Brook is Good Enough

The ninth member of the Straw Hat crew, Brook, has many characteristics that would recommend him as a nakama. He is an animated skeleton who is death impaired, a skilled musician, an expert swordsman, incredibly light on his feet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, a comedian (albeit one with a pretty limited repertoire), and dryly perverted (a nice contrast to Sanji’s hotblooded pursuits).

Brook breakfasts with his Strawhat nakama

However in his first quiet day aboard the Sunny he is beset with anxiety. After decades of solitude, he seems to doubt his worthiness to be among people in general, and, after reading the ship’s log and the accounts of all the adventures the crew had had, Brook doubts his worthiness to be a part of this crew in particular. In attempting to allay this anxiety he dashes madly about the ship trying to prove to the others that he fits in, but each attempt meets with disaster. Each exchange features Brook trying hard to be 1. someone he’s not and 2. someone who’s strengths are already a part of the crew. His anxiety to be accepted has cranked him up so high that he cannot find a way to be himself.

Robin knows what it is like to feel like she doesn’t belong to this crew (setting aside the fact that she was an antagonist the first time we met her), and confronts Brook about his frantic state. He shares his feelings of unworthiness. Robin’s approach here is a very nice touch. When Brook makes anxious offer to help her her gentle refusal lays the groundwork for the realization that Brook’s worth is not measured by what he can do, but because he is.

The way to fit into the Straw Hat crew is to be who you really are, but that is the most challenging assignment for someone who is not convinced that who they really are has any kind of value. By the end of the episode Brook has let go of enough of that anxiety to take an afternoon nap comforted by the nearness of the crew. He can be himself enough to stop trying to be everybody else, and it is only in that moment that he is able to best offer his unique gift to the crew, his music. As the strains of “Bink’s Sake” we see each other member of the crew pause and take in the music, the looks on their faces making it clear that Brook is welcome here and that him just being himself is good enough for them.

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