The Zou Arc is a short bridge between the Dressrosa and Whole Cake arcs. In this arc, the Straw Hat Pirates visit an incredibly creative new island where they meet a new species of people while setting the stage up for a serious Sanji-focused arc. The arc is only 23 chapters, but short stories deserve love too, and it’s nice to get a break after the Dressrosa arc overstayed its welcome.
The Big Elephant Island
Oda has created some great islands in One Piece, but the Zou arc’s titular island might steal the cake as the best one. There is a massive elephant named Zunesha, and on its back is Zou Island. The idea of a mobile island on the back of a giant elephant that can only be scaled by extraordinary means gives tons of opportunity for visual storytelling, and this arc makes the most of it. Everything from Zunesha itself being a defense mechanism to the lush forests on top is incredible, giving this island an almost mythical feel.
Sanji Isn’t Unbearable This Time
Sanji has always been a little annoying but tolerable. In his defense, he isn’t the only perverted Straw Hat, and he has done some cool things throughout the series. However, after the time skip he suddenly becomes unbearable, with his little gag becoming nothing short of annoying.
Something changes during this arc when Sanji is cordially invited to his own wedding. Suddenly he is serious, mysterious, and selfless. Suddenly readers want to know more about Sanji and his family, all while he rescues some of his crew and decides to face his demons alone. Good stuff.
The Castle Castle Fruit Is Weird But I Kind of Love It?
During Sanji’s abduction, readers once again see Capone Bege, the cool mobster-looking guy. This is the first arc where readers get a chance to see Bege’s Castle Castle Fruit powers in action. I’m a sucker for weird fruit powers, and this one stands out as it forces Sanji and the gang inside the gangster. Trapped, they have no choice but to accept his offer. Being able to eject soldiers from his body and trap others inside is all kinds of wacky and I love it.
The Mink Tribe
The Mink Tribe is a group of animal folk who have a complex way of life and politics. This group in tandem with Zunesha creates a wonderful ecosphere, further cementing Zou as one of the coolest islands in One Piece. When the tribe goes to war with invaders, we learn more about their morals and just how easy they are to root for, and things only get better when Kin’emon and Kanjuro arrive on the island. I love these dudes.
Nico Robin is so Dang Funny
Nico Robin is one of the more straight-laced members of the Straw Hat Pirates. She can’t help herself in the Zou arc though as the gang ascends Zunesha and all she can do is comment on how cute their ride is. Sure, this is all inner thoughts, but I giggled a little every time the gang was discussing something serious and all she could think about was how cute their steed is.
The laughs keep going when she theorizes that the inhabitants of Zou Island are cannibals, and her theories get pretty dark as she comes to grim conclusions about her shipmates. It’s dark and dry humor, but it works well for Robin, and I’d love to see her as a comedic break more often.
It’s short and sweet, but that’s all I needed from the Zou arc. What are your favorite moments? Let us know in the comments.