Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Top 10 Saddest Moments in One Piece History.

  Attention none One Piece readers/viewers: this list is SPOILER heavy and full of sadness. While usually I wouldn't consider myself a person that gets out of his way to feel sad, I AM capable of feeling emotions, considering my overly optimistic and forgiving personality, this is quite a feat. That being said; One Piece is one of the few shonen manga that is packed with emotion. Be it happiness, sadness, despair, or rage; the world that Eichiiro Oda has crafted is anything but two dimensional. The art style and the usually upbeat tone of the series can fool most to drop their guard and go with the flow. I know that because I was one of those people. I figured it was going to maybe have a semi serious moment here and there. But nothing could've prepared me for the amount of raw emotional scenes and moments this show, aimed at teenage (and pre-teen) boys in Japan mind you, was going to throw at me.

Ready for the New World!

  As of this writing, One Piece (both manga and anime) are well over a decade old. Producing over 600 chapter, 400 animated episodes, over 10 movies and a plethora of videogames and media there's bound to be something for everyone young or old. Both the manga and anime are, of course, the meat of the story. And while it started innocently enough as the tale of a young boy that ate the Gomu Gomu Fruit, that gave him rubber powers, and whose dreams consists of finding the titular One Piece, while becoming the King of Pirates, the story has evolved into something so much bigger that the average young boy probably would miss. Essentially it's the animated series version of most Pixar movies; enjoyed by their target demographic, yet deep enough for an adult to take notice.


  With all that being said, there's 10 moments in the series long (and not even CLOSE to over) history that are universally considered as the saddest. Both within the context of the series itself, and in comparison to most media of it's same ilk. So here they are (hope you have a tissue if you're easily moved), The Top 10 Saddest Moments in One Piece History.

 Sanji's Farewell in Baratie

  There's a couple of things you should know about Sanji. For one, he's the best (only?) cook in the Strawhat crew. For two, he will NEVER hurt another female --which has almost gotten him killed-- no matter what. But above all, the smooth lady killer (he wishes it so), happens to have a heart of gold, mostly due to the incredible debt he owes to Zeff. See, Sanji's fighting style and cooking skills were honed in the floating restaurant of Baratie. He spent well over a decade there along with the other chefs (and ex pirates) under the supervision of the man once known as "Red Leg" Zeff. During the peak of his Pirate career Zeff attacked a ship in the Grand Line (the world's most dangerous ocean) where a young Sanji was a kitchen boy. Due to a storm, the two were stranded in a small rocky ledge where Zeff kept some rations to feed Sanji ,all the while hiding the fact that he was eating his OWN leg to have enough food for himself without eating the rations.

Yes... he ATE his own leg. (In the manga at least)

  For eighty days they live in these conditions, when both decide to share dreams, Sanji wants to find the ocean "All Blue" (where all the oceans of the world join) and Zeff shares the dream to open a floating restaurant (all the while having the exact dream as Sanji) to feed any hungry traveller of the sea. Zeff's sacrifice doesn't go unnoticed as Sanji joins with him. For the next decade learning all about cooking and fighting using only his legs (a cook's hands are his instrument in the kitchen), and then Luffy comes along.

  Due to a conflict involving the pirate armada of Don Krieg, wanting Zeffs journal of his exploits in the Grand Line, Luffy gets involved alongside Sanji. The two fend off the armada and in the aftermath Luffy wanted Sanji to joing his crew as a fighter and main cook (since they lacked one at the time). Though Sanji still refused to go with Luffy when he woke up, he however shared with him about his dream to find "All Blue". As Sanji and Luffy then decided to have well deserved meal, they came before a surprising incident. Apparently, every chef there thought that Sanji's soup was disgusting. Though this got to Sanji, in truth, they were just making an excuse so that Sanji could go with Luffy and fulfill his dream of finding the All Blue. As Sanji was pondering about all this outside,he decided to help Luffy get his boat back (more on that later) he decided to pack up and leave.

  Even thou this hurt him, Sanji's resolve was unshakable. He was going to leave the boat, and the man whose sacrifice allowed him to live, where he practically was raised alongside his fellows chefs. And right as he was about to leave, Zeff (the closest thing to a father Sanji has) the man who had constantly berated him during his time in Baratie offered a single piece of advise "Take care of yourself". What followed was Sanji's most humbling moment, a direct declaration of thankfulness and open remorse for leaving. His emotions reciprocated by all his "brothers" and the saddest goodbye any chef has ever received.

Bellemere's Death

  The character of Nami gets a bad rep. In the infant stages of One Piece she was a thief that hated pirates and seemed to be a rival (or love interest?) to the series protagonist Monkey D. Luffy. Coupled along with the fact that on more than one occasion she either betrayed or stole something (like Luffy's boat) from the main crew at the time, and you can see where some of the fans ire comes from. But everything Nami did was justified: all the stealing, the lying and betrayal. She had come under the service of a particularly nasty fishman named Arlong, who essentially had an entire village/island hostage and it was up to Nami to buy their freedom from him. Why carry such a burden? It was all for Bellemere.
"Women have guts!"
  Bellemere was a marine that about a decade ago saved Nami and Nojiko (her sister) from certain death during a bloody confrontation between pirates and villagers. After taking the girls in as her own she decided to live in Cocoyashi, Commi Island and live a peaceful life. Fate however had other plans: the fishman Arlong and his crew decided to take over the peaceful island in the normally peaceful East Blue. No one in the village was able to do something against the pirate monstrosities, not even Bellemere (who in her prime was quite a marine). To make matters worse, the invasion came with a desire of greed from the fishmen. They offered to keep people alive, provided they could pay for that to be arranged. Bellemere had to make a choice with the few Berries (One Piece currency) she had: either pay for both her daughters to live or pay for herself. Keep in mind that Arlong didn't even KNOW the girls existed... she just couldn't bear the idea that her daughters would suffer due to her irresponsibility as a mother. And yes, this happened in a show aimed for young boys.
Nojiko and Nami holding their mother, moments before her death.

  Before she died, Bellemere apologized to Nami for not being richer. She apologized further for not being able to get them the things they always wanted. The two daughters, heartbroken by the fact that they knew the end for Bellemere was near, urged her to forget about it and that it wasn't important. Her final words "I love you" echoed as Arlong pulled the trigger that ended her selfless life. After her death, her advice that "If you can survive, then happy times... lots of them... will come your way" encourages Nami to work to buy Cocoyashi Village from Arlong, believing that once she freed the village, she could pursue her dream and find happiness. 

Norland says Goodbye and Execution 

  Ah... Skypiea Arc, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Considered the most underrated arc in the series history (hated by many who think of it as "filler") the arc brought many more mysteries to the overall mythos of the One Piece Universe. It wasn't until YEARS later that we would find out the importance of the arc, but for those of us who enjoyed it, it felt like time well spent. The Skypiea Arc deals with the warring factions in the sky island of Skypiea, the Skypeans (the people who lived in the Sky) and the Shandians (a tribe that lives in the "land" in the sky). Initially nothing more than a retelling of the Spanish Colonization of the Americas, the Skypiea Arc took a turn to show us the battle between Luffy and the God of Skypiea Enel. Their battle for the Bell at the top of a giant beanstalk (I kid you not) where if the Bell was rung it would mark the end of a 400 year war. Enel wasn't about to have that...

God Enel, doing his thing.
  But why go through the trouble of trying to stop a war? Why bother with all of this? Luffy had made a promise to a man down below in the Blue Sea. The man's name was Montblanc Cricket, who for the past couple of decades had been trying to clear the name of his ancestor Montblanc Norland. For the past 400 years or so the story of Norland and the City of Gold had become a fairy tale that people would tell their children, the moral of the story being "don't lie or you'll die like that fool." But Norland wasn't lying about the city of gold of Jaya and was executed for no real good reason. While he DID indeed visit a city of gold, it was knocked up into the air after he had departed it. What he did in that island for the people of Jaya -the shandians- is what motivated Luffy and the others to help.

  Norland was a man of the sea, who also was a researcher. Upon landing on the shores of Jaya he realized that the tribe there was sacrificing their own people to a Snake God for something that he knew was a curable disease. While this brought conflict with the Shandian's Greatest Warrior, Calgara; initially the two men couldn't be any more different. While one was a man of science and patience, the other (Calgara) was a man of brute strength and superstition. Their friendship blossomed from Norland's will to help the Shandian people, in so much in fact that Calgara gave him the island's gold without Norland's direct request. But, Norland found out the source of the island's illness, the "Sacred Trees," and without consulting the tribe (or Calgara) he chopped them all down to save the island. Calgara, however, was not please. Seeing this as a crime to his beliefs, he demanded Norland left the island with his crew. Norland did not explain himself as he saw this as a breach of trust with his comrade. When Calgara finally cooled, the village Chief explained how Norland had saved ALL their lives by chopping those trees down. The man was crushed, he rushed to the Golden City and demanded the giant Bell be rung so Norland would hear them, he dove across the forests as Norland left all the gold in the shores. As the ship departed, Calgara apologized to Norland wholeheartedly and implored him to return anytime (Calgara had even offered his daughter to Norland, but the man was already married). The Bell would be rung until Norland returned, and Norland was pleased to know he was welcome.

True Bromance right there.
  Unfortunately for both parties, the island of Jaya would be split in half due to the "Knock Up Stream." The peculiar ocean phenomena was a high powered gust of vapor that had enough force to split the island of Jaya in half and propel it to the heavens. Luckily (or unluckily) for the Shandians they landed in the Sky Island of Skypiea. Now both factions would fight for the land for the next 400 years for supremacy over the land. Meanwhile, back in the Blue Sea, Norland came back from his adventure and told his King about his discovery. And island with natives that were grateful to him and had a City of Gold. The King, as greedy as they usually are, demanded an immediate excursion to the island of Jaya to seek the City of Gold. When they arrived at Jaya, it was too late. The island had already split into two and the remaining part had no such City of Gold. Norland's tale of heroism and bravery had become marred and was, for the next 400 years, seen as a lie. The King, outraged at the "lie", demanded that Norland was immediately executed; his family and descendants all living with the shame of being the offspring of a liar...

There is nothing right about this picture...

Robin's Flashback

  Nico Robin, Miss All Sunday, Sir Crocodile's former right hand woman. How the Hell is she on this list? Since her introduction Nico Robin has been a distant woman, somewhat divorced with the usual cheeriness or personality that most characters in One Piece seem to display. Most hardass villains in One Piece seem to have a quirk, but Nico Robin was "serious business" all the time. When the Strawhats defeated Sir Crocodile and dismantled his criminal organization "Baroque Works" the lovely Robin was jobless. After a small bartering session with one Captain Monkey D. Luffy she joined the crew (much to the chagrin of the rest of the crew initially) and moved on with them. But then came the CP9 Saga.

We're going to cry over THIS b*tch?

  Her ability to read Poneglyphs was showcased since the downfall of Crocodile, but the importance of such an ability wasn't expanded upon until the CP9 Saga. The Cipher Pol Agency 9 had an interest in a certain secret weapon in the island of Water 7, but learning it's secrets most likely required someone with Nico Robin's skills. Making a deal behind closed doors she gave herself up for the sake of the rest of the Strawhats. While trying to rescue her, their resolve to do so was shaky -due to not knowing initially why she was giving herself up- and failed their attempts. After learning of her deal the Strawhats decided to rescuse her from the Government building "Enie's Lobby", while waging war with the very World Government.

Good luck with that escape plan...

  During their initial stand against all the agents of the CP9, their leader Spandam, told the Strawhats the reason why Nico Robin had a bounty from such an early age, and what made her such a dangerous person. What followed was easily the most disgusting display of cruelty the World Government in One Piece was capable of. The kingdom of Ohara was full of scholar's that could read the fabled Poneglyphs. Within the Poneglyphs exists information about the Void Century, something the World Government wants to keep a secret. Due to the scholars of Ohara being so close to finding the truth about this Void Century a full execution of the Island was deemed necessary. To put in perspective, it'd be like nuking New York cause they had an exhibit in a museum that changed our history forever; not exactly the best way to handle things.

Oda sure loves his protagonists to be orphans...
  Among the people in Ohara was a young Nico Robin, whose mother Olivia, passed on the ability to read said Poneglyphs. Due to an oversight by the Marines, and a young Admiral Aokiji, Nico was able to leave the Kingdom of Ohara. But for the remainder of her life she would go from island to island trying to fit in. Her ability to read Poneglyphs made her dangerous in the eyes of the World Government and it's allied Kingdoms. Time after time she was told "You shouldn't be allowed to live", "Your existence is a sin." But after the fall of Baroque Works she found a group of people that accepted her for who she really was... and allowed her to make one simple wish: "To live."

Hiruluk's Death and Chopper Leaves Drum Island

  The Drum Island Arc could be one of those things that to the untrained eye, looks like a really silly idea. The entire point of the arc is, after all, the legacy of a man that wanted Cherry Blossoms to grow in a Winter weather island. On paper it seems ridiculous almost, but there was a lot riding in the arc. For starters we have the side protagonist and future crewmate, Tony Tony Chopper. A reindeer that eats the Human Human Fruit and gains knowledge and walks among us like a human. Raised by the man who found him, Dr. Hiruluk, Chopper grows to be a doctor under the guidance of his foster dad and his female scientific equivalent Dr. Kureha.

  Unfortunately for Chopper, the Kingdom of Drum Island hosts the best group of doctors in the Grand Line. All employed by the tyrant King Wapol, who also has his eyes set on Dr. Hiruluk and Dr. Kureha. Unfortunately for Chopper he makes a rookie mistake with some mushroom soup and poisons his foster dad. Before the poison could actually take effect, Dr. Hiruluk climbs to the top of Drum Island to help the Isshi-20 (the 20 top doctors under Wapol's service) at the behest of King Wapol. When he reaches the top he's met with a firing squad, since Wapol can't have his services he figures he'll execute him then and there. But before he died, Hiruluk was thankful that his Kingdom was healthy, even if it would cost him his own life. Chopper tried to save him but was too late...

Fast foward to a couple of years later and Wapol has come back (after abandoning the Kingdom) and both Luffy and Chopper team up to take down the man that is responsible for most of Chopper's grief. But Chopper can't learn how to be the greatest doctor if he stays in Drum Island. At the behest of his "Doctorine" Kureha, he decides to set sail with the Strawhat crew. But not before Dr. Kureha shows Chopper the fruit of Dr. Hiruluk's labor; in one of the most heartwarming moments in the series' history. "Now go. My foolish son!"

Luffy Vs. Usopp Aftermath 

  If Zoro and Sanji are the eternal rivals in the Strawhat crew, then Luffy and Usopp are the eternal friends. Similar in age, humor and even naivete; the two have been inseparable since they met in the Captain Kuro Arc. If one is fiddling with stuff, the other comes and checks it out. If one is fishing, the other happily casts a line alongside. It was like that for about 200 chapters (or episodes), until the Going Merry (which we'll cover later) needed repairs. See, Usopp's girl back home was the one who gave them their ship, the Going Merry. For Usopp the Going Merry was a reminder of his promise to come back after his grand adventures, for the rest of the crew (particularly Luffy) the ship was important, but a means to an end. When the Going Merry was inspected, by the Galley-La Company in Water 7, reality settled in. The ship was unrepairable, and Usopp wasn't going to have it.

Don't let the slingshot fool ya, this was actually a serious battle.

   Luffy, being the captain, decided to leave the ship and move on. Usopp challenged the Captain to a duel to reverse his decision. The rarity of Usopp's seriousness in this scenario and Luffy's title as Captain hanging on a thread, due to Zoro's (being the First Mate and all) stance on the situation, made for a very tense moment that was rare between any of the Strawhats. Zoro and Sanji may have their issues, but it never escalates to anything serious, just teenage trash talking and taunting. What followed was the most grueling duel Usopp had even gone through, and Luffy's first real test as a Captain of a pirate crew. After the inevitable defeat at the hands of Luffy --although it has to be said that this is the first time Usopp fought without fear and actually brought the proverbial A-Game to the table-- what followed was the crushing realization that the crew would never be the same after this.

The Strawhat Pirates Separation

   The Strawhats had been through a lot by the time they met their second Admiral. They had taken on the criminal organization Baroque Works and a Shichibukai at the same time. They had fought zombies and their Shichibukai leader in Thriller Bark. They even managed to declare war to the World Government and defeat the elite agents from CP9. But nothing could prepare them for the onslaught that Admiral Kizaru (along with a bunch of Pacifistas) was about to unleash on them. Still recovering from their battles in Thriller Bark, the crew managed to make it to the halfway mark of the Grand Line at the Saobody Archipelago. But when they came face to face with Admiral Kizaru, due to Luffy punching the snot out of a Tenryuubito -- a world noble-- they realized once again why taking on an Admiral with their current power was a bad idea.

Zoro prone and Usopp actually trying to take on an Admiral, yep... they're boned.

  To make matters much worse, Sentoumaru, a Haki user, and the real Bartholomew Kuma (the basis for the Pacifista androids) appeared halfway through the battle. Between the Pacifistas, Admiral Kizaru and Sentoumaru alone the Strawhats were in the pinch of their life. But Bartholomew Kuma had other plans, using the power of the Paw Paw Fruit (which rejects anything his paws touch) he swiftly disposed each Strawhat by pushing them off the Archipelago, and into an unknown destination. Luffy, helpless, watched as his friends were picked one by one until finally Kuma looked into his bloodshot teary eyes and warned him: "You will never see me again."

Merry's Funeral

  I already touched lightly on it, but the Strawhat's ship, the Going Merry, was unable to sail anymore. After rescuing Robin from Enie's Lobby and in turn being rescued by their sentient ship; unknown to most of them at the time the crew decided on how to dispose of the ship. In order to give Merry the proper send off, Luffy and the crew opted for a Viking Funeral. Usopp was there under the guise of "Sogeking" (which only fooled Luffy and Chopper), and while seeing the boat burst into flames did affect him, nothing could prepare him, or the crew, for what happened next...

 Bink's Sake (Brook's Death)

  First of all, 4Kids dropped the ball on this one, but then again, what didn't they f*ck up? The Laboon Arc was completely omitted in the U.S. run of One Piece, which would've created a HUGE plothole when the Thriller Bark rolled along. Thankfully Funimation did a reboot with new voices and no censoring so that's that. Essentially the glaring omission was a giant whale of all things...

Do. Not. Feed. The. Whale.
  Laboon the whale was introduced shortly after the Strawhat Crew finally sails to the Grand Line. Luffy initially just thinks the whale is dumb for continuously smashing into the mountain trying to get somewhere. But in reality Laboon was trying to go back to the Rumbar Pirate crew, who had promised to come back to Laboon after they had left him there in Reverse Mountain along with a very special doctor...

50 years of stress will do that to you...
  The Rumbar Pirates were excellent musicians and their motto in life was "We can make even crying children laugh" , a prerequisite for joining the crew was to love music as a matter of fact. One of said members was the great swordsman/musician Brook. The same man that died in his ship (along with his crew) but thanks to the Yomi Yomi Fruit has retained his skeletal body and lives in a pseudo-immortal state. After the events in Thriller Bark, Brook tells the story of the whale and Luffy and crew immediately make the connection. Glad that Laboon is still alive Brook breaks into tears and announces he must go back to give Laboon the recording of the final performance of the Rumbar Pirates.

"Bink's Sake"

  Which leaves us with one more sad moment in One Piece history, and today's episode review

The Death of Portgas D. Ace

Back to haunt us...

  Portgas D. Ace, you either hate him or love him according to most internet boards regarding shonen manga/anime. To be perfectly honest, the character itself isn't what makes the current situation so heart breaking, it's what he represents to Luffy (and by extension, the reader) in this dire situation. On a personal level, Luffy's fight in Marineford and the death of his older sibling reflects my own life story. I was approximately the same age as Luffy when my brother died (killed), so I can sympathize with the character. It's irrelevant whether I liked my brother OR the character of Ace, the importance here is what the death means to Luffy, and I guess my own inner demons. This is the main protagonist's brother, and his death showed Luffy that despite all his great accomplishments (in such a short time) and dreams of becoming King of Pirates and finding One Piece are not within his grasp if he couldn't even save his own brother.

Episode 483
Title: ''Searching for the Answer - Fire-Fist Ace Dies on the Battlefield''
Chapters Covered: 574

Animation Director: Kazuya Hisada

  Last week we saw as Akainu goaded Ace and then attempted to take Luffy's life, on a split second decision to save his brother, Ace took a magma punch to the back, which impaled him and has left a gaping hole in his torso, effectively burning his organs. Akainu is stopped from finishing the job quickly by Marco -since --Whitebeard is busy with Kizaru-- (freed by Mr 3), Vista, Jimbei and an assortment of New World Pirates. Using this opportunity to save Ace, a very detached Luffy (credit to his voice actress for making him sound so, distant and childlike) attempts to have his brother fixed by a doctor. Of course the doctor just looks at the mortal wound and just shakes his head, the impossibility of Ace's situation slowly creeping on Luffy. Desperately he begins to ask Ivankov for a miracle injection to fix Ace, but the Okama Queen just chastises Luffy into accepting the fact that it's over. A couple of yards away. a very weary, Garp slowly makes his way towards Akainu; only to be stopped by Sengoku via head smash. "Hold me down Sengoku, before I kill him!" he growls as a crimson mask adorns the face of the Hero of the Marines.

  Ace, in his final moments, begins to recall his childhood and what it meant to be the son of the world's most infamous pirate. Almost every drunk, ruffian, pirate or scumbag told him how any child of Roger didn't deserve to life and how his head should be cut off if he existed; the Sins of the Father, in other words. His entire life he lived with the burning (no pun intended) desire to find out the answer to the most important question for him "Should I have ever been born?" Something he even asked his Grandfather Garp, to which the old man simply told him he'd have to wait and see. I guess you could say that's the tragic thing about someone like Ace, he spent his entire life wondering if he should have been born; when he just had to look around and see he was accepted as is. Whitebeard accepted him as his Son, Luffy accepted him as his Brother; Hell, Garp accepted him as his Grandchild --evidenced in this episode more than ever-- the old man just wanted the Marine life for Ace, being a Pirate just meant that Garp had to watch Ace fall in the same trappings of his Father; and I'm sure the Hero of the Marines had no intention of seeing that happen

  But Portgas D. Ace at least died like a true D. Before realizing that his time was up, his voice shot and barely audible to even Luffy, he asked his younger brother for a favor. To deliver a final message to his Father, and the people that accepted him --including Luffy-- "Thanks loving me for who I was." As he faded to his death, he smiled: much like Gol D. Roger,Jaguar D. Saul and even Luffy himself before he almost got his head lobbed off at Loguetown ( a peculiar D trait). Now, having read this before, it still holds emotional impact when seeing it in anime form. I have to give my kudos to the japanese voice actors for Luffy and Ace for not over acting or hamming it up (especially Ace, since the past dozen episodes has consisted of him grunting a variation of "HGGHGHGHGHGKKKSSS") but I also have to give Toei props for one particular scene.

   The scene in question is the infamous "derp face" that Luffy does when Ace finally dies and falls to the ground next to him. In the manga, the face was the subject of ridicule due to the peculiar art style (in One Piece no less) and the confusing message it seemed to convey for some. Essentially it was an expression of agony and sadness that was impossible to translate well into paper (the expression has never been drawn by Oda for any other character or situation) and it was met with heavy criticism. I'll be the first to admit that the face initially gave me the impression of shock and pain, but upon repeated viewings just seemed too "goofy" to properly send the message. I was afraid how it might translate into animation since there was no way the face alone could be immune to ridicule. Thankfully, Toei decided to give the "derp face" a proper animation and sound (Luffy sobbing uncontrollably) which gives it a new definition and while still open to ridicule it's a bit more on the, I dare say, realistic side. Let's be honest, crying has never been attractive, and next time you lose a loved one, or see someone lose them, pay close attention to their face. I guarantee you won't find anything cinematic about it: the contortions, snot, guttural sounds and tears can easily be the object of fun; but do we really want to head down that path?

  An exceptional episode this week, some parts slugged as per usual and some of the animation seemed a bit more stoic than usual. At least we were Buggy filler free for the most part (some previous episode recycling to fill up the runtime) and we had a solid 15 minutes of pure and raw emotional storytelling. Wrapping up the Top Ten Saddest Moments with a bang (or a whimper in this case?) and slowly approaching the end to the Whitebeard Saga. A different animation director would've done wonders here, but at least the emotional impact was there.



  1. today's episode was pretty darn sad too

  2. thanks for taking time to post this entry! I, too, cried at least three times in this anime.