Before I start, a preamble: One Piece is a great anime. Ever since our little agreement a month back I’ve been tackling the series, from 229 onwards at a pace of about 3 or so episodes a day. Unlike the other One Piece addict around here, however, I must admit the plot and characters aren’t the focus of the experience for me. Rather, I was interested in how One Piece transitioned from manga to anime, particularly in light of some of the other Shounen Jump adaptations that came out in the neighboring years.
Much like a snowball rolling down a mountain, my outright love of One Piece is now out of control, ready to smash anything that dares stand in its way. I’d seen images of Chopper before this arc, but never did I expect his history to be so frightfully tear jerking, so utterly heart breaking and magical. This is no doubt a big reason why I so enjoy anime like One Piece; every character, even a talking reindeer with a blue nose like Chopper, is fleshed out as a brilliant, larger than life personality, dogged with tragedy yet still content, nay determined, to move on with life, to achieve his own personal dreams.
No doubt this will go down as my favourite story arc of One Piece (so far). When an endearing character like Doctor Hiruluk dies out to a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria, it’s hard not to get swept up in the moment, overcome with the tragedy Chopper’s loss yet filled with admiration for the deceased final words, a speech filled with the kind of optimistic philosophy that fills your heart with a such reassuring warmth and hope for life.
The idea that someone never dies if you inherit their memories and their will is a message that lies at the heart of One Piece. Gold Roger’s greatest achievement was in his final words, echoed at the beginning of every episode, the words that gave birth to a thousand dreams. Similarly, Doctor Hiruluk’s limitless passion and impossible ambition lives on through Chopper. This was anime at its best, at its most powerful and I love it (to pieces, one might say!).