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The Tragic Psychology of Monkey D. Luffy in ONE PIECE - - Special Review

What does episode #400 say about the Straw Hat captain?

ONE PIECE is on a week-long hiatus again, so I’ve opted to take another of FoxxFireArt’s helpful suggestions in the interim - - checking out one of the few semi-standalone episodes in the series dauntingly-vast catalog. And it’s definitely a “Well, now you know” moment, in more ways than one.

Since I’ve enjoyed the show in this piecemeal fashion, I figured that the now all-too-familiar preamble with Gol D. Roger challenging the world to find his treasure was always just part of an unspecified backstory. Well, as this episode reveals, everything about that preamble - - from Roger’s curmudgeonly lines to his sinister grinning to even the composition of his execution - - is all taken directly from this little flashback.

To pull this through a superhero lens, as I always do, it’s a bit like reading the first appearance of Spider-Man after years of seeing the panels of the comic recreated elsewhere, as if they were historical icons. This only goes back a few years, of course: but even that stretch of time recasts this whole saga through a new and oddly bittersweet angle.

See, I’ve always seen Luffy as being something like a modern Peter Pan, and people often forget that J.M. Barrie intended Pan’s everlasting youth to actually be a tragic condition. As such, when I see Luffy furiously flare up when Usopp starts asking about where to find the One Piece, I can’t help but read in a similar subtext. For me, the fact that we’re nearly 200 episodes ahead of this point (and it was already 400 episodes past the inception of Luffy’s quest) and the Straw Hats still haven't reached their goal... well, it recasts this quest into some sort of existential trap.

If Luffy ever found the One Piece, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. It’d probably mean an end to his adventuring, as he says. Because that notion is so terrifying to him, he has a violent reaction to the mere suggestion of it: consciously sabotaging himself in a way that really makes me think of the times in Barrie’s book where the normally cavalier Peter Pan suddenly gets very uncomfortable whenever Wendy even wonders if they should take their childish friendship into something more romantic.

Who ever said ONE PIECE didn’t have a bit of literary depth to it, huh?

Watch this episode, "Roger and Rayleigh – the King of the Pirates and His Right Hand Man” here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

Destinyheroknighton March 13, 2013 at 5:50 p.m.

The Straw Hats goals are at a really hard place to get to and they only been sailing for three or four years (technically one year, they train for two years for the New World). So it kind of understandable it told so long

Luffy will know what to do with it when he find it (it was foreshadow). Also when he find it, he'll be the King of the Pirates (the most free person in the world)

cynically_happyon March 13, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.

If One Piece ended with a full on emotional breakdown for Luffy I would be positively elated. That sounds like a tone-breaking hard left turn that I can totally get behind. Unfortunately we'll probably get some permutation of the standard "The adventure was the treasure all along" ending.

Kino88on March 13, 2013 at 8:08 p.m.

One Piece is fun

Dekkenon March 13, 2013 at 8:34 p.m.

Luffy reacted like that because even though he doesn't care if the One Piece really exists or not, or if it is a treasure or something else, knowing all the information would ruin the feel of adventure and mystery, he prefers to leave everything to the destiny, but that doesn't mean that he is sabotaging himself to keep him away from finding the One Piece. The reason why the Straw Hats Pirates haven't found the One Piece yet if because this a very long story, and I know that some mangakas tend to stretch out the story to make more money, but as I said, this is a series with tons of characters, places and stories that are a huge build up to the events that will happen at the end of the series.

Donwunon March 13, 2013 at 10:16 p.m.

Tom i've seen you make alot of interesting observations in your W&L and special reviews on series. In light of your insights to this throwback ep on OP i'd actually like to hear your thoughts on the very first episode on the next break - similar to what you did with DBZ, i find it interesting how you take more from the show as you delve deeper into its roots and you certainly have a way with words on your write ups :oP

Petiewon March 14, 2013 at 7:48 a.m.
It's less that he's scared of the adventure ending, and more that he doesn't want the fun to be ruined. If the ending of Luffy's journey had already been revealed there'd be no fun and suspense and the feeling of adventure would be ruined. 

Adventure and "A man's romance" are the big themes in One Piece. Luffy is exciteable and always picks the most dangerous islands and routes because he thinks it'll be more fun. There's a scene in an earlier arc where Luffy and Usopp mock Robin for not understanding that when you're camping you need a giant fire, even if it attracts all of your enemies.
FoxxFireArt moderator on March 14, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.

I do disagree about Luffy not knowing what to do once he finds One Piece. I have my own theory. You see, there are several paths through the Grand Line. You can only enter it through one point. (Well, most pirates can only enter through one point, but that's a different matter.) There are several different paths you can pick that each lead on to different islands. Luffy are the crew have only taken one of those paths. I think Luffy will become king of the pirates, then he'll want to go back and take a different path until he's seen them all.

That would follow in line with Nami's dream. She wants to make a map of the world. She's going to need to travel to islands if she wants to chart them.

jj_jacksonon March 14, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.

My thoughts? one piece ofcourse will end in a gigantic war that whitebeard talked about. They will find the one piece and i think thats the biggest mystery of all. And i dont agree with that either luffy is more of the " don't spoil the end ofthe movie or me let me find out myself!" type of person. i wouldnt say he's not avoiding. The grand line is huge.

I also think which should be obvious that luffy will pass that straw hat down to another d. and the adventure will continue in that world.maybe he will even create his own one piece to start a new pirate era. the Romance dawn.

GokaiRedon March 14, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.

Luffy, a dog chasing cars.

@Destinyheroknight said:

Also when he find it, he'll be the King of the Pirates (the most free person in the world)

he'll be bored out of his mind ;)

Destinyheroknighton March 14, 2013 at 5:17 p.m.

@GokaiRed:

No, he won't

Since their are tons of islands in the One Piece world. If he get sick of that, he can go into space with Enel :)

zaldaron March 14, 2013 at 6:39 p.m.

Eh I think you are stretching yourself to find a literary allusion (illusion) here but then most English papers do that all the time. That said where in Peter Pan does Wendy think about taking their relationship to the next level? I read the actual book, though a long time ago, and I don't remember that. (and why did rule 34 just pass through my head?)

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