Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Story Arc Review: Alabasta

ALABASTA: Too many threads to weave -- for the better

The Kingdom of Alabasta story arc is the climactic arc of the Baroque Works Saga of One Piece. It revolves around the Straw Hat Pirates’ attempts to stop a conspiracy that is about to spark an all-out war between the kingdom’s royal guards and the rebels. This is one of the most gripping story arcs of the series, so it isn’t very surprising that other anime enthusiasts use its name as the title of the saga.

            The arc starts by establishing the conspiracy and how Crocodile, the head of the Baroque Works, is utilizing it to achieve his own ends. This is one of the reasons why this arc is very interesting. It is founded by a deeper story that involve characters and elements that prove to be vital to the overall story of One Piece; not only that, this arc has also been very impactful in the grand scheme of things, for it has influenced and triggered certain events in the next story arcs.

            The arc has also introduced the viewers to certain plot points that make the overall story of One Piece much more intriguing. The most important of these plot points are the Poneglyphs and the characters Nico Robin and Portgas D. Ace.

            But these foundations are not the only reasons why Alabasta is a very good arc. The story of this arc itself is also worth noting. It has many threads to weave in the story; every episode is full of detail, and there are no obvious attempts to delay the development of events, which apparently happens on other story arcs. There are enough conflicts to keep the viewers interested.

            What I really like about these conflicts is the fact that they are not random at all; they are necessary and very logical. The most logical of these conflicts are Luffy’s failed attempts to defeat Crocodile. They clearly make a distinction between the power levels of the characters of the series; and they present an immediate sense of danger, for it becomes obvious that the Straw Hat Pirates are still not good enough to compete well with prominent pirates. This is a very interesting development in the plot. It expands the possibilities of having more enemies that are much more powerful.

Another good thing about this arc is its ability to trigger subtle emotions. This is the arc where the power of Nakama has been exploited very well -- and not in a cheesy way that is annoying. The communication of solemn emotions doesn’t stop there, for there are also other plot points that present them very well. The most notable of them is Pell’s sacrifice. The triggering of these emotional reactions is not perfect, however. Some emotional sequences have been ruined by certain development of events.

            The conclusion of the story arc has presented interesting developments in the overall story of One Piece; it establishes a subtle connection between the Straw Hat Pirates and Smoker and Tashigi, which is further developed in the succeeding arcs. And, the most interesting development of all, is Nico Robin’s joining the Straw Hat Pirates. What makes this development really interesting is Nico Robin’s role in the grand mystery that envelopes the story of One Piece; and it is fun that the viewers will get to see the unravelling of this mystery in the perspective of a Straw Hat Pirate.

            What makes the conclusion even better is the fact that it has been able to trigger subtle emotions in the final moments of the arc. The most note-worthy among these sequences is the character development of Vivi, which, I must add, has again exploited the concept of Nakama in a very good way.

Personally, Alabasta arc is one of the best arcs of the series. Many interesting things have happened in this arc -- things that prove to be impactful in the overall story of One Piece. And, as I mentioned earlier, the arc’s own story is also very interesting in its own right.

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