What They Say:
Luffy, Ace and Sabo continue their hijinks throughout the island, but as the three wreak havoc in town, a stranger’s recognition of Sabo reveals his mysterious – and secret – past! Will Sabo’s deception split the group? Or will they remain brothers forever?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While it’s easy to understand some people getting a bit tired of this arc since it’s focusing on flashback material, there is a certain amount of fun to it that does work as we see how the two brothers and Sabo got along way back in the day. I’m typically not a fan of such arcs lasting longer, if at all in some cases, but I’ve been warming up to this one as it goes along because I like seeing Luffy at this stage and getting a good look at how Ace was pretty skilled even at this age. While we know the overall arc of their lives up to the present at least, seeing the early stages of it and getting a handle on Ace’s friend of Sabo is continuing to make me smile after all the heavy material we’ve had to work through, great as it was.
Because of the way these guys get along, and with Luffy’s adventurous nature, they do end up their fair share of trouble. The alligator meat hunting alone is fun, but when they head into the Gray Terminal together, all three of them stacked on top of each other in a big cloak so they can find their way and do some eat and run deals, they provide a lot of great simple slapstick comedy. The antics are predictable to be sure for rough and tumble kids their age, but it works rather well as they all balance that sense of fun with serious looks at times and the thrill of getting away with something. At least until their running around draws the attention of someone who knows Sabo from prior to Ace meeting him and that puts all of them on edge.
Because of the nature of the trio where they’re all orphans to varying degrees, the revelation that the guy who saw Sabo was actually his father, and a noble at that, causes quite a rift between he and Ace. Considering the two were together for awhile, learning that his friend who had shared many secrets with was actually the son of a noble who ran away from home doesn’t sit well. Sabo’s past isn’t too surprising as we see the hardships he had to deal with because of his position and how badly things went for him because of politics and social standing within that realm. For a young boy, to go through such things and to see what his mother did, it’s little wonder that he wanted to be off on his own and forging his own path. If you can’t have your mother at your back, you may as well not have one.
While I’ve enjoyed a lot of what we’ve seen in this arc overall, Sabo was the odd man out for a lot of it because he wasn’t a familiar character to work with. While this one gives us some of his background, as much as a ten year old kid can have, it’s a kind of superficial yet unsurprising explanation that clues us in to why he is the way he is and how he found his way there. There’s a lot to like with parts of it, especially his naïve nature when he first runs away, but it is a fairly by the numbers piece. Taking a bit of the focus off of Ace and Luffy actually works to its advantage as well since they’ve both been so key for so long that some of the flashback material can be a bit hard to watch since we’ve seen how Ace’s life ends and the tragedy that Luffy’s is at the moment. Still, something that’s light and fun that expands on the characters in small ways is very much welcome at the moment, though hopefully there isn’t too much more of it.
Simulcast By: FUNimation
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.