The season 1 finale of Netflix’s One Piece feels like one of those magical unicorn kind of episodes. I’m not saying that there were actual unicorns in 1×08. I’m saying that I loved absolutely every bit of it and I found myself crying at the end, without a doubt bonded to this found family forever. Because that’s what they are. They chose each other. Luffy might have chosen them first and helped them come on this adventure with him. But they chose him back in small ways throughout the season. And this final moment where they have their legs up on a barrel, yelling out what they’re going to do in the future, seals the deal. This is their home. This is their family.
Admittedly it doesn’t take a lot for me to cry when watching TV. One time I ended up crying from a paper commercial. But there is something so unique about this final moment in One Piece season 1 that really gets me. It was made worse by the fact that we got flashbacks to kid versions of them. But I think that this scene hurts so much because we’ve come to see them grow throughout the season. We’ve seen them stumble, reveal betrayals, and take a step forward in creating the kind of life that they’ve always wanted but never had the chance to do before. So seeing past versions of themselves mashed together with the future versions of themselves triggered something inside of me full of hope, pain, and so much excitement for what’s to come.
The Luffy that we saw in “Worst in the East” is just the beginning. He was able to take down Arlong without losing who he was. And he was able to tell his grandfather that he’s not alone. He has his crew and they have him. And I think the conversation that Garp had with Zeff in 1×07 gave him the perspective to let his grandson go. You can only guide your children for a specific amount of time. At some point, they’re going to go and they’re going to conquer this world and whatever way they want on their own. The only thing that Garp can do is watch him fly. I don’t think this is going to be the last time that Luffy and Garp see each other. But he knows now that his grandson is ready for the difficult life ahead of him. And it’s going to be difficult.
No matter how excited Luffy was for that really really high bounty, Zoro is right that it’s going to cause tons of problems. Nami will guide them around and Sanji will cook the dinners to feed their bodies, but that’s only going to get them so far when they’re going to have people after their heads. So hopefully we get a little bit more fight training for Usopp, who is at the start of choosing to be the kind of man he wants to be for the rest of his life. Because we’re going to need his light but also his strength, physically and emotionally, to guide everyone through what’s coming. Plus I think it would be fun to watch Usopp be trained by Zoro and Sanji coming around saying, “Hey that’s not how you do it. Let me show you.”
Which, talking about Zoro and Sanji, I know that One Piece doesn’t really do the romance thing. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t ship things. And if there’s anything that “Worst in the East” did, is make me ship Zoro and Sanji. It’s the banter for me. It’s the sassing each other in the middle of a fight and then sassing each other afterward when getting seconds of Sanji’s delicious food. It just clicks and I wouldn’t mind exploring what fanfiction has to offer. Because it’s not happening on the show but a girl can dream. And now I’m wondering about everyone else on the crew and what couples are more popular. But that’s between me and AO3 and whatever divine entities in this world.
At the end of the day, One Piece 1×08 “Worst in the East” is a fantastic episode that showcases what everyone has gone through and makes you excited for what’s to come. I want another season now. But I understand that the actors are fighting for their rights and I will wait as long as need be to get that second season. Because I can tell the amount of love and joy that was put into season 1. And I want that same love and joy to be put into season 2. And the way that we do that is by making sure that everyone involved is being fairly compensated and treated with the respect that they deserve. When that’s signed, sealed, and delivered, I can’t wait for the Straw Hat Pirates to return.
We’ll be waiting.
This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, One Piece being covered here wouldn’t exist.