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Rose-tinted glasses

So, as I first reported a couple weeks back, I'm still in the midst of watching One Piece. In fact, I've watched so much One Piece I think it's been dribbling out my ears when I sleep. It was a huge mountain of episodes but I've steadily chipped away at it and am currently in the middle of Episode 463. I could actually count back and see how many episodes per day I've averaged, but the result would probably make me want to weep. I have skipped over the clearly filler episodes, figuring I'll get back to them one day, and have doggedly followed the plot where it's led.

So how is it? It's not bad at all for a shounen series. I'm still not seeing what accounts for its ridiculously high popularity, but it's clearly improved greatly ever since the Water 7 arc. Those first 200 episodes I watched once upon a time made me want to stab out my eyes with sporks. It was probably just as bad as the last hundred episodes of Naruto before Shippuden where it was nothing but filler hell.

All of that said, there is something that is starting to bug me a little bit. The entire premise of One Piece is that almost every major character is either a Pirate or a Marine and the major plots all involve the conflicts between the two groups and amongst pirates themselves. While there are 'good' and 'bad' characters in each group, it seems that the general idea of pirate gets a huge whitewash. Now, obviously the main characters never do something so heinous as to kill innocent people or loot and plunder (from those who can't afford it/don't deserve it), but this clearly isn't the case with all the other pirates. Even the ones we're supposed to view as the 'good guys' have behaved, well, like pirates though mostly off-screen. I'm starting to find that sort of disturbing and it starts to seem like relativistic morality and Karma Houdini's. The main characters always go out of their way to see no civilians/innocents get hurt, and they don't even kill bad guys to boot. Yet they seem to take the fact that many of their companions have certainly sunk ships and murdered hundreds if not thousands.

Part of this is just human nature I guess. There's absolutely nothing we won't romanticize once we get a little temporal distance from it and the actual horrors start to scab over. You can take actual historical examples, like the literal pirates of olde who were usually murderous rat bastards, or even fictional ones. Sparkling vampires, anyone? The weird difference is that if this were an American story told in cartoons or comic books, they would simply scrub the moral black and grey out of it. It's not like we haven't had pirate cartoons before but you never see pirates kill and even the big bad only tends to steal from people rather than running them through. In One Piece though, it's been alluded to many times that various pirates have killed entire crews on ships let it's not like they ever really get called on it. I mean, there's only so far you can go overlooking the sins of a person because they're your friend or ally. Well....the whole Stalin thing in WWII just popped into my head so maybe not.

Either way, it just seems whacky to me to have main characters who are so extremely goody-goody not take note that they might be sailing through a crapsack world. True, the crapsack is usually off camera, but surely they must hear about the crimes and horrors and yet, they never seem to have any doubts that the pirate life is spiffy. Frankly, it's not even like they're pirates as much as just adventurers. I guess the word pirate just doesn't mean what it used to.


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In the darkness the trees are full of starlight
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