Captain Morgan arc part 2 - That moment when Zoro is the smartest person in the crew
I'm back! In this installment, I cover the rest of the Captain Morgan arc. We meet Coby, get our first crew member, and start plot. This installment covers chapters 2 through 7, most of the rest of volume 1, "Romance Dawn".
The entire first volume is available for free on Viz's website here
, which I didn't know before but makes me feel a bit better.
Chapter 2: They Call Him Straw Hat Luffy
Luffy is an idiot. I love this guy (most of the time), but he's an idiot. He's set out alone, encounters a whirlpool, and reminds us that he can't swim. This guy.
Cut to Coby on the ship of "Iron Mace" Alvida. One thing I forgot is that Coby is actually decent at navigation. And Alvida is ugly as expected; I suspect we're supposed to mock her for it but I just feel bad. Coby finds a barrel with our idiot protagonist in it and Alvida hears Luffy talk about his nap, and assumes it was one of her underlings. We get an early mention of Zoro ("the only bounty hunter bold enough to come here"). Alvida assumes that someone hired the nap-taker to hunt her for the bounty.
Coby shows Luffy his dinghy that took him 2 years to build. Coby tells Luffy his backstory and Luffy calls him "clumsy and dumb"—Coby may need to take a moment to look at where his life has gone. Luffy then tells Coby about his dream, shocking Coby and letting him rant about how impossible that is in the Golden Age of the Pirates.
Alvida overhears them and says that Luffy "is no Roronoa Zoro" (ha, ha). Luffy wonders who the "tough-looking old biddy" is. Never stop Luffy. Coby gets his courage up and calls Alvida an old hag. Luffy wipes the floor with Alvida and then commands her to give Coby a dinghy so he can become a marine.
Chapter 3: Enter Zoro—Pirate Hunter
Luffy hears about Zoro and decides that he'll have Zoro, a pirate hunter, join his crew if he's a good guy. Chapter 3 of the retrospective and Luffy's idiocy is already approaching insane levels. Coby recommends that Luffy finds a navigator;
he ignores him.
Of random note: Luffy mentions Zoro in a conversation and the people in the bar immediately run to the opposite wall. Coby does the same with Captain Morgan and the same thing happens.
We see Zoro tied up in the marine base. He sees Coby and Luffy and mentions that he's been tied up for 9 days. He offers them the reward money from a bounty if they untie him. Rika shows up and offers Zoro rice balls.
Then Helmeppo, everyone's favorite douchebag, shows up too. He eats a riceball and then spits it out and smashes it on the ground with his foot because it was seasoned with sugar, not salt. Helmeppo orders the reluctant marine with him to throw Rika over the wall. Luffy catches her. We then learn of the deal that Helmeppo made with Zoro—if Zoro can stay alive for a month, he'll let him go.
Luffy mentions to Zoro that he's looking for good people for his crew. Zoro replies that he'll never sink to that level and that he can last the month and be a free man again.
Zoro asks Luffy to feed him the riceballs on the ground. It's obvious from his face they taste like shit, but he says to "tell the little girl I said it was delicious" and he ate it all, the big softie. Coby and Luffy meet up with Rika, who explains that Zoro was only locked up because he hurt Helmeppo's dog to save her. Coby remarks that that makes sense because Zoro only goes after guys with bounties on their heads and he wouldn't be in jail for catching a bountied pirate.
Thanks to plot convenience, Luffy overhears Helmeppo bragging that they'll be holding a public execution for Zoro in 3 days. Luffy punches him then decides that he has to have Zoro on his crew. (Yay!)
Chapter 4: The Great Captain Morgan
We see the aftermath of Luffy's punch. It is bizarrely reminiscent of Luffy punching one of the Celestial Dragons in the much later Sabaody arc, although Helmeppo at least reforms. Rika's mother (?) shows up and takes her inside, afraid that Captain Morgan will harm her for associating with the guy who just punched his son.
Cut to naval base. Morgan wonders why the townsfolk (he called them "peasants") can't pay as much tribute as they used to; an apparently suicidal marine remarks that the townspeople are poorer than they were before.
Luffy asks Zoro to join his crew if he unties him. Zoro says that he won't. Luffy asks why, seeing as he's a bounty hunter that everyone calls "demon" (broken clock is right twice a day and all that). Zoro replies that he doesn't care—he lives by his own code. Luffy asks Zoro to join again and we get the first face fault out of Zoro on the bottom right. Luffy offers to get Zoro's swords back if Zoro will join his crew and without caring what Zoro says, heads for the marine fortress.
Helmeppo points out to his father that not even he
had hit him before. Morgan replies that he wasn't worth hitting and then hits him. Never stop Morgan. We get narrative confirmation of his rank as captain (Smoker and now Tashigi were way more badass, what even is this?) and nickname "Axe-Hand," for obvious reasons. Morgan learns of Rika and orders her killed—even Helmeppo protests. We get a nice shot of Morgan's face. A brave lieutenant refuses and Morgan kills him—chapter 4, page 11, bottom right◊
. He is either the first or second to die.
is the guy's face if you want to look through the arc yourself and see if he appears again after chapter 4. I don't think he does. And we never even got a name. :(
The guy that Shanks' subordinate shot back in chapter 1 might have been the first to die. Then again, Pell, on both of these occasions.
Morgan says that he labored for years to achieve his rank, although if I recall correctly the anime had him taking credit for someone else's effort. The marines left are putting up a statue of Morgan when Luffy rockets up to look for Zoro's swords. Luffy, you done good.
Luffy takes Helmeppo to go searching for Zoro's swords. Coby is in the courtyard talking to Zoro. He mentions that Luffy's dream is to become Pirate King. Coby gets shot from someone on top of the tower.
Chapter 5: The King of the Pirate and the Master Swordsman
Our first chapter cover with Zoro on it. He's in the background, standing and drinking, while Luffy sits and drinks the dolphin's drink after finishing his. This should been our first warning~
Luffy finds out where Zoro's swords are and uses Helmeppo as a shield when the marines find them. Coby is screaming that he's going to die; Zoro: "Good, you're alive!" (This guy.) He tells Coby to beat it and he'll be fine; Coby tells Zoro that they never intended on keeping up their end of the deal.
Luffy comes across the swords. Back in the courtyard, Morgan accuses the three of them of trying to overthrow him. We get a flashback!
We see Kuina after beating Zoro for the 2000th time. Kuina calls Zoro weak; the other pupils protest but Kuina points out that she's stronger than he is. The other pupils call her out on arrogance, although they note she's "cute".
Kuina's father, who we much later learned was named Koshiro, tells the other students he wasn't teaching Kuina anything extra. He also assures Zoro that he is indeed very strong and reminds Zoro that he is younger than she is (by about 2 years IIRC). Zoro makes a promise to sail the seas and become the strongest swordsman, so he can't keep losing to her.
Nighttime. Zoro challenges Kuina to a duel with real swords. She wipes the grass with him.
Zoro says he's frustrated but Kuina points out that girls become weaker than boys as time passes. She then mentions that her father said that "girls can't become master swordsmen," which is a far cry and much harsher than 'can't become the greatest' that I apparently remembered. She says Zoro is lucky, because she wants to be the greatest too.
Zoro tells Kuina that it has nothing to do with being a boy or a girl. If it did, any future victory over her would be worth nothing for him. The two of them make a promise that they'll duel and one of them will become the best.
The next day, Zoro learns that Kuina died falling down the stairs. (Goddamnit Oda. PELL.) At the funeral, he screams that she can't run away from her promise. Later, he asks his sensei for her sword and he vows to keep her promise for them both, so that his name will be heard even in heaven.
In the present, the marines have fired bullets. Luffy jumps down and the bullets ricochet off him. Coby faints. For that alone, this retrospective was worth it. Zoro asks Luffy what he is. Luffy's words: "I'm the guy who's gonna be King of the Pirates!"
Luffy points out to Zoro that he'll be an enemy in the eyes of the law if he doesn't let the marines kill him right there. Zoro says that Luffy is demon spawn and that he's got himself a pirate.
Chapter 6: Number One
Zoro is crewmate number one. :) No mention of any first mate-ing.
Luffy manages to untie one of Zoro's arms. Zoro gets handed a sword and then breaks free. Within one panel, he has all 3 swords and the marine grunts at his mercy. Zoro tells Luffy that his ambition is to become the world's greatest swordsman and have his name shake the world. He tells Luffy that if Luffy ever makes him abandon his dream, then he'll make Luffy commit hara kiri
(seppuku). Luffy just says that it's fitting he would have the greatest swordsman at his side.
Our first two-page spread is of Luffy using Gum-Gum Whip on the marine mooks.
Morgan orders the marines who were just whining to kill themselves. We actually see them put guns to their heads. Luffy goes and attempts to punch Morgan. A brief scuffle ensues, and Luffy gets Morgan on the ground and punches him. Helmeppo yells at Luffy to stop. He has a gun held to Coby's head. Coby tells Luffy to let Helmeppo kill him.
Luffy tells Coby he's a good guy. Luffy punches Helmeppo while Zoro gets Morgan. Zoro even calls Luffy his captain.
Chapter 7: Friends
This chapter cover has Zoro sleeping while Luffy paints a bear. We were warned early~
The marines cheer that Morgan has been defeated. Zoro collapses from hunger. Rika's mom feeds the three heroes.
Zoro gets this maniac grin on his face when Luffy mentions the Grand Line. Oh dear, oh dear. Coby says it's dangerous; Zoro wonders why he cares and Coby retorts that even if he's becoming a marine, he can still care about his friends. Coby then asks Luffy if they were friends; of course they are. :3
Zoro bonks Coby in the head and points out if the marines find out about his past, they won't let him enlist. The marines show up and ask the pirates to leave, but won't report them to the navy. The marine lieutenant in charge asks if Coby is going with them; he says no. Luffy starts yammering about Coby's past until Coby punches him. Coby, forever awesome. Zoro just smiles.
Coby asks the lieutenant if he can join. He says he can. As Luffy and Zoro are leaving, Coby and the marines show up and salute them. And thus ends the Captain Morgan arc.
Good introductory stuff. One big anime change that I recall and that apparently displaced the original for me was the Kuina backstory. She was a lot more of a jerk and Zoro was a lot dumber in the anime. In the anime, Zoro cries when she beats him and when he gets her sword. In the manga, he just cries when he gets Wado.
Two onscreen deaths in this arc, one by a not-nice pirate crew and the other by the arc villain. Helmeppo obviously doesn't die, and Morgan we see later on in a cover arc.
I suppose we were warned about the insanity in these early chapters. It's really not too different from standard action fare at this point and we know nothing about the endgame. Heck, we barely know anything about the end game now
e: Okay, so note tags don't work in liveblogs. Noted for the future.