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Recap / One Piece Thriller Bark Arc

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Short Summary

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Everybody, ZOMBIE NIGHT!
The next stop in the Straw Hats' journey brings the crew across a ghost ship where they meet a talking skeleton, Brook, who seems friendly enough. But this meeting leads the Straw Hats getting trapped on a rather spooky island filled with bizarre monsters. What's more, the place is run by another Warlord of the Sea, Gecko Moria.

Long Summary


Thriller Bark Arc has the following examples:

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  • Abhorrent Admirer: Lola to Absalom (although she actually turns out to be a sympathetic character who becomes Nami's ally), and Absalom to Nami.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me/I Have You Now, My Pretty: Absalom towards Nami, very much not Played for Laughs. Scarily enough, he actually comes extremely close to succeeding in his attempts to marry her. Twice. The first time, Sanji shows up to save her, and the second time, Nami wakes up in time to rescue herself.
  • Anticlimax: Brook joining the crew...both times. Unlike the rest of the Straw Hats, whose joining involved a great deal of drama and excitement, the first time Brook just casually agrees to join when asked, and the second time, he equally-casually asks if he still can, to which Luffy agrees.
    • Only at the start, subverted later on as the rest of Brook's past is explored.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Oars and later Moria at the end of the arc.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: Zoro does this after taking all of Luffy's pain on top of his own injuries while bleeding to death, barely able to stand and claiming that it was nothing.
  • Bait-and-Switch: As they wait outside guarding Nami while she takes a shower, Chopper mentions to Usopp that he wants to "take a peek". When Usopp reacts with surprise at the idea of Chopper wanting to peek at Nami while she's naked, Chopper says he wants to sneak in on Dr. Hogback's experiments.
  • Berserk Button: Don't ever try to kidnap and marry off Nami, if you don't want to invoke Sanji's wrath.
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    • Playing God with the deceased, and not valuing the lives of your patients as a doctor? That's a good way to get Chopper angry.
    • Implying that Moria, who's a Warlord and fought Kaido, can't beat a tiny rookie pirate crew, really ticked him off.
    • The Cerberus zombie is apparently very sensitive about one of its heads being a fox. Chopper unwisely points this out while it's already chasing him.
    • Robin isn't fond of docking, of all things. She told Franky, Usopp and Chopper that "As human beings, you should be ashamed." After they were hit by Oars, she said, "Don't ever ask me to dock with you again. Serious..."
      • The group's later suggestion of docking again is one of the few times that Robin has gotten visibly annoyed with the crew's antics rather than just chuckling it off.
  • Big Bad: Gecko Moria.
  • Book-Ends: When the Straw Hats first arrive at Thriller Bark, they send out Nami, Chopper and Usopp to scout the area in a miniature of the Going Merry. When Hogback and Absalom make their escape at the end of the arc, they leave in a miniature of the Thriller Bark.
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    • Brook sings "Binks' Sake" when he's first introduced. When partying with the Straw Hats and Rolling Pirates, it's the song that he plays.
  • Broken Pedestal: Chopper was a huge admirer of Hogback's work, until he actually met him.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Franky is asking Brook about his motivation to live on, he bluntly points out that Brook's condition will scare people away from him, essentially leaving him in the same solitude that he's already been stuck in for 50 years.
  • Came Back Wrong: Brook's Devil Fruit, which allows him to come to life one time after being killed. It works...but due to the fog of the sea he was in, he got lost and returned to his body long after it decayed.
  • Canon Welding: Ryuma was originally the star of Monsters, a one-shot Oda wrote and drew several years before One Piece took off; in a later SBS, Oda confirmed the zombie seen here is in fact the corpse of that Ryuma.
  • Casting a Shadow: Moria's Devil Fruit power.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Luffy gets some armband on his left arm from Moria's loot, which turns out to be fairly important later on.
    • And one that's finally fired from the Alabasta arc, Lola brings to attention the paper Ace gave to Luffy, when she gives one of her mother's to Nami, only to find out Ace's Vivre Card is burning, meaning his life is in danger...
    • On that note, the Vivre Card Lola gives to Nami ends up playing a significant role in a much later arc.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Boa Hancock and the Mermaid Princess Shirahoshi are mentioned briefly by the Risky Brothers.
    • Lola mentions her mom is an incredibly powerful pirate in the New World...
    • Ryuma and his sword Shuusui are brought up again much later when the Straw Hats meet Kin'emon.
  • Colossus Climb: Done occasionally during the battle with Oars.
  • Crowd Song: Bink's Sake near the end of the arc, sung co-currently in both the past and present.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kuma vs. Perona (which later becomes a plot point), then...everyone else.
    • Before that, Oars inflicts the Worf Effect onto all the General Zombies in one go.
    • Then later, Nightmare Luffy vs. Oars.
  • Dance Party Ending: After Moria is defeated and everyone got their shadows back, they threw a celebration party and everyone sings "Bink's Sake".
  • Deadly Doctor: Chopper, in the most literal sense. He uses his expertise in anatomy to guide the Straw Hats in defeating Oars, getting them to shatter its spine, rendering it paralyzed.
  • Dem Bones: The introduction of Brook.
  • Diagonal Cut: The specialty of both Brook and Ryuuma, introduced in this arc.
  • Dr. Jerk: Hogback who willingly admits he does doctoring solely for fame and fortune, and doesn't give a damn about his patients. Chopper doesn't take kindly to that.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Absalom tried to seal his marriage to an unconscious Nami with a kiss. Thankfully, he was interrupted.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Luffy taking in 100 shadows: becoming Nightmare Luffy.
  • Evil Counterpart: Several, thanks to zombies retaining the personalities of the person who's shadow they're using. Jigoro is Zoro's, Inuppe is Sanji's, Ryuma is Brook's, and Oars is Luffy's.
    • Even ignoring the zombies, Moria serves as one for Luffy, with their ambition to become Pirate King, Perona for Nami regarding their bossiness (Nami even wore a T-shirt with Perona's jolly roger), and Absalom for Sanji, with their perversions around beautiful women.
  • Extreme Doormat: Cindry, to the point she would actually lick the floor if he orders her to.
  • Fan Disservice: It's always good eye candy seeing Zoro without his shirt. But seeing Zoro with his shirt torn and completely soaked in his own blood and barely able to stand after taking all of Luffy's pain was unsettling.
    • On that note, Nami's Shower Scene goes from fanservice to just disturbing when she gets attacked by an invisible Absalom.
  • Feel No Pain: Deconstructed when the Straw Hats fought the zombie Oars. Chopper, the crew's doctor, says that the fact Oars cannot feel pain is actually a weakness since it cannot tell how much damage its body has accumulated until it's too late. The Straw Hats defeated Oars by shattering its spine, leaving it lying on the ground, wondering why it can't move.
  • Foreshadowing: Moria told Luffy that at his current strength, he would lose his crew. Then came the next arc.
    • Kuma arrives and noticing Nami, he asks her if Portgas D. Ace is Luffy's brother. It's revealed that Ace got sent to Impel Down, and kicks off the Impel Down and Marineford Arcs.
    • When Moria hears that Marshall D. Teach aka Blackbeard was enlisted into the Seven Warlords, he says to Kuma that the World Government would be satisfied the world is in balance again. Kuma disagrees, and thinks the world might be worse off...
    • As soon as Hogback and Absalom read the latest newspaper, they find out Ace got sent to Impel Down, and the latter comments on how the era is changing...
    • When Zoro and Sanji are verbally fighting each other over who sacrifices themselves to save Luffy, Sanji tells Kuma that he'll really regret letting him live. Nearly a decade of real life and 400+ chapters later in the Zou arc, we learn Sanji comes from a family of assassins so world-renowned and so dangerous that even the Government doesn't want to be on their bad side.
  • Five-Man Band: The Mysterious Four (and Oars):
  • Flashback: One occurs to some 50 years of the main storyline, in Brook's backstory.
  • Flunky Boss: Moria's too lazy to really fight on his own, leaving his combat to his shadow and later Oars (with some occasional help). The only time he finally does decides to fight on his own is when Oars is defeated, and even then his lack of direct combat experience is pretty noticeable.
  • Funny Afro: Brook. His hair has "deep roots".
  • Giving Up the Ghost: In the anime, when Nami sees a lion with a human mouth (Word of God confirms that Absalom has its muzzle), she gives up the ghost out of fear before screaming.
  • Gothic Lolita: Perona.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The remainder of the Rumbar Pirates as they do a final performance and slowly die of poison.
  • Heroic RRoD: Along with the strain of taking in 100 shadows, Luffy used Gear Second and put Gear Third on top of that, to finish Moria while the sun rises to get his shadow back. As you can imagine, Luffy is rendered unconscious from exhaustion.
  • Heroic Sacrifice/Take Me Instead: Both Zoro and Sanji request this of Kuma in order to spare Luffy. Zoro knocks Sanji out to settle whose life is offered.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Shadow Asgard, which turns Moria into a giant by recalling all of the shadows to him. However by doing this, Moria not only collected the shadows all in one place for the heroes, but the form proved too unstable and Moria couldn't focus on fighting Luffy and keep the shadows within himself.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The Straw Hat Pirates (sans Luffy) and the Rolling Pirates against Bartholomew Kuma. The former didn't stand a chance, particularly since they just came off the heels of a battle with Gecko Moria and Oars. Although, if Kuma was actually interested in eliminating them as ordered, then it would have made an epic Last Stand, particularly when they refused his offer of their lives spared for Luffy's head.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The "weakling trio" set foot on Thriller Bark first and are repeatedly terrified by the zombies. Then the rest of the crew enter Thriller Bark, encountering the same zombies, and now it's the zombies' turn to be scared. Brook is also feared for knowing how to purify zombies (though he's actually still just as afraid of them as they are of him).
  • Ironic Echo: Zoro chides Luffy and Franky when they're affected by Negative Hollows. Then he's struck by one. Naturally, Sanji gives him grief afterward.
    Zoro: I'm sorry I was ever born.
  • Kill 'Em All: The order given to Kuma by the World Government, after he informs them of Moria's loss.
    • What Moria effectively does to the Thriller Bark Zombies when going One-Winged Angel.
  • Lighter and Softer: While not without its dark moments (namely Brook's backstory and Kuma's entrance near the end), Thriller Bark is significantly less heavy than the brutal and tense Water 7 saga before it.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Zoro tries to play it cool when Sanji finds him after he took in all of Luffy's pain.
    Zoro: What happened here? Nothing at all.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: Abalsom, who has many animal parts grafted onto him. The zombies under Perona's control as well.
  • Monster Mash: The whole theme of the arc.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Zoro knocks out Sanji when he prepares to give his life in order to spare the crew from Kuma.
  • Motive Rant: After Oars is completely defeated, Moria pulls himself out of the giant zombie and delivers one on why he began to build a zombie army.
  • Mythology Gag: Ryuma asks Zoro if he's from the circus, surprised by the latter using three swords to fight. In an early draft of the series, Zoro was in fact the swordsman of Buggy's circus-themed crew before joining Luffy.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Brook does this regarding his afro, believing it's the only thing Laboon will recognise of him, and begs Ryuuma not to cut in the flashback.
  • Nuke 'em: Kuma's Ursus Shock, which knocks out everyone in the vicinity of Thriller Bark, except Zoro and Sanji.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Played for laughs when Nami willingly gives part of her treasure to Lola for saving her earlier. Luffy and Usopp both freak out when they witness the scene and think it's a sign a storm is coming.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The audience is initially presented with only the ending of Zoro's fight with Ryuma, with the former lying exhausted in a pile of rubble while the latter is Wreathed in Flames... which turn out to be the aftermath of Zoro's finishing move, meaning Zoro had actually won.
  • One-Winged Angel: Moria's Shadows Asgard, which absorbs 1,000 shadows, and turns him into a giant, lizard-like creature, powerful enough to split Thriller Bark in half with a punch.
    • Clipped-Wing Angel: Moria himself can't keep up the strain of keeping in 1,000 shadows, and is barely keeping consciousness, even before Luffy starts attacking him. He also becomes a huge, bloated mass that can't even remain bipedal. To top it off, he simplified the retrieval of everyone's shadows, which otherwise would not return to their owners no matter what happened to Moria unless he told them to; now, Luffy just can in fact just beat him up. Zoro sums up the transformation as an act of desperation.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Turns out they're corpses re-animated by Moria implanting shadows into them. The resulting zombie receives the personality and skills of the shadow's owner, while retaining the physical abilities of the corpse pre mortem.
  • The Promise: It's this arc that reveals the pirates who Laboon befriends, the Rumbar Pirates which Brook was a part of. They had left Laboon at Reverse Mountain so as not to drag him into danger, promising to return someday. But halfway into the Grand Line, half the crew came down with a terminal disease and separated themselves to save the others. The other half came up against an enemy that used poison arrows and were killed save Brook, whose Devil Fruit allowed him to come back to life. Brook promised his crewmates he would return to Laboon and give him their final performance.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The battle against Kuma.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Straw Hats have only until dawn to defeat Moria and retrieve their shadows back before the sun rises and they will be vaporized.
  • Robotic Reveal: Kuma is revealed to be a cyborg after his brief confrontation with Zoro.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Moria's defeat and the fall of Thriller Bark is described as like waking up from a long nightmare.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slasher Smile: Every Straw Hat (minus Luffy and Nami) sported one of these when Oars's horns were stuck on the ground. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Hogback to Cindry, even going so far as to dig up her corpse after she died and have Moria implant a shadow into her body.
    • Zombie!Lola to Absalom—she frequently and repeatedly tries to force him to marry her (and it's implied that this has been going on for a long time), even though he has no interest in marrying a zombie.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Perona's most basic attack, Negative Hollow, which appear as ghosts which saps your self-esteem, doesn't work on Usopp because he already doesn't have much self-esteem, and the ghosts emerge from Usopp depressed!
  • Underestimating Badassery: Played With, as Kuma informed Moria that his arrival on Thriller Bark was to assist Moria, as the World Government feared that another Warlord would be defeated by the Straw Hat Pirates. Moria is infuriated by this news, and refuses Kuma's help, telling him to watch as he defeats them. He ends up losing, while Kuma trounces the Straw Hats and their newfound allies.
  • Undying Loyalty: Zoro to Luffy, and to the rest of the Straw Hats as well. Though this was already pretty clear from the rest of the series, it's shown very explicitly and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt when Zoro, realizing that none of them can defeat Kuma, offers himself to Kuma in Luffy's place in order to save him and the rest of the crew.
    • Sanji also counts since, when he saw what Zoro was doing, he tried to convince Kuma to take him in place of Luffy and Zoro. Zoro knocks him out to prevent him from doing so.
    • The entire crew shows this when they all simultaneously refuse Kuma's offer to spare them all in exchange for Luffy's head (despite seeing how powerful he is and knowing that he has the power to kill them all).
  • Unexplained Recovery: Oars obliviously steps on Hogback while he's trapped under rubble. Somehow, he's alive and well by the end of the arc.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Sanji after Nami's kidnapping, to the point that he's literally bursting into flames and outright exploding with rage.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Moria goes through a terrifying one around the climax of the Thriller Bark arc.
  • Villainous Valor: Moria may be lazy, but that doesn't mean he's not a Determinator: While Lola and the rest of Moria's victims thought that by having Luffy beat him up to the point that Moria would release the shadowsnote , Moria after regaining consciousness from the beating he took from Nightmare Luffy outright refuses to give in to Lola's threat, saying that as a pirate, he doesn't deal with child's play, and that means he fully expects a fight to the death, if another pirate challenges him. That takes balls.
  • Wham Line:
    Government Official (to Kuma): An order from the World Government: Including the Straw-Hat crew...Obliterate every single soul left on the island!!
    Roronoa Zoro (to Kuma): If you must, then take the head...But take mine in his [Luffy's] place!! I exchange my life for his!! I beg of you!!
  • What You Are in the Dark: Zoro is a Straw Hat pirate and Luffy's Number Two through and through.
    • Also counts as Character Development from his first encounter with Luffy, since he threatened to kill him if he gets in the way of becoming the world's greatest swordsman.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The crew manage to beat Moria...and then Kuma suddenly shows up.
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