One Piece 1×06 “The Chef and the Chore Boy” sees the beginning of the end of season 1 in what is already one of the best shows of 2023. Because even without having watched the anime or read the manga, I can tell what beats the show was going for, who is the focus, and the message of it all. This episode acts as the next building block in a crew that has found a home with each other. And I believe in them so much that even Nami’s betrayal won’t stop my unwavering belief that they are family and will make it out of this together.
Why Nami Walked Away
I 100% do not blame Nami for walking away with Arlong and leaving her crew behind in “The Chef and the Chore Boy.” Keyword: crew. Why? Because I’ve seen the way that she acts around Luffy, Zoro, and Usopp. Sanji is still a little new so he doesn’t count as much yet. But I could see the way she was around her new crewmates. She cared. Of course, the entire time she was working for Arlong to get the map of the Grand Line. But you could see cracks appearing in every episode before this one. She had doubts. Correction, she has doubts about what she’s doing with Arlong. And she left to protect them but also to protect herself.
Let me explain.
Nami is protecting the crew because she’s never had something like this. She’s explicitly stated that she hates pirates with a veracity that I haven’t seen on the show. But she said it with such intensity that you know she is not in this situation with Arlong by choice. She’s under his rule and she walked away with him to protect her new crew. So if there’s something that she can do for her crew, it’s walking away and making Arlong follow her and ignore them. She’s switching perspectives, mainly his, in her last ditch effort to protect them from Arlong but also from the hurt that she’s caused them with this betrayal.
In a way, Nami is also protecting herself. She’s never had a crew like she’s had with Luffy, Usopp, and Zoro. And after being so used to taking shit and being treated like shit, you start thinking that you’re also shit as well and that no one deserves to be around you. Accepting that she can move forward from that pain in her past with people who care about her, it’s terrifying. So in a way, she chose the easier road and kept the status quo of her situation. Even if that situation in itself is messy AF, it’s what she knows. And I feel it in my heart that she’s not lost yet. She will come back home.
The Chore Boys Tragic Story
Sanji, Sanji, Sanji. I already thought that I loved him before, but this? This is on a whole new level. Not only did we see him put his money where his mouth is when it came to helping Luffy and Zoro. We saw him become part of a crew; a crew who wanted him as much as he wanted them. And of course, it all came with a tragic backstory that honestly made me cry more than I expected, especially when he opened up Zeff and told him how much he had changed his life. That’s a man who knows how precious life is and to thank those who have helped you along the way.
The way that One Piece decided to tell Sanji’s story is in line with what we have seen with other crew members. And just like their stories, it all starts from a place of dreaming. Sanji has a dream of reaching this place where he can create to his heart’s content. And it all started off with him being stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean with a man that he thought hated him. But going through that experience and understanding how far Zeff went to protect him and make sure that he survived, it molded him into the man that he is today. And that man knows the value of life and helping those in need even when they don’t ask you.
In comparison to Zoro, Usopp, and Nami, I do think that Sanji needs more time with the crew. He hasn’t fit in as seamlessly with the Straw Hat Pirates if I’m really and truly being honest about it. But this is the beginning. And just like everybody else on this crew he made a choice. And that choice was to help others while looking for his dream. That is admirable and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next for him and how he works with this crew. Because they’re going to face many challenges, And it’s all made better by having people with you that you can trust with your life, and your stomach, and with the ability to keep things real when things get hard.
Facing a New Enemy & Betrayal
Even though we’re in episode 1×06 of One Piece, I don’t think I understood the full extent of how seawater neutralizes Luffy’s powers. Because that man almost died. And looking back at the previous episodes they did say that eating Devil’s fruit would make it so the sea would turn its back on you. But I didn’t get it until now and it really shows how headstrong Luffy is. Because the ocean can very much kill him. But it’s on the ocean that he wants to be. So he’s following his dream no matter what. And that makes him a unique character and someone that other pirates should watch out for for sure.
One of those pirates that doesn’t understand who he’s fucked with is Arlong. He’s spent so much time being at the top of the food chain that he doesn’t understand that piracy continues to evolve. He thinks that he has completely destroyed Nami’s chance of freedom but also her chance to be a found family or crew with Luffy and the rest of the gang. And even I was hesitant about how Luffy would react because betrayal hurts. After all, you could see how thrown off Luffy was when Zoro was injured. But I think the moment between Luffy and Zoro when he woke up and confirmed that he was Luffy’s first mate, gave Luffy the perspective that he needed.
Luffy is the captain of this crew. And right now one of his crew needs him. He saw how dynamic, creative, and practical Nami is. He knows that she has dreams and he feels it in his gut that there’s something wrong with what has happened with Arlong. So Luffy is doing what he does best in combination with his new understanding of being a captain. He’s believing in his crew but he’s also understanding that he needs to make the hard decisions. And the hard decision right now is to go after Nami and show her that she is loved, cared for, and welcomed in this crew.
This is one of the main reasons why I love One Piece. Because Luffy is the kind of person I wish I was a little bit more of and the kind of person I wish I had around me.
Zoro and His Captain
As someone who has never watched the anime or read the manga, I can admit that I was really nervous about what would happen to Zoro. He was a dumbass in his fight with Mihawk when the latter was significantly more skilled. But that’s a problem for the previous episode. In 1×06 I think he settled in a way. And I don’t mean this in a negative way. He didn’t decide to come back from near death and become part of Luffy’s crew because it was all he had. He decided to be Luffy’s first mate because it’s what he wanted.
Zoro is a man of few words. But he does pay attention to his actions. And from what he sees with Luffy, this young man is going to change the world. And he’s going to do it in a way where he lifts others up. Zoro has felt that personally. And in a world full of piracy, trouble, and just being generally lonely, Luffy feels right. So Zoro is trusting his gut and the person who has had his back from the very first moment they met. Because it’s not something that happened overnight for Zoro. But it’s happened now and he has made a decision that has no takebacksies.
Declaring himself part of Luffy’s crew I think was also very healing for Zoro. He has trained with others and made connections in the past. But there’s something different about the Straw Hat Pirates, especially under Luffy’s leadership. So Zoro taking on this role of first mate is him settling down a little bit and easing up on himself. Because he deserves a good life surrounded by people who care for him. And even though he hasn’t said it as directly, he feels that with Luffy and the rest of the gang. So maybe we could all be a little bit more like Zoro and let ourselves grow into new opportunities that could change our lives.
Finding Where He Fits In
Even though Usopp didn’t do much in this episode, it’s still important to recognize that he is trying to find where he fits in. And at this moment it’s about supporting his friends and his new crew. Because I feel like Usopp has always been on the outside looking in and he’s never had this sense of community. If the reaction from the people in his town is any indication, he spent more time alone than anything else. And it says a lot about Usopp that his instincts tell him to support his friends, even if that means lending a helping hand or just letting them know he’s there with his presence in 1×06.
Admittedly I would love Usopp to get a little bit more involved with what’s going on. He’s always told these fantastical tales of adventures that he’s gone on. And I think he wants to be that person but he doesn’t know how to step forward and become them. But you sure as hell won’t become that person if you stand to the side and do nothing. But it’s also important that he acknowledges his limitations and doesn’t just dive headfirst into danger. Because we have seen plenty of new heroes do that during our time in TV and film. I do not want Usopp to fall into that.
As One Piece season 1 starts wrapping up its story, I really hope that Usopp figures out who he wants to be. Not just within this crew either. He needs to figure out the kind of man that he wants to be when they meet other pirates or people that they want to help. This will guide him and help him understand what being a pirate means to him and what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind. Not his father’s legacy or Luffy’s legacy as the future pirate King. No, Usopp needs to figure out his life’s purpose and I hope it’s sooner rather than later. Because I know life takes its time, but the show clock is ticking.
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.