It’s revealed that Nami is actually a part of the fishman Arlong’s pirate crew. She’s been stealing as a way to buy her hometown’s freedom. A freedom that Arlong has no intention of giving. We also learn about Nami’s past, how she was orphaned as a baby and the marine Bellemere took her and her sister, Nojiko, and raised them as her own children.
Zoro gets captured, it looks like Nami kills Usopp, and the rest of the Straw Hat crew arrives. The anime progresses to a point where Nami’s money is confiscated by the corrupt marines stationed in the area. A distraught Nami finally asks Luffy for his help. The townspeople, finally fed up with the Arlong pirates, decide to storm Arlong Park themselves.
The reunited Straw Hat Crew arrives just as the townspeople are about to assault Arlong Park and take over the assault. The battle commences between Luffy’s crew and Arlong’s crew. After several hard fought battles, it’s down to just Luffy and Arlong. They fight all the way up to the room that Nami was forced to draw maps in. Luffy sees the room as Nami’s prison cell and proceeds to do what he does best, destroy everything in sight. Luffy finally defeats Arlong and sets Nami free from the Arlong pirates.
To me this is the first real emotional arc. We’ve been given hints about Nami and her motivations up to this point. She only steals from pirates, she seems reluctant to fully joining the Straw Hats, and she is willing to leave without warning. Not to mention, there were a few scenes of Nami alone, contemplating something serious. The anime spent more time building this one up than Usopp, Sanji, or Zoro.
Nami’s backstory is sad. She’s an orphan from a war-torn island adopted by a marine. She’s a troublemaker but not a bad kid at heart. Bellemere, Nojiko and Nami are poor but fairly happy together. They may have some arguments but deep down they care for one another. When the Arlong pirates arrive everything falls apart. Bellemere is killed, the town is basically enslaved, and Nami is forced to join Arlong’s crew. In doing so it appears that Nami is turning her back on her family and town.
All of this is what helps build up to one epic showdown. You feel the emotion oozing out of One Piece when you watch their epic march to the doors of Arlong Park. The fights are great, it’s not just a one sided massacre. Of course, all of the Straw Hats are going to come out on top but it does feel like there are times when they aren’t going to make it. If I didn’t know the outcome of the fight already I would’ve been on the edge of my seat. Luffy’s triumphant shout to Nami that she’s his friend at the end was the perfect icing on the cake.
As you can tell from the above paragraphs, I’m a fan of the storytelling in these episodes. As far as the other elements, I think One Piece does a good job. As I’ve mentioned before in this series of posts, the animation is much more refined today than in these early episodes but it’s not as if One Piece’s early showings are low quality. Nothing stands out as unique or revolutionary, it’s just a solid performance.
Are these episodes worth watching today?
I believe so. Once Piece gets these anime episodes right. If you’re in the mood for some nostalgic anime from your childhood go ahead and re-watch the Straw Hat’s confrontation with the Arlong pirates. It’s worth your time.
Now go watch some anime!