Infinite Squee

I never seem to fall for the characters I think I'm going to fall for

The library had a bunch of early One Piece volumes (through Alabasta) and then basically everything post-timeskip, so I've now read the entire Punk Hazard arc.

And ...

A CHARACTER HAPPENED.

But probably not the one you think.

I know Law is a lot of my flist's favorite, and I really love Law, but not in the same "GLOM!" way that I latched onto, say, Iceburg in Water 7. He's a lot of fun! His interactions with the Straw Hat crew (and desperate, failed attempts to keep his dignity) are delightful. I can see why he's a lot of people's favorite character.

.... but I went and fell head over heels for Smoker instead. >_>

I've always really liked him, from his first appearance way back when I was watching the anime the first time. And I've always had a thing for "friendly enemy" type characters -- the ones who are committed to their own side of a conflict, but keep helping out the main characters anyway. Smoker and Tashigi also kinda push my Roy/Riza buttons -- badass boss + female lieutenant/right-hand-woman.

Anyway, yeah. Then Punk Hazard happened and I fell hard.

AND I TOTALLY THOUGHT DOFLAMINGO KILLED HIM IN CHAPTER 698.

Ever since [spoiler redacted]'s death, it's made the possibility of major character deaths a thing that could actually happen, and -- I dunno, in retrospect it seems unlikely that he'd actually go down without getting a fight sequence, but that one panel where there's just blood and everyone screaming ... it's just, the way it was set up, coming on the heels of the entire truce and him helping the Straw Hats, and then everyone leaving and thinking everything is fine, and Smoker refusing to tell Doflamingo where they are, not to mention there's no one around (that we knew of at that point) who was capable of fighting Doflamingo ... it really had "heroic sacrifice" written all over it.

YAY FOR AOKIJI THOUGH. \o/

So yeah, the mermaid arc was a slog for me, but Punk Hazard was incredible fun. ALL THE BODYSWAP STUFF. EVERYTHING WITH THE BODYSWAP. Poor Nami! (A+ people-wrangling skills, though, sending Sanji off with Zoro so he'll be too distracted to perv on her!) Smoker leaving Tashigi's shirt unbuttoned and Tashigi buttoning his coat all the way up to her chin! Franky losing control of Chopper's powers! WHAT A BUNCH OF ENORMOUS DORKS. XD

And now that I've read Punk Hazard, next up is Dressrosa! I actually might be caught up to current events at some point in the near future.

(Though I still haven't read the whole part of the story between Enies Lobby and Impel Down. The library didn't have it, but the volumes that they did have picked up right at the point I stopped reading before, which was shortly after the timeskip. I'll go back and get to it at some point, but right now I'm more interested in getting caught up with the new stuff, since I'd already read the Impel Down/Marineford stuff the last time I fell back into it.)


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Heee, Smoker was in the running for favorite non-nakama for me way back in Arabaster, when he was getting rescued on Luffy's orders and generally being cranky everywhere! Friendly enemies are catnip to me too. And then we went sooooo long without seeing him, but I was thrilled to have him back as a major player (and getting bodyswapped, ahahahah) Yay for Aokiji (I also love Aokiji...I love a lot of non-nakama. ^^;)

(FWIW Law didn't become my total favorite until Dressrosa...though I can't say it will happen for you; among other things I didn't have the hype factor, as I didn't know Law was anybody else's favorite until I'd already fallen for him harder than Luffy into the sea...)

Definitely check out the chapters between Enies Lobby and Impel Down sometime. A lot of it is Thriller Bark, which is a horror movie pastiche with zombies and is mostly pretty silly and not my favorite (though it does crack me up a lot) but the end goes unexpectedly dramatic (I may be biased here, as it's got one of the best serious Zoro bits in the series). Then the Shabondy/Sabaody (never been sure on the spelling) arc sets up a lot of stuff that's becoming increasingly important, such as introducing the 11 Supernovas (of which Law is one) and the Tenryuubito. Plus some brilliant nakama stuff at the end. If you can I'd recommend reading it before Dressrosa - it's not crucial, but Dressrosa carries through a lot of the themes of Shabondy.
Yeah, unfortunately I think I'm less likely to latch onto Law than I would otherwise be, because I know he's everybody's favorite, as stupid as that probably sounds. >_> The characters I really fall hard for tend to be the ones that come out of nowhere and blindside me. On the other hand, it still might happen! I had no idea I'd come out of Punk Hazard with this much of a fan-crush on Smoker, and he's been in it since pretty near the beginning.

.... THE BODYSWAP THOUGH. XD XD XD Even leaving aside my Smoker thing, Smoker and Tashigi in each other's bodies were HILARIOUS. Also, Smoker-in-Tashigi reminded me a lot of Olivier in FMA ...

... though the bodyswap subplot also made me think a little too much about one of my least favorite things in One Piece, which is that nearly all the heavy hitters are men. And it's not just a matter of the women being physically weaker or having less capable powers (although that's definitely some of it), because Sanji-in-Nami's-body and Smoker-in-Tashigi's-body were both able to fight better than the bodies' "owners" due to having spent a lot more time working on technique.

It's not that the women can't fight (and Robin in particular is fairly capable, probably close to the level of the other "heavy hitter" nakama) but there's a pretty steep power differential, which is especially obvious with Tashigi and Zoro. Obviously she's not going to be able to match him because he's Zoro and he's defined by his badassness -- as well as having literally no life outside training, whereas she has an actual career other than "pirate" XD -- but he's so far beyond her that it's frustrating, especially when she can actually fight better when there's someone else in her body than she can as herself!

Okay, that turned out ranty. :P I really am enjoying it A LOT, and it does better with female characters than a lot of shounen series do! There's just ... a few things.

But yeah, lots of fun! I did actually go back and read some of the Sabaody/Shabondy/whatever arc because I wanted to see Law's first appearance after he showed up in Punk Hazard, so I'll go ahead and take your advice and read the rest of it before moving on to Dressrosa.
Yeah, I know you have the anti-reaction to popular chars (I do myself sometimes, so I get it!) and I figured Law might work like that for you...oh well! (Also reading it out of order probably lessens his impact some, since his moving from random pirate rival to unexpected ally is unpredictable and intrigued me from the start.)

Smoker in Tashigi was hilarious (as were all the crew getting switched, I loved Robin's reactions to Franky-in-Chopper XD)

OP's lack of female heavy-hitters, yeah, that's one of the most annoying things about the series to me, too. It's especially annoying because it's an older-school shounen thing, some of the recent series handle it much better - in Gintama, Kagura is probably the physically strongest of the entire main cast, at one point early on Gintoki is thinking to himself that he'd probably have no chance against her if she goes all-out. And one of the things I loved about Magi (the series I was pimping to you before) is that Morgiana is the powerhouse of the main trio, the two boys use magic and swordsmanship, while she's the physical fighter (who is also learning magic to keep up!)

So that OP is behind the times there is irritating. Even if you argue that Smoker is quite a bit older than Tashigi, it's still frustrating that he does better (especially since you'd think Smoker's whole fighting style depends on his Logia fruit, one would think he'd be pretty hampered without it!) (Also because Oda keeps using the same single character design for 90% of the female characters, even though he proved with Amazon Lily that he can draw female characters as wackily and diversely as male - ARGH! As people his female characters are still great and loveable, but as shounen characters they're not as developed as the guys...)

Enjoy Sabaody! (and Amazon Lily follows Sabaody - not sure if you read that or not, I kind of think of it as the beginning of Impel Down but it occurs to me that it's a distinct enough arc you might've missed it?)
Well, I totally can't rule out falling for Law once I see more of Dressrosa! :) Yeah, I can see how reading in order would've made a big difference here. I don't mind knowing about it ahead of time, though; it's always impossible to figure how I'm gonna react to a character anyway ...

And yeah, the very similar female character designs are also, aargh, frustrating! It is what it is, though, I guess. And the OP female characters are generally well-rounded and have interesting character arcs, so there is that, also.

It's fun to be able to discuss this with you guys again. :) Even if I'm still having to be careful of Dressrosa spoilers!
Oh yay One Piece! And Punk Hazard! I had so much fun with that - bodyswap is one of my favorite comedy tropes ever, and I think Odacchi used it to pretty awesome effect! And YES, it was so great seeing Smoker and Tashigi again! I do love those two, and their protective/loyal relationship. ♥ I'm with you about the women, though - it's one of the few ways in which One Piece really shows its age. Why couldn't Tashigi kick as much ass as Smoker? Mmmm. :/ (I tend to give Oda a pass because he's forged the way for a new generation of mangaka and anime where there IS more of an equal cast, and women are cast as brawlers or just turn up in a more equal ratio in the background, but... yeah.)

You absolutely HAVE to catch up on Shabondy, at least - there is SO MUCH of the metaplot there, and also some absolutely drop-dead funny moments along with a few Crowning Moments of Awesome and one of the scenes that has hit me the hardest all manga. Even knowing what is to come, it's quite a ride, I think! And yes, seconding Thriller Bark for amusement value, Brook, and That Scene With Zoro. :D

Always happy to squee about One Piece with you - sorry I was late to the party this time!
Oh hey, I keep meaning to go over and read your reaction posts - I remember you have been posting reactions for quite some time now, but I had always avoided them due to spoilers. Now I can actually read and comment on them! :D

Though I'm not any farther along than I was when I posted this; the end of Punk Hazard (which is also the end of Vol. 70) made a great breaking point to stop for awhile, since I'm pretty busy right now. But I'm looking forward to getting into Dressrosa and getting ALL caught up. :)

YAY SQUEE!