‘One Piece’ Episode 1029 Answered So Many Questions I Didn’t Know I Had
Including but not restricted to the new verse of the Aho Baka song.
Even though they followed hot on the tails of a huge climax of the Wano Kuni arc, I found myself really looking forward to episodes 1029 and 1030 of the One Piece anime. The two episodes serve to hype up One Piece Film: Red, which was released in Japan last week to much fanfare. All post-time skip One Piece films have had some kind of tie-in filler in the anime. Usually, they’re “fun” at best, but these Red episodes are different. The big deal here is that they depict the never-before-seen period of time when Shanks first comes to Windmill Village and meets Luffy—which means they may actually be canon.
Episode 1029 is the earliest extended glimpse into Luffy’s early life that we’ve ever seen, in either the manga or the anime. The anime and manga join Shanks and Luffy as Shanks is about to depart from Windmill Village, with nary a mention of Shanks’ daughter, Uta. Other than that, all we’ve gotten of Luffy’s earlier childhood is memories.
For example, we knew that when Luffy was super little, Garp had been tossing him into the jungle to “train him” and just assuming that Luffy would escape alive. We got to see the results of this child torture in 1029, when Luffy could win in a fight against a big monkey—which, in and of itself, was a fascinating look into Luffy’s childhood: how strong he already was before he met Ace (and Sabo) and how much the townsfolk of Windmill Village coddled him.
All of this is why, if episodes 1029 and 1030 are canon, they’re absolutely fascinating. And while it hasn’t been confirmed that they’re canon, it’s not out of the question. While the events of One Piece Film: Red are not canon, creator Eiichiro Oda has confirmed that Uta’s existence is canon. (This is similar to Shiki in One Piece Film: Strong World, another film Oda was highly involved with.) She does exist in the world of One Piece as Shanks’ daughter. So, using the anime to dive into a completely unexplored place in the One Piece timeline to deliver some hearty canon content would be unprecedented, but make sense. I wouldn’t take the present-day scenes of the Straw Hats listening to Uta as canon, though—it precedes the film. It doesn’t work in the series’ timeline.
Assuming 1029 is canon, or at least gives some background on firm canon ground, it answers some questions I didn’t even know I had. The one everyone in the fan community is buzzing about is why Luffy, from the get-go, wanted a musician in his crew so badly. If your memory needs jogging: Literally since the just-Zoro-and-Nami days—which is super, super early in the manga—Luffy has been talking about wanting a musician in his crew. And now we know why.
When Luffy properly meets Uta, she introduces herself as “the musician of the Red-Haired Pirates and Shanks’ daughter.” In that order. Shanks, who Luffy has already begun to idolize, adds, “Pirates and singing are inseparable.” The camera cuts to Luffy, mouth agape, clearly in the middle of having an impression strongly imprinted upon him. To clinch that ideology, Uta then proceeds to be a ridiculously incredible singer at them all. It’s a really slick way to explain an early One Piece joke and Luffy quirk—a quirk which eventually opens the door for Brook to join the Straw Hats.
Furthermore, Luffy is so impressed by Uta’s singing that he’s moved to sing a song of his own. And so, this scene also answers another question that is even more niche: “Was there more to Luffy’s absolutely incredible song from the Skypeia arc?” I’m delighted to tell you that the answer is “yes.”
In case you need context here: When Luffy gets separated from his crew in the Skypeia arc and is wandering around by himself, he starts cheerily singing a song to himself—a song, we now know, that dates back to his childhood. It’s honestly one of my favorite moments of the anime, because Luffy’s voice actress, the immaculate Mayumi Tanaka, nails the song so thoroughly. I often use it as an example, to manga-only friends, of why the anime is worth watching.
But most people who are not me were probably most intrigued to finally see the context in which Shanks ends up in Luffy’s hometown. This, surprisingly, has never been explained before in neither the manga or the anime. Shanks is just there already, hanging out. Episode 1029 doesn’t reveal where and what the Red-Haired Pirates were doing before going to Windmill Village, but it does depict the moments leading up to and including their landing.
Shanks tells Uta they’ll be based on the island “for a while.” He further explains, “Windmill Village is a remote area of the Goa Kingdom.” Episode 1030 might give us more—perhaps darker and Uta-related—reasons Shanks picked this island specifically. But now we know the Red-Haired Pirates didn’t just sail onto some random ol’ island in the East Blue. Shanks did pick Windmill Village specifically as their landing point. And it seems like the Red-Haired Pirates were looking for a low-key hideout to gather their bearings before heading out to the Grand Line—which, you know, I had already guessed. But it’s nice to see.
Also, is it just me, or does Uta seem depressed? Bored, maybe? She talks like she enjoys being with Shanks and the Red-Haired Pirates, but all of that about retreating into her imagination and inner world—she seems sad, right? It’s subtle, but …
Episode 1030 will round out the backstory of Uta and Luffy’s shared time in their childhoods. It will also provide some crucial context for One Piece Film: Red, which won’t be coming out in the U.S., Canada, and Australia until “fall.” So, these two anime episodes are the most Red content American, Canadian, and Australian fans will get for a few months yet. But episode 1029 was, by a long shot, the best (and most gorgeously animated) movie-filler yet.
(featured image: Toei Animation)
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