Thus far my One Piece binge has got me to the end of the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc (episode 335 to be exact) and still very much in the honeymoon period of my love affair of every last one of those wonderful Straw Hats. How Oda managed to pull off the dynamic of what should, by all reason, have quickly devolved into a Ranma Half-style traveling sitcom the occasional endless shounen battle scene I do not know. God, but I could watch that merry band of dipshits mess around on deck just about forever without it getting old.
I think that a lot of what makes it work is that as easy as it should be to split the crew down lines of smart/dumb or strong/weak, everyone
gets their moments of subtle genius, and everyone falls victim to their personal blindspots (be it women, money, or ability to follow simple directions) frequently enough to mess things up. Everyone can be scared, everyone has their moments of bravery; everyone screws up or gets a face full of seastone and needs to be bailed out once in a while and everyone
might be that last crew member left on their feet or the one person in the right place at the right time to make the difference. They'll bicker and bitch and have to physically hold Luffy back from punching sleeping giants in the eye, but even the prickliest members of the team really don't have to be pushed all that far before Zoro and Sanji have ditched their latest argument and are working like a well-oiled machine, and Nami is telling Usopp not to worry about the money
. Because One Piece, at its heart, is a story about nakama
, and the wealth of affection everyone on that crew has for everyone else is never far below the surface, but it goes a long way down. They all complement each other and compensate for one another's weakness, and add up to a whole that is infinitely more than the sum of its parts.
On which subject, even beyond the Straw Hats themselves I feel like there’s a remarkably strong theme about the families you create
running all through the story. For all the family the crew leave behind as the join the Straw Hats and all the childhood tragedy that seems to be prerequisite for candidature, hardly anyone’s birth parents or genetic siblings have any major role. I kinda like that; I’d be hard pressed to think of any other story where adoptive relationships are consistently given so much weight. ( Cut for a paragraph or so of character-squee x 8 Straw Hats )( But where would the Great Age of Pirates be without some SHIPPING? )
In conclusion: Apparently I slash everyone
. And really need to do some more poking through fandom to see if all my ideas have been written already before they get any deeper entrenched in my mind. Recs, anyone? =D