One Piece 1×04 “The Pirates Are Coming” saw the crew thwarting the bad guys and setting sail on a new adventure. There’s also the reveal that Garp is Luffy’s grandpa. As if that wasn’t enough, Zoro got some backstory about how he ended up on this path to becoming the world’s greatest swordsman. Altogether, this was an episode that proves that this show just keeps getting better. And this is coming from someone who has never watched the anime or read the manga. I’m still invested.
Zoro’s Past and His Dreams
It took until “The Pirates Are Coming” episode for Zoro’s story to be revealed and what a story it was. Sure, I feel like it was a little rushed and the anime or manga probably spent more time on how Kuina inspired him when he was a kid. But it works. He was a snot-nosed brat who didn’t understand that with training comes greatness. Little Zoro just thought that he had it within. And when he couldn’t beat Kuina he was ready to hang up his sword and just quit. Thank God that Kuina knocked some sense into him and got him out of that problematic way of thinking.
Future Zoro uses his memories and what Kuina taught him to get out of that hole. One which I totally would’ve thought he’s used his swords to get up and out of there. But I’m probably way off base and I will freely admit I know nothing about swords. If anything, he didn’t truly need them. He needed strength and a reminder that someone knocked sense into him when he was a kid and he made a promise to be the best to said person. That means he can’t die in a well thanks to some janky cat pirates. No, sir!
If you put this all together, including the previous episodes, it’s clear to see that Mackenyu was meant to play this character. Because not everyone can play someone who keeps things close to their chest but conveys emotion through their voice and body language. (I’m looking at you Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka. Learn something from Mackenyu.) Machenyu manages to make you connect with him in small but significant ways, even in such moments as Usopp and Kaya kissing. His body language spoke volumes. Didn’t catch it because swooning over Usopp and Kaya. Go back and watch 1×04. Trust me.
Usopp and Kaya Going on Their Own Adventure
The way that One Piece framed the relationship between Usopp and Kaya was so lovely in “The Pirates Are Coming.” That’s especially true in the shot above, with the director having them face each other while holding hands like they’re in some rom-com. And I love it so much and hope to see Kaya again. Because this isn’t the end of Usopp and Kaya. If anything, this is the beginning of them finding out the kind of people they want to be on their own. And there is nothing wrong with that, nor does it lessen the bond and relationship that these two have. It strengthens them.
For Usopp, he’s always had big dreams. But the lack of family, a crew, and his bond with Kaya kept him grounded in this city. Now he has a found family/crew and Kaya is telling him to go. Not because she doesn’t want to be around him. No. If anything, she’s ready to see what kind of woman she is on her own. And while she’s grateful for how Usopp has kept her grounded for years, she wants him to go and make his dreams come true without worrying about her. She’ll worry about herself.
Personally, it feels like Usopp and Kaya are destined for each other. Of course, I’ve only watched the Netflix show and never the anime or manga so what do I know? But they have a bond built out of lifting each other’s dreams up with an understanding that they’ll still be there for each other. That’s a timeless relationship grounded in respect for each other and a timeless kind of love that will survive whatever storms come their way on One Piece. And with Luffy’s grandpa on their tail, they’ve got plenty of storms coming.
Luffy Helping His Friends (Oh, and the Grandpa Reveal)
First of all, that reveal. Out of everyone that I thought Garp would be (as someone who has never watched the anime) I did not expect him to be Luffy’s grandpa. That changes how I look at him completely. Because he was raised by a strong hand. A hand that trained him on how to fight and be the best kind of Marine. And instead, he sneaked off to hang out with Shanks, ultimately deciding that he wanted to become a pirate. Because for Luffy, there was more honor in being a pirate than a Marine. That should tell you everything there is to know about the Marines.
Garp being his grandpa also gives us perspective on what kind of life Luffy had growing up. Luffy grew up with moneyyyyy, definitely more than Kaya. And he came with a family legacy on his shoulders that his grandpa expected him to follow. Of course, he was going to push back and say no, especially after what Shanks taught him about violence not being the only answer when it comes to resolving conflicts. And for having a luxurious lifestyle growing up, he’s doing well out there in the real in a way that doesn’t feel like other rich characters on TV who come down to hang out with the “common folk” for funsies before they go back home.
Luffy has a dream tied up with a want to have a found family that chooses each other and supports each other’s dreams. That’s why he’s out on the sea chasing the One Piece. And that’s why he’s recruited Zoro, Nami, and Usopp on this adventure. He’s bonded with them and they have returned the sentiment in their own way. Admittedly, the way that Luffy looks at and acts to protect his crew is partially due to Shanks influence. But Luffy is also his own man. He goes back to Kaya’s mansion to help Nami, Usopp, and Kaya because he wants to, independent of what he learned from his grandpa and Shanks. And that makes for such an interesting character.
Why Making That Bet Was Important for Nami
Nami is sure of who she is and what she has to do to get through life. You steal, manipulate, and don’t forge connections. All the while she vehemently declares that she isn’t part of the Straw Hat Pirates crew and that she hates pirates. Sounds like very pirate behavior to me. But in 1×04 and the previous episodes we’ve watched, we’ve seen a shift in her. One where she is starting to see that there are other ways to do things that will get the results she wants without resorting to behavior born out of necessity and which she’s used to. That’s why her bet with Luffy is so important.
This bet as to how they would get the ship in “The Pirates Are Coming” was born out of two battling ideologies. She has made it clear where she stands on how to get things in life to survive. And Luffy pushes against that by saying there’s another way, a kinder way. Her entering into this agreement was Nami trying to prove Luffy wrong with Luffy ultimately winning. The look Luffy gives her after his victory and the grumpy face she makes after is giving sibling vibes where you’re like, “FINE! You were right, you goody two shoes.” Then you stick out your tongue and stomp away.
I’ve done this before so I know.
Ultimately, One Piece piece continues to find ways to move the needle with Nami in relatable ways where she doesn’t disappear into the background while all the action is going on. She’s part of the action and narrative. And like I’ve said before, they’re building up to something big with this character. I can feel it in my bones and I can’t wait to see how she got to be the person she is today.
One Piece season 1 is available now on Netflix.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, One Piece being covered here wouldn’t exist.