WARNING: MASSIVE EPISODE/PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT CERTAIN ASPECTS OF ONE PIECE SPOILED!
One Piece (Episodes 94 thru 102 of the Baroque Works Saga: Arabasta Arc)Monkey D. Luffy and the gang have arrived in the desert kingdom of Arabasta, home to King Nefertari Cobra (father of current crew member and Princess of Arabasta: Vivi Nefertari). After escaping the clutches of Marine Captain Smoker and his Marine forces (which arrived in Arabasta in search of the Straw Hat Pirates, who escaped from his clutches back in their encounters in Loguetown earlier in the anime) with the help of Luffy's brother Portgas D. Ace, the Straw Hat Pirates begin their trek across the harsh, barren desert toward the Yuba Oasis, where the Rebel forces are stationed.
To the shock and surprise of the resting crew, they witness both Luffy and the camel rushing towards them, being chased by what seems to be a massive eruption of sand from behind. Sanji and Zoro step forward, and in a massive set of powerful attacks, they (along with Luffy) kill the massive lizard (along with the other lizards from the pack, with the help of Ace) and use the leftover meat to re-supply their lost provisions. Nami and Vivi both fall in love with the camel (which they name him "Eyelashes"), and since the camel only has interest in letting the girls ride, decide to make him their primary mode of transportation, much to the disgust of the others (who heckle the camel and call it perverted). After finishing their rest, they set back off towards their destination of the Yuba Oasis.
In their continued travels, the men get separated from Ace (who wanders off in a separate direction, due to his lack of attention) and due to the shifting sands, get lost from both Nami and Vivi, who had taken the lead and expected them to follow their tracks. Nami and Vivi are found by the crew of a massive pirate ship (the Sand Pirates) and taken hostage, with Eyelashes becoming the next planned meal for the crew. The men, who are maintaining their journey in the direction they last saw Nami and Vivi, are surprised when they across come across a startling sight, a massive pirate ship making it's way across the desert. Usopp, using his scope from his headgear, sees that the ship has both of the girls along with the camel on deck and points it out to Luffy. Enraged that his fellow nakama has been kidnapped, he uses his Gum Gum powers to stretch his arms to grab the mast of the ship in the distance, to the surprise of the Sand Pirates. Luffy then pulls himself towards the ship, and slams into the mast at high speed, breaking it in half and sending it crashing onto the decks below, to the shock of the crew and the horror of the Sand Pirates.
Meanwhile, Ace finally notices that he has become lost from Luffy and the others, and comes across a massive scorpion that seeks to eat him as it's next meal. Using his Devil Fruit powers, he uses his fire-wielding abilities to roast the scorpion, ending the threat on his life. He next comes across a strange lizard as he leaves the scorpion behind, which no matter what he does, copies him and blocks his path, much to his annoyance. While Ace makes his way onward, Luffy and his crew become fast friends with the Sand Pirates and their massive captain, and are tasked with helping find trees so that the Sand Pirates can repair their broken mast. Vivi decides to team up with Luffy, and they make their way towards a distant oasis that has the needed wood for the repair work on a unique boat that surfs along the sand by windpower along with two members of the Sand Pirates crew. On their way there, Luffy and VIvi's boat is rammed by the other boat of the Sand Pirates, sending them into a deadly area of quicksand that threatens to suck them under to their deaths. Luffy, who is ticked off by the current situation, again uses his Gum Gum powers to stretch out his arms to grab onto the speeding boat of the Sand Pirates, pulling themselves out of the lethal trap and into the lead of the trip towards the distant oasis. Once at their destination, the female pirate of the other ship confronts Vivi about how the King of Arabasta promised to help the town she once lived in, and how she stayed behind after the others abandoned the town, almost until her death, before the Sand Pirates found her. Vivi breaks down in tears, and promises to not let the woman down in the promise that her father made long ago.
After returning to the stranded Sand Pirates ship (which came under attack by local forces while they were gone), the Straw Hats make their way towards a nearby town, which they are dropped off near-by by the Sand Pirates (who do not wish to come close to town). Unknown to them, Ace has arrived in the town before them while they were helping the Sand Pirates, and has come across several men that claim to be part of the Rebel forces, to the delight of the local townspeople, who are unaware that they are being deceived. When word of pirates reaches them (from one of the lookouts, who sees the distant ship of the Sand Pirates departing from the area outside of town), the four "fake" Rebels try to slip out of town before the townsfolk come to see them off to battle, but run into Ace, who proceeds to eat their food after humiliating them in brief combat. The men, who later try again to skip town before the people of the town locate them, run into the entire city population outside of their quarters, and are unable to escape. Meanwhile, Ace skips town and finds Luffy and the others outside of town, who are surprised to see him after losing him prior to their adventures with the Sand Pirates, and discover about the "fake" Rebels in town. They decide to teach the impostors a lesson, and approach the town's front gate, while the townsfolk usher the "fakes" towards the gate to defend their town from the other side.
Trapped between Luffy and the awaiting crew and the optimistic townsfolk who expect them to save their town, the fakes are scared witless by their current plight. When Luffy asks who the leader is, the Rebel that steps forward to answer receives a massive punch to the face via Luffy's Gum Gum Pistol, sending him flying hundreds of yards back down the path towards town to the shock of the townspeople and the other Rebels. Nearly knocked senseless from the blow, the bloodied man staggers to his feet, powered by the urge to save the town and show his bravery to the kids who idolize him and his crew, and makes his way back to the confrontation. He delivers a speech about showing bravery in the face of danger and with all of his might, slugs Luffy back in the face, knocking him backwards and onto the ground. Amazed by their companion's bravery, the other men launch in attach against Sanji and Zoro, who dodge their attacks by inches. Nami, who is hiding behind a distant rock with Vivi, gives the signal to Usopp for them to retreat, and the Straw Hats make a hasty escape from the scene, much to the surprise of the fakes and the townspeople. Stunned by their apparent victory in the face of adversity, the fakes are accepted by the townsfolk for their bravery, and with their new confidence, look forward to a better future.
After their escapade at the front gate of town, the gang settles down for the night, and falls victim to a massive sandstorm that sweeps across the desert and escape the ordeal with their lives. When they enjoy their next meal (which Luffy hogs most of the food, to the irk of Usopp and Sanji), Ace is unknowingly targeted by a mysterious bounty hunter and his ostrich, but due to a mistake by the ostrich around the fuse, the bomb shot that the bounty hunter plans to shoot at Ace does not fire. Luffy notices some of the meat being carried off on a string, and gives chase. Unknown to him, the culprits of the theft are two young boys, who are in search of a decent meal for the first time in several days. The boys lose Luffy, and find a spot to enjoy their meal, but are found by Ace after their meal, and try to defend themselves with a pistol. The boy fires at Ace, who stops the shot with a well-timed rock throw and the others come across the uneasy standoff. They settle down and listen to the boy's story about their plight from the Badlands.
Meanwhile, Luffy has gotten lost in his pursuit of the stolen meat, and comes across the bounty hunter, who is chasing after his ostrich for ruining his clean shot at Ace. In the chase, the highly-explosive bomb shot falls from the launcher and flies down towards a bewildered Luffy, much to the horror of the man, who tells him to run for his life before hunkering down for the blast. When no blast happens, the man is shocked to discover that Luffy has stopped the shot from hitting the ground and has made his way to the top of the rock to return the explosive bomb back to him. Luffy discovers that this man is the bounty hunter Scorpion, the man that Ace has been looking for in connection to his pursuit of a pirate by the name of Blackbeard. Luffy becomes companions with Scorpion as they set off on the ostrich to locate Ace in the immediate area. As they set off, the crew, along with Ace and the two boys, finish with their discussion and take notice of the approaching ostrich (with Scorpion and Luffy onboard) that is racing towards them. The boys (who told them about how their father is the man that is seeking Ace to prove to them how tough he is, and that he is approaching them on the ostrich). Ace, now faced with the man that he has been looking for, prepares for a confrontation with the bounty hunter.
Scorpion, pleased that he has found his target, takes aim with his Net Gun and fires, hoping to trap Ace in a metal net that will allow for him to be captured, but is shocked when Ace uses his powers to send the net flying upwards in the column of flames. The net soars through the air, and lands on top of Scorpion, dazing him slightly. He then pulls out a pressurized Acid Gun, and tries to spray Ace with the toxic solution, but Ace easily avoids it and prepares for another attack. Using his last resort, he pulls out his Launcher with the explosive bomb shot and takes aim, but stops when he sees his two boys, who race towards him crying, begging him to stop. However, when he puts down his launcher, the bomb fires and explodes against the massive column of rock overhead, sending a cascade of rock and derbies towards the father and his sons. Ace, using his powers, shoots a blast of flame that shields the man and his children from a painful death. Scorpion, grateful for Ace's kindness, thanks him and leaves with his two boys back towards the Badlands. Disappointed that Scorpion had spread false rumors about Blackbeard to attract him to this area, Ace makes his departure from the others in his continued quest to find Blackbeard. Luffy and the crew proceed to make their way towards the Yuba Oasis, in search of the Rebels.
This concludes my week in anime. Tomorrow, my week in manga (Heaven's Lost Property Chapters 46 and 47). Sorry if I got carried away in this two-hour rant xD