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One Piece Readthrough Thread 2:
Alabasta or Bust!
This thread will cover chapters 101-200.
You can find my first thread, which covers Chapters 1-100 and the... *checks the Wiki* Romance Dawn, Orange Town, Syrup Village, Baratie, Arlong Park, and Loguetown arcs here:
Going in, here’s what I remember:
- Vivi is great
- Laboon is a sad whale and hits mountains
- There are a bunch of Baroque Works guys that show up all at once and I kinda skipped around those eps because it got a little samey
- Alabasta’s dope
- Somewhere there’s giants???
I think I watched most of this stuff in the anime once, seven years ago, fresh out of college and jobless, while working on portfolio pieces in my parent’s house. That, combined with a truly poor memory for detail, has left most of this a blank slate.

So it’s going to be fun!
So let’s start with an all-time great take by Luffy. Chapters 101-105: Reverse Mountain
Out of the gate, we’re already starting to get a much more technical style than the prior chapters. Half of Reverse Mountain’s work is to explain some worldbuilding mechanics that he correctly ignored in favor of character and theme, but which will be important going forwards.
(And, smartly, he also immediately pays off a lot of this new information. The Calm Belt is FULL OF MONSTERS. Going up Reverse Mountain is a DANGEROUS ROLLERCOASTER. The Grand Line is still undiscovered country, and every piece of information is valuable)
This is a good boi
I’ve got a lot of thought on how Oda tells a shonen story; I- actually, hang on, brief detour back to Arlong Park so I can talk about how One Piece has fundamentally different fights than any other shonen comic and then we’ll roll up Reverse Mt. to punch a whale and talk factoids
Back in Arlong Park, we’re told that Arlong was at one time comperable in power to one of the Warlords of the Sea, and that his gang of fishmen are 10x stronger than any man and can destroy whole towns.

And yet, Zoro ALONE kicks the ass of 90% of Arlong’s crew easily. Offpage!
Power creep in shonen adventure is a pretty well-understood concept at this point: every bad guy our heroes face will be even harder than the last one, forcing our heroes to level up and gain more power to defeat the next one, forcing the next villain to be even stronger, etc.
The classic is Goku in DBZ: Kaioken, Kaiken x10, SSJ 1-4, Fusion, turning blue- it goes on.

Naruto (demon fox forms) and Bleach (Bankai!) follow suit.

But One Piece does something different. It’s already shown up in Baratie and Arlong Park, and it’ll follow us through Alabasta.
In One Piece, power levels are stable. Our heroes start at MAXIMUM JACKED. Chapter ONE Luffy punches out the Sea King that ATE SHANKS’ ARM just to make a statement about how far he’s come.

He doesn’t need to level up, dude. He’s already 30,000,000 berries of danger on page 51.
What this does is make battles about tactics, innovation, and attrition- particularly attrition.

Sure, Luffy will think up new Gears down the road, but they aren’t battle deciders like a Super Saiyan; and they always come with a cost that’ll put Luffy at a disadvantage later.
When shonen battles are about attrition, then, they become about battles of WILL. This is going to get literal when Haki shows up, but even here in the beginning, Luffy, Zoro, and the others win because they -want it more-.
it changes the meaning of loss to be personal, too. Zoro loses to Mihawk on skill, sure, but the spiritual battle is much much closer, which spares Zoro in the end.

The duel in Water 7 and the devestations in Sabaody and Marineford Alter the crew personally and emotionally.
The timeskips in Dragon Ball (to Z) and Naruto are neat because they bump a stale status quo and introduce some neat new character designs; but they just jump. The middle is terrain they don’t feel like treading.
One Piece shows you what happens in that two year spread, at least a little, because the only means to new personal power in its world is new personal development. Confidence. Clarity. Knowledge.
Which brings us back to Reverse Mountain, and where One Piece is going to take us for the next few arcs.

I think the next few arcs are all about what it means to fight, and how the idea of “fighting” can be expressed in more ways than just “who is stronger”.

Er, not here, tho😨
Fighting, friendship, and loyalty are what will set the tone to Alabasta.

Laboon’s been waiting 50 years for his friends to come back. In two arcs, we’ll meet two best friends who were already 50 years deep into their own fight before Laboon ever said goodbye to those pirates.
Across the next 100 chapters, these doofuses and half their organization will be changed by fighting and interpersonal loyalty into allies and best friends.
So it’s no mistake that the first fight in the Grand Line isn’t about strength or victory- it’s about making a promise, easing a pain, and establishing a friendship. One Piece is never what you think it will be.
S-so that’s a lot on one minor plot point five chapters so uh, some rapid fire points:
- Like I said, there’s a huge info dump in this arc, but I like how it’s handled. In addition to the sea, we get a crash course in log poses, Grand Line CLIMATE, and oh yeah, THE FINAL ISLAND.
-(Log Poses are genius, by the way, making the episodic nature of adventure narratives a literal fact of transit in this world and a cool new liability)
- I thought all of them merge at Sabaody? Are there other ways across the Red Line?
- I really love the idea that every pirate after Luffy to hit the grand line had to see his terrible tag on this giant whale.
- This bowing move is going to be what Vivi teaches Luffy to get into Drum Island. I’ll have more to say when we get there.
- Great comedy beat here.
- Ms Wed and Mr 9 have Big Team Rocket Energy and I’m here for it
- I totally forgot Crocus HOLLOWED OUT LABOON AND MADE HIM A CYBORG. Hot take: Before the series ends, Franky will make him into a Franky Machine
- Crocus is using Haki here to survive, right?
- Kame House!
- GARP?! Holy shit, what other INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT CHARACTERS do you miss if you just watch the anime? Jeeez!!
- I don’t have much to add on this one, but I think it’s more impressive that every experienced sailor who has sailed the Grand Line has seen Luffy and said “He’s it.”
I think that’ll do it for Reverse Mountain! Next time:
I totally forgot Whiskey Peak happens? Uh, we’ll try it out!
(PS CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HOT USOPP IS IN THIS COLOR SPREAD???)
Today on the Readthrough:
Whiskey Peak: Chapters 105-114

Well this arc is a hoot and half, holy cats.
The way I remember this section of One Piece flowing, I think, went something like this:
- In Loguetown, the Straw Hats fight Smoker, then Baroque Works shows up and chases them out of town
- Vivi stows aboard up Reverse Mountain??
- ??? Giants ???
- We get to Alabasta!
Here’s what I forgot happens in Whiskey Peak:
ZORO BEATS UP A CITY
Like I guess there’s stuff to comment on with Luffy vs Zoro, the reveal of Princess Vivi and the uncovering of Baroque Works, but like... ZORO BEATS UP A CITY. BY HIMSELF. AS A WARMUP.

Look at how HAPPY he is to FIGHT THIS MUCH.
We haven’t seen Zoro cut loose (pun) at full strength against equal or lesser foes since... Usopp’s village. There’s so much athletic joy in these pages, like watching a dog let loose from its kennel into a field.

Chapter 108: 100 Bounty Hunters is an amazing issue.
Okay, uh, lightning round will be actual takes this day, since they’re pretty scattershot compared to my white-hot passion for Zoro obliterating an entire municipality.

- I like that Usopp is a master artist
- I don’t like immediately undercutting Nami’s navigation skills!
- This SBS about “should actual teens be heavy drinkers” comes like the chapter before this. Oda, u scamp.
- SUCH Team Rocket Energy.
- Say Hi to Miss Monday, the last unique female face Oda will ever draw
- Miss Monday is really good y’all.
- Her and Mr. 9 are already setting the stage for the idea that friendships count more than any other kind of allegiance; and that fighting is how you prove it.
- Between Monday and Igaram, already getting some interesting gender play from BW
- Zorro/Luffy is a prelude to Dorry/Broggy. Check how they even immediately forget why they’re fighting. First it’s Luffy avenging the town and Zoro in self defence. Then it’s to see who’s stronger. Then it’s just cuz they were already fighting
- Love when OP ignores its own plot
- I love that Luffy is really enthusiastic about Igaram’s disguise.
- Never trust a nun in One Piece
- NEVER TRUST A NUN IN ONE PIECE
-HOLY CATS ROBIN SHOWS UP HERE?!
- I totally forgot she was 1.) a villain and 2.) built into Baroque Works/Alabasta and 3.) shows up WAY before then. I legit yelled when she showed up.

- Love how enigmatic she is. Robin is fully formed from the start- removed and cool. Love her.
- Truly iconic Nami panel.
- Luffy destroying the log pose is a really good moment. It seems childish, but being a pirate is about freedom and adventure. There’s nothing free about being told where to go.
- Truly iconic Zoro panel
- I laughed really hard at Nami applauding No. 13
I think that’ll do it for Whiskey Peak- hey Robin, got a preview of the next arc?
Today: Chapters 115-129
Little Garden
Nothing holds a candle to dinosaurs!
Here’s the deal with Little Garden: I kinda don’t like it? Dorry and Broggy are fab, and fighting Baroque Works is fun, but wax just can’t be more interesting than a brontosaurus, sorry Oda.
Previous arcs, even if they’ve had backstory and subplots, have felt tight and had clear direction. Little Garden feels like three distinct stories that all layer on top of each other:
-Dinosaur Island
-Giant Battle
-Baroque Works, pt. 2

Maybe it’s how they don’t interact?
Like, why doesn’t a sabertooth tiger try to eat Mr. 3 during his fight with Luffy? Why, once freed, doesn’t Broggy actually try to help the crew fight? It’s strangely compartmentalized, in a way, say, Loguetown, with Smoker, Buggy, and the storm wasn’t.
A lot of my qualms stem from Mr. 3, too. I just don’t like him, and it’s kinda his moment. He spends like five chapters taunting Nami, Zoro and Vivi, and it just drags on.

Your master plan is to stop my fave pals from doing neat things. Great cool, dude. Blegh.
ALSO WAX DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY?!?!?! A CANDLE IS A WAX MELTER BY DEFINITION?!?!?! ugh this goober!!
BUT. That’s not to say Little Garden doesn’t have good in it. Dorry and Broggy are super interesting, not only for introducing giants and the nation of Elbaf to the story, but for how they echo and foreshadow the Strawhats themselves.
Last arc, we had a duel between Zoro and Luffy. In this arc, we have a friendly challenge between Zoro and Sanji. One Piece is exploring how the concept of fighting can articulate, and what it means to be strong. Dorry and Broggy model competition for us here.
What struck me most is how Luffy and Usopp react, though. I said before Usopp, after Luffy, has a true pirate’s heart, and here you can see their hearts beating as one, as they meet these noble warriors.
In 200 chapters, on the shore of Water 7, Usopp and Luffy will face each other for the fate of the Merry. Both will know Usopp cannot win. But they’ll still fight.

The seeds of that battle, and everything that comes after, are sown here, now.
I’ll have some wrap-up thoughts later in the day; for now, some next-level chapter art this arc. Love it.

(And is that some Kaku foreshadowing with Usopp??)
Lightning Round for Little Garden!
Nami:
- I love how comfortable she is with them. The Straw Hats’ camaraderie is real
- I like when she enjoys Sanji’s attention.
- Usopp “real men”ing her kinda bites
- but Nami litterally dragging Usopp for his cowardice balances it out nicely
Zoro:
Another arc filled with some all-time great moments for Zoro.
- Amazing reaction to a dinosaur.
- Amazingly bad plan
- Amazing reaction to CUTTING YOUR OWN LEGS HALF OFF
- Amazing choice once cutting his own legs off didn’t work
- I hate Mr. 3, but Ms. Goldenweek is 💯. Luffy being hypnotizable returns in Thriller Bark, right?
- TFW the tea is good
- It’s 🙄 that the fire burns off Nami’s shirt but I wish it had also obliterated Vivi’s truly regrettable HypnoShirt.
- Nice Sanji gives her his jacket tho
- This Luffy reaction is really good.
- Luffy picking the right Mr. 3 on instinct is great. He’s got good gut feelings!
- Sanji being -bad- at deception is really funny. This is what happens when you have a 17 charisma but roll a 2.
- Transponder snails!! Love the tiny wrist one
Finally, some nice portents for the future:
- Love this hint of Crocodile’s power
- It pays off in, like, a page but it’s nice Nami’s feeling bad already
-Zoro training like this is p. Iconic.
- OH, come my way!
Next time... Drum Island! Keep your eyes open!
Drum Island! I’m reading Chapters 130-140 today. Let’s go!
This first half of Drum Island is mostly setup; establishing the stakes (Nami’s dying), setting (it’s cold!), guests (he’s strong! she’s old! reindeer!) and villains (munch!). The real juice of the arc is all in the back half. Still, there’s a beat early in this I wanna highlight
I love this moment where Vivi chastises Luffy, then shows him manners.

Two lines stick out particularly to me: “You’re a failure as a captain.” and “You sure are smart.”

There’s good growth here, as the King of the Pirates learns from the Princess of Alabasta
Luffy’s never had to learn diplomacy; his natural intuition and charisma have carried him far on their own.

These words cut deeply. Until now, being a pirate captain meant strength alone. “You haven’t got what it takes!” he says to Don Krieg.

But captains need cunning, too.
That’s why I love this moment so much. He recognizes Vivi has something crucial and valuable that he lacks- social grace- and he instantly respects her power for using it.

I think that makes Luffy a fairly unique shonen hero, too.
Few Shonen heroes gladly subordinate themselves the way Luffy does. Luffy seems proud, but his humility is actually his greatest skill as a leader. “I can’t navigate, cook, or tell lies; but I can Kick Your Ass”, as he told Arlong.

Contrast with our third royal this arc, Wapol:
I don’t think it’s a mistake that we’re in a nation recently freed from its ruler, and about to go to a nation that’s actively trying to overthrow its ruler.

So much of One Piece going forward is about people in power over others, and if that power is used justly.
Btw, I’m shocked at how much enjoyable Wapol is in the manga. He’s still a rat bastard, but the anime lost the Fred Flintstone-y charm Oda’s drawings have.
The whole crew staying in the cabin with sick Nami is so pure and sweet. The best family.
Some really good gags with the crew early on, too.
Everybody looks super great in their winter coats! I wonder if there’s other DKP brand clothing? Karoo had a DJK hat in a cover... AND HEY, LOOK, VIVI’S COAT IS THERE TOO! I told you all covers are canon!
Speaking of coats, Zoro OBLITERATING this dude and starting a fight with ALL of Wapols guards just because he’s cold is soooo good. God, Zoro’s been on fire since they hit the Grand Line, hasn’t he?
Some setups for huge future events and concepts show up in Drum Island!

- Reverie foreshadowing!
- Blackbeard!!!
- Devil Fruit categorization!
- Afro Luffy foreshadowing???

It’s particularly clever of Oda to show Dalton turn into a beast to set us up for Chopper’s powers.
Speaking of Chopper, love how quickly every aspect of him is fleshed out. Powers, status, comedic potential. Before we get more than a drop of backstory, Chopper is fully formed and delightful

NOTE: Chopper not being able to resist praise is my favorite running joke in One Piece
I really like Luffy and Nami both identifying Chopper as a great crewmember, too.
Me, catching you reading this thread:
Me, when a post I’m proud of finally gets an RT
Me, after dropping a real hot take:
I think that’s all there is for now! Drum Island is off and running. Next time: Chapters 141-150!
[record scratch]

[freeze frame]

Yep, that’s me. I bet you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.

(One Piece Readthrough, Chapters 141-150!)
It’s worth noting this isn’t the best punch in One Piece; that’ll come in Sabaody way down the road. However, the kickoff (“Hey it’s that jerk again!”) and build (“Here’s why Wapol is the biggest rat bastard you’ve met so far”) to this punch is truly brilliant.
There’s a lot to say about Chopper’s flashback; it’s one of the best stories in One Piece; and has the biggest gut punch I think Oda ever delivers.

It’s also about flags.
Flags that bear the Jolly Roger. What does it mean?

“THE SKULL AND CROSSBONES IS A SYMBOL OF FAITH!!!”

Faith that a friend will return.
Faith in a father’s love.
Faith in a future of freedom from tyranny.
Faith that we can save the ones we love.
And faith that your legacy will live on.
Dreams, legacy, hope, destiny. If pirates represent freedom, then the Jolly Roger is freedom from death itself. So long as black flags fly, the memory of those that dared to dream lives on.
One day Luffy will burn a flag to the ground and declare war against the entire world. One day, four friends flew a flag on a boat and declared themselves pirates. The journey is long, and words can fail description, but...
...one good flag can hold all those dreams.
Also:
- I like that child Vivi cries; it puts the strength of her Control in relief.
- Luffy’s shine at big fight is great.
- This page in the middle of the fight where Luffy gets a coat is unbelievable.
- Always a great Oda joke, finding something (robot adjacent) really cool
I love how Luffy and Chopper befriend each other here:
- Luffy gets it’s Chopper’s fight. He includes him.
- He explictly says he’s Chopper’s friend.
- He asks Chopper for help kicking ass.

Even before then, the parallel- Luffy is as weird as Chopper is- is drawn and present.
- Wapol eating himself is INCREDIBLY UPSETTING. Slimming down as a result is pretty funny, though.
- Hell yeah, Nami thief stuff!!
- THIS FACE.
- I know I should be moved by Chopper but I’m just too pumped at that shot of Luffy about to plant this goon in the dirt.
I think that’s everything... alright, where were we? Oh yeah, riiight... HERE!

(Next time, Chapters 151-160! Alabasta, here we come!)
Chapters 151-160! Old friends and new as we finally reach Alabasta!
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