While I’m watching through the Impel Down and Marineford arcs, I thought it would be worthwhile to write up a short review on Thriller Bark, the previous major story arc in One Piece.
If you’d like, check out my other posts on my blog, including the first one I wrote ranking the Straw Hat crew pre-time skip.
I’ll have to jog my memory about a few things, but here are the main points that shaped the arc for me:
- Moria’s awful design and annoying devil fruit ability
- Team Straw Hat’s amazing team work and fighting skills
- Relatively funny moments in between otherwise serious arcs (Water 7 and Marineford)
- Resurgence of Usopp’s skills
- Zoro’s Sacrifice
- Introduction of Brook
I want to get negative aspects of the review out of the way, so I’ll start with the villians; namely, Moria. I especially disliked Moria’s design; he looked clunky, big, and just very uncool. I was honestly pretty unhappy that one of the Seven Warlords had such as horrible design. Manga readers may not really know or care about this, but I also disliked the voice interpretation. He sounded (at least to me) whiny and unintimidating. For what it was, the arc also ran for a very long time.
His devil fruit power was also incredibly overpowered; not only could he cut and transfer people’s souls, but he could also convert his own body into shadows as a type of “Logia” power (I’m not sure what classification his devil fruit actually is), and could even create a shadow clone of himself. This was so incredibly crazy that it was hard to see a realistic ending to the fight – in the end, his own power-hungriness caused him to essentially self destruct. He was also much more boring than other villians – though Straw Hat Team vs Oars was very fun to watch. Otherwise, Moria simply ran around and tricked Luffy so he wouldn’t be attacked.
The other villians were alright though. Absalom provided much needed comedic breaks with his marriage antics, and his mysterious invisibility power provided a lot of suspense and uncertainty in the beginning of the arc. Perona had a really interesting devil fruit, though it also seemed overpowered as it easily defeated Sanji, Zoro, and Franky. It was a shame that Dr. Hogback didn’t have any powers, because I believe a genuine fight between him and Chopper/Robin would be amazing.
Some highlights include the strength of Straw Hat’s team fighting abilities. In previous arcs, especially Enies Lobby, we see very strong 1v1 fighting between enemies and our heroes. In this case, the entire crew gathered together to fight Oars, which was awesome. Each person showed their skill in the special areas as well, as Franky built cannons and bridges, Usopp sniped and took down Perona, and Chopper used his medical knowledge to find Oar’s weaknesses. Straw Hat pirates vs. Oars was a pretty great fight sequence and I think is underrated, considering it gets sandwiched between two other spectacular arcs.
Thriller Bark was also comedically great. The introduction showed Luffy and crew stuck in a bunch of antics in what they believed was a haunted land (but was actually a number of puppets and powers controlled by the villians). This was definitely a much needed break between Water 7 and Impel Down/Marineford.
Some crew members also had great shining moments. Usopp finally had a major fight again, after being kinda left in the background during Water 7 and Enies Lobby (though he had a very important story line, his fighting was relatively limited). Zoro also had a powerful moments where he sacrificed his body to save Luffy. The introduction of Brook was done great (timing his appearance with a scary story about a singing ghost ship). His connection with Laboon was a great flashback – it’s nice to see Laboon wasn’t just a passing moment but a continual part of the story.
It’s unfortunate that Thriller Bark was sandwiched between two of the best arcs in One Piece. It wasn’t the worst arc or the most boring, and it does set up some recurring characters and introduces Brook. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it was enjoyable while it lasted. 3/5 Stars.