yeah, it made everything about four times worse. Spoilers through 486 (close to the end of Marinford if you're reading instead of watching, but I've read into the next thing so you don't have to worry about spoiling me for the very end in comments).
Ugh, knowing that Ace dies at the end just made every single flashback like being kicked in the chest, and by the time the theme song changed over that by itself was almost enough to make me choke up every time I heard it.
Although conversely I enjoyed watching Impel down a little more than I did reading it. Partially that's just watching vs reading action for me, but when I read it I was going as fast as possible because I just wanted to get to the fucking rescue already, and now I can see why we were dragging our feet. Can I just say though that the reintroduction of Bon Clay was just...that's why One Piece is so amazing, because it can turn your feelings about a character on a dime. When he popped up I actually went "YAY ITS HIM!" By the time Bon Clay was sacrificing himself to get them through the date, tears were rolling down my face.
I just kept thinking wtf am I crying over Bon fucking Clay for, but that's OP in a nutshell. they have also made me love a skeleton and a reindeer and a cyborg. Speaking of that, Franky drinking Earl Grey was the funniest shit in the ever-loving universe.
I can't remember at what point they did the flashback sequence of Luffy asking everyone to join, but as soon as they started with Brook I was like shit shit shit, and then when they did Robin's "I WANT TO LIVE" and Usopp's "PLEASE LET ME COME BACK" ugh, my heart *BROKEN*. They are so good at showing exactly the moment to make you refeel all the feelings from the whole chunk. It's like what Mihawk says, that everywhere Luffy goes he turns people into allies, and that's what makes him so dangerous.
By the time they got to Navy HQ I was holding it together until Garp sat down beside Ace, which totally set me off, and then they did the sequence about Ace's mother, and when it showed her with freckles just like Ace, I completely broke down and had to take a break before I watched any more. This arc made me love Garp, maybe not as intensely as other characters, but he was almost the most sympathetic person there, esp when he confronts Luffy.
God, those flashbacks of them as little kids, and especially the ones with Garp, I wanted ten million of them even though knowing what was going to happen made them so achey. Ironically the part when I cried hardest of all was when Luffy really does save Ace, since i knew what would happen just after. At one point my nose was so congested that I could barely swallow and I felt like, i swear to god I cannot cry harder than this and if the next arc makes me do it I might die. When the beads went rolling all over, and Whitebeard picked his up, ugh, what can you even say about it. It just HURTS.
Ace has such a Robin-esque progression here, where he tells them to leave him and then works through until he can admit he wants to live and he's grateful to them, but I felt so much happier about it because of the things he says to Luffy at the end. Not just that he wants to live, but that he's thankful that he could be loved, thankful for them as his family. Even Whitebeard, who thinks about the same thing, doesn't say it out loud.
Speaking of Whitebeard, oh man. I cannot believe how powerfully I felt about him by the time that he died. It wasn't even a dislike/like situation like Bon Clay, initially I had no real feelings about him even pretty far into this, aside from slight annoyance that he waited so long to start fighting. But I loved how he carried on the will of Roger with his last words, and the flashback that showed them drinking together. And the things he thought silently really touched me, especially "It was a good voyage" which is why I made that my subject.
By the end, I could see why all these guys were so loyal to him, and not even just see it but empathize with it. I felt like I wanted to join his crew too! I think also it was set up to be a direct comparison with Luffy, that power to create allies, and also with Ace, that he made his own family and in the end felt grateful for being loved by them. And as much as I think I would have liked him more if they had done the flashbacks as him as a young man much earlier, I saw how much more powerful it was to leave it until the end.
And then them showing his back, without a single mark on it. Jesus fucking christ, this show. It's so good at what it does. And what it does is rip my heart into tiny pieces.
It's so hard to explain to people why that's a good thing, or at least, something that doesn't prevent me from continuing to watch it. It isn't like I enjoy sad things or whatever. It really isn't sad 95% of the time, it's hilarious and action-y and full of hijinks and idiots and nakama.
Ugh, it's so good! And full of people I love enough to cry over. and they're so good at making me do exactly that ( ;_______;)