A play at the beginning of his stories is already an incredibly unique story, grounded largely in the reality of pirate life with only brief extensions into the supernatural, such as with Devil Fruit powers and Fishmen. These expansions largely serve to create dramatic combat rather than creating the story itself. The Baratie arc in particular brings elements of realism by emphasizing how hunger and starvation affect humans. However, observant and knowledgeable fans may have noticed some subtle parts of this particular arc that are extremely similar to another classic pirate story. The least subtle of these references being of course the island where they stop just before heading towards the Baratie: Treasure Island.
A play follows the story of Monkey D Luffy on his quest to find the One Piece and become the Pirate King. The early arcs focus on his acquiring a ship and crew, one of which is a cook. Sanji the Cook eventually joins his crew, but not before Luffy engages in a multi-episode fight to preserve the Baratie.
In Treasure Island, a boy named Jim joins the crew of a legitimate treasure-hunting ship to find Captain Flint’s treasure. He befriends a one-legged cook on the ship while working as a cabin boy. The cook, Long John Silver, turns out to be a pirate and convinces the crew to mutiny against the captain. On the island, Jim meets an abandoned pirate named Ben Gunn who has been there for years and knows where the treasure is. After a series of dramatic events, following multiple mutinies and betrayals, Silver and Jim finally led the pirates to the location of the treasure only to find it had already been unearthed and claimed by someone else. The Captain, Jim, Silver, and Ben all leave the island, blocking the mutinous pirates there.
Technically, whether or not Luffy and his crew visit Treasure Island during the Baratie arc is a matter of opinion, but since these episodes directly predate the arc, they foreshadow it at the very least. On Treasure Island, Luffy and his crew encounter an abandoned pirate who has spent the past few years protecting the island’s treasure. He already knows where it is but when Luffy gets there, he finds that all the treasure is already gone. When Luffy walks away, the pirate chooses to stay on the island that has become his home.
This is slightly different from Treasure Island but the similarities are undeniable. Obviously the hacker in the box is Ben Gunn. The biggest difference is that in the book Ben is the one who dug up and stole the treasure whereas in the anime it is never revealed who claimed it. And while he chooses to stay rather than leave, it could be inspired by the fact that in the original story the pirates were all left behind on the island at the end.
Long John Silver serves as Jim’s protagonist, antagonist, and supporting character throughout the story of Treasure Island. He is a one-legged cook who takes a liking to the young boy and takes him under his wing as a cabin boy. Cook Zeff is a gruff one-legged cook who was also a pirate and takes young Sanji under his wing. However, their bond is a bit more dramatic with the near-starvation they endured together. Zeff also only takes on the aspect of Silver related to him being a side character, not the more antagonistic parts.
Gin and Krieg in the series seem to reference the darker sides of Long John Silver and his first mate Israel. Gin eliminates Pearl, just like Israel eliminates the other guardians of the boat. However, Gin later assumes the role of Silver’s crew when he challenges Krieg, now occupying Silver’s position. This appears to be a direct tie to when Silver was mutinied and banished as leader of the Pirates. Although Gin does so out of respect for those who saved his life, while the pirate crew in the story did so out of greed and mistrust.
Even Sanji joining Luffy’s crew stays true to the story, though the roles still changed slightly, with Luffy taking Jim’s place and Sanji taking Silver’s place. Silver eventually decides to leave the island and the crew and join Jim and his crew who were apparently the good guys throughout the story. Although Sanji isn’t deciding between meanness and a respectable life, he chooses to leave his own crew behind and join the ship as it sails away from the Baratie.
Although there is no real evidence to indicate that the Baratie arc is directly related to the history of Treasure Island, there are enough similarities to believe that it is at least a wink. take a look at one of the most famous pirate stories in Western culture. Even though it pulls some concepts from the book, it’s still its own tale and a delightful narrative.
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