believe in that lie and spend their day just like any other.

"I don't care anymore if they drive me away with brooms or shoot me in the arm.
This is my village. It's my home, and I love everyone in it. I have to protect them."
After those brave words, Luffy and the others decide to offer our long nosed friend a hand in, secretly, defending the village. Something which Usopp becomes eternally grateful for.

Zoro: "You're a hell of a good guy, sending all your cronies away and going into battle alone."
Nami: "Just so you know, I have dibs on all the pirate treasure. you got it?"
Luffy: "So you want a little help or what?"
Usopp and the others begin to hatch a plan against the Kuro's Black Cat Pirates. With only one way to reach the village from the shoreline, Usopp suggests that they prevent the pirates from getting past the top of the narrow slope. But victory will only happen if they use their strengths to the fullest.

Zoro: "I cut."
Luffy: "I stretch."
Nami: "I steal."
Usopp: "I hide."
Meanwhile, Kuro returns to the mansion and speaks with Merry. Merry tells him of Usopp's earlier antics, including the claims that Kuro is actually a pirate. Our cunning cat then notices a gift on a nearby table. As a kind of commemoration of the three years he'd spent in the mansion, Kaya got him a new custom made pair of glasses since his current ones keep slipping all the time.

"It's a crescent moon tonight. It's on nights like these that I
truly feel alive. My heart races and my blood boils in my veins."
Kuro decides that he is done playing the calm, reliable, butler and breaks the glasses that Kaya gave to him. Then, before Merry can do anything to warn his mistress, Kuro gravely injuries him and then sets off for Kaya's room. He contemplates killing her, himself, however he restrains himself and leaves quietly. In the mean time, Jango has given his men the orders to set sail for the village.

As for the brilliant plan to defend the village, Usopp uses some barrels of oil and makes the slope a little more slippery in order to make picking off the pirates a lot easier. When day breaks, Jango and his men land on shore and prepare to attack the village. But, wait, wasn't there a trap set up?

Luffy: "Where are they? I thought we were gonna fight? The sun's up, what's the deal?"
Nami hears some distant battles cries, and Usopp has a realization. The pirates went to an identical shore like the one they are currently at, but to the north. Because of this mistake, Nami remembers that's where the trio landed their boats and worries about her treasure being stolen. Luffy runs off with Usopp not far behind. As Zoro and Nami are about to follow suit, Nami accidentally slips into the oil trap. She grabs one of Zoro's swords and begins to pull him in as well, until she gets the bright idea to use him in order to get herself out.

While Zoro works on getting out of his slippery situation, it becomes a race to get to the north shore, with Usopp as the first to arrive and retaliate against the oncoming pirate attack just in time. When he does arrive, Usopp wonders where Luffy even is since he was the first of the four to run off in the first place. Unfortunately, Luffy managed to go in the wrong direction.

"The village. That can't be right. He said run north, and I ran in
the coldest direction so I should be at the shore!"
Usopp gives his lying skills a go against Jango and the pirates, but they quickly see right through it. But some of the pirates did find the treasure that Nami kept hidden on one of the small boats. The long nosed guy then decides to offer up the treasure to Jango in exchange for them leaving the island. But they aren't having any of that either, and Jango decides to try and use hypnosis on Usopp in order to get by. But before he succeeds...

Nami hits Usopp in the head and sends him flying down the slope, mentioning, afterwards, that Jango uses hypnosis. After Nami asks why Luffy hasn't made it to the shore yet, the pair start arguing over who's going to go and fight the pirates off. Jango, losing patience, orders the men to attack. Before going into a panic, Usopp remembers he has some caltrops and he and Nami throw them down the slope.

Meanwhile, on the south shore, Zoro is tired and rather pissed off at Nami. He finally manages to get out of his oily problem using, what else? His sword skills!

"Nami, if you're still alive when I get outta here, I'm gonna kill you."
And on another part of the island.... Luffy is still lost.

"But which way is north?"
The caltrops seem to be working against the band of pirates, prompting Nami to take an unexpected break. But she discovers that there are caltrops behind her and Usopp as well. More specifically, the ones she had thrown. While Usopp is distracted, one of the pirates gets behind him and hits him with a rather large stone hammer. Usopp tries to stop them from moving any further, but fails to do so. Before anything else bad could happen...

Luffy and Zoro finally join the party, and both rather irritated.

(to Nami) "And you! After leaving me down there,
you're lucky I'm not kicking your butt too!" 
"Usopp, you big bone head! You never told me which direction was north!"
And they aren't the only ones, as we cut to Kuro waiting at the steps of the mansion and he becomes irritated that his men are late and begins to head for the shore. But what he doesn't notice is...

A little Onion is curiously watching him, wondering what he's up to.

As Jango notices the sun high in the sky, now, he figures that Kuro is growing rather impatient. Therefore, in order for the men to defeat Luffy and Zoro, Jango hypnotizes his crewmen into being stronger, and, this time, not accidentally getting himself in the process. But they aren't the only ones under Jango's hypnosis...

Yup, he did, making Luffy punch out all the pirates in one go and then chase them back to the shore. But Luffy isn't done yet, OH HELL NO!! For his next trick....

Jango: "Damn you, Captain Kuro! You made one HELL of
a miscalculation! These are NOT your average village idiots!"
He takes the stem of the ship and prepares to hit all of the Black Cat Pirates with it. Luckily for... well.... everyone, really, Jango hypnotizes Luffy once again into falling asleep. He does and Luffy is crushed by the stem along with a few other pirates in it's range.

After spying Kuro headed for the shore earlier, Onion quickly tells Pepper and Carrot what he saw and the trio head for the mansion to check on Kaya, and, now, understanding that Usopp was lying about having lied the day before.

Waking from a nightmare where Usopp takes her life, Kaya gets out of bed to look for Klahadore, but instead finds Merry laying on the floor gravely wounded. When Merry tries to explain that it was Klahadore who injured him, at first, Kaya doesn't believe him.

Kaya: "Then what Usopp spoke about yesterday was the truth!"
Merry: "That's right. That's what is most tragic. When he learned the
truth, he tried his hardest to get us to hear him out. But we were all
 too shallow minded and too confident in the closed off world
we lived in for so long to listen to a single word..."
"...In our blind protection of the villain in our midst, we drove
away the one brave lad who's desperate resolve he enacted
for the sake and safety of every person of this village, including you and I."
With the staff on leave for the day, no one is there to treat Merry's wound, causing Kaya to panic. He calms her and tells Kaya, that if all Klahadore wants is her money then let him have it. It's not worth risking her life in the process. With a new resolve, Kaya decides to find Klahadore and finish this once and for all. When leaving the mansion Pepper and the other boys spot her, noticing that something is off, and start to follow her.

Now that most of the men have been knocked down, thanks to Luffy, Jango begins to worry even more. That is until he remembers their trump card aboard the ship, and he summons the Meowban Brothers (Nyaban Brothers in the Japanese). He orders the pair to take out the obstacle in their way to the village, that being Zoro. But, they are just too scared to go in to fight. Jango forces one of the brothers, Sham, to head into battle and the little wimp just runs at Zoro.

(for those who watch the FUNi dub, say hello to Haberkorn! Can I just say... the f**k?!)
"You come any closer, and I'll cut you in half! I'm not joking, I'll do it!
Sham: "Not likely."
OK! Wimp is the wrong word to use here! I'd have to say clever, because when Sham steps away from Zoro, the swordsman notices something missing.

"Say goodbye, swords!"
The cat bugler went and stole two of his swords leaving Zoro with only the one in his hands. With the other two swords tossed to the side, Sham and Buchi begin their work against Zoro. Usopp makes an attempt to level the playing field by shooting one of the brothers, but, instead, manages to hit Zoro in the process and giving the Meowban Brothers a chance to wound him. Nami believes it to have been an accident that Zoro was shot, but Usopp makes a different guess.

"You dumbass! Don't help me! You wanna die?"
The two realize that, instead of helping him, Zoro actually saved them from possibly being attacked by the brothers. In return, Nami decides to try and reach Zoro's other swords and give him a better chance at winning. However, before she can toss one, Jango steps in to cut Nami's shoulder. But, now everyone is about to have a even bigger problem...

The night has long since passed. So, why is it that you seem to have made no progress on the plan?

WHOOPS! Looks like time's up for everyone here now that Kuro has arrived and in an extremely foul mood. So.... Let me get this straight..... We have....

A sleeping straw hat under a ship stem.
A swordsman, injured and only down to one sword against two enemies.
A girl with an injured shoulder.
And a long nosed guy with, probably, a concussion and can't even stand.
I think that sounds about right. If I were Kuro, I would be kinda pissed too. As Jango tries to explain the situation, Kuro doesn't want to hear any excuses; calling his former crew weaklings in his absence. This aggravates the Meowban Brothers and they attack their former captain, saying that he's had three years of lounging around while they were killing many more people. However...

Kuro uses his Pussyfoot Maneuver in order to evade their attack and threatens the brothers. He gives them five minutes to take care of the business at hand or he will kill them all. Jango and the crew agrees and the brothers return to attacking Zoro. But Nami has other plans..

While Jango was distracted by Kuro and his words, Nami worked her way to Zoro's other swords and kicks them to him. He catches them, thanking her, and...

He takes down both of the brothers with a single attack, and ensures to Kuro that everything will be taken care of in less than the five minute time. Or did he... I say this because Buchi somehow survived the attack, begging for Jango to hypnotize him.

Well.... S**t.
While Zoro prepares to take this crazy cat on, Nami makes another break for it. This time for Luffy in order to wake his lazy behind up from his nap. Jango tries to attack the girl as she's about to make it, and...

Zoro: "That was either the best timing, or worst timing in the world."
I would say best timing. Not only is our straw hat captain finally awake, but he also saved Nami from possible death. As she collapses on the ground from her injury, she tells Luffy she's done all she can and that they cannot lose this fight.

"Do it for the treasure."
Well, she has a one track mind, doesn't she? Kuro gives them their one minute warning, and Luffy begins to head for the ongoing battle. Jango instructs Buchi to take care of Zoro while he takes down Luffy. However, before anything can be done...

"Time's up. You knew the deal. Now you die."
WELP! EVERYONE IS NOW SCREWED! Luffy and Kuro notice each other, one wondering why he was there and the other wondering how he survived falling from a cliff. Before Kuro makes his next move, Kaya reaches the shore in an effort to stop him. Not knowing who's sneaking up on him, Kuro makes an attack on Kaya, injuring Usopp who jumps in to defend her. At his side, Kaya apologizes to Usopp for not believing him. As Kuro calls out to her, Kaya tells him to stop, saying that she's already been informed as to what was going on thanks to Merry. She offers to giver her fortune over to Kuro as long as he leaves the island. He gladly accepts that fortune, however...

"I want more. Simply acquiring wealth isn't enough. More than anything
else, all I want is peace... Yes, just peace. Peace of mind. It's simple
really. I have spent the last three years earning the trust of the entire
village, and to be honest I find this new sense of peace and tranquility
quite comforting. When my plan comes to fruition, I will live with
that sublime peace of mind. Yes! The glorious comfort of a
peaceful life will be mine for forever and ever."
Kaya, seeing no other options, pulls a pistol from her jacket (4Kids changed it to Usopp's slingshot, yay censoring!) and aims it at Kuro, demanding him to leave. Kuro appeals to Kaya's softer side, talking about how she was his best friend and they were like family. But it was only just so he can get close enough to take the gun out of her hands and drop it on the ground, right next to Usopp; and quickly changing his kind tone into one of anguish saying how much he had to endure it just so he could see this day happen. Usopp, enraged, takes the dropped gun, stands, and fires it at Kuro.

Ok, you can't tell here, but he's pissed.
Kuro evades the shot and then puts himself in position to attack Usopp, looking to get back at him for hitting him before. But, before Kuro makes another move...

Luffy gives him a Gum Gum Rocket to his face!

"If he hates getting hit that much, he's about to have a really bad day!"
Ok so now everyone takes notice that Luffy is a weird little guy! But Luffy doesn't bother explaining as Nami decides to go after treasure and the Usopp Pirates arrive and begin to beat up Kuro while he's down. Everyone else watches this knowing that those boys are in some serious trouble now. As the boys talk to Usopp and ask why he didn't tell them before, Kuro stands and then proceeds to kick Usopp.

(to Luffy) "Tell me something, do you have powers from eating the Devil Fruit?"
FINALLY someone asks the question. Of course we get the typical response from Luffy, and cue freak out session from everyone but Zoro and Nami. Yay! Kuro tells Jango that he'll deal with Luffy, while, in the mean time, he gets Kaya to write her will and then kill her. But he doesn't stop there, Kuro also orders Jango to kill Pepper, Carrot, and Onion. In order to prevent their deaths, Usopp orders his young comrades to take Kaya and run.

Usopp: "Protect Kaya. Do as I say. Don't argue with me. I'm giving
you the most important task there is right now. It's absolutely critical
that you succeed. Take Kaya and get away from here..."
"...You must keep her safe. This is the reason why we wanted to be
 pirates. To protect what's dear to us. So do as I say, and run!"
As the boys take Kaya and run, Jango attempts to attack them, but is thwarted by Usopp giving them a little time. After Kuro sets Jango's priorities in check, the hypnotist makes his way into the forest after our runaways. Kuro tells Usopp that Kaya and the kids are no match for Jango and that Usopp is free to go after them if he wants... Provided that he's alive once he gets past him, though. Luffy makes his way up the slope towards Kuro while Zoro finally finishes his fight against Buchi. With no way to talk sense into Kuro, Luffy and Zoro tell Usopp to go after Kaya.

Usopp stands in an attempt to go after Kaya, however falls at the first step he takes because he is too injured to move that far. Kuro gets a nice laugh out of it, mocking Usopp and his little game of playing fake pirates. Usopp then declares, with tears in his eyes, that he will protect everyone and that none of the pirates will set foot in the village. Seeing Usopp in tears, but unable to hear what he's said, the Black Cat Pirates begin to laugh at him. Which of course....

Pisses Luffy off, and he takes a nearby boulder and tries to crush them. Deciding to help him out, Zoro grabs Usopp and tells Luffy that he'll take him and go after Jango. Usopp thanks him, but someone is still standing in their way.

Kuro: "Hold it, you two. Where do you think you're going?
Who gave you permission to go anywhere?"
Luffy jumps in to fight Kuro, allowing for the pair to escape and run after Jango. Kuro gains the upper hand against Luffy, knocking him to the ground and the Black Cat Pirates begin to cheer him on. But, Kuro isn't having any of that out of sheer annoyance for being called Kuro. We then go into a flashback as to when Kuro decided to give up piracy. As a naval ship attacks them for the third time in a week, Kuro decides that he is going to die and goes on a small boat to the marine ship. After a few minutes, all is quiet, and Jango orders the men to board, seeing a rather horrific sight.

But it's far from over as Kuro has left one Marine alive, giving him the pleasure of turning Captain Kuro's head over to the Marines. Taking a crew member that looks similar to Kuro, Jango hypnotizes him into believing that he is Kuro, then the lone Marine into believing that he was the one that captured Kuro. Then the Marine would take the double to the base and ensure an execution.

Sneaky little devil...
Back in present day, Kuro attacks Luffy again, but this time Luffy grabs a nearby boulder and places it in his line of fire, breaking the blades off one of Kuro's gloves as a result. Then, Luffy gives these wonderful words of advice as he smashes Kuro's face with the boulder.

"You know what? Don't what a reputation? THEN DON'T BE A PIRATE!!"
You gotta admit, guys, that is kinda a duh moment for Kuro. Meanwhile, as Kaya and the boys run through the forest, they seem to have lost sight of Jango. That is... Until he starts leveling the forest down in order to find them. At the same time, Zoro and Usopp quickly run to try and find Kaya and the others, but someone is very bad at directions and his name is Zoro. Fair warning, Zoro's lack of an internal compass becomes a running gag. Figured I mention this now.

Usopp: "Go east! Hey! I said go east, so go east already! This is the wrong direction!"
Zoro: "Fine! East! Is that left or right?"
Usopp: "Turn right!"
Zoro: "But that's where we came from!"
Kaya and the boys continue to run when Kaya suddenly stumbles and falls. She tells them to go on without her, but the boys notice that she's getting a high fever from running in her poor condition. With Jango inching closer to them, the boys contemplate doing as Kaya says and running. According to them their captain has said that it's always best to run with your tail between your legs if you think you're about to lose. Buuuuuuuuuut......

"Then again, the captain is a liar."
"But even he didn't take his own advice. He tried so hard to protect us. He risked his life for us."
"I swore to protect Kaya."
With new determination, the boys decide to stand and ready themselves to fight against Jango.

Meanwhile, back in the land of rubber and cat claws, as Kuro tries to recover from the blow Luffy just dealt, his former crew began chanting again; only this time they try to use Klahadore rather than Kuro and failing miserably. Kuro, once again, tells them to shut up and that he will deal with them afterward by way of extermination. He never meant to let anyone who knows of his true idenity to walk away alive; villagers, pirates, it doesn't matter.

"Pirates are nothing more than savages, incapable of rising above their
animal nature. Without my plans, what could they possibly accomplish?
A crew is nothing to me, they are simply a means to an end. Crew members
are just pawns in the captain's game. Whether my men live or die is up to
me and me alone. If I tell them to fight, they will fight. And if I order them
to die, they had better do it. They know the punishment for disobedience."
But, Luffy has his own words for Kuro and the treatment of his men.

"You know, no matter how many hundreds or thousands of men
follow you as their captain, you will never be as good as Usopp."
Upon asking Luffy what he's lacking, Kuro gets another kick to the face when Luffy tells him four words: "Cause he's got heart." Feeling that Luffy needs to learn a lesson about what real pirates are like, Kuro stands and begins a new attack called Out of the Bag. This causes him to become completely invisible due to speed as he attacks anyone and everyone freely, including his own crew. As he, unnoticeably, cuts his men down one by one, Luffy and Nami, who has now reappeared on top of the Black Cat's ship, stand in shock at Kuro's cruelty.

Waiting for the perfect opportunity as Kuro slashes away at him, Luffy manages to grab the agile bugger and forces him to stop.

By smashing him into the ground.
After a short exchange of words and threats, Kuro gets up and performs his Out of the Bag attack once again. But before we see any damage caused, we cut back to Jango still on the hunt for Kaya and the boys. He calls out to the boys to hand Kaya over when he suddenly spots a white flag and hears a voice tell him they'll hand her over if he just doesn't kill them and to just come closer so they can take him to Kaya. Jango knows he won't fall for that little trick, but when he takes two steps forward...

"*sigh* Damnit."
After a dose of pepper, a frying pan to the balls, and a huge falling tree on his toes, Jango has had enough and threatens the boys's lives, tossing them hard against nearby trees. He calls out to Kaya, saying he'll kill the boys if she doesn't come out, and, sadly, she does. The boys yell at Kaya to run, but she refuses. But someone else has heard their cries as well.

Zoro: "Hey!"
Usopp: "Yeah. That's them, alright."
Zoro: "They're the other way!"
Me: *face palm* Of course they are...
Kaya tells Jango, she'll write the will so long as the boys are allowed to leave, unharmed. However, Jango mentions his strict orders to eliminate any one who interferes. As Jango eyes the young boys, Kaya takes this new opportunity to get a little ballsy.

"If you don't do exactly as I say, then you won't get to kill me and I won't write my will!"
Jango agrees to Kaya's conditions, noting that the boys won't be getting far in their current state anyways, and trades Kaya a pen for his blade back and Kaya writes her will. As Jango poises himself to kill Kaya, Zoro and Usopp make their way to them and Zoro rushes in to take Jango down.

But then, cause that was kinda an episode cliffhanger we cut back to Luffy and his fight with Kuro. As their fight intensifies, Luffy manages to keep up with Kuro's Out of the Bag attack, and also hang on to him rather tight.

Luffy: "Wow, butler man, right now your life really sucks!
Your plan of three years is a complete and total failure!"
While the Black Cat Pirates watch as the fight grows, they realize that if Luffy wins then Kuro won't slaughter them. They then begin to cheer for Luffy and the straw hat gives Kuro a good old headbutt before stretching his head over to them and yelling at them.

"Just shut up! You have no right to cheer me on!
Luffy then proceeds to give Kuro a huge headache by giving the most massive headbutt I have ever seen!

Standing in awe of how some kid defeated Kuro, the other pirates ask who this mysterious kid is.

"I'm Monkey D. Luffy. The only time a pirate should abandon his name
is when he dies. I would never lose to a coward who ditches his name,
betrays his friends, and runs from life on the sea."
He tells them to remember his name because he'll soon be King of the Pirates. Luffy tosses Kuro to the other pirates and tells them to never come back. As the band of pirates rushes to get off the island, Nami goes to Luffy to make sure he's ok, and he kinda just falls into her.

"You did good, Luffy."
As the two sit together on the slope, battered and bruised, Nami asks why Luffy got so upset. He responds with how he doesn't like people who treat their friends poorly. Though Kuro may be the standard in terms of how pirates actually act, so says Nami, Luffy still believes otherwise... And then asks for some meat.

Nami: "You are unbelievable!"
As for our little forest battle (mind you this happens simultaneously with Luffy's fight, but I am not going back and forth on this one), before Jango finishes Kaya off, Pepper and the other boys take up the shovel and jab him in the back with it. Zoro gets closer, but Jango is fully prepared to finish the job. However instead of attacking Jango, Zoro cuts down a tree branch. For what reason, you may ask?

"Excellent! That branch was getting in the way of my shot!"
Usopp then fires one of his Exploding Stars and Jango is lit up like a candle.

Once Kaya and the boys are safe, Zoro heads off to catch up with Luffy and Nami; leaving Usopp to talk to them. He asks them to keep everything that had happened a secret. The boys and Kaya argue against it, telling him they could clear up the misunderstanding that Usopp is a liar. But once Usopp tells them he's ok with that as well as he doesn't want to scare the villagers over something that's said and done, the four of them agree to keep the secret. We also get a moment in the village as they notice that something feels off since Usopp hadn't shown up to yell about pirates, showing that they do kinda care for him in their own little way.

Usopp rejoins Luffy and the others on the slope to thank them for their help. Then he says that everything that occurred has made him come to a difficult decision, but we don't know what that is quite yet.... But we pretty much know what it is.

Usopp gathers together his crew mates to tell them that he's decided to head to sea, on his own, and become a real pirate. The trio of boys try to convince him to stay, but Usopp is dead set on it. Kinda similar to his father Yasopp. He then recounts the first time the four of them met five years ago and formed the Usopp pirates. As the boys get tears in their eyes, Usopp asks them what their dreams are: Carrot to run a pub, Pepper a master carpenter, and Onion a writer. He tells them to keep reaching for their true ambitions and then disbands the Usopp pirates for good.

Meanwhile, Luffy and the others are enjoying a nice meal and are ready to head out to sea again when Kaya finds them. She thanks the three for all the help they've given and tells them she has a present for them. Gee... I wonder what that present is? *smirk*

On another part of the island, Usopp has finished packing and is ready and raring to go. He looks out at Kaya's mansion from his window for a moment in a kind of memory, and sets out... Getting stuck in his house's doorframe. He frees himself, breaking the doorframe, and then starts rolling down the hill. Meanwhile.......

Wait for it......

Wait for it......

Wait for-

OK! GOD! I'm just having fun here....

Kaya gives this brand new ship to our three straw hats! Introducing the Going Merry! While the three admire their new ship, Usopp is on a direct collusion course with it as he rolls down the slope. But don't worry, cause Luffy and Zoro stop him.

Usopp: "Uhh... Thank, guys."
Luffy: "Any time."
Usopp says his goodbyes to Kaya, telling her that when he comes back he'll have even more stories to tell her. He then turns to Luffy and the others and bids them goodbye. However....

"Get on already."
"We're friends, right? So get on."
Usopp: "This is it! I'm really a pirate captain now!"
Luffy: "Don't be stupid, Usopp! I'm the captain!"
That's right, folks! Usopp is now a part of our crazy little pirate crew! And they sail off in search of adventure. But we're not done just quite yet....

Watching from a nearby cliff, Pepper, Onion, and Carrot watch their former captain go; happy that he's found a good crew to be a part of. But they are also saddened because he was the only one who could liven up their boring little lives. This suddenly gives Pepper a good idea!

In the mean time, Kaya and Merry watch Usopp and the others leave, as well, and Kaya tells Merry that lying hurts. Merry realizes that she's referring to Usopp and how she didn't want him to leave. Then he tells her a story about Usopp's childhood. Shortly after Yasopp left to become a pirate, Usopp's mother passed away due to illness, with Usopp shouting the arrival of pirates, while she was alive, in the hopes that his father has returned for them. Merry suspects that, out of loneliness, Usopp kept shouting that arrival even after his mother long passed, hoping that his father's ship would some day appear and take him along; giving him a family that he never really had.

Merry: "The villagers say that his most outlandish lies contain his most heart felt wish."
As someone who also lost both parents, Merry believes that Usopp saw Kaya as a kindred spirit; one whom he couldn't stand by and see suffer. Those words give Kaya a new sense of resolve and determination to live once again, proclaiming that she's going to become a doctor.

And what of the plan our three little guys have cooked up? Oh, just keeping up with tradition as they run up and down the village roads shouting that pirates are coming.

And, with that, Luffy and the others are off once more with a new ship and a new friend.

Thoughts Thus Far:

Usopp and the Captain Kuro arc are where we start seeing the story arcs grow a tad bit longer, however it's not the longest of arcs we'll be seeing over the course of this retrospective. Hell, even the next article has a couple even longer arcs and they are around ten to twelve episodes or so each. Believe me, it gets worse, episode wise. Another thing you'll begin to notice is the episode count at the beginning of this section. This is the arc where 4Kids began to cut some things out of the show which, in this case, equates to one entire episode being taken out. If I recall correctly, cause it's been years since I've seen the 4Kids version, a good amount of the original episode 16 was cut. Mostly involving Kaya and the Usopp pirates on the run from Jango. When I first watched the arc uncut a few years ago, after seeing the 4Kids version, I do remember something weird about it and realized that I had never seen some parts of it before. We also, once again, see some of the places where censoring was involved. Sure the obvious thing being blood, but, like I mentioned before, the pistol Kaya had became a slingshot and when Kaya threatened to take her own life using one of Jango's blade, apparently they went with some weird control thing in order to sneak by it.

There's another piece that I wanted to point out during this arc and that's new uses of color and animation. In terms of color, we see scenes where there's more reds and greens in the backgrounds (you can tell by the above images what I mean), adding a little more variety to the, already, very bright and colorful world. Then there's the animation that seems to have really hit it's stride now that the initial first several episodes have been completed, which is wonderful. Doesn't mean there still aren't times where it's a tiny odd. Honestly, I think the overall production quality improved during this arc compared the previous episodes.

Then we have to talk about Usopp. We're given a small taste as to his life thanks to Luffy's connection to his father and the story Merry tells Kaya after Usopp has set sail. This gives us much more backstory than Zoro and Nami combined, at this point. However, for the time being, Usopp's character won't have a lot of complexity to him and will remain more along the simpler side of things for several more arcs to come, with the only real development being his overcoming his cowardice. This isn't a bad thing to go with since the next several arcs will have more focus elsewhere. So, for those who love Usopp, be patient. We'll see him grow soon enough. As for Kuro, as a one time villain in the series, he's actually among my favorites thus far. You heard me right, he's a one time villain. As of writing this article, Kuro never appears in the manga again (for now), and only has one more small appearance in the anime when we reach the end of an upcoming arc. The fact that this man is so brutal and malicious makes my skin crawl, and even one of the characters, Zoro, calls him evil at one point. It's interesting to run into such a character still so fairly early on in the series, but that only means we get to meet even more vicious pirates as the story sails along. Because he's one time, I won't mention all his VA's outside of Kent Williams who voices Kuro in the FUNimation dub, because he just reaffirms my love for that character even more. But I will talk about Jango [Kazuki Yao (J), Oliver Wyman (4Kids), Kenny Green (FUNi)] a little bit, because he actually does appear again in the series. I know, it's weird, but he does. He may be a weird one, but Jango is also rather tough so I bet you'll be interested to see where this one ends up.

Alright! Only two more episodes to go and we are done for today! I'll try to make this quick, but, considering what one episode entails, I may not be able to do so.

Shrub Man and Zoro’s Promise
(ep. 18 & 19, 17 & 18 [4Kids])

Five second recap, Luffy, Zoro, and Nami arrive on a small island looking for a new ship to take them to the Grand Line. After defeating the cunning Captain Kuro and his scheme to kill a rich girl, they not only gain a new ship but add a new crew mate into the mix: the lying coward sniper named Usopp.

We start the first of these two episodes onboard the Going Merry as our four straw hats are on their way towards the Grand Line once again. Usopp is poised at the bow of the ship doing, what else but, playing pirate captain. As he jumps down to the main deck commanding an attack, he stops to see the others kinda just doing nothing.

Usopp: "Geez... I expected you guys to be a little more lively than this."
Suddenly, Luffy scares the crap out of Usopp as he proclaims he's completed their pirate mark.

Zoro: "Uhh, Luffy... Is that really going to be our mark?....
Our mark should be scary. It should strike fear into our enemies hearts."
Nami: "If our enemies were terrified infants than this would be perfect."
Zoro and Nami aren't really convinced by it, but Usopp decides to put his artistic skills to work and create....

Luffy: "Looks a lot like you on that flag, jerk."
Ok, wrong one.

Much better! The four agree to this version being their mark, Usopp is asked to paint another on the sail, and we're good to go!

After some time, the boys spot some dark clouds in the distance. Nami makes a quick map check and tells them that they've found the legendary treasure island. She tells them that there's a story that whoever gets close to the island will encourage the god's wrath. This terrifies Usopp, but excites Lufy as he tells the others to set sail for the island.

The four arrive on the island and begin exploring, and Nami begins to tell the boys more stories and rumors. Zoro decides it's nap time and lays down on the ground. While he naps, the remaining three begin to notice some rather interesting wildlife...

A voice calls out to them, demanding that they leave or else they will incur his wrath. But, while he threatens them, his words start to kinda jumble together and confuse Luffy and the others. Many more strange creatures appear before the Straw Hats and the god claims that they used to be humans looking for treasure. Usopp is still kinda scared, but Luffy isn't really phased, picking up, what looks to be, a combination of a pig and a lion and the creature bites his rubbery face. When the creature let's go, the voice calls out again asking what Luffy is, and Luffy proceeds to tell him he's a rubber man after eating a Devil Fruit.

Voice: "Yeah right! A Devil Fruit! I heard those same stupid
stories back when I was a pirate!"
Nami: "Back when you were a pirate?"
The voice tries to retract his statement, but Luffy and Nami calls his bluff saying he's a faker. The voice gets upset and gives the crew his divine judgement.

Seriously?! How can he just be sleeping through all this?!?!?
Luffy notices, what looks to be, a talking bush nearby freaking out over how Luffy survived giant rocks to the head. As Luffy steps a little closer, the bush fires a pistol at Luffy, but his rubber powers send the bullet into the sky. The bush runs away, dropping his gun, and Luffy chases after him.

Nami: "Hey, Island God. Even mortals know that bullets can't hurt a rubber man."
Luffy: "Maybe not, but I still hate them."
Luffy stops at an island cliff, having lost the bush thing... Until bush thing steps on a branch while trying to quietly escape. When Nami and Usopp catch up the Luffy, they find that the noise came from a bush in a box. The bush box thing tries to run, bumping into a tree and landing on it's side. As the sun finally comes out after the storm, we see that the bush box thing is actually a bush box man.

They stand him up and the guy tries to run off again, not getting too far since Luffy grabbed hold of the box.... And then Luffy is pulled instead, crashing into the man and both flying over the cliff and falling into the ocean. Don't worry, though, because Luffy grabbed hold of a branch on the cliff and pulls them both back up... And then into the air.

What? You know I had to make that joke!
Once the two land back on earth again, the bush box man starts talking with our three pirates. Usopp seems to understand that the man and the animals scare the pirates off the island in order to protect it. Luffy calls the man a jack in the box, and he grows upset about it. Zoro finally wakes up from his long nap and finds the others. As he sits down to enjoy of hot cup of, I'm going to guess it's coffee that Usopp brought along with him, well...

Zoro: "What in the heck is that?!"
Nami: "He finally sees him..."
Luffy tells Zoro that the man is stuck in a treasure chest, and, apparently, great minds think alike...

"Like a jack in the box! But real!"
*face palm* Our first mate, ladies and gentlemen... This leads to a repeat of the gag we just had with Luffy. Yay. Luffy and Zoro make an attempt to free the man from the box, but to no avail. Because the man has been stuck in the box for 20 years or so, you can basically say that the box is a part of his body now. If you were to break the box, you would probably break him too. The odd little man asks our friends who they are, to which Luffy gives his name and that he'll be King of the Pirates and find the One Piece. This prompts our new friend to tell them about pirates he has seen return from the Grand Line.

They look fine to me.
As he watches Luffy gush about his dream and his determination to achieve it, bush box man begins to tell the others about how he ended up in the box 20 years ago. When he and his ship mates arrive on the island, Gaimon (oh so now we get his name) and his friends search for treasure for a month only coming up with one empty treasure chest. When his captain calls off the search and tells them they'll be leaving, Gaimon sees one more place they hadn't looked at yet, and he climbs to the top of a small-ish mountain. When he reaches the top, he sees a handful of unopened chests and tries to call down to his friends. However, he loses his grip and falls right into the empty chest on the ground, getting stuck. When he comes to, Gaimon's crew mates have already left.

Realizing that, since they left, the treasure would now be all his, and he tries to get back up that mountain. However, since he's kinda stuck, he can't climb, leaving the treasure he found out of his reach. Nami and Luffy offer Gaimon their assistance in getting the treasure down and the group heads for the site where Gaimon found it.

Luffy uses his gum gum powers to scale the mountain and appears a minute later with one of six treasure chests in his hands. When Gaimon tells Luffy to toss them down to him, Luffy tells him he doesn't want to. Nami and Usopp yell at him for being a pain in the ass, but Gaimon realizes what's going on.

"They're empty."
Yeah. The chests that Luffy found have all been cleaned out, leaving nothing for Gaimon. Luffy tells him that at least he knows that they're empty now rather than protecting them and never knowing it even after the day he dies. Luffy then offers Gaimon the chance to join them and help them find the One Piece. He thanks them for the offer, but decides to stay on the island in order to protect something else precious to him.

You know what? I probably would too!
The Straw Hats say their good byes to Gaimon and head back out to sea. There's one episode down.

Some time passes, probably a day or two, and our four are just enjoying a peaceful day at sea.... Well, until Luffy brings up a crate of canon balls from storage on deck so they can have target practice with the canon. While trying to figure out how the canon works, completely ignoring Usopp's attempt at storytelling, Luffy calls to Zoro for some help.

However, our swordsman is fast asleep. Nami points out a reef on a map that they could use for target practice and the crew sets sail for it. As for our sleeping Zoro, I believe it's about time we learn a bit more about him. Shall we?

In a small country village, little rambunctious Roronoa Zoro approaches a local dojo looking to fight the strongest person there. The master of the dojo agrees to a bet where if Zoro wins, he gets the dojo; but if Zoro loses, then he joins the dojo. He then calls for Kuina.

And here come the comments like "ZO MY GOD IT'S A GIRL!" That's basically the reaction Zoro has. But the master assures him that Kuina, even though he's his daughter, is strong even among the adult men. Zoro doesn't back down and the two prepare to fight.

Geez... Zoro you're not too bright, huh, even as a child. When the dojo master calls for the fight to start, Kuina makes really quick work of our little bean sprout, with Zoro losing the match and the bet. However, the master and Kuina did notice something from him as it seems that Zoro may actually be a natural at swordsmanship despite never having held a bamboo sword until today. As Zoro agrees to become a student, he also vows to Kuina that he will become stronger and defeat her.

"That day will never come."

You gotta admit... He's a determined little kid.
Despite all the training he's done, Zoro is still no match for Kuina, having sparred against her two thousand times and losing each time.

"You're weak, Zoro. Nothing ever changes."
Sound familiar, now? In case you haven't caught on, Kuina is the girl from Zoro's dream when he was tied up at the Marine Base. Kuina throws some insults at Zoro and then leaves, with the rest of the students except Zoro asking their sensei if she's getting any special training since he is her father. He tells them no, and that, despite Zoro becoming stronger, Kuina is becoming stronger as well.

As Zoro is cleaning himself up after their fight, he proclaims that he's going to fight her again later that night. Kuina is just around the corner and can hear this, but she doesn't approach him.

Later that night, Kuina overhears her father talking with another instructor and saying that the dojo wouldn't ever be entrusted to her because, as a female swordsman, she has the biggest hurdles of all to get through in order to be truly strong. She tells her father that she'll become the world's greatest swordsman, but her father tells her that she can't. Devastated, Kuina leaves.

Zoro manages to track Kuina down and challenge her to another match, but, this time, with real swords. She agrees and heads to the store house to get her sword.

"The Wada Ichimonji."
Kuina returns to Zoro and the two begin their fight. In great effort, Zoro tries his best against her, however, in the end, Kuina gains her 2001st win.

Out of frustration, Zoro vents his anger out that he hates that he isn't strong enough. But Kuina tells him it should be her crying instead of him. She tells him that, because he's a man, he'll grow and eventually beat her. But as a woman, she won't be as lucky, and she tells him of how her father said she'd never could be the world's greatest swordsman.

"Don't fly off at the mouth whining like that after you beat me! Because
it's not fair! You're my goal! You know how this makes me feel?..."
"...Boy this, girl that! Are you going to keep up that same kind of talk
after I beat you some day? Like skill is irrelevant. That's just an insult to
all of the training I've been pouring on every day! So don't say that crap, would'ya?..."
"...Now promise me. Promise me that, some day, one of us will be
the world's greatest swordsman. We'll compete and see who gets there."
Kuina gently smiles, calls Zoro a dumby, and...

(both) "It's a promise."
Agrees to Zoro's promise. Some time passes as both Zoro and Kuina keep up with their training. However, one evening as Zoro trains, he's hit with saddening news.

"Kuina is dead, Zoro."
Kuina has died due to an accident in the storehouse, causing a great amount of grief from the people around her. But, despite the heavy loss, Zoro continues his training. After some time has passed, Zoro's sensei decides to talk with him. He tells Zoro that, because of him, Kuina had begun to fight against the large wall in front of her as a female swordsman. However, because of everything that had happened, he also feels the pain of loss every time he looks at Zoro. With tears in his eyes, Zoro asks his sensei to give him Kuina's sword, the Wada Ichimonji, and proclaims that he will get stronger and become the world's greatest swordsman. So as to keep the promise that he made with Kuina.

Sensei: "Yes. The sword is yours..."
"...I leave her spirit, and her dreams, in your hands."
Eight years pass, and Zoro readies himself to leave his home island. As he visits Kuina's grave one last time, Zoro's sensei finds him and asks if he really is going.

"Yes, sensei..."
"...To fulfill a promise."
Zoro leaves the cemetery and his sensei wishes him well. But there's suddenly a loud noise, causing present day Zoro to wake up from his nap.

Luffy and Usopp have been getting some canon firing practice in, but Luffy isn't doing so well. Usopp tells him to let him do it, and he manages to hit the rock formation on the first try. Luffy, amazed how good of a shot it was, decides that Usopp will be the crew's sniper.

As the four of them sit inside the kitchen talking, Luffy tells them that there's a rather important position that still needs filling before heading for the Grand Line. Nami and Zoro agree, saying that the kitchen is too nice to be without one. But Luffy is more interested in having a musician rather than a cook. As Zoro, Nami, and Usopp berate their idiot captain...

Someone else has gotten on deck and has begun to make a mess of it, demanding that the pirates show their faces. When Luffy appears in front of our new mysterious swordsman, the man attacks him and the fight causes some, of the first of much, damage to the ship. However, our resident swordsman listens in and gets a sense of familiarity from the mystery man's voice and goes to see.

Zoro: "Johnny. Tell me that isn't you."
Johnny: "Huh? Who's saying my name like they think they know me or something?"
Johnny: "BIG BRO ZORO!!"
Zoro: "Johnny! It is you!"
Johnny: "What are you doing here, big bro?"
Zoro: "Where's Yosoku? Isn't he with you?"
Luffy: "What's going on?"
Wouldn't you like to know, Luffy... Wouldn't you like to know.

Thoughts Thus Far:

In terms of the episode with Gaimon, there's nothing to talk about here. It's actually the first filler episode we get to run into, and it's nice to get a small break from all the fights and crew gathering we've been doing since we started out with this one. Because there isn't much here that we'll need to know for future reference, let's just talk about the real meat and potatoes of this section, that being Zoro.

So we finally understand a little bit more about our favorite swordsman, and his determination to achieve his dream. This is the second time we have the majority of an episode dedicated to the backstory of one of our major characters, with Luffy as the first. It's oddly appropriate that Zoro is the second character we get this from because he's not only the first person recruited by Luffy, he's also the second in command of the Straw Hat pirates. It kinda just seems necessary to have his backstory now rather than later on since he is still a mystery to us until this point in time. Zoro's story is, by no means, the most tragic. Actually, to be perfectly honest, much of the Straw Hats face troubling times as children, kinda like a recurring pattern, if you will. With Luffy, his idol Shanks lost an arm trying to save him, Zoro lost the girl he, kinda, idolized, and Usopp lost his parents due to either piracy or illness. Nami is still a mystery, however we are still aware that she lost someone in her life, and we still have many other recruits to meet and learn about as well. But, personally, I think there's an even larger reason as to why we see the Kuina story now and it's the same reason why I will mention Monica Rial's performance in the FUNimation dub. I won't say much more than, you shall understand what I'm talking about rather soon.

That’s it for this first real edition of the One Piece Retrospective! I know there was a lot thrown in there, but if you've made it this far then you are awesome! On the next One Piece, we get to visit a rather interesting restaurant and fight some mermen. Hopefully, it won't be as long of an article as this one was.


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