Twelve Days 9: One Piece

Yes, after all these years, I finally started watching One Piece. I think I put it off for an odd mixture of reasons: it was already quite long, and I thought it was more of the stuff I watched in high school and got tired of (Dragon Ball, basically — and hell, I started watching Dragon Ball Super just this month, so what did I know?). My wife found out it was about pirates and jumped at it. We’ve watched around a dozen episodes, so I’m laughably behind and unable to say anything intelligent about the characters long term. But let’s try anyway!

What the hell can I say about One Piece that hasn’t already been said? Well, I like the pacing, for a shounen adventure, and I really like the heart with which characters, both good and bad, handle their problems. They’re all there, all the time, basically. I appreciate that.


Our spread today is three cards, but they’re not past/present/future. Like I said, how could I possibly do the future card when there are 700+ episodes detailing that future? So, instead, let’s use the Gaelic elements. The traditional elemental structure in western European myth, particularly Irish and Welsh myth, wasn’t quaternary: it was a trinity instead. Earth, air, and water are the three, though it’s more traditional to refer to them as Land, Sea, and Sky. So, you know, that seems good for Luffy, right? [Insert joke about Luffy swimming here]


We can think of the Land card as a person’s foundation. It’s what they have to work with. The Sea would be their motivations and their unconscious side. The Sky would be their aspirations, or what they can hope to achieve with what they’ve got.

Here’s Luffy’s:

In the Land position we got the Knight of Cups. This card can mean someone is a bit dreamy. They get lost in their “cups” sometimes — not alcohol, but their emotional life. The Page is the one that risks that the most. The Knight just does it every so often. What the knight of cups has going for it is a devotion to renewal and emotional well being. Luffy is certainly that — he’s resilient and always keeps going when he hits a problem.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried: Luffy got the Tower in the Sea position. He can’t swim, so that works. But more importantly, he has not just inner turmoil, but a blasted “building” in his unconscious. His old life is gone — originally because he jetted off himself to sail the seas, but also because he keeps finding out things about his hero that affect him powerfully. But since he’s so devoted to moving forward, they just build up in the back of his mind. They’ll fall down one day, if they haven’t already.

In the Sky position we have the Eight of Cups. It’s another watery, emotional card. I can’t help but wonder if Luffy needs to give up his quest in some way. I guess people who have watched for a long time can tell me if that happens, but don’t! I want to watch it! The eight depicts a figure turning away from a series of cups, possibly because of the obvious gap in them. The figure may be trying to go get one last cup to fill in the gap, or they may be giving up altogether because the thing was flawed to begin with. The moon looks on, showing two of its phases. That means the card is a particularly “night-time” image, an unconscious, back of the mind kind of thing. Luffy doesn’t really have a goal, not the way everyone else does. It works for him, but there’s something missing there.

That may be why it works for me better than other shounen shows devoted to just going on forever — Luffy is figuring stuff out, like any shounen hero, but he’s figuring out different things. He knows what he wants, but it’s difficult to tell what that means to him.


One thought on “Twelve Days 9: One Piece

  1. Pingback: 12 Days of Anime 2017 Omnibus – Better Living through Symbolism

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