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One Piece 601

[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s so odd to see so much focus on Brook during all of this. Yes, he’s in a very prominent position right now, as an apparently world-renowned musician, but he’s definitely one of the less relevant crew members. Seeing full-page shots of him when we’ve seen so little of everyone else is frustrating.

Sanji talking down to Zoro is absolutely hilarious. To me, even including all the crew changes and serious plot set in motion, this is the standout moment of the last four chapters.

Unsurprisingly, fake Luffy’s makeshift crew fails to even follow the first order he dictates. The “big picture” question is, though: Do we have another confirmed death?

That looks pretty serious

The Pacifistas turning up so promptly after hearing of Luffy’s arrival is an effective reminder of the notoriety of the Straw Hat Crew. It’s also a useful way to disperse this crowd full of one-note pirates without Luffy having to show off.

Doughty, no! Who's going to bust up a Starbucks now?!

I’m glad Oda didn’t neglect to give us a name and appropriately pathetic bounty for our Luffy impersonator.

Finally, the cloak comes off and the world sees Luffy again. The scar is going to take some time to get used to, but his pose is distinctly indicative of his familiar personality.

There’s the first major sign of concern, and it mimics the worries I’ve announced on Beamcast almost verbatim: Luffy coolly dodging an attack and dryly calling it “Slow.” That may be befitting of a powered-up shonen hero, but it’s for that exact reason that it isn’t suitable for Luffy. Luffy may not be the antithesis of a shonen hero, but he’s been shown to eschew enough stereotypes to set him apart from other protagonists. To have him so composed in the face of attacks is a betrayal of the lovable hero that has been so well crafted in the entire first half of the series.

Please don't become a trend

Fortunately, right after putting away the Pacifista, Luffy does return to his smiling self upon seeing Zoro and Sanji, who combine to take out a Pacifista themselves. Interestingly, Luffy is shown using Gear Second and Jet Pistol to defeat the Pacifista, and the trailing smoke behind Sanji’s leg (as well as the end of Sanji’s leg itself) seems to indicate he’s using Diable Jambe. Zoro, however, is not seen using his Enies Lobby power-up (Asura). Could it be that compared to where each of them were pre-timeskip, Zoro has made the most progress?

In any case, I have mixed feelings on all this. I don’t want the crew to be so strong as to make any challenges they face in the New World seem convoluted or overly situational. On the other hand, I can’t overlook the feeling as a fan of pure enjoyment upon seeing these “good guys” who I love so much stomping all over the “bad guys.” Also, if the “monster trio” hadn’t been able to dispose of a Pacifista with such little effort, I’d have to question exactly what the timeskip was for. Overall, then, I’m more pleased than disappointed, but I’d prefer more creative developments than a generic display of strength.

Luffy’s parting exchange with Rayleigh rounds out the chapter in a manner appropriate to the title of this chapter.

Final Flash: Still no full crew reunion, but at least this time there was some action that deserved the focus.

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