At long last! The show’s intros may keep reenacting formative events in the ONE PIECE universe, like Gold Roger’s execution and the gifting of Luffy’s straw hat, but up until now, the oh-so-important eating of the Gum Gum fruit has only been in my imagination. Now that I’ve seen it, at last, I’ll be honest… I was expecting something a little more memorable than him just scarfing a friend’s lunch box. It might be one of the most incidental origins I’ve ever seen.
Yeah yeah… Luffy’s idolization of Shanks is surely much more important to his back-story than the circumstances of how he gobbled up some special snack. Once again, I can’t help but read in some semi-tragic dementia into Luffy’s personality profile here. This episode shows us that he was never just a normal kid, but this fateful meaning with a real-life pirate role model - - and, more importantly, the violent trauma that soon followed - - seems almost like a collision accident that essentially freezes Luffy in place.
See, while his body becomes super-flexible, his mind becomes stubbornly fixed. His goal of becoming King of the Pirates is essentially just a quick, fleeting bid to impress his idol - - a boyish notion that he’d probably grow out of in week. Yet, as we’ve seen, he’s stuck with it like it’s some fundamental existential obsession. It's fun imagining a connection between that and the Gum Gum fruit.
Obviously, anybody looking to write a deconstrucionist ONE PIECE fanfic is going to eat this up. If you think I’m maybe reading too far into those… well… I’ll point out the exchange between Luffy and Shanks wherein they basically just dismiss the amputation of the elder pirate’s arm like it’s nothing more than losing a fancy belt buckle. Sure, it’s funny and flippant, but it’s impossible not to raise an eyebrow over a show being funny and flippant about such a horrific moment.
Oh, and major XP to Nami for hoodwinking the clown pirates. If you’re going to turn the tables on the bad guys, better do it in a way that totally embarrasses them, too.