The Return to Sabaody Arc (sometimes known as Straw Hats Return or Straw Hats Reunion Arc) is the twenty-fourth story arc in the series, and the first in the Fish-Man Island Saga of the One Piece series, continuing on from the Post-War Arc and the Summit War Saga. Set two years after the events of the Marineford Arc, in which Luffy reunites with his crew, this arc also marks the beginning of the second part of the series.
Two Years Later
Two years have passed and Luffy retrieves his hat just as Hancock and the Kuja Pirates arrive to take him back to Sabaody Archipelago. Luffy displayed some of his strengths when he shows that he made friends with the wildlife and warns the animals not to hurt his friends. Hancock is even more infatuated with Luffy though he tells her that he is not marrying her. With that, he places the hat on his head and prepares to leave Rusukaina.
The scene then changes to Sabaody Archipelago, which has become much more lawless due to Marineford having switched locations to an area in the New World and their old base now being a common Marine base called G-1 that used to be on the other side of the Red Line. Rumors of the Straw Hats suddenly reappearing and recruiting new members have circulated. It is then we go to Brook, now a superstar touring the Grand Line as "Soul King". The Longarm Tribe that captured him are now his managers. Sabaody is the final stop in Brook's tour, as well as his Farewell concert to his fans.
Next, Sanji is seen arriving with some of the okama. Right after he sets foot on the island, he is overjoyed to see real women again, even crying. He gives the okama a quick goodbye (while also flipping them off) thanking them for bringing him to Sabaody and telling them to give Iva his best before he runs off to try to find Nami and Robin. Meanwhile in a bar, a woman is talking with the bartender about whats happened with Marineford. The talk is interrupted when a shot rings out, coming from a bunch of pirates who claim to be the "Straw Hat Pirates". Those pirates, however, do not even resemble the Straw Hat Pirates at all. The commotion from before was "Luffy" along with "Nami", "Franky" and "Sogeking" having shot a captain who was trying to join them when they found out he was only worth 55,000,000, commenting that they wanted pirates with at least 70,000,000. We also find out that they manage to recruit three pirate groups with 10 men that have bounties. Among such being "Wet Hair" Caribou and "Blood Splatterer" Coribou who have 210,000,000 and 190,000,000 on their heads. As "Luffy" calls for more drinks, he notices the woman from before and invites her over. She politely refuses which quickly gains the ire of the "Straw Hats". We find out that said woman is actually the real Nami, who is then reprimanded by the bartender to choose her words carefully, pointing out that it was a very bad idea to provoke the "Straw Hats". But of course, Nami knows better and only proceeded to enjoy her drink. The Fake Nami tries to threaten her but a carnivorous plant suddenly appears from out of nowhere and chomps on her as well as the Fake Luffy and the other fake Straw Hats. Nami soon finds that the culprit for this action is none other than Usopp, whom she instantly hugs upon seeing him. Nami and Usopp leave the bar as the Fake Straw Hats try to go after them, but are stopped when black bubbles suddenly appear, forming into a cloud, and shocking them. The Fake Luffy recovers and orders his group to search for and kill the two.
Meanwhile over in Grove 13 and Shakky's Bar, Sanji has arrived and found out that Zoro arrived on the island first. Franky came next 10 days later and made his way to the Thousand Sunny, which has been protected by Duval and his men which Sanji thanks. Sanji also learns that Nami, Usopp, Chopper, and Brook have arrived as well. Meaning Luffy and Robin are the only two unaccounted for. Rayleigh, who is also in the bar, mentions he trained Luffy for only one and a half years before leaving him and has not seen him since.
In another part of the island, Robin, who has recently arrived, finds that she's being tracked by some unknown men, as well as confused at Brook having a concert and the Straw Hats recruiting new members.
In Grove 47, Tony Tony Chopper is seen following after who he thinks is Zoro and Sanji, but in reality is more of the Fake Straw Hats, this bunch comprised of the former two as well as a Robin and Chopper who are a short woman and fox respectively. Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji recognize Chopper as a real Straw Hat. Thinking he is abandoned by his crew and believing he is their "pet", they plan to lure him over to their side to make the Fake Straw Hats look more credible. The Fake Robin tries to lure Chopper over with a cucumber, but the men that were tracking Robin suddenly rush in and grab the fake one, along with the Fake Chopper, in a sack then run off, much to everyone's confusion.
Meanwhile in G-1, the rumors of the Straw Hats reach the Marine's ears. The vice admiral there quickly deploys his troops to the island. Back on Sabaody, Fake Luffy has shot an innocent bystander thinking it was Nami and Usopp. When her friend protests why "Luffy"or "luffia" would do that, he is shot as well. The fake Luffy orders his crew to find the real Nami and Usopp but is suddenly knocked down by the figure from before. The said figure apologizes to him and starts to head off, but Fake Luffy calls out to him, the figure turns around to answer him and we find out it is actually the real Luffy in disguise.
A flashback is then seen when Luffy was saying his goodbyes to the Kuja Pirates. Hancock makes the suggestion of Luffy wearing a hood to conceal his identity as she knows the Marines are still looking for him even after 2 years. She also gives him an over-packed sack of clothes and goodies much to Nyon's annoyance. Luffy then bids farewell to Hancock and the Kujas promising they'll meet again (though Hancock takes it as another proposal). Back in the present day, Fake Luffy is threatening Luffy with his pistol and trying to get Luffy to fear him. The rest of Fake Luffy's crew join in to intimidate Luffy with the crowd hoping he will go along with their wishes. But Luffy simply brushes them off and turns to leave. Fake Luffy goes to shoot him but Luffy manages to dodge the bullet at point blank range then uses Haoshoku Haki on the Fake Straw Hats causing them to faint much to the crowd's astonishment.
Meanwhile, Robin has reached the Thousand Sunny, finding Franky, now with a much more robotic appearance, on board. She comes aboard and finds that the ship has been coated and ready for underwater travel. She also finds out that the rest of the Straw Hats have arrived on the island, except for Luffy. When Robin asks about Brook's concert, Franky answers that he's been touring, rising to become a superstar since they first found him in the Florian Triangle and even doubts Brook will rejoin the crew.
In Grove 47, Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji, along with the real Chopper, have regrouped with the Fake Straw Hats who are recovering. They report Fake Robin's (whose real name is Cocoa) kidnapping to the Fake Luffy, with Chopper frantically trying to get the bunch to go after them. Fake Luffy however dismisses his kidnapped crewmate and orders the bunch to gather up their recruited pirates and track down the real Luffy, Nami and Usopp starting from Grove 46. Chopper runs off, unable to believe they would just abandon "Robin" and goes off to try to rescue her himself. Unknown to him and the Fake Straw Hats, some Marines have been monitoring them.
They report back to Grove 66, another Marine base, about this to which the Marines begin to mobilize, ordering to usher the civilians away from the Grove that would soon become a battlefield, and mentioning that reinforcements from G-1 would also arrive later on. Among them is Sentomaru, who decides to bring along two Pacifistas and warns his troop not to underestimate the crew as they may have gotten stronger in the last two years; especially their captain, Luffy, whom he declares to be an entirely different caliber than the usual over 100,000,000 bounty rookies that gather at the Archipelago.
Meanwhile in Grove 42, Sanji has come across a fisherman and tries to buy some fish. But the man is panicking as he had a client that wanted to go fishing. The fisherman told him to get on the boat, but instead the man got on a pirate ship by mistake which took off underwater. When Sanji hears the description of the man, he realizes who it is and tells the fisherman not to panic as the man can take care of himself.
However, as he says that, a pirate ship suddenly floats back up from underwater, now cut in half. The captain of the ship scolds an individual on the mast, complaining how he ruined their dream to get to the New World. The said figure is not phased and just tells him it was their bad luck to meet him. It is then revealed that the person on the mast is none other than Zoro, who grumbles about getting on the wrong ship.
Chopper gallops through Sabaody Archipelago's Grove 35, in his reindeer form, yelling wildly for Robin (the fake one that was kidnapped) while also questioning the actions of the Straw Hats (the fake ones). He abruptly stops as Usopp and Nami ride by on one of the Archipelago's bubble contraptions calling to him. Finally reunited on the island, they embrace as long-seen old friends. Both Usopp and Nami comment about how big and fluffy Chopper has become as he tries to separate fake Nami from the real one before him in his mind. Catching himself, Chopper informs them of Robin's kidnapping. Revelations abound as all three ride the bubble, Chopper is brought up to speed on what's going on such as that the kidnapped Robin is a fake (as the real one would not be easy to catch) and that the Straw Hats he met before were also fakes. Chopper, though, swoons at the idea of how famous he is motivating him to want to create a signature. Usopp comments that he's already created his own while Nami adds that they are famous in a bad way. Meanwhile, Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji chase after the real Chopper, after their Captain makes the realization that it was the real "pet", but run into Luffy (also the real one) whose identity they are still ignorant of. Upon his last run-in and Hancock's suggestion, he finally dons the fake mustache given to him and mistakes the fakes for the real ones though they question whether he was the "kid" they were looking for.
In Grove 41, the real Zoro states his intention to fish at the beach. The real Sanji responds by yelling at him explaining they do not have time to search for a "wayward marimo" (should Zoro's incredible talent for getting lost remain intact) and that they, together, should head to the ship as everyone will gather there soon. Turning away from Sanji, Zoro complains to himself that #7 thinks he's so high and mighty over #1, with the numbers being a reference to the order the Straw Hats arrived on the archipelago. Sanji, now beyond annoyed by Zoro, starts a fight.
In Grove 46, a Marine is spying on the new rookies trying to join the "Straw Hats". He confirms four of them: Gashed Albion at a bounty of 92,000,000, Lip Service Doughty at a bounty of 88,000,000 and the brothers Caribou, Wet-hair and Blood Splattered, at bounties of 210,000,000 and 190,000,000, respectively. As the Marine is speaking on the Den Den Mushi, he further adds how unthinkable it would be for the future if this company of people were to be united as one crew with "Straw Hat Luffy's" as their Captain, when Wet-hair Caribou suddenly looms over from behind the fractured wall that the Marine was leaning against. The Marine falls back on the ground in horror as the Caribou Brothers intimidate him, prompting his superiors to bring in back up upon realizing that their mole had been spotted at the other end of the Den Den Mushi line. Frightened, the Marine reaches for his gun causing Wet-hair to stab him with a spear. Further increasing the severity of their action, Blood-splattered starts digging a grave as his older brother preaches to God on the "sins" this Marine has committed. Tensions rise as a confrontational statement is heard "That's as far as you go, Caribou"!
Voices roar as the rotund fake Luffy amplifies his followers spirits, who all believe that following him will lead their pirating careers to greater heights, having achieved such notoriety in the past for instigating massive damage upon the three prominent facilities of the World Government (Enies Lobby, Impel Down, and Marineford). Some of them even root for him as a worthy candidate for the next Pirate King, and being part of his crew meant some shared glory in the future. He appropriates them as extensions of himself, his "hands" and "legs". His orders are to find and crush the real Straw Hats that humiliated him. During his rant, Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji return with the real Luffy. Luffy speaks to the fakes assuming them to be the real ones yet noticing that they are more friendly than he remembers. The fakes call for their captain's attention, and the target, Luffy, stands before his eyes.
"Encore! Encore!" the crowd yells at Brook's farewell concert. Unfortunately, the Marines and his former managers have flanked him. The Marines confirm him as "Humming Brook" with a 33,000,000 bounty and a member of the Straw Hat crew. Brook's fans become distressed at the news, while others were silently musing that Brook should be granted leniency, even if he truly was a member of the Straw Hats, since that crew of Pirates were long thought to be dead and gone. His managers explained that by honestly telling them that Brook would be retiring, it would be the end of the business exploit hence inciting them to have Brook die with them. In fact, this incites Brook to call on his band and dancers in helping him declare that the rumors were false. "Straw Hat Luffy...Dead? Ridiculous--Tell This to the World. The Pirate Straw Hat Luffy is ALIVE!". The Marines are held by the fans as Brook rocks the concert ready to go to the New World.
Back on the Thousand Sunny, newly refurbished, Nami, Usopp and Chopper meet up with the rest of the crew. Usopp holds Chopper as he gawks at the new upgrades on Franky who now sports concealable hands within his giant ones and a hair-frizz feature. Nami is overjoyed to see the real Robin again and, to a shyer extent, the real Franky. Rayleigh and Shakky show up. Shakky updates the current crew on deck where the others are and the situations on the archipelago. Rayleigh heads to Nami intent on teaching her how to navigate a coated ship. Usopp, worried since Luffy has not shown up, asks about him. Rayleigh replies with a smile on his face that Luffy has already disembarked.
Reunited at Last!! Preview from Training!
Meanwhile, in Grove 33, one of the Marines reports in that they are unable to capture Brook as the crowd has held them back and the musician had run off during the chaos. We soon find that he was with the Flying Fish Riders who comment that Shakky told them to pick him up. Brook is more than grateful and excited to reunite with the Straw Hats.
In Grove 41, Franky contacts Sanji with Zoro, telling him where to meet up. When Zoro asks what going on, Sanji slowly spells it out for him causing a brief argument. However it's interrupted when they notice some noise coming from a nearby island. In Grove 46, the Fake Luffy is about to sic his pirates on the real Luffy, commenting that it'll serve as a warning to whomever crosses him while Luffy asks Fake Zoro and Fake Sanji if he (Fake Luffy) is a friend of theirs. Before anything can happen, the Marines arrive and surround the pirates, ordering Fake Luffy's surrender. Fake Luffy orders Caribou and Coribou to use the Marine they wounded earlier as a shield to make an exit. Caribou however comments that it's too tall an order and kills the Marine right then and there, claiming it was punishment for lying about not calling the Marines.
With their bargain chip gone, the Marines rush the pirates who attack in kind. The real Luffy wonders what the heck going on as his fake self quickly loses control of the situation. If that is not bad enough, the Pacifistas arrive and begin shooting at the pirates. Doughty is caught in the blast and knocked out, surprising the pirates that an 88,000,000 bounty did not stand a chance. They soon start calling for "Luffy" to help them. But the Fake Straw Hats and he are fleeing the scene knowing they do not stand a chance. It does them little good as they are confronted by Sentomaru and a Pacifista. The pirates believe that the Fake Luffy will easily defeat them. The Fake Luffy nervously tries to threaten the Marine captain but is quickly hammered into the ground and taken out much to his crew's surprise. Sentomaru realizes that the Fake Luffy has tricked the pirates present and orders the Pacifista to identify him. It does, revealing he is a lowly-26,000,000 Bounty pirate named "Three-Tounged" Demaro Black. Their ruse exposed, the rest of the Fake Straw Hats make a run for it while their now former subordinates are outraged at being deceived. The real Luffy quickly figures out what going on too, though comments that "Zoro" and "Sanji" looked like the real deal. Sentomaru orders the arrest of every pirate there, commenting he knows the real Luffy is in the crowd and has his Pacifista aim for him.
Luffy manages to jump away as the other pirates are caught in the blast. However his disguise is knocked off, revealing himself to everyone in the area. The Fakes foam at the mouth when they realize they had actually threatened the real deal. The Marine quickly runs in while Sentomaru confronts Luffy, ordering his Pacifista to fire another shot.
Luffy however, dodges the blast and goes into Gear Second then takes to the air and hits the Pacifista as it tries to fire again, knocking it out in one hit. Everyone is shocked by the feat, Sentomaru especially as he noticed that Luffy had Haki equipped. As Luffy leaves the area, he sees the real Zoro and Sanji running towards him. However another Pacifista gets in their way and prepares to fire. But both instantly hit it their attacks, both cutting and breaking Pacifista's neck in the process. The pirates soon realize that these Straw Hats are indeed the real deal.
As Zoro and Sanji prepare to exit the area, they notice Luffy has not moved yet. Luffy yells out to Rayleigh who is on a far off hill observing the area and making sure Luffy was alright. Luffy thanks him for everything for the last two years and yells that he is gonna be the Pirate King. The pirates are left speechless while Sanji, Zoro and Rayleigh just smile, the latter with tears in his eyes.
The Marines closing in snaps Luffy back to attention and he continues to run, thanking Rayleigh one more time. Rayleigh, remembering their training together, tells Luffy to go straight for the top. He then gets in the Marines' way and draws a line in the ground, warning them not to cross it. Meanwhile Luffy, Sanji and Zoro continue to flee but find themselves surrounded by more Marines. However negative ghosts suddenly appear and stop them, revealing Perona, now much more grown up, to the trio. She chides Zoro when he asks why she still there, revealing that she was the one who brought him to Sabaody. She then warns the three that Marine ships are near the island.
Back in Grove 42, Brook has reunited with the other Straw Hats on the Thousand Sunny, immediately asking to see Nami's panties once on board (and once more getting kicked for his trouble). Chopper soon arrives back, having gone on to get Luffy, Zoro and Sanji using the bird from Torino Kingdom. The group is more than overjoyed to see their captain after so long. Sanji is especially happy to see Nami and Robin, so much so that he gets a gushing nosebleed which Usopp ordered Chopper to fix. Luffy then starts to marvel at Franky's new body but Nami tells him it is not the time. Marine ships suddenly arrive and start firing cannonballs at Sunny. But they are suddenly stopped by Slave Arrows. Hancock's ship gets in front of the Marines, forcing them to stop firing. Hancock demands to know why there is a Marine ship in their path and winks at Luffy, obviously creating a diversion for him. The others are surprised that a Warlord of the Sea is helping them. Luffy explains that she a friend of his earning Sanji's jealousy.
Franky opens the valves under the ship, letting air into the coating jelly and expanding it, turning it into a giant dome that covers Sunny's deck. As it does, Usopp notices that no Marines from the mainland are chasing them anymore. It is soon explained why as the Straw Hats' allies from during their separation are keeping the Marines at bay. Heracles uses giant horned beetles against them, wishing Usopp luck on his journey. Haredas and his fellow weather scientists manufacture rain over the island, soaking the Marines' gunpowder. Perona uses more of her negative ghosts on the Marines. The okamas are dealing with another bunch of Marines, trying to break their hearts.
As all this goes on, Nami explains how coating works. Telling the crew it works against water pressure but the ship will no longer be buoyant. Once the floating bag is removed, the ship will sink. Franky then removes the bag and Nami order everyone to raise the sail much to Usopp's confusion. Though Robin explains that the underwater currents work like wind on a coated ship. Once Luffy is told they are ready to leave, he thanks the crew for putting up with his "selfish wish" for the last two years. With that the Thousand Sunny heads underwater. The crew on the Marine ship frantically try to get their captain to go after them, but he is too smitten by Hancock to notice.
Luffy then gives the order to set sail and the Straw Hats, reunited after two years, continue their journey to the New World. Their next stop: Fish-Man Island!
- Many characters make their first appearance after the timeskip. The characters (in the order they were reintroduced) are: Monkey D. Luffy, Marguerite, Boa Hancock, Boa Sandersonia, Gloriosa, Boa Marigold, Brook, Sancrin, Sanji, Nami, Usopp, Shakuyaku, Silvers Rayleigh, Duval, Nico Robin, Tony Tony Chopper, Momonga, Salome, Ran, Daisy, Cosmos, Rindo, Sweet Pea, Aphelandra, Yuda, Franky, Sentomaru, Roronoa Zoro, Perona, Heracles, Haredas and Tibany.
- This is the first arc after the two year timeskip and many things in the world have changed.
- Since the Sabaody Archipelago Arc and two years of training, the Straw Hat Pirates have reunited on Sabaody Archipelago to pick up where they left off and to head to Fish-Man Island which they have been planning to do since the Post-Enies Lobby Arc.
- The Caribou Pirates, a group of pirates who have joined the Fake Straw Hat Crew, later reveal in the next arc that they had planned to join the Straw Hat Pirates so that they can kill them, which later leads to them following the Straw Hats to Fish-Man Island.
- Brook is acknowledged by the Marines not only for his previous affiliations with the Rumbar Pirates as "Humming Brook", but also as a member of the Straw Hats.
- Sanji's left eye and left eyebrow are shown (purposefully, not an artist error) for the first time.
- This, the Loguetown Arc and the Reverse Mountain Arc, with five chapters each, are the shortest arcs in the manga.
- This is the current shortest arc in the second half of the series.
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