One Piece – Sabaody Archipelago Arc (Episodes 385 – 405) Review

one piece sa arc

In the second of two One Piece reviews for this… probably half of the year knowing the pace I manage to watch the show at, the Sabaody Archipelago arc is a hell of a lot better than what came before it. Full of fun and interesting new characters, some interesting concepts and a classic, proper “air punching” great moment. That being said, the arc’s true highlight is a rather sombre ending… Let’s take a closer look.

Synopsis:

Luffy and his crew coming into conflict with a deadly slave trading ring that sells to the World Nobles. While there, other dangerous rookie pirates arrive, keen on entering the New World through the archipelago as well…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

one piece sa arc 1

Luffy, Zoro, and a whole bunch of new Captains!

Monkey D. Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka / Colleen Clinkenbeard) – After a long journey Luffy has finally made it to the half-way mark across the seas of the world. Now he just needs to figure out how to get to the bottom of the ocean to visit Fishman Island…

Roronoa Zoro (Kazuya Nakai / Christopher Sabat) – Zoro has been with Luffy since the start of his journey, but even as he stares the half-way mark in the face, he’s still no where near 100% after the damage he sustained during his encounter with Bartholomew Kuma…

Nami (Akemi Okamura / Luci Christian) – Nami is delighted to have made it to the Red Line, indicating the half-way mark of her journey, even if it means encountering more bizarre weather and monstrous “sea kings”.

Usopp (Kappei Yamaguchi / Sonny Strait) – Usopp, despite his cowardly tendencies, has made it half way across the world to the Red Line, but can he stomach what’s to come next?

Sanji (Hiroaki Hirata / Eric Vale) – Sanji is excited that he’s made it to the half way point in the journey, especially as that means Fishman Island, and THAT means mermaids!

Tony Tony Chopper (Ikue Otani / Brina Palencia) – Chopper is excited to be with his crew as they reach the Red Line, and is looking forward to more adventures to come… he thinks.

Nico Robin (Yuriko Yamaguchi / Stephanie Young) – Robin is still an archeologist at heart, so although she’s happy to be with the Straw Hats at such a critical point in their journey, she’s also excited that she might come into more information about the “Lost History” she wants to know about so much…

Franky (Kazuki Yao / Patrick Seitz) – Franky has recently joined the Straw Hats as their shipwright, but even so he is also over joyed at making it to the Red Line in his personally designed ship.

Brook (Cho / Ian Sinclair) – Brook is the latest addition to the Straw Hat crew, and as a talking skeleton who can play musical instruments as well as he can fight with a sword, he’ll fit in nicely…

Trafalgar Law (Hiroshi Kamiya / Matthew Mercer) – Trafalgar Law is the Captain of the Heart Pirates, a rookie group that have made it to the Red Line via North Blue. Laidback and reserved, his personality is the opposite of his fellow all-star rookie Luffy, as well as…

Eustass Kid (Daisuke Namikawa / Justin Cook) – Kid is the Captain of the Kid Pirates who has made his way through the seas to the Red Line starting from South Blue. More ruthless than laidback, Kid has a higher bounty than even Luffy…

Silvers Rayleigh (Keiichi Sonobe / Bruce Carey) – Silvers used to be the Vice Captain of Gol. D. Roger’s pirate ship during the “King of the Pirates” rise and eventual fall. He now spends his days on the Sabaody Archipelago, doing odd jobs…

Admiral Kizaru (Unsho Ishizuka / Ray Hurd) – A top Admiral of the Marines, Kizaru (real name: Borsalino) is a very chilled and extremely lanky man who once ate the “Glint-Glint Fruit”, giving him control over light, including light beams and crazy-fast movement.

Bartholomew Kuma (Hideyuki Hori / Joel McDonald) – Kuma is a member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, a group of Pirates who work for the World Government. Despite his prior attacks against the Straw Hat Crew, he seems to have a fondness for them, given how he let them live the last time they faced off…

Plus many, many more!

The Good:

one piece sa arc 4

Luffy’s desperate last gasp attack…

There is a lot right about this arc, and while the true highlight is the ending, let’s talk about how the story gets there first…

It starts with a brief mini-story where the Straw Hat Crew rescue old foe Hatchi on behalf of a mermaid they just met and her talking Starfish friend… Sounds about right. The only real highlight here was the masked leader of the kidnappers’ true identity was kept a secret, played up like it was a big returning foe from someone’s past, then it turns out to be someone who looks exactly like Sanji’s botched wanted poster, out for revenge for being hunted for crimes he didn’t commit. Got a good laugh out of me anyway. Sanji literally reconstructs the guy’s face by kicking it really hard repeatedly (?) and they all move on to the titular archipelago, as that’s where the crew need to get their ship coated in a special resin to visit Fishman Island under the sea, the next leg in their journey.

This is where the story gets great, as some new pirate crews are introduced (with the logical idea that Luffy and co. aren’t the only group of rookie pirates who have made it to the half way mark) and some properly hateful villains are presented alongside them. As for the new pirates, Trafalga Law and his cool laidback demeanour (and ability to “jumble” people’s body parts any way he sees fit inside his “room”, or bubble…) is a fun character to follow, and the cocky Captain Kid (who can control and repel objects) is also a good fit. Along with Luffy the three rookies take out a bunch of Marines with their unique powers in a scene I’m sure will have significance down the road…

As for the villains? Jesus, are they ever detestable. They’re an upper-class group called the Celestial Dragons, apparently descended from the Gods who created the world, and therefore collect human slaves, often ex-pirates, and treat them like pets. Keeping them on leashes, beating them when they slightly wobble while they ride on them, and generally killing them if they misbehave or get too weak, claiming they’ll just buy a new one at the next slave market. Literally a scene where one particularly spoiled brat-type started kicking a downed slave because he was making him late by being slow made me angry, and I’m just watching the show!

one piece sa arc 3

This fight between Silvers and Kizaru takes place a few paragraphs down, but I had to break up all the text somehow…

Ignoring a funny scene where Zoro nearly kills a Celestial by pure ignorance, it takes AGES for them to get their comeuppance. Camie, the mermaid, is captured and auctioned off to one such apparent God, leading to Luffy to try to free her, despite Hatchi trying to stop him. This all leads to Hatchi’s Fishman race to come to light, which gets him shot by the super-snobby spoilt one for earlier, who then delights in his act. Luffy slowly walks up to the snob as he tries to shoot the “ignorant human”, and *bam* punches him straight in the face and sends him flying. Such a satisfying moment!

Assaulting a Celestial Dragon gets an Admiral from the nearby Navy HQ to come and deal with the situation, so Luffy, as well as Law and Kid, need to make a quick exit, but first the Straw Hat crew listen to the tales of Silvers Rayleigh, who was once a part of Gol. D. Roger’s crew and helped them escape. It was nice to get a bit more context and story of the man who actually created the whole One Piece and King of the Pirates thing in the first place.

This is where things go sour though. The Admiral, Kizaru, arrives and with his light-based powers soon makes short work of some of the other rookie pirate captains, while at the same time Luffy and his crew have to take on a robotic duplicate of Bartholomew Kuma known as a “Pacifista”. There is some great fighting as the Straw Hats overcome the giant robot, only to be faced with another one, and a large axe-swinging sumo-guy… and Admiral Kizaru. So, for the first time in the series, Luffy instructs his crew to flee, but they don’t get very far, even with Silvers Rayleigh stepping in to take on the admiral. When all hope seems lost, the actual Bartholomew Kuma arrives and begins sending each Straw Hat crew member far, far away with his powers. Luffy is distressed at his men being separated by three days worth of travel in different directions, not really seeing how Kuma is actually saving them. He is the last to be sent flying, as his tears up at the thought of being a captain who couldn’t save a single member of his crew…

That was the ending, and it was brilliant. They set it up like they’ll have to lay low for three days for Silvers to coat their ship, so you really thought that would be the next story point (if you hadn’t had the next few arcs lightly spoiled for you, anyway…) I’d say “I can’t wait to see what happens next” if it weren’t for the fact that I know the next arc is often considered the worst…

The Bad:

one piece sa arc 5

A lot of these scenes were every bit as obnoxious as this looks…

The worst part of this arc is definitely characters screaming people’s names. Camie and her starfish friend Pappagu screaming “Hatchi!!” and, worst of all, Pappagu screaming “Camie!!” all the f- …damn time during the later acts. Man, it drove me up the wall.

There was also a few brief filler episodes before this but after the Thriller Bark Arc that I couldn’t be bothered to watch, given the sheer amount of stretched canon adaptation there is to see already…

Overall Thoughts:

one piece sa arc 2

Oh yeah, Kid and Law had to fight a Pacifista as well. Forgot to mention that…

The Sabaody Archipelago arc was a really fun one to watch, full of great new characters with fun powers, a really hate-able foe to watch get punched in the face, and a rare total defeat for our lead group to end on. I’m really looking forward to finally watching the stuff with all the Marines and Whitebeard and Luffy’s brother Ace, but first I have to get through the next story arc, which is mostly considered awful, so it may be a while before the next One Piece review…

5 Star Watch

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