ONE PIECE Every Day – Chapter 58

One Piece Every Day is a column where I read a chapter of One Piece every single day—more or less—and discuss my thoughts on it. Each entry will have spoilers up to the chapter covered in that day’s column.

Please keep in mind that many other readers are also first-timers. Do NOT spoil anything beyond this point in the comments!

The Cover Issue: It seems like Buggy’s former crew are still slugging things out. I’m still rooting for the acrobat.

In middle and high school English classes, they sometimes teach you to try to search for the “main idea” of a story. Usually, they use purpose-built short stories for this, or a carefully-curated selection of classics that you can more or less fit into that mold if you squint. But this practice neglects the multitudes that even very brief bits of fiction can contain. Chapter 58 of One Piece is, of course, just one tiny part of a much larger whole. But on its own, it’s also a riveting 18 pages of oceanic desperation. Sure, this is Sanji and Zeff’s backstory, but it’s also just a damn compelling piece of life-at-its-limits storytelling. In this chapter we learn how Sanji and Zeff survived for 80 days—nearly three whole months—with nothing but a single sack of food on a deserted sea stack.

Initially, Sanji is optimistic about their situation, dividing his rations into 20 portions so he can stretch out nearly a month’s worth of food, even if he’s only getting the bare minimum. That initial optimism turns to grim, do-anything-to-survive desperation as the weeks wear on. We get to see it happen, mostly within the span of a single page, in what is probably One Piece‘s greatest feat of storytelling economy up ’til this point.

Eventually, he gets desperate enough to try attacking Zeff, to steal his food. Only to learn that the old pirate doesn’t actually have any food with him; he’s been sitting there, slowly starving, for months. The only bag he had was filled with gold and jewels, not a morsel of actual food. When he cut his leg off last issue? That was because it was hurt, sure, but he was also preparing to eat it. All that to keep Sanji alive.

That all leads up to this page, a genuinely poetic lament from the very much dying Zeff, as he confides in Sanji that he too seeks the All Blue, and also shares with him his new dream; to open an ocean-going restaurant.

Thankfully, for both Zeff and for us, a ship comes by not many days later, and the starving pirate and equally-starving Sanji are saved.

We then, of course, cut back to present.

Tomorrow: Sanji vs. Pearl.

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