I’m writing this because I wanted to remember how I felt while reading this arc. It’s really frustrating for me to rewatch or re-read some arcs in One Piece because I get a lump in my throat from crying my eyes out. And it hurts… Here’s my review/analysis of Drum Island.
Important characters introduced in the story:
- Dalton – Previously served under Wapol as a royal guard
- Wapol – King of Drum Island who abandoned his country
- TonyTony Chopper – A reindeer who ate the Hito-hito no mi
- Dr. Hiriluk – Quack who takes care of Chopper and gives him a name
- Dr. Kureha – Extremely old and talented doctor who looks after Chopper and trains him after Hiriluk dies
- Ace – Mysterious person that appears before the Straw Hats arrive
- Blackbeard pirates – Group of pirates said to have ravaged Drum Island
Drum Island is a very small arc consisting of only 25 chapters and 14 episodes between Little Garden and Alabasta. The story takes place in a beautiful snowy winter island that takes inspiration from multiple real world locations, from the himalayas all the way to the North pole with references of Yetis, reindeers as well as polar bears. We’re introduced to some important ideas which are explored later on such as inherited will and the Will of D. This is also the arc where we pick up the doctor of the Straw Hat Pirates TonyTony Chopper, a reindeer who’s eaten the Human Human Zoan type devil fruit.
Once the Straw Hats enter the island the crew splits up into three groups. Luffy and Sanji take Nami to see the Doctorine, Zoro stays with Carue at the ship to keep watch, and finally Usopp and Vivi go to discover more information about the island. Something to note is that Oda doesn’t dump exposition down our throats. Instead, we get bits and pieces of exposition from Usopp and Vivi with a more serious tone, then we cut to Zoro or Luffy and Sanji for some action sequence and comedy. There’s perfect balance here. We aren’t bombarded with information that could potentially bore and overwhelm the reader.
Chopper and his backstory were the obvious highlights of this arc. It seems as though I’ve become more emotional than I used to be because I don’t remember crying my eyes out the last time I read this arc. It’s a possibility that as I got older, I learned to better appreciate and empathise with the characters in the story.
Chopper was born with a blue nose so he was shunned by his herd for being different. Adding salt to the fire, Chopper ate a devil fruit which made him even more incompatible with his herd. After being force out if his heard, Chopper thought he could fit in with humans with his human form. However, he was met with firearms and verbal abuse. While running away, Chopper meets a quack named Dr. Hiriluk. Initially Chopper doesn’t trust Hiriluk, which given Chopper’s experience, makes complete sense. Chopper attacks Hiriluk and we get to see a glimpse of the kind hearted nature of the doctor. He takes all his clothes off and tells Chopper that he’d never shoot him.
Dr. Hiriluk believed that he shouldn’t blame people in the country because they had a sickness in their heart. Therefore, he spent 30 years trying to develop a formula to cure this sickness. He treated Chopper, gave him a name and told him about the world and pirates. Unfortunately, Hiriluk had a terminal disease so their relationship had to be severed. This was extremely heartbreaking to watch because Chopper had finally found a father figure who loved him and accepted him for who he was. Chopper’s naivety lead him to search for a poisonous mushroom believing it would cure Hiriluk’s disease, almost dying in the process. This act of kindness is the reason why I love Chopper. His willingness to go so far to save his only friend is very admirable.
Dr. Hiriluk eats the mushroom because he was going to die anyway and didn’t want to hurt Chopper’s feelings. He’s led to a trap and held at gunpoint by Wapol while Dr Kureha tells Chopper about his blunder. Here, Dr. Hiriluk gives one of the most inspiring speech about death and inherited will. He self-detonates so that he wouldn’t die as the hands of Chopper’s mushroom. After his death, we’re shown that Chopper and Dr. Kureha have inherited his will and continued to remember his legacy.
Another highlight in this arc is when Luffy carries both Sanji and Nami up the mountain for treatment. Something I found interesting is how before Sanji was knocked out, he was the one taking charge. Seeing the captain follow orders was a dynamic I found quite interesting and their conversation were downright hilarious. Chopper gets enchanted by Luffy’s ability to fight for what he believes in and the care he has for him comrades. After they defeat Wapol together, Chopper joins Luffy in his adventure to be the pirate king of course, that isn’t before we get to see the most climactic farewell in the entire story where we get to see Dr. Hiriluk’s creation.
We also get too see another epic moment with Luffy where he protects Hiriluk’s flag while taking one of Wapols attack head on. It’s very cool to see Luffy protect someone’s jolly roger despite not knowing who they are because it doesn’t matter who raised the flag. What matters is what the flag signifies or represents.
I wasn’t too fond of the villain in this arc since he was really 1-dimensional and uninteresting. The things Wapol chooses to do makes little to no sense and feels like he’s evil for the sake of being evil. It really boggles my mind why the soldiers would choose to follow him as it’s evident he doesn’t care for them. Perhaps they’re too afraid to speak their mind. Perhaps he was designed to be one-dimensional so as to show how stupid he is. This is evident by how little Luffy and co take him seriously. However, I did find that when he was on screen, there was never a dull moment. Whether it’s him getting blown away by Luffy, or eating himself or munching on whatever he can find, it’s never boring.
Vivi’s character is further fleshed out and we get to see more about the type of character she is. Put simply, Vivi’s an incredibly intelligent girl and her compassion and understanding is befitting of a righteous princess. The writer draws a great parallel of a good leader through Vivi and a poor leader through Wapol. It was also great to Usopp growing a little bit with him wanting to help Dalton defeat Wapol. You can see that he genuinely cares about the country and its people after listening to Dalton.
The funniest parts in this arc has to be with Zoro. It’s quite bold for Oda to keep one of the most liked characters in the sidelines for two arcs in a row. Like, what does Zoro even do in this arc? He just goes about his own training and has absolutely zero clue about what’s happening on the island. He completely forgets about Carue and gets covered in snow from an avalanche. He gets smacked by Dr. Kureha and once he finds Usopp and Vivi, he attacks the royal guards to steal their clothes.
Overall, this was a very beautiful and emotional arc with a good balance of tragedy and comedy and had one of the most satisfying and climactic endings in One Piece.