The Early Years: ROMANCE DAWN Nehszriah

Version Two

Some of Eiichiro Oda’s early work is collected in a tankobon volume called WANTED! The fifth chapter is entitled Romance Dawn and features a story quite different from the other two versions.

This version of Romance Dawn revolves around Luffy and a young woman named Anne. Luffy is drifting along happily in his dinghy when a large bird with panda-like markings falls into his boat. The bird’s fall makes a hole in the boat, which Luffy promptly seals with the creature’s rear-end. Luffy discovers that the bird is mysteriously wounded. A large ship then comes up next to Luffy’s and someone on deck yells at the bird to run away. The bird begins to struggle against Luffy’s grip, but is held onto tightly. A rope ladder is then lowered and Luffy is instructed to bring the bird topside. He complies, for he is Luffy.

Sure enough, the men on deck throw the bird into a cage. A young woman, Anne, promptly proceeds to scold Luffy for allowing the bird to be captured (despite being tied to the mast herself). Luffy asks who’s ship he is on, to which Anne explains that it belongs to “Six-Sided Spiel”, an unknown pirate who could use black magic. When Spiel comes out of his quarters to speak to Luffy, our hero decides to make an observation about the odd shape of Spiel’s head. This sends Luffy and Anne straight to the brig.

In the brig, Anne corrects Luffy’s assumptions, calling the bird a roc and stating that his name is Balloon. Anne and Balloon had been close friends since childhood, which is why she was captured in order for the roc to come and rescue her. As the conversation proceeds, Luffy tells Anne the story of his straw hat and how important it is to him.

Luffy recalls that his grandfather was a “Peace Main” pirate who wanted him to be the same. The child Luffy seems to reject this idea, as he is unable to swim. He then eats the Gomu-Gomu no Mi on accident, but shrugs it off as he never wanted to be a pirate anyways. His grandfather also tries to look on the brighter side, but young Luffy breaks down and cries about how he only said he never wanted to be a pirate due to his inability to swim and is now upset about being a “hammer”. His grandfather then responds with a punch and a retort on how the sea is cruel. Luffy finishes by telling Anne his straw hat was always worn by his grandfather and that it is his treasure. Anne reflects by figuring Balloon is her treasure. The conversation is then thrust into obscurity by a passing whale Luffy notices though the port hole.

Much later on, Luffy snaps out a boredom nap to declare he is getting off the ship. Anne does not believe his claim, but is flabbergasted when he is able to open the door to their cell. She asks if he is a black magic user like Spiel, to which he replies that it is similar. The two then go separate ways: Luffy to find himself and Anne to rescue Balloon. Luffy quickly finds a nice boat and some food.

Topside, Anne finds that most of the crewmen are asleep. She finds this as her chance and rushes to rescue Balloon. She is shot by Spiel, who is amused by her effort to save her friend. Luffy then appears on the deck and after aggravating Spiel, is shot. The bullets bounce back (of course) and everyone is shocked. Luffy and Spiel fight, during which Luffy’s arm stretches to an impossible length—thus fully revealing his Devil Fruit ability. Spiel decides that he will leave with Balloon and flies off, but not before using his magic to bust the ship in two.

The ship begins to sink rapidly, dragging Luffy under. Anne saves him and after they are safe on some of the afloat boards, she tells Luffy exactly why she was kidnapped: rocs blood is rumored to have magical properties and Balloon is thought to be the last roc. She was kidnapped so that Balloon would always come back. Anne starts to cry, as she just wishes to be back with her friend, no matter how special or unique he is.

Luffy tells Anne to not give up and uses his stretchy powers to catapult himself onto the roc. Spiel, who is riding a broom, ends up getting a fist to the face and Balloon is freed. There is a quick cut to a young Luffy talking to this grandfather about treasure, where the old man states a real treasure is not diamonds or gold. Back in the present, Luffy, Balloon and Anne are smiling and content.

While this Romance Dawn has less to do with the final version of One Piece than its predecessor, there still are some similarities that exist between the two worlds. Luffy’s grandfather (whom many of us know as Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp) looks virtually the same as his final version and is just as violent. Luffy considers his hat to be his treasure had wanted to be a pirate from a young age. Anne is believed by many fans to be an early incarnation of Nami in both personality and appearance. Some of the more major differences include the existence of black magic, which has yet to be mentioned in the One Piece world (outside of possibly the Supernova Basil Hawkins, though this is unconfirmed), and the origin of both Luffy’s hat and pirating ways. He also does not have a scar and seems to be nonchalant, even for character standards.

There are arguments over whether this version of Romance Dawn is as important as the other two incarnations. The best argument one can make without favoring any is that Oda wanted to be cheeky and sly and created the second version simply to confuse readers. Whatever the reason is, there definitely can be no mistaking the differences between this one and its siblings.

Date Published
10/01/08 (Originally Created: 09/30/08)
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