• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Top 10 One Piece pre-time skip moments

ByJohn Wintroub

Aug 3, 2022
Still from One Piece

The world of One Piece is a glorious place. Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga took years to grow to the phenomenon it is today. The events of the first half of the Straw Hat Pirates’ journey are the foundation the story was built on. The following are those moments that stood out among the rest. From the East Blue to Marineford, here are the top 10 pre-time skip moments from One Piece. Spoilers for the first half of the show ahead.

10. Luffy punches a Celestial Dragon (Sabaody Archipelago)

The Celestial Dragons are a visible representation of the corruption within the World Government. They believe they deserve everything the world has to offer because of their nobility. They care not for other humans, let alone those that look completely different to them. When a Celestial Dragon nearly kills Hatchi, Luffy’s friend, Luffy is ready to fight. However, Hatchi, a victim of the cycle of violence, sees it as karma for his past. He begs Luffy to not act, so Luffy cannot fall victim to that same cycle. His pleading is useless, though, as that Dragon hurt his friend. The single powerful punch against the Celestial Dragon is satisfying because the audience has seen how horrible the Dragons are. However, Luffy only had this single interaction, and that was plenty reason for him.

9. Brook plays Bink’s Sake (Thriller Bark)

After their victory in Thriller Bark, Luffy asks for Brook to play at the celebratory feast. During this, Brook brings up that he has a recording of his crew’s final performance. The song in question is “Bink’s Sake”, which was heard in pieces throughout Thriller Bark. Despite Brook’s cheery demeanor each time he plays, there’s an unexplained sadness behind the melody. The song was recorded for Brook’s friend Laboon, a whale he met before coming to the Grand Line. When the crew leaves for the Grand Line, Brook promises to play for Laboon again when they inevitably return.

As he plays during the banquet, the celebration is juxtaposed with the fate of the Rumbar Pirates, Brook’s original crew. Destined to die of sickness, the Rumbar Pirates each perish one-by-one as they sing “Bink’s Sake”, enjoying their final moments together. Brook appears alone on the ship, having travelled the seas for 50 years as a living corpse. While Brook’s story is sad, it ends with him asking Luffy if his offer to join the crew is still open. Despite the loss he has experienced, there is hope he will see Laboon again.

8. Bon Clay sacrifices himself to save Luffy (Impel Down)

Bon Clay’s introduction presented him as a lovable goof who quickly became friends with Luffy and the other Straw Hats. When reintroduced at Impel Down as a captive ally for Luffy, Bon went above and beyond to save his friend. Bon carried Luffy to Ivankov to be healed after his defeat by Magellan. He stayed by Luffy’s side overnight as he screamed in pain during the procedure. And when all seemed lost. Bon sacrificed himself, staying behind and using his Devil Fruit power to pose as Magellan to ensure they could escape. Bon Clay went above and beyond to save Luffy, and hopefully they will see each other again one day.

7. Jimbei reminds Luffy of his friends (Post Marineford)

After the immense loss Luffy had experienced from the Sabaody Archipelago to Marinford, he wakes up on Amazon Lily shaken. The events of the last few arcs have broken Luffy. He feels completely useless for the first time in his life. If he couldn’t save his brother, than how could he save anyone else? It is not until Jimbei, who saw Luffy’s strength of character first-hand at Impel Down and Marineford, forces Luffy to remember all that he is fighting for. His friends still need him. Jimbei’s words push Luffy to be better, and to realize that not all was lost. There is still hope in this world.

6. “Nothing Happened” (Thriller Bark)

By the end of Thriller Bark, Luffy lays battered and beaten. Zoro stands between Luffy and Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords sent to eliminate the Straw Hat Pirates. As a trade to spare Luffy’s life, and the rest of the crew, Kuma allows Zoro to take all of Luffy’s pain. Sanji begs for the pain to be shared between them, for him to take it all instead, but Zoro refuses.
He believes, as first mate, the responsibility falls on him. The following morning, Sanji wakes up and immediately rushes to find Zoro, asking him what happened. Zoro responds simply “nothing happened. Nothing at all.” He does not need to prove his loyalty for Luffy, and he knows his captain would have done exactly the same for him.

5. Usopp leaves the Straw Hats (Water 7)

When the Straw Hats ask for a consultation by Water 7’s shipwrights, they receive the worst possible conclusion. The Going Merry will never sail again. Each member of the crew takes the news differently, most trying to be optimistic and excited for the potential replacement. However, Usopp, who has taken care of the ship the entire time, is not ready to let go. Usopp’s attachment to the Merry is far greater than any of the crew had realized.

Usopp views the retiring of the Merry as foreshadowing that he will be left behind as well. Perceiving himself as the weakest among them, Usopp sparks an argument with Luffy, leading him to declare that if the Merry goes, so will he. This, along with his fight with Luffy that night, signified the true fracturing of the crew. They had never experienced conflict within their own ranks to this degree before. Without the crew, Usopp is forced to understand his own value, and the value his friends hold in his life.

4. Saying goodbye to the Going Merry (Ennies Lobby)

The death of the Going Merry marks the first major loss in One Piece outside of flashback. As the Straw Hats’ first ship, the Merry had been with them through every conflict. The Merry cried during Luffy and Usopp’s fight. Promising to last just a little bit longer for them at Skypeia, the Merry finally laid to rest at the end of Water 7/Ennies Lobby. Witnessing each crewmate’s memories with the Merry, along with how central it was to the conflict at Water 7, filled this final sendoff with plenty of emotion.

3. Ace’s death (Marineford)

Ace had always been Luffy’s guiding light. He represented the ideals Luffy’s strived for. As his older brother, Ace did his best to look after Luffy, promising to be there for him when he needed to be. With Ace’s execution at Marineford on the horizon, Luffy does everything he can to save him. When he manages to free Ace in front of the entire Navy, everything seems like it will be alright, just like in every arc before.

That is until Akainu plunges his fist straight through Ace’s chest. The loss of Ace signifies a tonal shift in One Piece‘s story, a domino effect of consequence for its world and a rift in Luffy’s development. It is rare for Oda to regress one of his characters, but Ace’s death broke Luffy. It purposefully contradicts the tone established within One Piece beforehand. Ace’s death stands as the saddest moment up to that point in the series.

2. “I want to live!” (Ennies Lobby)

Robin never raised her voice. During her time with the Straw Hat Pirates she always sounded calm and collected, as if nothing could ever phase her. Not since Luffy first rescued her in Alabasta had she projected such emotion. As a child, she faced such hardship that she forced herself to become numb to the world around her. She assumed that no one would ever love her again. At Water 7, she abandons her friends in hopes of protecting them from the baggage she carries. She never could have expected to find them, staring down the World Government just to free their friend. She never held a reason to live until she met the Straw Hats. Her voice cracks as she screams “I want to live!” signifying a shift in her worldview. She wants to strive for the same freedom the others long for.

1. Luffy places his hat on Nami (Arlong Park)

Nami always felt forced to work alone to save her village. Ever since Arlong arrived and took her mother’s life, Nami felt like the burden was hers alone. No one else should suffer the same pain as her. Her need to be independent and only rely on herself is what led her to steal the Going Merry and abandon Luffy and the others. It’s not until she is faced with the horrible truth, that Arlong never intended to keep his promise to her, that she finally breaks down.

When she sees Luffy, she begs him to leave, saying it has nothing to do with him. However, Luffy just stands there, waiting for her to ask for his help. When she does, he places his hat on her head. Luffy treasures that straw hat more than anything else in the world, so he understands the meaning such a gesture carries. Luffy’s yell, declaring that he will help his friend, and then ordering the rest of the crew to help with Overtaken blasting in the background is iconic. If One Piece could be summed up into a single scene, it would be this one.

Is there a moment from the first half of One Piece that you love that didn’t make my list? Comment below!